On the heels of the defeat of I-177 (the 2016 anti-trapping initiative), and in light of the growing vegan/anti-hunting movement in America, I asked Montana sportsmen if they would like to work toward a Constitutional Amendment to protect hunting, fishing, and trapping in Montana once and for all. The answer was a resounding YES!


 After several weeks of intensive work, we agreed to propose the language of SB 236 in 2017. SB 236 can be easily read at:



  1. It will ask Montana voters to AMEND the Montana Constitution to strengthen and safeguard the right of Montana citizens to harvest fish and wildlife via hunting, fishing, or trapping;
  1. It will ACKNOWLEDGE, in no uncertain terms, that the right to hunt, fish, and trap is essential to pursuing life's basic necessities; 
  1. And it will ALLOW wildlife management and conservation to continue through State laws and FWP regulations that seek to:
  1. Scientifically manage fish and wildlife populations (i.e. the State must rely on reasoned scientific analysis rather than unscientific/emotionally driven arguments); and
  1. Protect persons and property from threats or harm caused by wildlife (i.e. quagga mussels and other invasive species can be contained and eradicated, livestock depredation and land owner tolerance programs can continue, wildlife that threatens people can continue to be dealt with according to law); and
  1. Make use of public (citizen) hunting, fishing, and trapping to control wildlife populations when possible. For example, when fish or wildlife populations need to be reduced, the State will give preference to citizen hunters/anglers/trappers if the job can be done that way. It will also protect current lawful means and methods of hunting fishing and trapping – in other words, if it’s a legal form of harvest now, it will be protected. That includes ceremonial native American bison hunts, compound and traditional bow hunting, current lawful trapping techniques, modern and traditional firearms, use of lion hounds and bird dogs, etc. However, hunting, fishing, and trapping will still be subject to State licensing and FWP Commission regulations.


That is what the bill does. If the legislature passes SB 236, the issue will be placed on the General Election ballot for voter approval in November 2018.


Some critics say we don’t need this change, but the actions of the animal rights movement and the cost to sportsmen to battle against their relentless campaigns clearly demonstrate otherwise. Since 2010, 10 States have enacted very strong Constitutional protections of the Right to Hunt, Fish and Trap. If the sports men and women of Montana band together in support of SB236, we can enact strong protections in our State too. Please don’t let partisan politics divide us. We need to work together!


I encourage each Montana sportsman and sportswoman to read the bill for themselves. If there are any changes needed to improve the bill, it is not too late to bring ideas to the table. As a fellow hunter and angler, I remain open to working with any and all sportsmen who share the goal of strengthening and preserving our blessed outdoor harvest heritage.



Jennifer Fielder, Chair - Montana Senate Fish and Game Committee