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Guest view: Wildlife, fish and the great outdoors, do your homework

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As we talk with our neighbors and friends about our hunting, fishing and outdoor adventures, one thing we share is our love and gratitude to live in Montana. Here we have access to world class wildlife, fish and wildland resources that is second to none. We didn’t get here by chance. It took leadership and vision by private landowners, public land managers, resource advocates, wildlife and fish managers and the support of our elected officials.

We know the political divide is currently great. However, this mantra of “vote for one party” is harmful. As hunters and anglers, it is imperative that we scrutinize candidates. What is their voting history in regards to public lands and wildlife? Are they influenced by special interests? Do they support that wildlife and waterways belong to the people of Montana and not just a few lucky, wealthy citizens? These elected officials will have a huge say in how we will hunt, fish and recreate in the years to come.

This year we will have the opportunity to select an additional legislator to the U.S. Congress to represent Montanan’s interests. The differences between the candidates in regards to how they will develop and support resource policies are striking. Currently the wildlife and fish in our beautiful state belong to all of us. We are also blessed with huge, sprawling, wild public lands. These are too important to all of us to entrust to someone who doesn’t have their roots in the land and an understanding of what Montanans’ need. Outside, wealthy interests are looking to develop and capitalize on our public land and wildlife resources. We need a representative in Washington who can stand up to outside interests and has a record of battling and winning against attempts to privatize and limit public access to these resources.

Ryan Zinke has no strong ties to the land. He has turned his back on Montana for “grander” promotions. As Secretary of the Interior (a position he had to resign from in disgrace), he scrapped the national plan to protect sage grouse habitat, and removed protections from thousands of acres of public land to oil and gas leasing and development, permanently altering your public land and wildlife. He oversaw the placement of William Perry Pendley, a person who spent much of his career calling for the sell off our public lands, to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Zinke was given a chance to show that he could represent Montanans’ interests and he failed. It’s one thing to say you’re for hunters, anglers and the lands and waters we all enjoy, and another to actually conserve special places and strike a balance on the management of our public lands.

Monica Tranel is opposing Zinke. She has the knowledge, skills and experience to provide the Congressional leadership Montana deserves. She grew up in rural Eastern Montana, one of several children where chores and hard work were the norm. She is an avid outdoors person herself and understands how important our hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities are to all of us. As a skilled litigator, she has stood up to and won against outside interests. As a citizen she has testified before the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, standing up for your public trust, wildlife and fish resources. If elected to Congress she will defend our wildlife, fish, water, wildlands and our outdoor way of life.

We all need to put partisanship aside, and look at whose background and record clearly shows support for our beliefs as hunters, fisherman and outdoor recreationists. It’s clear that Monica Tranel should be our representative in Congress.

Tom Puchlerz, retired biologist U.S. Forest Service, Stevensville; Kathy Hadley, hunter, angler and conservationist, Deer Lodge; Chris Servheen, retired biologist U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missoula.


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