September 22, 2019

By The Company You Keep

*Editor’s Note* – The following by James Beers is another perspective and response to the letter I published yesterday about an effort to ban trapping on public lands. Please refer to my article for my view point and a copy of the letter Mr. Beers refers to in his article below.

By the Company You Keep

To whom it may concern:

The following letter from Mr. Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Foundation was forwarded to me by Dr. Charles Kay, Wildlife Ecologist at my Alma Mater, Utah State University. I consider them both good friends and front line allies in the war (the correct word) to save rural America’s culture and traditions as well our Constitutional rights. I hold each of them in the highest regard.

Mr. Marbut is writing the letter a Montana State lawyer/bureaucrat to resist an initiative in Montana to ban trapping on public lands.

Trapping has always been a prime target by animal rights radicals and environmental extremists for eradication as a third (after introducing deadly and destructive predators and banning guns) step in destroying rural American economies, families and property values. A little tale about trapping and those that would eradicate it is in order.

In the late 1990’s near the end of the reign of President Clinton, the 2nd woman (oh there is such joy in remembering that “achievement”) Director of US Fish and Wildlife Service and her (former Congressional staffer) Assistant in charge of the millions in state excise taxes stolen from state fish and wildlife programs only a few years earlier were outraged when the European Union backed down from a 6-year threat to ban all furs from the US, Canada and Russia unless they banned the leghold trap.

Now the leghold trap is the only effective, tried and true method to harvest the annual renewable take of furs by private trappers for the fur market and the best control method by private and government control agents to catch and transfer or kill deadly, destructive and harmful animals. The US was the largest exporter of furs followed by Canada and then Russia. Europe was the largest importer of furs in the world. UN politicians and bureaucrats were bribed and cajoled by the same radicals and extremists behind all the government campaigns that are destroying Rural America as I write this. The Director at the time and her Assistant were in the pockets of those radicals, thus their outrage about the European Union back-down since they has been promising the radicals and extremists that they would be successful.

During the final year of the reign of President Clinton, the Assistant met with White House and OMB politicos and tried hard to get an Executive Order signed by the President BANNING TRAPPING ON ALL FEDERAL LANDS. He was unsuccessful mainly, I guess, because a Presidential Election was right around the corner and the trapping ban and all the inevitable economic loss to trappers and furriers (many, many millions) plus the inevitable explosion of animal damage without any available remedy was sure to cause significant vote ripples.

So the other Party got elected anyway, and the erstwhile Director and the “Assistant”? The Director, who had made the Defenders of Wildlife THE federal wolf damage compensation Pooh-BA (a radically questionable move making it impossible for her to go to work for them for 3 years) was hired by the National Wildlife Federation (mouthwash, please) in a high-paying non-job from which she was “let-go” with a golden parachute “package in 2 years and after a one-year hiatus was hired by (guess-who?)
the Defenders of Wildlife where today she reigns as Queen of DOW.

And, what of the Assistant? He was kept around as a “Science Advisor” for 8 years by the reputed “opposition” party until the current Party took over despite all the mess Bush left. Soon the old “Assistant”/”Science Advisor” was named Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service where he reigns as he “services” the rest of us, especially Rural America.

So, I ask you: if we are known by the company we keep, who do you stand with? Is it two brave American heroes like Mr. Marbut and Dr. Kay or two ne’er-do-wells like the Queen of the Defenders of Wildlife and the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service?

As for me, I stand with Mr. Marbut and Dr. Kay and ask you to do the same. We truly are known by the company we keep.

(Mr. Marbut’s letter follows.)[Please follow this link for a copy of the letter in reference.]

Jim Beers
27 January 2014

If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others. Thanks.

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting. You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to: jimbeers7@comcast.net

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An Initiative to Ban Trapping on Public Lands in Montana

HeritageVanceIt has been brought to my attention that an organization named Footloose Montana, is attempting to gather enough signatures for a citizens’ initiative to ban trapping on public lands. Among many others, the Montana Trappers Association opposes such a restriction.

I was recently sent a copy of an email from Gary Marbut at the Montana Shooting Sports Association. That email was a copy of information, i.e. history, etc. of the current Montana constitutional amendment that was passed in Montana, through citizen initiative in 2004. Below is a copy of the comments submitted to Jon Bennion from the Montana Department of Justice.

As you read through the comments, observe the transformation of language through the movement of an amendment whose intent was to forever protect hunting, fishing and trapping. Forget about what was intended in the original language, the change of language was a direct rewriting of the bill, watered down to mostly a worthless piece of undefined nonsense.

I have written about other state’s attempts at crafting some kind of constitutional amendment to protect hunting, fishing and trapping and by and large, they all end up with basically the same language. One might suspect a conspiracy or perhaps ignorance begets more ignorance as with each attempt at a bill to preserve hunting, fishing and trapping, it’s only a matter of copying the language of other bills that have come before.

I’m not a lawyer and have never played one on television. But, I’m not stupid. I’ve hunted and fished my entire life, so far, and I want to be able to do that until I die and I want to be able to do that with the freedoms and of the same time capacity as I always have. Such nonsensical jumbled up destruction of legal mumbo jumbo only serves to insure “opportunity”. Why not language that requires fish and game departments to manage wildlife for MAXIMUM surplus harvest?

According to the email, the author of the original language of Montana’s proposal for a constitutional amendment, wrote that the state of Montana will manage fish and wildlife to “preserve opportunities for the harvest.” Nothing here actually offers maximums, only minimums. The request is for the state to manage wildlife for opportunity to hunt, fish and trap. In its worst form if the state auctioned off one elk tag per year, under this amendment the state has preserved an opportunity. I suppose some might argue that the wording is plural, therefore at least two tags must be issued to two people.

Once the political crooks got done with the language, very little ended up changing, in my opinion. Perhaps now that some environmentalist totalitarians want to ban trapping on public lands, Montana citizens and their hunting heritage protection constitutional amendment will be tested.

As you can see from the email, the person who crafted the original language, states what the intent was. And we can see what the crooks in the state capital did to intent.

Preservation of harvest heritage. The opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state and does not create a right to trespass on private property or diminution of other private rights.

That’s the entire amendment. When you trust your own government officials to protect your interests, you end up hanging yourself, going to your grave with “good intentions.” Politicians will never hogtie themselves to responsibility. That is why all bills are crafted in such as way so that when lawyers get done with the language, it may as well have been written in German to begin with.

Here is a copy of the email I received:

Jon Bennion
Montana Department of Justice

Dear Mr. Bennion,

The purpose of this communication is to provide comment concerning the proposed initiative to ban trapping on public lands.

Specifically, we believe that major parts of this proposed initiative are in conflict with the Montana Constitution. We urge that this proposal be returned to proponents with instructions from your office to correct those conflicts.

History

In 1992, the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) proposed a constitutional initiative, specifically CI-62, to put protection for hunting into the Montana Constitution. I, personally, wrote the language of CI-62. The operative language of CI-62 was, “The people of the state retain the right to hunt game animals. This right is vested in the individual citizen and shall forever remain inviolate.” CI-62 failed to gain sufficient signatures to gain ballot status, largely because of the organized opposition to signature-gathering by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

In 2003, MSSA sought to achieve the same result via a legislative referendum. I solicited Rep. Joe Balyeat to submit a bill draft request to the Legislative Services Division for this purpose. I provided Rep. Balyeat with language revised from CI-62, which he submitted to the LSD for bill drafting. The language I provided to Rep. Balyeat was:

” NEW SECTION. Section 1. Article II of The Constitution of the State of Montana is amended by adding a new section 36 that reads:

” Section 36. Preservation of harvest heritage. (1) The harvest of wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state. The heritage does not create a right of trespass on private property and is subject to regulation by law.

” (2) The state shall manage fish and wildlife to preserve opportunities for the harvest of wild fish and wild game animals by the citizens of the state.”

There are two important issues about the language submitted in 2003. First, I intended that this constitutional protection be included in Article II of the Montana Constitution, the Declaration of Rights. Mr. Greg Petesch, the chief legal officer for the LSD preferred placing this new language into Article IX, but assured us that the language would have the same effect there as if it had been incorporated into Article II.

Second, I very deliberately changed the language from CI-62 to “harvest of wild fish and wild game animals” specifically to include fishing and trapping. One of the complaints MSSA had received about the language of CI-62 was from the Montana Trappers Association that the language of CI-62 did not protect trapping. I thought that to be a valid criticism and revised the language submitted to the LSD in 2003, again specifically to sweep trapping into the proposed constitutional protection.

This bill draft was introduced into the 2003 legislative session by Rep. Balyeat as House Bill 306. The introduced language read as:

” NEW SECTION. Section 1. Article IX of The Constitution of the State of Montana is amended by adding a new section 6 that reads:

” Section 6. Preservation of harvest heritage. (1) The harvest of wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state, does not create a right to unauthorized trespass on private property or diminution of other private rights, and, for state residents, may be abridged only by general regulation necessary to further a compelling state interest.

” (2) The state shall manage publicly owned fish and wildlife to preserve opportunities for the harvest of wild fish and wild game animals by the citizens of the state.”

HB 306 passed the House by a vote of 81-17 and the Senate by a vote of 49-1, sufficient majorities for it to be referred to the ballot as a constitutional referendum in the general election of 2004, C-41. The intent for the language of HB 306 to also protect trapping was definitely a part of the discussion of HB 306 in legislative committee and floor sessions.

I recall that C-41 was approved at the ballot in 2004 by the highest percentage of the Montana electorate of any constitutional change ever made in Montana’s history. As MSSA campaigned among the public for the passage of C-41, we certainly portrayed part of the intent for this constitutional change as needed to protect trapping. I believe that to protect trapping is one of the reasons such a substantial majority of the electors voting on the measure voted for C-41.

The language finally passed in HB 306, subsequently approved at the 2004 General Election ballot by the people of Montana, and now in the Montana Constitution at Article IX, Section 7, is: ” Preservation of harvest heritage. The opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state and does not create a right to trespass on private property or diminution of other private rights.”

Conclusion

As demonstrated above, it was very clearly my intent in drafting the language submitted to the LSD that trapping be included within the protection of C-41. It was the intent of the Legislature to protect trapping with HB 306. And, it was the intent of the people of Montana to give trapping constitutional protection with C-41.

Because Article IX, Section 7 of the Montana Constitution clearly protects trapping of game animals, the proposed initiative must be revised substantially in order to pass constitutional muster, if that can be done at all, before it is allowed to proceed.

Sincerely,

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