Putting the "Public" Back in "Public Trust"

"Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action
is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits,
or that a wrong action is to be accepted because it pays." 
~ Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold wrote, The Ecological Conscience, "I have no illusions about the speed or accuracy with which an ecological conscience can become functional. It has required 19 centuries to define decent man-to-man conduct and the process is only half done; it may take as long to evolve a code of decency for man-to-land conduct. In such matters we should not worry too much about anything except the direction in which we travel. The direction is clear, and the first step is to throw your weight around on matters of right and wrong in land-use. Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be accepted because it pays. That philosophy is dead in human relations, and its funeral in land-relations is overdue."

The Ranching of Wildlife
The other morning a conservation hunter friend, Rod Bullis, called and said that I needed to turn on Northern Ag Network's Voices of Montana - they were discussing elk shoulder seasons. I dont own a radio, but I found it online quickly and caught the second half. Pissed off, I found the audio links and listened to the first half.
Segment 1
Segment 2

The guest was Terry Anderson, from PERC. He said the best habitat are the larger private parcels like Turner and the Wilks places, said the public hunters are slaughtering the wildlife, the tragedy of the commons, that we need restricted access to protect wildlife. He also said the average hunter needs to pay for hunting access, talked about $1000, said the hunters were driving around in $30,000 pickups with expensive rifles and such and can afford to pay landowners for the right to hunt. Terry said our licenses need to go up, but the increase should be dedicated to landowners, then spoke about going back to late season hunts to drop elk numbers down like before. The listeners where then referred to PERC's website for more information. PERC is a Bozeman based organization that I knew advocated for federal public lands being turned over to the state.

I went to PERC's site, typed in elk hunting in the search bar to find they advocate ranching for wildlife, specifically talking about the Texas Model:
"Texas has the flexibility and incentives for which ranching for wildlife strives. It is by far the leader in terms of the number of landowners who have instituted fee hunting. A study by Butler and Workman (1993) found that 52 percent of the Texas ranches surveyed offered fee hunting. The result is a wide array of hunting opportunities and price ranges in Texas (see Figure 1)..."

"With the decline of quality hunting opportunities on public lands, however, more hunters are willing to pay for better hunting, and landowners are responding to this demand by offering hunting access for a fee. Through ranching for wildlife, state wildlife agencies can build on this foundation..."

"In other western states, ranching for wildlife provides many of the benefits found in Texas. In these states, much of the land is public and access has been traditionally free. Until recently, this free access discouraged private landowners from even maintaining habitat, let alone planting forage or building ponds to attract game animals. Landowners could not earn enough from fee hunting to justify the expense. With the decline of quality hunting opportunities on public lands, however, more hunters are willing to pay for better hunting, and landowners are responding to this demand by offering hunting access for a fee. Through ranching for wildlife, state wildlife agencies can build on this foundation."

PERC advocated longer seasons, "Because a longer season offers a better chance of harvesting trophy animals, more hunters are willing to pay landowners a premium for these hunts." There were numerous papers there like Turning Wildlife Into An Asset, Wildlife in the Marketplace, etc.

This Sept., after the Skyline Sportsmen wrote an oped against elk shoulder seasons, PERC's Terry Anderson wrote a reply, in which he stated, "Colorado's 'ranching for wildlife' program takes an even bigger step. It gives landowners more say in who can hunt and gives them some permits which they can sell at whatever price the market will bear in return for cooperating with the state's wildlife agency on habitat management plans.

Put bluntly, opposition to shoulder seasons is driven by short-sighted self-interest. It is short sighted because it fails to recognize landowners, who control the best habitat in the state, as allies of hunters. It is self-interested because it fails to recognize that landowners bear the cost of providing habitat and asks them to provide a free-access lunch for hunters. To be sure, elk are public wildlife, but as Chuck Denowh, policy director for United Property Owners of Montana, put it, 'it's time for the public to pay. The shoulder seasons are a very tiny step in the right direction.' "

So I got the partially worked Satirical Magpie editorial cartoon that I had begun working on in June, when the elk shoulder season first came up before the FWP Commission, and finished it - adding PERC to the Robber Barons.

click to enlarge

One of my favorite quotes is from Marshall Sahlins, an anthropologist, who wrote, among many other things, The Original Affluent Society, first presented at a symposium on "Man the hunter," in 1972, about hunter-gatherer cultures. Towards the end he states, "The world's most primitive people have few possessions. but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain small amount of goods, nor is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization."

My previous decades of research, prior to Montana conservation, is in ancient archaeology, anthropology, comparative religious systems and linguistics - mostly of hunter-gatherer cultures and the following Indo-European caste/class system cultures that are very market, resource control driven. So this subject is not unfamiliar to me. In fact, it was part of what drove me to all that research, because hunter-gatherer mentalities are typically community oriented, sharing what they have, which I have participated in and have been a recipient of, especially when I have been injured and couldnt hunt.

John Gowdy wrote in, Hunter-gatherers and the mythology of the market, "Assumptions about human behavior that members of market societies believe to be universal, that humans are naturally competitive and acquisitive, and that social stratification is natural, do not apply to many hunter-gatherer peoples. The dominant school of economic theory in the industrialized world, neoclassical economics, holds these attributes to be essential for economic advancement and affluence... Neoclassical economic theory contains more than a set of beliefs about human nature. It is also an ideology justifying the existing economic organization, resource use, and distribution of wealth. This belief system sees class divisions as inevitable and sees nature as a collection of 'natural resources' to be used to fuel the engine of economic growth and technological progress. The inequality of the distribution of goods among individuals in a capitalist economy is justified according to the 'marginal productivity theory of distribution.' "

Gowdy further writes concerning the environment of hunter-gatherers, "Because immediate-return hunter-gatherers lived, for the most part, off the direct flows from nature, it was immediately apparent when the flow of nature's services was disturbed, sustainability meant sustaining the ability of nature to provide the necessities of life. Hunter-gatherers have displayed the ability to substitute certain natural resources for many others, but care was taken to maintain the flow of nature's bounty.

Substitution is also one of the basic driving forces behind market economies, but it takes a much different, and virulent, form. In economic markets, no matter what the resource, a substitute for it will always appear if the price is right. However, since the ultimate measure of market value is monetary, all things are reduced to a single common denominator, money. Substitution is based on monetary values which may ignore essential characteristics not related to immediate market functions. According to economic criteria, an economy is sustainable, then, if its ability to generate income is maintained, that is, if the monetary value of its means of production is non-decreasing (Pearce and Atkinson 1993)... This way of looking at the world masks the fact that we are sacrificing for ephemeral economic gains the viability of resources upon which our ultimate existence as a species depends...

Market decisions reflect the interests of individual humans, not necessarily the community, and certainly not the well-being of the rest of the natural world. We make very different choices as individuals than we do as members of families, communities, or nations, or even as world citizens."

This is why public lands and wildlife are so important to us, versus those that advocate for turning these resources over to be privatized - we view the "community", whether it is the community of conservation hunter/anglers or the whole biotic community of natural resources, as the priority, for the greater good, rather than the shortsighted wealth of privatization they want to impose.

"In 1887, a New Yorker-turned-cowboy rode his horse through North Dakota's Badlands on an autumn hunting trip. Instead of the vast herds of antelope, deer and elk he had encountered on previous journeys, 29-year-old Theodore Roosevelt this time confronted a landscape nearly devoid of wildlife and devastated by overuse. 'What had been a teeming paradise, loud with snorts and splashing and drumming hooves, was now a waste of naked hills and silent ravines,' Edmund Morris wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography 'The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.' "


Hunt Right - Ethical Hunting

"Of course it's a lot tougher hunting elk on foot than driving around road-hunting. And if you're lucky and skillful enough to take one, it requires carrying it back a mile or more to camp on your back, one quarter at a time. But as those who've spent their time chasing elk know, there's not much about it that's easy. You 'earn your elk' through hard work, good preparation and attention to treating any animal you may take with the respect it deserves."

" 'We must resist the fuzzy, fuzzy Neverland of collaboration,' Brandborg said. 'We may invite people to deliberate with us, but we must recognize the primary value is the wildness of this land and the preservation of it.'

Brandborg said too many conservation groups were 'infiltrated' by corporate business interests that used financial contributions to weaken support for the Wilderness Act's principles."

"In a recorded interview in February with David Farmer, a deputy refuge manager and federal wildlife officer, Young said his sawmill was located on private property near the tractor along the access path and admitted he had cut timber in the area around the refuge for years. Most of the lumber, he said, was for ranchers, documents state.

Farmer stated he had observed Young transporting freshly cut Douglas fir trees in early 2014. Young had permits to cut timber in 2007 and 2010 on neighboring private land and may also have had one in 2014. Court documents state that even if Young had permission to be on the private land, permission to cut trees on the refuge land was never granted."

Yellowstone Grizzly by Mark Albrecht
Yellowstone Country
"The study, published in Molecular Ecology, looked at 729 bears and found that the effective population - the number of bears passing genes to the next generation - in Yellowstone has quadrupled since the 1980s, growing from 100 to about 450. Researchers also found that genetic diversity in the population was stable.

That means gene variations that can help grizzlies evolve and adapt have a better chance of being passed on to new generations of Yellowstone bears. That's important for their continued survival, especially in the age of climate change."

Central Montana

"Montanans who hunt the Missouri Breaks north of the river, including Hunting District 410, should understand one very important fact: For more than a year now, the Bureau of Land Management has been writing a Resource Management Plan that will outline what happens on these lands for the next 20 years...

So far, most Montana elk and mule deer hunters have chosen not to inform the BLM of their concerns, or to participate in the process, in any way. Those who don't participate don't get what they want, and they tend to lose what they have.

In the current draft of the Resource Management Plan written by the Lewistown Field Office of the BLM, there are no new plans or new mandates for conservation of these hunting lands. No concrete plans to retain the backcountry nature of even the most isolated and intact landscapes. No recognition of the fact that this is some of the world's best publicly accessible elk hunting. In fact, in this RMP, hunting and other backcountry recreation has no recognition at all...

If you believe that the backcountry big game hunting in the Missouri Breaks is important enough to hold onto, now is the time to tell the Lewistown BLM. In 20 years, when and if a new Resource Management Plan is being drafted, it may well be too late. We'll have nobody but ourselves to blame."

The person to contact about our elk and deer hunting in the Breaks (HD 410) is Bureau of Land Management, Dan Brunkhorst - Planning and Environmental Coordinator (406) 538-1981 dbrunkho@blm.gov.

Arizona man charged with having 65 grouse in possession
"A Mesa, Ariz., man has lost his right to hunt in Montana for two years after he was found with 65 sharp-tailed grouse in his possession in Phillips County, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The legal possession limit for sharp-tails is 16.
Mernice P. Alkire, 72, was charged with waste of game birds, unlawful possession and taking too many of the game birds."

"In 2014, 86 years after Marshall's journey, Peterson retraced Marshall's large footsteps, with a few modifications, through the Swan Range, The Bob Marshall and Mission Mountains, traveling about 200 miles in 20 days.

Peterson, admittedly a slow hiker, didn't move as quickly as the fleet-footed Marshall, and he was lugging enough camera gear to 'choke an elephant.'

But he returned with incredible wilderness and wildlife photographs and material for a book he would call, 'A Walk on the Wild Side.' Peterson hand-wrote the photo captions for a sole-copy hard-cover collector's edition that was auctioned for $500 to benefit the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation. Another 50 soft-cover books were printed and sold."

"Four years after the brutal winter that caused an antelope die-off on a scale that hadn't been seen in decades, prairie pronghorn are rebounding, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

'I think people are definitely excited about antelope returning to the landscape,' said Drew Henry, a FWP wildlife biologist in Glasgow-based Region 6 in northeastern Montana, where pronghorn were hardest hit. 'Nobody's forgotten about the 10-11 winter.' "

"The Bureau of Reclamation will discuss water supply conditions in the Bighorn Basin and the agency's proposed fall/winter operating plan for Yellowtail Dam/Bighorn Lake at a public meeting on Thursday.
Additionally, the Bighorn River System Issues Group will discuss the river and reservoir aquatic health and operating criteria for Yellowtail Dam.
The meeting will be held in the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, located at 1223 Mullowney Lane, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding about 4 p.m. Fall-winter operations discussions will begin at 9:30 a.m. and continuing in the afternoon with the Issues Group meeting.
The meeting is open to the public.
For additional information, contact Jack Conner of the Montana Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, at 406-247-7300."

"Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens and an area landowner are offering a reward for information about three mule deer bucks that was killed and illegally dumped east of Billings late last week.
FWP game warden Ben Gleason said someone shot the mule deer bucks, removed two of the heads and dumped the carcasses along Old Highway 87 near South Fly Creek Road."

West & US

"A new CAP Action report released today takes a closer look at Republican presidential candidates' support for selling off public lands or transferring them to state control. These proposals might be a boon to Big Oil companies and private developers, but would result in the loss of cherished open spaces, higher taxes for states, and fewer fishing, hiking, and outdoor recreation opportunities. According to CAP Action's report, seven GOP candidates who will participate in tomorrow's debate are on the record supporting efforts to transfer or sell our national forests and other public lands. Check out the graphic below for more details on their positions:"

 "Inspired by the actions of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his stance against federal control of public lands, a rancher on the Arizona Strip has also declared the Bureau of Land Management to be an illegitimate agency and said he will no longer comply with or recognize it."

"LIKE some people who might rather not admit it, wolves faced with a scarcity of potential sexual partners are not beneath lowering their standards...

Interbreeding between animal species usually leads to offspring less vigorous than either parent-if they survive at all. But the combination of wolf, coyote and dog DNA that resulted from this reproductive necessity generated an exception. The consequence has been booming numbers of an extraordinarily fit new animal (see picture) spreading through the eastern part of North America. Some call this creature the eastern coyote. Others, though, have dubbed it the 'coywolf'. Whatever name it goes by, Roland Kays of North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, reckons it now numbers in the millions."
Meet the Coywolf video

"Renegade backcountry skiers set on blazing their own trail are suspected of illegally chopping down 1,000 trees or more within the Santa Fe National Forest not far from Ski Santa Fe. The culprits may be passionate about their sport and love the exhilaration of freely weaving through the trees on fresh powder, but they are criminals, says Mike Gardiner, the forest's assistant special agent in charge of law enforcement.
Not only did they break human laws, but also they interfered with the laws of nature."

"Last couple of your newsletters have been infuriating... which means you're doing it right.  We all need to rise up against the bastards and start kicking their asses, instead of the converse." Mike

"I am enjoying the newsletter and think you are doing a great job- please keep it up. " Hal

"Like what you are doing and especially the clarity of your reporting and the facts, names, etc. you supply. Keep up the good work." Carl (BTW, Carl came to Bozeman and we met, retired BLM and FS biologist, writer, gunsmith, an awesome conservationist hope to be sharing some of his writings with the public soon.) 

I would like to thank the following contributors for supporting EMWH. Your gift is very much appreciated.
Traditional Bowhunters of Montana, Dr. Bill Mealer and Dr. Mark Albrecht

If you would like to further this work and research,   please click to contribute to EMWH.
Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu


Wildlife  &



513 1/2 W. Curtiss St., Bozeman, MT 59715
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