Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

"On Montana's Wildlife Restoration, Our FWP Public Servants
and the Angry Ag Politics Undermining Them Both

Recently one of our Fish, Wildlife & Parks public servants, Arnie Dood, has been hit with a political career bullet – for conservation.

One of my favorite people, author Jim Posewitz (retired FWP), wrote a book titled, “Taking A Bullet For Conservation”. In the book, he writes about our 26th President Theodore Roosevelt's run for the 28th presidency. Posewitz explains Roosevelt's return to the political arena to defend his reforms. Roosevelt sought nomination from his Republican party. “However, old-guard political party bosses, long opposed to Roosevelt's conservation reforms stalked their prey, not in the open public elections, but in less visible party caucus battles for convention delegates… TR was thus purged from the political party of his choice.”

Interestingly, the account continues, “When the rebellion matured into a viable third political party, Theodore Roosevelt became the Progressive Party candidate for president. Joseph M. Dixon, the U.S. Senator from Montana who also bolted from the GOP, joined TR as his campaign manager. Dixon later served as Montana's governor.” Then Senator Dixon was also involved with the purchase of land for the National Bison Range in Montana to begin bison restoration, a vision of President Roosevelt.

During the presidential campaign, in 1912, Roosevelt was shot in the chest by a would-be assassin, who continued to the rally stating, “I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.' Posewitz then writes, “TR took a bullet for conservation on that October day.”

Montana's Wildlife Legacy, Decimation to Restoration (both authors, Picton and Lonner, worked for FWP at one time) is dedicated to generations of people who made Montana's current wildlife resources possible. It chronicles the devastation of our wildlife and habitat resources, which were nearly at the brink of extermination and the massive conservation restoration efforts many of us enjoy today. “Montana residents became concerned about the status of their wildlife and took action… Wildlife resources we have today are a gift from the people of Montana of the 20th century to the people of the 21st century. This gift comes with an implicit message: DON”T MESS IT UP!”

Montana's Wildlife Legacy closes with this statement, “The future can only be dimly seen... Knowledge provided by ecological research applied to routine management efforts will be key to our survival and security. Political leaders have not often liked ecological research because it may bring surprises and challenges to the status quo. Science in the 20th century, mandated by the Montana Fish and Game Commission in 1942, has taught us that dynamic change, not a benign and predictable status quo, is the rule of nature. The encyclopedia contained in this piece of landscape called Montana must be read and allowed to guide the future of its wildlife legacy. If this is done, changes can be managed so Montanans can maintain a livable environment for wildlife and this will in turn provide a healthy environment for human generations to come.”

There is one species though, which has not been restored to Montana lands yet, and that is the wild bison. I will not go into the miry depths of decades of politics which have prevented the wild bison from being restored to Montana as the wildlife that they are. Attending Interagency Bison Management Plan meetings 3 times a year, FWP Bison Working Group meetings across the state, Board of Livestock meetings, pouring through academic papers, brucellosis science, manuals, laws, etc., it is sufficient to state that it has been gruesome.

One bright spot in all this political bison mess was a dedicated FWP wildlife biologist – Arnie Dood, that advocated for the wildlife science. Arnie began working for FWP in 1975 – 40 years he has been our public trust servant. He is even mentioned in the Montana's Wildlife Legacy book, “In 1974, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks appointed Dennis Flath as its first non-game biologist and in 1984 Arnold Dood was assigned as the Endangered Species biologist. Since then, more nongame biologists have been hired, but are now called native species biologists.”

Arnie has worked with a number of species recovery programs involving the Piping Plover, Grizzly Bear, Wolf, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, Black Footed Ferret and the Bison. This FWP public servant has worked with hunters, landowners, NGO's and served the sportsmen well. Dood, along with Stephanie Adams, wrote the FWP book - Background Information on Issues of Concern for Montana: Plains Bison Ecology, Management, and Conservation (2011). He has also written and contributed to a number of academic papers during his FWP career. This last summer, as our FWP Region Supervisor Pat Flowers retired, Arnie Dood was one of 3 final applicants for that position. He gave an awesome presentation at the supervisor hiring meeting in Bozeman, speaking to the Public Trust and North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

As the Native Species Biologist for Bison, Arnie was the front man for all the scoping meetings and bore the brunt of all the animosity that the minority of the Montana bison objecting public expressed towards bison restoration. In fact in 2012, the Northern Ag Network wrote of Dood, "Arnie Dood isn’t a stranger to highly contentious wildlife issues. He was FWP’s point man for the reintroduction of both grizzly bears and gray wolves in Montana." Two other species they were not happy about and Dood's name and face became synonymous with the political issues. It is the wild bison politics which put a target on him recently.

This last week, FWP's Arnie Dood took a metaphorical political bullet for conservation. He was called into an office, met by Helena FWP's Wildlife Chief Ken MacDonald (previously Utah Division of Wildlife Resources before joining FWP) and the new Region 3 Supervisor Sam Shepherd (previously Regions 3's Chief Warden), handed a letter and told that his position was being done away with. This action is being presented as part of the 2013 4% legislative Personal Services Reduction, which I mentioned in the May 17th Newsletter that FWP was losing 5 positions in Wildlife, 6 in Fisheries and ? in Administration, requesting details from Helena FWP. I still have not received the details from Helena on this. What I have been told by other FWP employees is that a number of the reduced positions were already vacant, including those in the Wildlife cuts, so is Arnie the only active position cut from Wildlife? And were any other transferred personnel demoted or offered pay reductions?

With all the BS that goes on with the intentionally defunct IBMP process, which has a twin goal, one of which is restoring bison as wildlife on Montana Public Lands, but has turned into a Native American tribal treaty hunting program/ bison capture ship to slaughter program; add to that the debacle of the political FWP bison working groups; in addition to the constant documenting videos by the Buffalo Field Campaign concerning the cruel, injurious, unethical and often lethal hazing of these wild bison from Montana, then cutting Arnie's bison position comes as no political surprise, if the goal is to NOT restore wild bison to Montana. Is cutting this position a sign that FWP has no real intentions of restoring bison as wildlife to Montana?

IF, however, the goal is to RESTORE wild bison as wildlife to Montana public lands under FWP jurisdiction, as the majority of Montanans and other US citizens have advocated for, worked for and paid taxes for; and IF you were to believe the Montana tourism ad campaigns trying to lure tourists here with visions of wild bison on the landscape, such as the VisitMT "It's Time" campaign in magazines showing a wild bison in Gardiner, Montana (not one of the hazed, shot just as it stepped over the YNP border or the ship to slaughter ones) and VisitMT's recent Chicago campaign showing statues of a moose, a grizzly and a bison to get people to come to Montana for their bucket list; and IF you accept Governor Steve Bullocks statements, such as the recent explanation of his SB 284 veto, that “Montana's wildlife is held in trust for all citizens of the state, not just those citizens of a particular county,” - then the termination of Arnie Dood's position is an insult and disservice to the FWP scientific and public process, the Montana and US Public advocating bison restoration to her public lands, and to her sportsmen that pay for his excellent and qualified service in FWP for all these years.

The Governors office and Helena FWP are reportedly stating that Arnie was not fired, that he was offered another position. This is disingenuous, not entirely true, kind of like putting lipstick on a pig some would say. Arnie was a band 7 pay level. He was offered a demotion to a technician position at a band 5 pay level. This position cut is a disservice to the public servant that has given 40 years of his life to Montana, to FWP, to its wildlife and loved doing it. Its not like he was derelict to his duty. Arnie Dood is a qualified wildlife biologist in general, but he is also the most qualified wildlife biologist on bison. This is not the first time that politics has gone after scientifically qualified biologists at FWP, much to our Public Trust loss.  We need to fight back against the inconvenient politics, on behalf of our public trust servants.

Please do not let the special interests take out
with their political bullets, this FWP Montana Native Species bison position and Arnie Dood with it. Contact Governor Steve Bullock and FWP Director Jeff Hagener, letting them know that we need this FWP position and Arnie Dood's expertise in FWP, that our public servants deserve better than this treatment.

Email for both

Governor Steve Bullock
Toll Free: 855-318-1330
FAX: 406-444-5529
Mail: Office of the Governor
PO Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801

Director Jeff Hagener
(406) 444-3186
Fax: (406) 444-4952

PO Box 200701
Helena MT 59620-0701

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu




Wildlife &



Bozeman, MT

For More EMWH

War On Montana's
Wildlife & Environment

















































































If you would like to be subscribed to the EMWH newsletter, please click EMAIL and type "subscribe" in the subject line. Likewise, if you would prefer not to receive email updates, simply reply with "unsubscribe" in the subject line and we will promptly remove you from the list. Thank you.