Montana is one, if not the top out-of-state hunting and fishing destinations in the nation, a fact that leaves many state residents feeling left out in the cold. Now a petition to drastically raise out-of-state license fees and eliminate outfitter-sponsored licenses is dividing the state.

From the story on

Thousands of non-resident hunters come to Montana every year to hunt and fish, bringing big money to our state and the outfitting business. Some Montanans, however, feel that the outfitting industry is costing them hunting and fishing opportunities. _The debate has resulted in Initiative 161, a petition circulating across the state trying to eliminate outfitter-sponsored non-residential big game hunting licenses. Petition organizers say that they are trying to open up more land for Montana hunters. Kurt Kephart, the sponsor of Initiative 161, noted, “Here in Montana, hunting and fishing are family values and they’re also a long-time family tradition and we’d like to keep it that way.”

Mac Minard of the Montana Outfitters & Guides Association, opposes the measure and said, “It’ll be bad for hunters, it’ll be bad for land owners, it’ll be bad for tourism in Montana and it’s going to cost us jobs.” Kephart said, “We want to open up the locked gates, the closed roads, the no-trespassing and the exclusivity with the commercial side of things.” The initiative would take the current non-residential hunting licenses and raise them by more than 40%, a tactic that has failed in other states._

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