"If every journalist reporting on these issues
faces this kind of vindictive retribution,
the future of wildlife and wildlife habitat-
not to mention the hunters and anglers of ordinary means
who form the backbone of groups like DU-
is bleak indeed."
This is one of those single issue newsletters.
following is an article, written by conservation hunter/angler and
author, Don Thomas, that he just sent to me. Don was fired for basically
writing about a public access issue here in Montana, that offended the
billionaire involved. The billionaire pulled strings at a conservation
organization, whose magazine Don wrote for and got him fired. Not only
is this an injustice, but this is a threat to conservation and is not
isolated to just this organization or this writer, there have been
others here in Montana that have been affected by political string
pulling. This story, and its implications for conservation, needed to be
many of you know, I have been a regular contributor to Ducks Unlimited
magazine for nearly twenty years, serving as their Field Editor and
writing the back page column in every issue. Not any more.
In October, 2015 I wrote a piece for Outside Bozeman magazine
, A Rift Runs Through It
about the long Montana legal battle to secure and maintain public
access to the Ruby River in accordance with the state's stream access
law. (I will make a copy of that text available to anyone on request.)
To summarize a complex issue for those unfamiliar with the case, wealthy
Atlanta businessman James Cox Kennedy engaged in extensive litigation
to prevent such access, only to be denied repeatedly in court due to the
efforts of the Montana Public Land and Water Access Association. While
the article was not complimentary to Kennedy, no one has challenged the
accuracy of the reporting.
James Cox Kennedy is a major
financial contributor to Ducks Unlimited. On November 10, a Ducks
Unlimited functionary informed me that my position with the magazine was
terminated because of Cox's displeasure with the article.
points deserve emphasis. The Ruby River article had nothing whatsoever
to do with ducks or Ducks Unlimited (DU hereafter). The article did
strongly support the rights of hunters and other outdoor recreationists
to enjoy land and water to which they are entitled to access, and DU is a
hunters' organization. By terminating me for no reason related to my
work for the magazine and the organization, DU has essentially taken the
position that wealthy donors matter more than the outdoor
recreationists they purport to represent.
outdoorsman and conservationist who supports the North American Model
and the Public Trust Doctrine, I find DU's action reprehensible. As a
journalist, I find it chilling. Wildlife advocates today face ever
increasing pressures to abandon these principles in favor of the
commercialization of our public resources, largely from wealthy
individuals like James Cox Kennedy. If every journalist reporting on
these issues faces this kind of vindictive retribution, the future of
wildlife and wildlife habitat-not to mention the hunters and anglers of
ordinary means who form the backbone of groups like DU-is bleak indeed.
issue is not about me or my professional relationship with Ducks
Unlimited magazine. It is about integrity and the future of wildlife in
America. If you share my concerns-especially if you are a DU member-I
encourage you to contact the organization (www.ducks.org
attn: Dale Hall), express your opinion, and take whatever further action you might consider appropriate.