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Field reports: Anti-bison landowners to deny hunter access

HUNTING – Dozens of landowners have published their names in northeastern Montana newspaper ads saying they plan to close their lands to hunters until state officials drop plans to relocate bison from Yellowstone National Park.

Retired rancher Rich Sudduth from the Hinsdale area said the move is designed to get the attention of Fish, Wildlife and Parks by cutting into its revenue.

“If the hunters don’t have any place to hunt, they won’t buy high-dollar licenses,” he said.

FWP officials said about 50 of 1,300 landowners have dropped out of the Block Management Program that pays landowners for public hunting access, including 15 in northeastern Montana.

The program still has about 8 million acres open to hunters, but in the Hinsdale area, at least, hunters may find their options more limited.

“The bison policy protest comes as FWP is in the process of developing a state bison management plan. In March, the agency transferred to the Fort Peck Reservation 64 disease-free Yellowstone bison that had been held for years in a quarantine program.

Ranchers and farmers oppose free-ranging bison because of fears the animals may spread disease to livestock and damage property.

Adding their concern over the state’s intentions is the National Wildlife Federation’s push to restore wild bison to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. The American Prairie Reserve also is purchasing ranch lands north of the Missouri River to restore bison to the northeastern Montana prairie landscape.

Legend of Aahh’s coming to Garland

SKIING – Greg Stump, the ski film pioneer who made his mark in extreme skiing in his 1988 classic “Blizzard of Aahhh’s,” will premier his latest film, “Legend of Aahhh’s,” at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 and 12 at the Garland Theater.

The film features interviews with Warren Miller, Dick Barrymore, Otto Lang, John Jay, Klaus Obermeyer, and white-knuckle skiing by some of the best pros in the business.

Skiing Magazine named Stump one of the Top 25 most influential people in skiing. 

Biologist named WDFW south-central director

WILDLIFE – Mike Livingston has been named regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s south-central region, based in Yakima.

Livingston, who has been WDFW’s district wildlife biologist in the Tri-Cities since 2003, will replace retiring Jeff Tayer to oversee the agency’s work in Kittitas, Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties.

“Mike’s experience with challenging issues in the Tri-Cities district, along with his earlier work with tribes and the federal government, has prepared him well for this new role,” said WDFW Deputy Director Joe Stohr.

Livingston has been involved with wildlife projects involving shrub-steppe habitat, the U.S. Army’s Yakima Training Center, the Yakama Nation, threatened wildlife such as ferruginous hawks and burrowing owls as well as managing the growing number elk in the Hanford area.

Wyoming top state for elk fundraising

HUNTING – Wyoming is No. 1 fundraising state for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Over the past six years, Wyoming had consistently finished second to America’s most populous state, California, but the Cowboy State came out on top in 2011.

The foundation is an international conservation outfit based in Missoula. Its mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat.

In 2011, Wyoming chapters of foundation raised $1.4 million, edging second-place California by nearly $11,000.

Foundation President David Allen says Wyoming residents are proud of their wild country, elk herds and hunting heritage, and they’re clearly willing to invest to keep them all in top shape.

Associated Press