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Montana: Important Ammunition Bill on Governor’s Desk

Monday, May 2, 2011

House Bill 159, sponsored by state Representative Cary Smith (R-55), is legislation to restrict the authority of the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and the FWP Commission to regulate firearms and ammunition.  HB 159 is currently awaiting action by Governor Brian Schweitzer.

The need for this bill became evident in 2010 when FWP proposed regulatory changes for the 2010-2011 hunting season.  Absent one shred of scientific evidence in support of their suggested change, FWP proposed that lead shot be prohibited for all upland game bird hunting on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) throughout the state.  A review of the “Hunting Season/Quota Change Supporting Information” document prepared by FWP was shocking in that it provided absolutely NO support for this recommended policy change.

In fact, it contained multiple points indicating a lack of objective biological or scientific support for this proposed change.  Consider this quote from the FWP “support” document with respect to the requirement that even very low density grouse hunters would be prohibited from using lead shot on WMAs:  “Lead presence and accumulation under extremely low levels of lead shot shell use has not been established as a significant environmental concern.”  Or this comment which clearly shows the politicization of the issue:   “…this proposal is as much or more about programmatic message and general intent as it is about specific resource protection or management need.”  FWP should be all about managing and protecting the resource, not sending “programmatic messages”!

Their own language would indicate that this proposal was nothing more than a political and symbolic gesture.  This is of concern to the NRA because it is consistent with what we are seeing with other states moving in the direction of broader restrictions on the use of lead ammunition for hunting.  The passage of House Bill 159 would remove this purely political, potential outcome by restricting the authority of FWP to regulate this aspect of game management.

Please contact Governor Schweitzer today and respectfully urge him to sign House Bill 159 into law! The Governor can be contacted by calling (406) 444-3111 or by e-mail at brianschweitzer@mt.gov.

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