We aren’t that far separated from the last presidential State of The Union Address and the full court press for the next POTUS has begun. This has kind of got me thinking, what is the state of western hunting? Now, I am not the president of big game hunting, nor would I want there to ever be a title that granted such to someone. However, I do get to talk to all of you this time of year at the shows and hear what issues are really concerning you. Here are a few of them and I hope you will take the time to make your voice heard on each of them!
- The ESA has gone from a well intentioned piece of legislation to a dangerous tool that can and does prevent sound management. We narrowly avoided an economy crushing listing of the sage grouse and it appears that we are closer than ever before to a delisting of the Grizzly Bear. Wolves have been delisted and successfully managed in Idaho and Montana for several years now but Wyoming’s population is still left unchecked. Let your voice be heard, we can’t afford many more years of unchecked predation.
- Public access and public land continue to be a hot-button topic across the West. Shoulder season elk hunts in Montana continue to draw the ire of the public as well as praise from some hunters. The fiascos in Oregon and Nevada involving public land use will likely get worse before they get better. Remember, that once access is gone, or the title sold it is very hard to get access for the public back. Think long and hard about this issue, because if it is handled poorly we will have to deal with the consequences forever.
- Auction tags continue to be a hot button issue as well. The recent battle in Utah over which organization would host the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo turned into an all out struggle that was settled behind closed doors. The real question then becomes, how much good are these tags and events actually doing for conservation? Or is it driven by the pocket books of those organizing the events? You can make that decision for yourself with a little bit of research.
What say you? What do you think are the biggest issues we will face heading into 2016 as hunters?