Northwest Montana Legislator Talks Wolf, Bear Hunting Bills
When I caught up with Montana's Speaker of the House Wylie Galt (R-Martinsdale) during the legislative break, I asked him about the budget, tax cuts, and a few other topics. But then I asked him, "What are you hearing about now that you're back home for the break? What's the biggest topic that folks are bringing up to you?"
Using hounds to hunt bears.
That's what the Speaker said everyone at the Mint Bar in Martinsdale wanted to talk to him about. So we tracked down the bill's sponsor.
Rep. Paul Fielder, a Republican from Thompson Falls, Montana is leading the charge in the state legislature when it comes to several bills important to sportsmen. He is also the sponsor of HB 468, which would allow hunters to hunt black bears with dogs.
Here's how he described the bill to the Helena IR's Tom Kuglin:
“In Montana, a person may take game birds, hunt mountain lions and hunt bobcats with the aid of a dog or dogs,” Fielder told the committee. “This bill simply adds black bears to the list of animals that may be hunted with a dog.”
(One quick note, in the IR piece it says that there are 33 states that allow hunters to hunt bears with dogs. Rep. Fielder informed me on the radio that 33 states have bear hunting seasons, but only 16 states allow bears to be hunted with dogs, including our neighboring state of Idaho.)
He's also the author of several other bills moving forward in the legislative session that would help the state better manage wolves, along with an effort to protect our Constitutional right to fish, hunt, and trap.
Full audio of our chat with Rep. Paul Fielder (R-Thompson Falls):