Sixteen Montanans from across the state have been selected to serve on Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Hunter Behavior Advisory Council.
"With nearly 90 candidates to consider, the final selection process was very difficult," said FWP Director Pat Graham. "We believe the 16 Montanans who have agreed to conduct this discussion have the right mix of interests, backgrounds, geographic location, and connection to their communities to take on the issue and to provide us with recommendations by December."
The advisory council will lead a statewide effort to involve local residents and groups in identifying, defining, and recommending solutions to hunting behavior problems in Montana. The establishment of the council is in response to recommendations made by the original Private Land/Public Wildlife Advisory Council, and requests by hunters, landowners, the FWP Commission, and FWP wardens and biologists that FWP examine today's hunting environment from the standpoints of sportsmanship, lands access, and wildlife management.
"The future of hunting in this country will not be determined by anti-hunters." Graham said, "it will be determined by how the majority of people in this country who do not hunt view hunters. Irresponsible actions by a few can ruin opportunities to hunt on private land for all hunters."
The council members are:
Graham said he expects that council will conduct one of the most public discussions of hunter ethics and behavior ever sanctioned by a state wildlife agency. "If the response to our call for nominations for citizens to serve on this council is any indication, and I think it is, public interest is extraordinarily high," he said.
Graham urged the group to work toward reaching four goals:
(1) identify specific unethical behaviors that are most troublesome in Montana;
(2) determine how hunter behavior affects private- and public-land access;
(3) provide the hunting community--by December 1998 and through FWP-- with recommendations for teaching and advocating ethical hunting in Montana that will enable hunters to maintain public support for hunting by practicing and publicly advocating responsible hunting activities and behaviors.
(4) recommend way to improve identified hunter behavior problems in the least regulatory way possible.
The council's first meeting is set for Feb. 24-25 at Helena's Super 8 Motel, 2201 11th Avenue.