More than 2,400 hunters and landowners have taken a look at an information program aimed at helping promote responsible hunter behavior and good hunter-landowner relations. Nearly half of those who checked in completed the course and earned a lifetime certification from the Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project.
"The Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project is designed to help hunters and landowners build effective relationships based upon mutual respect and understanding of each other's perspectives," said Alan Charles, Coordinator of Landowner/Sportsman Relations for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
The voluntary and free course is available via FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov. Click "For Hunters."
The course is delivered through an interactive website with videos, questions and instant feedback, as well as opportunities for people to test their knowledge on a variety of topics related to hunter-landowner relations and responsible hunter behavior.
Completion of the entire course, taken at the user's leisure, will usually require less than three hours. The program—like many online courses—allows one to complete segments over several days or weeks without losing material or results.
Designed to be thought-provoking and entertaining, the program is highly interactive to keep the attention of even those who wouldn't typically spend a lot of time on the computer. "We want to develop ways for hunters and landowners to explore each other’s experiences and connect with each other," said Thomas Baumeister, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks education program manager.
Those who successfully complete the course can print a certificate of completion for future reference, and may request a free cap and bumper sticker bearing the program’s logo.
Charles said the program emerged from recommendations from the Private Land/Public Wildlife Council, and from recommendations made by the Montana Hunter Behavior Advisory Council.
"FWP's goal is to emphasize the common ground shared by hunters and landowners while focusing attention on key issues that typically arise when hunters and landowners interact," Charles explained.
Some landowners are already using the program as a tool to promote responsible hunter behavior, either by posting signs provided by FWP to indicate the ranch supports the project or requesting hunters to produce a certificate of completion as a condition of access. Many hunters who have completed the course have indicated that information provided through the program has helped them be more aware of the many issues associated with private land and public access.
FWP is asking hunters and landowners to take time to review and complete the course and to provide feedback by completing the survey at the end of the program. FWP will use that feedback to refine, update and expand the program.