The 2022 Elk Management Symposium seeks resolution to vexing wildlife challenges.
Hunters, wildlife managers, and landowners are coming together in Bozeman to discuss the state of elk management in Montana and brainstorm policy ideas to improve hunting opportunities and relationships between hunters and landowners.
The 2022 Elk Management Symposium will be hosted at the Rialto Theater in Bozeman on Saturday August 13th, from 10am to 5pm. The event is free, but attendees must RSVP here. If you're interested, but can't make the full day there will be a live stream available as well.
Randy Newberg, the Bozeman-based host of the hunting TV series Fresh Tracks, will moderate the first panel. He says the event was organized because elk management in Montana is at an important crossroads.
“Decisions are being made that will impact how we hunt, where we hunt, and the legacy of wildlife in Montana,” Newberg said. “This is an opportunity for Montanans to engage in the policies that are impacting us and to identify solutions that bring landowners and hunters closer together, while protecting equitable hunting opportunities for everyone.”
The symposium will be hosted by the Montana Citizens' Elk-Management Coalition, who formed last year to identify and advance equitable and practical elk management policies that can solve contentious wildlife-management issues rather than exacerbate them.
It will bring together well-known wildlife experts, state lawmakers, hunters, and landowners for a full day of panel discussions and presentations. Topics include how to effectively participate in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ pending elk-management plan; the most current science on how disease, predators, and hunter pressure affect elk distribution; and management lessons from neighboring states.
Panelists include Kathy Hadley, a retired rancher in the Deer Lodge Valley, who has been a leader in Montana conservation since the 1980s when she helped draft both Block Management and Habitat Montana legislation; Rep. Denley Loge (R-St. Regis), a Block Management cooperator; Scott Hibbard, a landowner, author, and member of the Devil's Kitchen working group; and Dan Vermillion, a former chair of the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The event also features an afternoon "Solutions Session" with participation from several state lawmakers including Senators Jeff Wellborn and Tom Jacobsen. According to event panelist Kathy Hadley, this session is intended to lay the groundwork for new legislative ideas and future policy fixes.
“Montanans were challenged by these same issues in the 1980s and '90s, and we came together to create highly successful hunting and conservation programs like Block Management and the Habitat Montana program,” Hadley said. “Now, it’s time for us to think big again and put the best ideas into action.”