the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"
Sue FWP Charging No Science, Law Violations and Breach of Public
Trust - Press Release
In a lawsuit filed earlier today the
Skyline Sportsmen Assn of Butte and Anaconda Sportsmen's Club
argue that Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the FWP Commission committed
scientific, legal and Public Trust errors when it approved a management
plan intended to lethally prevent wild elk from transmitting brucellosis
to cattle, as well as the recent modification to the 2014 Work
Plan which would use FWP sportsmen's dollars to construct potentially
miles of 6-8 ft. tall wildlife obstructing fencing in the Paradise
Lorry Thomas, President of the Anaconda
Sportsmen's Club expressed one of their concerns, “The Anaconda
Sportsmen's Club has always been for wildlife friendly fencing.
This is one of the reasons we are against eight foot high fences.”
Skyline and Anaconda members charge
that FWP and the FWP Commission acted outside the bounds of existing
state law governing elk management in Montana. They also say the
elk-brucellosis plan is based on political, rather than scientific
information that should have been tested in a formal environmental
“One of the key points of the
Public Trust, the cornerstone of the North American Model of Wildlife
Conservation, is that decisions must be guided by valid science,”
said Tony Schoonen of the Skyline Sportsmen's Association in Butte.
“Science has not been followed by FWP when it comes to their
actions to deal with elk that may be carrying brucellosis.”
Wild elk are blamed for outbreaks of
brucellosis among cattle, occurring only in a small location of
the Paradise Valley. Research is surfacing which questions whether
these wildlife are solely responsible for the brucellosis infections
The FWP elk brucellosis plan being
challenged will use methods similar to the way wild bison are
handled around Yellowstone Park by the Montana Department of Livestock.
The wild elk are to be obstructed and killed if necessary to separate
them from livestock.
“The Public Trust has been violated.
Skyline and Anaconda Sportsmen are asking the court to protect
science-based management of Montana’s wild elk from political
and unscientific decisions by the FWP Commission and FWP administrators,”
said Kathryn QannaYahu, conservation hunter and researcher for
EMWH.org, who supplied documentation and testimony to the Goetz,
Baldwin & Geddes law firm in Bozeman, representing the Skyline
and Anaconda sportsmen.
Skyline Sportsmen's Association president,
Les Castren stated, “Our group is adamantly opposed to lethal
removal of elk up through May 15th,” citing Montana law
for a Feb. 15th cut off date, based on biological science, as
well as required public hunter access for any game damage considerations,
a tool excluded from the contested FWP and FWP Commission approved
Tony Schoonen concluded, “Skyline
and Anaconda Sportsmen hope we can get FWP and its elk management
efforts back on the right track, so we can go forward with scientific
management of our wild elk."