Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

Sportsmen Sue FWP Charging No Science, Law Violations and Breach of Public Trust - Press Release

Lawsuit Information Page

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 Valley.

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 review process.

“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 in cattle.

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 elk program.

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."

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu


Wildlife &


Bozeman, MT

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