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  • February 25, 2011

    The Bison Slaughter Continues

    By Hal Herring

    With the snow piling up in the Park, and temperatures heading back down below zero this week, the Yellowstone bison are still trying to move down to winter range. The issue is getting hotter, as property owners are beginning to protest the hazing of bison by Department of Livestock employees on their private lands, and more and more Montanans are recognizing just how broken the current bison policy really has become.

    This weekend, some friends of mine in West Yellowstone sent me this link to the Montana Elk Hunting Journal, written by outfitter JB Klyap, of Dome Mountain Ranch. Mr. Klyap has written one of the best pieces about the situation that I have read. The Montana Elk Hunting Journal quickly went onto my internet "favorites" list. Please take a look.

  • February 23, 2011

    Efforts of T-Y Irrigation District Manager Save Thousands of Fish

    By Hal Herring

    by Hal Herring

    “You know how, when you’re eight years old, it’s hard to watch a fish just dying out of the water? Stranded? It’s not like catching them on a hook and then killing them and eating them. Partly ‘cause I knew it was us doing it--trapping them in our ditches and then letting them die out in the fields. I couldn’t stand it.”

    It took Miles City, Montana farmer and pellet mill operator Roger Muggli about 44 years to make it right. He started out as a kid, picking up fish from the family’s alfalfa fields, from the lowly buffalo and goldeye to sauger, smallmouth, and channel cats, and putting them in buckets. These were just a few of the thousands of fish sucked in to the T-Y (Tongue –Yellowstone) Irrigation District’s canal system, and left stranded as the water was used to quench the rich farmland of the Yellowstone bottoms. “I’d get on my bike, and ride as hard as I could for the river, to dump those fish in there before they died.”

    In addition to his farm and mill work, Muggli is the manager of the T-Y (Tongue and Yellowstone) Irrigation District, just like his father before him, and his grandfather before that. The T-Y supplies the lifeblood to almost 10,000 acres of farm and ranchland in this dry part of eastern Montana, through almost 100 miles of ditches. Shortly after he took over the manager’s job from his father in 1988, Muggli helped to install screens for the intake of the system to help save some of those many thousands of fish “entrained” (sucked in and trapped) and lost in there every summer.

  • February 7, 2011

    Why We Should Be Hunting Bison

    By Hal Herring

    The bison wars in Montana continue, ad nauseum, as a big snowpack forces Yellowstone National Park bison from the high country, yet again, to what should be their historic winter range. AP reporter Matt Brown wrote this account of the newest skirmish between non-hunting wildlife advocates and the Montana Department of Livestock.

    (Check out some of the comments on the story from those who seem to despise the buffalo- “its not 1850 anymore dude” – the same inane comment I’ve been hearing from gun control advocates lately. Whatever modern world these folks have in mind for us, I’m going to have to say no.)

    As usual, the hunting community is absent from the debate. Absent, despite the fact that the buffalo could be drifting north across lands purchased with $13 million in public money from the Church Universal and Triumphant and on to the grasslands of the west side of the Paradise Valley, to some of the best winter range, and the best wildlife country left on the planet. And we could be hunting them there, on the high ridgelines of the Gallatins, Tom Miner Basin, Cinnabar Creek. Most of that is public land, wild and open, perfect for hunting buffalo.

  • February 3, 2011

    Guest Blog: An Update on Nevada's Blue Lakes and Alder Creek Wilderness Study Areas

    By Jay Cassell

    by Jay Cassell

    Last fall, I traveled to northwestern Nevada to report on what was going on with the Blue Lakes and Alder Creek Wilderness Study Areas, as part of Field & Stream’s last Best Wild Places reports, done in conjunction with Trout Unlimited.

    While in Nevada, I spent considerable time with Jim Jeffress, the backcountry lands coordinator for the Sportsmen’s Conservation Project of Trout Unlimited. Jeffress, Greg Moore (communications specialist for TU’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Projects), and I flew over the area, then did some on-the-ground inspections.

    The Wilderness Act of 1964 directed the Bureau of Land Management to inventory and/or study all roadless areas of 5000 acres or more to see which ones have true wilderness characteristics. In 1977 the BLM started to inventory almost 49 million acres across the country. By 1979, 34 million acres were dropped from the inventory; the remaining 15 million were divided up into intensive wilderness inventory units. In Nevada, the BLM designated 110 wilderness study areas, covering 5.1 million acres, in a report sent to Congress. Until Congress moves forward with a permanent designation or drops any WSAs, these areas will be managed as wilderness.