Elk hunting is everything to Montanans. We guard our vacation days with jealousy in anticipation of elk camp deep in the forests or Breaks country. We choose our sick days wisely and work hard for just the chance of harvesting an elk. Elk hunting is where our families make memories and traditions while hoping to fill the freezer for the coming winter. Even our clothing reflects our love of hunting elk on public lands. Unfortunately, these traditions are in danger of changing forever or, in some cases, disappearing forever.
Private lands are changing hands, access to prime hunting land is becoming more difficult, and elk congregate where they know they are safe. Meanwhile, a Montana public land hunter has a roughly 13% chance of putting a bull elk in a freezer, and according to FWP data, one district in northwest Montana takes more than 530 hunter days to harvest a single elk. Six months of constant pressure from hunters, more gates and no trespassing signs than ever, changing habitat, increased development on winter range, and the monetization of the resource has created quite the predicament.
Further complicating the issue is the fact that our wildlife — as guaranteed by Montana's constitution — is publicly owned, and its management is to be a shared responsibility. They are not to be owned and sold by private interests.
Read more from the Missoulian here...