Outfitters want TV host blocked from RMEF board

2013-02-18T13:39:00Z 2013-02-20T16:04:04Z Outfitters want TV host blocked from RMEF boardBy BRETT FRENCH french@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Some Montana outfitters are asking the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to withdraw its nomination of national TV hunting show host Randy Newberg to its board of directors.

In an email from the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association to all RMEF board members, management and other state outfitter associations, director Mac Minard stated Wednesday that “outfitters from several states have expressed concern” because Newberg “is affiliated with, and often represents one or more organizations that some perceive to be anti-outfitting/landowner often presenting the western Outfitting Industry in a negative light.”

Minard’s email goes on to say that Montana-based outfitters "have indicated they may withdraw donations to RMEF if the appointment goes through.”

The email was posted on Newberg’s Hunt Talk blog.

Newberg is the man behind a popular hunting show called “On Your Own Adventures,” in which he travels across Montana as well as to other states while describing how hunters can replicate similar low-cost hunts. The show airs on the Sportsman Channel.

Newberg is also a CPA and a Bozeman resident. In the past two legislative sessions he has testified on bills that would affect hunters and anglers.

“Seems MOGA is trying to split the hunting community and forcing RMEF to choose between guided hunters and non-guided hunters,” Newberg wrote in his blog.

Newberg wrote that MOGA’s email prompted outfitters to call and email RMEF, threatening that if the group seated Newberg, donations would be pulled, banquet attendance would cease and RMEF memberships would be dropped.

“This effort, an effort most would classify as extortion, seems to be the way the fringe operates these days,” Newberg wrote. “Personal agendas of a few within an organization allows them to go so far as to use RMEF and the RMEF mission as a tool of leverage to try (to) take another whack at me and the viewers/readers I am asked to represent.”

So far, the RMEF has rebuffed the outfitters’ lobbying effort. But Newberg intimated in his blog that he may withdraw his name rather than risk damaging the foundation and its work.

“The goal, mission, and work of RMEF is far more important than my board position,” he wrote.

Minard told The Gazette that MOGA has no position on Newberg’s appointment to the RMEF board and he was simply providing information to members as well as outfitters who called him from Idaho and Wyoming asking who they should contact to oppose Newberg’s appointment.

“This isn’t a coordinated MOGA attack,” Minard said. “This was simply me responding to people who had contacted me.”

Phone calls to Newberg and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for comments were not immediately returned.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a Missoula-based national conservation group that works to acquire and improve wildlife habitat as well as support the release of elk to new habitat. Much of its funding comes from banquets held in different regions, as well as from its membership.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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