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Senator Doug Kary, Senate District 22 in the Billings Heights, made a conscious statement, heard by many at a the Fish, Wildlife and Park Region 5 Citizen’s Advisory Council meeting this past December. He said he didn’t believe wildlife was a public resource. It is hardly an exaggeration that Kary believes those who would commercialize and/or privatize our publicly owned wildlife are the true owners of said wildlife, not the general public.

The U.S. Supreme Court first clarified that wildlife is indeed the property of we the people, in 1842 and again in 1896. Kary’s personal opinion runs contrary to U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Why are Kary and others so intent on giving a public resource over to private hands? Why are some politicians are so willing to allow landowners with no skin in the game to benefit on the backs of Montana’s sportsmen and women?

There are many Montana hunters in Kary’s Senate District who disagreed with him on his late season elk hunt proposal, Senate Bill 245. So why the use of words like "pseudo" to describe hunters who opposed SB245? That shows either a complete misunderstanding of Montana’s publicly owned wildlife or a complete disrespect of the many who opposed this bill. No one has called Kary a pseudo-legislator.

It would seem I’m mad at Kary. I’m not. I wish he had contacted one of the local or statewide sportsmen’s groups and vetted his intentions, instead of following the lead of outfitters prior to and during the Legislature. Montana sportsmen and women predictably become upset and protective of their public trust resources, especially when there are attempts at giving them to commercial or private interests.

SB245 would have been devastating to Montanans, who collectively own the wildlife. Furthermore, without skin in the game by landowners, the commercialization of a public trust resource would have grown unrestricted with the help of SB245.

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Sen. Kary, you and many others need to own your vote and your actions, this includes answering to your constituents.

J.W. Westman

Park City

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Opinion Editor

Opinion editor for The Billings Gazette.