Legislative Council Splits Vote on Ballot Initiative to Extend Landowner Hunting Rights

A proposed ballot initiative seeking to more broadly extend landowner hunting rights to private parcels in Montana — even for non-tribal members who own property on reservation lands — would trample the sovereign rights of Indigenous nations, erode a long-established cooperative agreement between the state and tribes and open a floodgate of litigation, according to critics of the measure who testified during a Dec. 6 public hearing.

Despite those objections, which were raised by tribal leaders, conservation advocates and hunting and fishing groups, the Environmental Quality Council’s (EQC) slate of eight Republican lawmakers voted in support of the initiative, known as I-193 or Ballot Issue No. 10. Still, with all four of the EQC’s Democratic lawmakers voting in opposition alongside the committee’s four public members, the 8-8 vote fell short of approval, meaning supporters of the measure to revise the state’s hunting rules must circulate their petition for signatures with language noting the council’s opposition.

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