Discussion Topic: Private Property Rights Vs. Public Game Animals

A familiar debate is coming to a head in Montana. The particulars are a little convoluted, as always, but it … Continued

A familiar debate is coming to a head in Montana. The particulars are a little convoluted, as always, but it boils down to the same old problem: When a public resource (big game) lives on private property, who gets dibs? Should the public have access to a resource they own? Should the state have full power to manage a resource on private property? Should landowners or lessees (read outfitters) be able to make money from a public resource? Right now, Montanans are taking sides and seem poised for a fight.

From the Great Falls Tribune:

_On one side there is the newly formed United Property Owners of Montana, a group that believes recent restrictions imposed on bowhunters by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission erodes private property rights by further limiting outfitting nonresident hunters. . . .

In the meantime, Kurt Kephart, a Billings hunter, and his group, Montana Public Wildlife, have begun the process of putting three initiatives on the November general election ballot [aimed at protecting the public’s interest.]

He said Montana is heading down the path of Texas and other states, where the only hunting is fee hunting. He said that when landowners and outfitters arrange a lease-hunting agreement, it leaves out the public, which is the true owner of the wildlife.

“Just because you have a hunting license doesn’t mean you have the ability to make a contract with a landowner to do something with our wildlife,” Kephart said. “There are two private parties in that contract and the third party is the public, and they are not even in it.”_

Be sure to check out the full article and tell us what you think.