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Three Hunters Cited In Canyon Ferry Incident

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0
Elk herd at rest in a field

Shooting into a large elk herd may not be illegal, but is it ethical?

Experts say, "not really."

But that's just what happened last weekend in the White's Gulch area on the east side of Canyon Ferry Reservoir outside Helena.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Justin Feddes says hunters spotted a herd of about 500 elk at first light on Sunday. Feddes reports they started shooting, which scattered the rest of the herd onto a mix of private and public lands.

By the end of it, 30 elk lay dead. A handful of others were seriously wounded. Feddes says no one knows how many others were wounded, but still able to walk. He points out that not everyone there acted irresponsibly. Several hunters were taking good shots and making sure other animals weren't behind the one in their sights. Three citations were issued; all for hunting without landowner permission.

Jim Posewitz is a conservation advocate. He founded Orion The Hunter's Institute, which is considered by many to be the premier hunter ethics organization in North America.

Posewitz says what happened last Sunday morning near White's Gulch was clearly unethical.

"Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and all of their hunter education coordinators spend a lot of time stressing the importance of the relationship between the hunters and the hunted," said Posewitz. "It's a very personal thing. The idea of shooting into a herd of animals that are at a distinct disadvantage is simply unacceptable behavior by the common moral standards of Montana Hunters."

We'll have more tomorrow on last Sunday's White's Gulch incident and hunting ethics.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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