Will fish and wildlife issues again be some of the most hotly debated issues of this session, or will the 68th Legislature be marked by more consensus-building and agreement for a state known for its natural resources and wildlife?
The answer will play out over the next few months as lawmakers bring legislation to shape the future of wildlife, habitat, recreation and funding. It may be early, but some legislators and advocates say this session could be quieter compared to the last with efforts to build coalitions around more supported issues. Others are remaining vigilant, cautioning that legislation with the potential to divide hunters, anglers and conservationists could come at any time.
The 2021 session was marked by a host of contentious issues, as the GOP majority passed laws expanding wolf trapping and hunting, opened up hound hunting for black bears, instituted a traditional muzzleloader season, stood up a pheasant rearing program at Montana State Prison with releases on state lands, and a last-minute change to offer and advantage in the license draw to nonresident hunters who book with an outfitter. That is not to mention a bill that stalled in committee that would have provided landowners in some areas nonresident elk licenses to distribute.
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