A coalition of Hill County landowners, upset with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, have decided they are done with the department and are closing their property to the hunters they have always allowed on their land.
About 17 property owners with land totaling 50,000 acres have joined the few farmers and ranchers who said at the FWP Commission meeting last week that they were going to cut access, after the commission voted 4 to 1 to buy the Milk River Ranch, against the wishes of more than 100 attendees.
At the meeting Dan Redding and Bruce Kapperud told the commission that they thought FWP purchasing nearly 3,000 acres of the ranch, owned by brothers David and Verges Aageson, for more than $4 million was a mistake.
And in response to the commission’s pushing through vocal opponents, they have decided to close their land and post no-hunting signs on their property.
Kapperud said this morning that he has no problem with the Aagesons or their wanting to sell their land. He’s just feels ignored by FWP.
“The main reason, I guess, is we felt that the price was too high, and the way it was pushed through and everything, ” Kapperud said. “Nobody knew anything about it until the first public hearing back in November.
Kapperud said that he has always given permission to the few dozen people who ask to hunt on his land each year. But FWP has pushed landowners too far, right off the field.
“It’s just to voice our opinion because they didn’t listen to us at their last meeting, when there were 100 people, ” Kapperud said.
Asked about what it would take for him to reopen his land, Kapperud said that, at the very least, a reassessment of the purchase as a sign that the commission cared what people thought.
“I guess if they had it reappraised and the value was where it should be, ” Kapperud said. “I would like that, but I think it’s pretty much a done deal.
“I don’t plan on (allowing hunters again) ever. ”
Kapperud also objected to how the hunters, particularly at this time of year, can mess up the winter wheat in the fields that they drive over, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if FWP managed their land better.
“FWP aren’t up there, ” Kapperud said. “We know we’re not going to see any more people up there to watch for hunters. ”
But mostly the landowners just don’t want to feel ignored.
“The main thing we’re opposing is that they just don’t seem to listen, ” Kapperud said.