"In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds, the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extinction." - Theodore Roosevelt
The MOGA Hunter/Angler Defense Fund (MHADF) was established to ensure that non-resident sportsmen will continue to have the opportunity to hunt and fish in Montana.
Trophy hunting and sport fishing, particularly by non-residents, is under increasing pressure in Montana from radical groups both within the state and animal rights activists outside of the state. Although these groups differ in their composition and tactics they both seek the same outcome; reduced hunting and fishing opportunity. The in-state contingent, who purport to be "sportsmen" seek to fracture the hunting and angling community along lines of residence and then significantly restrict non-resident hunting and fishing opportunity. The anti-hunting group just seeks to reduce hunting opportunity and will take what gains they can. In both cases, success is measured by a net loss in opportunity in Montana. Unfortunately they are both making gains.
The anti-hunting pressure from the "anti-everything" organizations is strong and well organized. They have unlimited resources and are using new strategies and building alliances to lobby their agendas. Their relentless efforts to prevent delisting of wolves and grizzly bears and thwart effective and professional management for these species are but one example.
Fringe groups, led by the Montana Wildlife Federation, believe that outfitting services equate to the commercialization of wildlife and profess it to be the same as the outlawed practice of market hunting of years ago. They claim that fees paid for Outfitter services, leasing of land for quality hunting and fishing access, and the purchase of outfitters services for fishing constitute a breach of the Public Trust and that jeopardizes the publics opportunity enjoy the natural bounty of Montana.
They see reducing the guided non-resident opportunity as a means to enhance their personal opportunity at the expense of others. They ignore the huge contribution to Montana's wildlife and fisheries management system that non-residents make and the vital economic contribution they sustain. Their tactics of misinformation and fear mongering fracture and weaken the overall hunting community; jeopardizing funding for effective management of natural resources in Montana.
Unfortunately, much of the public are misinformed or under informed. As hunters and anglers,
we must be vigilant and diligent about relaying the benefits of hunting and fishing to the 70% of
people who sit "in the middle". MOGA will continue to take the lead in supporting sound,
scientifically based resource management, and our members will continue to serve as active
stewards of Montana's natural and cultural heritage.
MOGA is the only organization within Montana that is dedicated to preserving sporting opportunities for nonresidents, including the opportunities for guided hunts, floats, and fishing trips.
If we want hunting to be around for future generations we must have our story told; that hunters and anglers, regardless of where they live, are the true conservationists because hunters pay for conservation and have willingly done so for years. It is a certainty that our opportunity to hunt and fish will be lost if we are fragmented by where we are from, the equipment we use, the species we pursue or the reasons we hunt.
About the MOGA Hunter/Angler Defense Fund
MOGA members charge their sportsmen clients a $50.00 fee. This contribution is collected by the outfitter, held in-trust for MOGA, and remitted at year end.
In the last decade, MOGA has successfully beaten back efforts that would have:
· decreased the number of nonresident hunting licenses available by 10% a year for four years;
· increased the price of the moose, sheep, and goat licenses to over $1,000,
· placed a cap on non-resident bird licenses
· fought to preserve the non-resident Outfitter Sponsored license
· provided a full time lobbyist during legislative sessions to maintain and extend non-resident opportunities in Montana.
In recent legislative sessions MOGA sponsored and supported legislation that will:
· protect outfitter businesses from frivolous lawsuits through the passage of legislation that recognized inherent risk and waivers of liability in Montana
· created a First Responders program that placed HIGHLY experienced legal council in my corner should my business suffer as serious accident
· allow non-residents to participate in a preference point system; useful in making hunting plans to Montana far more predictable
· split off a portion of the combination licenses for a refund should they be unsuccessful in special permit drawings
· provided greater opportunity for non-resident youth hunter
· reduced significantly the workers compensation payments required by small businesses like mine resulting in a direct savings to me
· reduced the tax burden on business equipment; another direct savings for me as a small business operator
In recent FWP Commission Action MOGA successfully argued for:
· Liberalized black bear seasons
· Extended wolf hunting opportunity
· Adoption of a hybrid (permit/quota) system in Region 2
· Increased limited archery elk permits in the Breaks and outside the Breaks