Hound News

February 1999
     It's that time of the year. The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission have completed their work on the 1999 Hunting Regulations and the Montana Legislature is in session. Several things need to be discussed and we all need to get involved and take some action.

     The FWP Commission on Friday, Feb. 5, 1999 approved a Statewide Fall Hunting Season [without the use of hounds] for Mountain Lion. This season will run from Oct. 24, 1999 - Nov. 28, 1999 (Up to 20% of the quota established for the Dec. 1 - April 14, 2000 season may be taken during the fall season). Mr. Simpson and Mr. Mulligan did voice opposition for this season. Their concerns were that MT has a lion management plan and EIS in place and also some concern about the general rifle hunter checking the quota hotline.

     The Region 1 problems took a lot of time for discussion. They talked about issuing permits equal to two times the quota in some hunting districts; validation; the legislative restriction of nonresident hound handler permits, etc. After lengthy discussions, Charlie Decker made a motion to issue twice the quota in HD100, 103, 104 & 130 as permits. The quota would still control the closing of harvest in these HD. When the quota was filled, the permit holder would be allowed to go and hunt lion in any other NON PERMITED hunting district. This motion failed because the overriding feeling was that it would not cure the Reg. 1 problems. The last motion made by Commissioner Decker was: Leave lion season same as last year, but reduce the mandatory report time of the lion kill from 24 hours to 12 hours. This motion passed with a stipulation that the Dept. forms a working group immediately to work on a long-term solution. The Commission wants proposals ready before October 1999.

     The Commission also passed a motion to issue 4 permits in HD 100 and 5 permits in HD 101 that will be valid ONLY on the sheep winter range. The Missoula Special Management Area proposal was passed as presented. HD 422 & 444 boundary changes were approved.

     Commissioner Decker spoke directly to the Houndsmen representatives present and told them that "Doomsday is Near - you need to make ALL the houndsmen aware that things are going to have to change! The lion hunters can't behave themselves as it is now, and we may have to cut the number down to be more manageable." They spoke of all the things that have occurred with lion hunting: The over-harvest of lion, especially in the Libby, Swan and Sanders County areas. The change in attitude of the 'newer' lion hunter regarding the closing of hunting districts - where hunters calling the FWP offices and asking if a HD is still open, finding out that the quota is filled and it closes at the end of today and going out and intentionally taking ONE more lion today. The fact that this is a growing new sport. The problems with large groups of nonresidents who come with their own hounds and all take a lion home. The "money motivator" for illegal outfitting of lion hunts. Resident lion hunters who want to restrict their favorite spot to their personal use - to kill all the lion in the quota over their own dogs. How the commission needs to work with the legitimate outfitters so that their business and permits are not made unusable. They are concerned about the desire to have a higher quality hunt at a more leisurely pace for a longer period of time. There were comments that it is impossible to get houndsmen to agree on any issue. If they were to institute one of the suggested ideas, it might just produce a domino effect for crowding.

     Each and every one of Montana's houndsmen MUST take a hard look at their own habits, desires, method of operation as well as complaints and be willing to admit that WE MUST do what is necessary to guarantee the ability to hunt lion in Montana with hounds. This does not mean that one person must do all the changing, but everyone must do what is best for the majority. Some will have to give up a little more than others do, but if we want a solution to work for everyone, we have to do some soul searching and be willing to come to an agreement that will benefit the majority. If I don't want Joe Hotdog in my favorite drainage, I may have to bite my tongue and realize that I do not own the place. If Joe Hotdog wants to bring 10 out-of-state friends in and take all the lion in the area, he may have to back off and admit that he doesn't really need 11 lions over his dogs this year.

Those who want all the nonresident houndsmen restricted may have to admit that isn't a realistic alternative. Those who want all the nonresident lion hunters gone may have to realize that won't work either. Those who don't want either restricted at all will also have to reach a compromise.

     I know that this is not new, but the Commission did not leave much room to ignore their position. WE WILL HAVE TO BE WILLING TO COMPROMISE IF WE WANT TO BE RECOGNIZED! On to the legislature:
     HB 332 was introduced by Allan Walters, which would have allowed the taking of 2 mountain lions per each hunter [both resident and nonresident] and the purchase of a license any time during the hunting season. This bill was tabled in committee and so far has not been resurrected. We'll have to continue to watch this.

     HB 325 is an act allowing the regulation of barking dogs within residential neighborhoods by county ordinance. It is in the local government committee at this time.

     HB215 is an act prohibiting the use of Motion-tracking devices while hunting. This bill passed the House and is currently in Senate Fish & Game Committee. We have several people requesting an amendment excluding dog retrieval systems. No word whether an amendment will be proposed. Please contact your representative to make this amendment.

     LC373 is a draft bill - an act establishing the liability of the owner of a dog that harasses, injures, or kills a game animal, migratory or upland game bird, or fur-bearing animal; establishing penalties, including killing of the dog or loss of the owner's hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges; requiring restitution to the state for a game animal, migratory or upland game bird, or fur-bearing animal killed by a dog. Every dog owner in the state needs to contact his or her representatives and ask that this draft never reach actual bill stage. This bill will make every dog in the state a possible target.

     HB285 is an act revising fish and game licensing requirements by reducing from 180 to 30 the number of consecutive days a person must reside in Montana to be eligible to purchase a resident license.

     SB59 is an act generally revising fish and game licensing statues, authorizing the Dept. of FWP to establish hunting license preference systems. TO CONTACT YOUR MONTANA HOUSE OR SENATE REPRESENTATIVE: By e-mail: House@state.mt.us -or- Senate@state.mt.us (to the attention of your representative) By Telephone: Voice Mail 1-406-444-4800 By Fax: 1-900-225-1600

     Montana Chapter of Safari Club International gave our Montana Heritage Defense Fund a donation of Two Thousand Dollars. The SCI Wildlife Exhibition will be March 26, 27 & 28, 1999 at the Holiday Inn Trade Center in Billings. MSHA will be hosting an educational booth with information on lions, hounds and hunting. If you have any pictures that you would like displayed, contact Sandy Seaton - Chairperson in charge! (406) 222-7455