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HELENA — Long-time Helena rancher John Baucus was lauded this week by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission for his conservation efforts and his many years as a board member for TIP-MONT.

"John is ending 23 years with TIP-MONT, and I want to take this opportunity to offer our heartfelt thanks," said Commission Chairman Bob Ream. "During those years, we saw the program grow from a fledgling and underutilized means of reporting unlawful resource activity to one which now fields over 2,000 calls annually."

He added that Baucus' "methodical approach" in helping the program grow, as well as his aid in how to reward those who call in with information, has been a huge benefit to the program.

Ream also thanked Nina Baucus, noting how the entire family has made significant contributions to Montana's wild resources.

"Your stewardship of the family ranch has been a huge boon to all species of wildlife in the area," Ream said. "Cooperation in long-term projects such as conservation easements has helped to ensure the sustainability of important habitats in the Missouri River drainage. You have and continue to share the Sieben Ranch with the public by allowing a huge amount of access for a wide range of activities.

"And your support of conservation law enforcement, both on the TIP-MONT board and also in day-to-day vigilance over those who would abuse and exploit our wild resources is second to none."

The TIP-MONT (Turn in Poachers Montana) program was established in 1985 to protect Montana's fish, wildlife, parks, and forest resources. Under the TIP-MONT program, people can call FWP at 800-847-6668 and report hunting, fishing and trespassing violations. They can remain anonymous, and can receive up to a $1,000 reward if their information leads to an arrest.

Baucus thanked the commission for allowing him to serve on the board, and noted that TIP-MONT is a worthy program that helps a lot of people.

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"We certainly deal with hunters on our ranch and there's certainly been frustrating moments with a small minority of them," Baucus said. "But serving on the board, and with the good staff, you get a different perspective of what it takes to manage hunters. TIP-MONT keeps the hunter ethic out there and reminds them what hunting is about."

He noted that it's often a tough decision for people to turn in their friends, neighbors or even family members for illegal activities, but TIP-MONT makes it easier for people to make the right choice.

"It's got a high degree of confidentiality, and 90 percent of the time people are not after the money; they just see somebody doing something that's wrong and they can only tolerate that for so long," Baucus said.

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