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PNS Daily Newscast - November 16, 2018 


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MT Hunters Urge Congressional Delegates to Protect Sage Grouse

Hunters and sportsmen are asking their delegations in Congress to support the BLM's sage-grouse conservation plans that were finalized last year. (USDA/Flickr)
Hunters and sportsmen are asking their delegations in Congress to support the BLM's sage-grouse conservation plans that were finalized last year. (USDA/Flickr)
September 30, 2016

HELENA, Mont. – Groups representing thousands of Montana hunters and sportsmen are asking the state's Congressional delegates to support the Bureau of Land Management's conservation plans for sage grouse approved last year.

Signers of letters to U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines and Congressman Ryan Zinke include the Montana Bowhunters Association, the Anaconda Sportsmen's Club and others. The groups are speaking up as members of Congress debate a provision for sage-grouse protections that was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017.

John Bradley, eastern Montana field staff for the Montana Wildlife Federation, said there was no need to include the birds in this bill.

"We're trying to urge Congress: we shouldn't be using these multiple-use public lands to score political points with this attempt on the rider of the National Defense Authorization Act," he said.

Earlier this year, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop included a rider on the annual military spending bill that would block sage-grouse protections under the Endangered Species Act through 2026 and transfer conservation efforts to states.

Bishop has said if the bird is listed as endangered, it could inhibit military readiness by restricting training in the range areas, although the Army, Navy, and Air Force all have issued letters denying this.

Bradley said the BLM conservation plans aren't perfect, but they do have a multiple-use mandate that took a large collaborative effort to develop, among groups with diverse interests. And he doesn't believe states have the resources to manage these millions of acres of public lands.

"In addition to endangering the survival of the sage grouse, they threaten the continued availability of public land for ranchers to graze cattle on, for energy development, and then of course, as sportsmen, other activities, like hunting, angling, hiking, backpacking, camping," Bradley explained.

The National Defense Authorization Act is not likely to pass until after the election.

Eric Tegethoff/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - MT