FWP game wardens are pulling out the stops to try to derail HB 281 tomorrow, conducting a publicity campaign AGAINST HB 281, including (it’s been reported to me) that they’ve been trying to rally opposition on their Facebook page, plus eliminating any comments that disagree with their position. Here’s my take, which you are welcome to repost elsewhere, including on the game wardens’ Facebook page (for whatever good that will do):
The problem is an institutional one. FWP presses wardens hard to make "numbers" – that is, numbers of citations written and convictions achieved. FWP is very proud of and brags about its "numbers." FWP repeatedly cites its "numbers" to create the perception that its enforcement division is effective.
However, there is a problem with this. In order to make "numbers", wardens find it much easier (it is) to bust normally lawful hunters for failing to dot some "I" or cross some "T". I could write a book citing these trivial citations. Let me give you just one example (although I have scores of them).
An 80-year-old North Dakota man was deer hunting in eastern Montana, on private property with permission, with a proper license, wearing orange – everything legal. He shot a deer and tagged it in the blowing snow. A game warden came along and cited the hunter for improper tagging, because when the hunter cut out the proper date on his tag (he did), he also cut out just a bit of an adjacent day. The game warden confiscated the hunter’s deer. The hunter had to travel back to Montana from North Dakota for his day in court, whereupon the judge dismissed the citation. Still, the hunter lost his deer, never to be returned, and he had to make a second trip to Montana to appear in court. I don’t know if he had to hire a lawyer.
This is not a "campfire story." I heard this from the sheriff of the county where this incident occurred. The sheriff subsequently charged the game warden with criminal trespass over this incident, and the warden was convicted by a jury.
Okay, just one more. We’ve all seen in the recent news about the game warden with a game wardens