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Boone and Crockett Club Continues Crusade for Public Wildlife


The Public Trust Doctrine is at the heart of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, but public ownership of wildlife isn’t a given.

Attempts to privatize wildlife are all around us, especially as all 50 state legislatures have gaveled into session in 2023. The Boone and Crockett Club has and will continue to stand guard against these misguided attempts to ascribe private ownership rights to our most cherished wildlife. That’s why we led a group of conservation organizations in opposition to Montana Senate Bill 287, which would undermine the state’s ability to manage wildlife as a public resource, fundamentally alter the financial capacity of the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department, and erode public support for conservation and wildlife management in our home state of Montana. Read the full letter that was sent to Montana Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, Majority Floor Leader below or download the PDF at right.

February 22, 2023

Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, Majority Floor Leader
Montana State Capitol
1301 E 6th Ave.
Helena, MT 59601

Re: SB 287; Revise property laws

Dear Senate Majority Floor Leader Fitzpatrick:

We write in ongoing opposition to SB 287, as it undermines the state’s ability to manage wildlife as a public resource and would fundamentally alter the financial capacity of the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department while eroding the public support for conservation and wildlife management in Montana.

We sympathize with the people who were impacted by the passage of I-143 in 2000, however this legislation goes much farther than a simple remedy for lost income or damages to their businesses. However, our counsel’s reading of the bill is, if passed, landowners would have grounds to sue the state for any licensing change that impacts their outfitting or access lease business. This would, in practice, turn private land into private hunting preserves, with no reasonable regulation associated with the management of wildlife. This is an unacceptable reality for our community.

Wildlife in the state of Montana is a public trust, held for all and owned by no one person, as in the rest of the United States. This public resource should be managed for the benefit of all citizens and not simply for the benefit of one self-interest. Further, as resident hunters, landowners and outfitters are now working together to pass legislation that means to build bridges, and work on a new season setting proposal in 2023/2024, this bill would undermine that effort. Under your leadership, Sen. Fitzpatrick, and the leadership of the Governor, this session is far less chaotic and challenging on wildlife management issues, and that is greatly appreciated. However, if this bill continues to move forward, we fear that peace will be broken.

For these reasons, we continue to oppose SB 287 and urge you and your caucus to vote no on this misguided proposal.


Boone and Crockett Club | Delta Waterfowl | Ducks Unlimited | Mule Deer Foundation | Pheasants Forever-Quail Forever | Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation | Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership | Wild Sheep Foundation

Read more about the North American Model here.

More About the Boone and Crockett Club

Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club promotes guardianship and visionary management of big game and associated wildlife in North America. The Club maintains the highest standards of fair chase sportsmanship and habitat stewardship. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. Click here to learn more about the Boone and Crockett Club.