Are the Forest Service and Fish and Game trying to eliminate the senior citizen and physically handicapped people from hunting? I am 76 years old and in the last 10 years, I have witnessed almost 95 percent of the roads where I have hunted for years be closed. Most of these roads are ones adjoining private land.

There are just over 1 million residents in the state of Montana, and by constantly closing more and more roads to hunting access, we are going to cause our children and grandchildren the unfortunate loss of not being able to hunt.

So I have a few questions for the Fish and Game and Forest Service: How many animal activists and anti-hunters are you allowing to influence your decision making? By closing these roads, you are saying that only the physically strong and young can hunt. You are eliminating the option for hunters with less physical capabilities to shoot something and drive in to go get it. Unless Fish and Game and the Forest Service have some kind of super pill to help people in their 70s feel strong like they did in their 20s and 30s, this just is not going to work.

In addition, how much taxpayer money did the Forest Service spend in the last 10 years closing all these roads? Instead, that money should have been used to maintain the roads and allow hunters of all physical capabilities access to public hunting. Do you think it is right for people to have signs “No Hunting” or “No Trespassing,” then turn around and lease their land to private outfitters? “No Hunting” should mean “No Hunting,” period.

I also find it outlandish that some use the excuse of closing roads to prevent the spread of a weed or because of game security and safety; that argument lacks credibility. Even with Fish and Game’s new proposal to give private landowners one free permit if they let four hunters hunt their property, it will probably end up simply becoming a branch bull permit, and that still does nothing to satisfy the Montana public hunter.

It is time for the public hunters of the great state of Montana to take back what is ours. Fish and Game and Forest Service entities, it is time for you to start answering some of these questions.

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Unequivocally,

John Nichovich

East Helena

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