^ • */2T
High spirits at
Bannack State Park
Ruining fisheries with
Is it still possible on
/? crowded waters?
The search for Montana's champion trees
f W~~ ~m
P CLOSED: A half-century ago,
the town of Bannack was donated to
the state, which has since preserved its
stores, hotels, saloons, and (some say)
spirits. Learn more about the haunted
t town state park on page 20.
<WtidIife(£L c PaiK§
STATE OF MONTANA
Judy Martz, Governor
MONTANA FISH, WILDLIFE
& PARKS COMMISSION
Dan Walker, Chairman
Tim Mulligan, Vice-Chairman
M. Jeff Hagener, Director
Chris Smith, Chief of Staff
Larry Peterman, Chief of Operations
Dan Ellison, Chief of
Administration and Finance
Ron Aasheim, Administrator
Tom Dickson, Editor
Luke Duran, Art Director
Debbie Sternberg, Circulation Manager
Dave Books, Editor Emeritus
Montana Outdoors (ISSN 0027-0016) is pub-
lished bimonthly by Montana Fish, Wildlife &
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(Please add $3 per year for Canadian sub-
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© Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 2003.
All rights reserved.
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additional mailing offices.
Volume 34, Number 4
July/ August 2003
6 Cross Currents
Montana stuggles to accommodate
the growing number of river anglers,
kayakers, and floaters. By Tom Dickson
II Montana's Trophy Trees
How do your local trees measure up
to these state champions?
By James Hagengitiber. Photos by Tom Bauer
ID Dry Beneath the Surface
It may be green and lush where you live,
but Montana's drought continues to plague
many fish and wildlife populations.
By Andrew McKean
20 Spirit of the West
Montana's premier ghost town, Bannack
State Park gives visitors a glimpse of the
state's colorful frontier past.
By John Barrows
20 Outlaw Introductions
When anglers illegally take fish manage-
ment into their own hands, the results can
be disastrous. By David Madison
31 A State Under Siege
Aquatic nuisance species are poised to
invade Montana from every direction.
What the state is doing to keep them at
bay. By Bernie Kuntz & Tom Dickson
3 NATURAL WONDERS
3 OUR POINT OF VIEW:
What We Can Do
About Elk Impacts
4 OUTDOORS REPORT
36 PARKS CALENDAR
37 OUTDOORS PORTRAIT
38 PARTING SHOT
Watch Your Back
COVER PHOTO: An angler nets
a big brown on the Beaverhead
River, at the center of a regulations
controversy. For more on Montana's
current river conflicts, see our
story on page 6. Photo by Brian
Montana Outdoors I July/ August 2003
To Cascade, not Craig
Great May/June issue, especially
the article on the Missouri River
trout fishery. One correction, how-
ever. The article states there's a
three-fish limit on the Missouri
from the Dearborn River upstream
to Craig. The three-fish limit actu-
ally extends from the Dearborn
River downstream roughly 20
miles to Cascade.
FWP Regional Fisheries Manager
Editor replies: That was our
error, not the writer's. We apolo-
gize to anglers who may have been
confused by the mistake.
54 tree rings ago
My wife, Jean, took this picture
of me in 1949 at Fish Creek
when we were going to the
University or Montana. It's listed
as the state's largest ponderosa
pine. I worked for the Montana
Fish and Game Department for a
while before moving on to the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
where for 18 years I was chief of
the Patuxent Bird Banding
Editor replies: That massive
ponderosa pine is now even bigger
than when you stood there. For an
Montana's mOSt-native not take issue with this omis-
Wildlife Species? sion, but there are some basic
I was pleased to see mention of courtesies when using someone
wild horses in recent issues of
Montana Outdoors. Horses spent
millions of years evolving in
North America and have only
been absent several thousand
years due to some post-ice age
calamity that wiped out most of
the continent's big game diver-
sity. Judging from their success
in recolonizing their old ecolog-
ical niches, I'd say they belong
here just as much as the wild
horses that are presently being
reintroduced to Mongolia,
where they were wiped out
much more recently. I imagine
that if mustangs had a trophy and 22). However, our policy is to
rack like deer or elk, they'd be not identify people in a photo
else's picture to give credence to
your magazine. 'Null said.
On the positive side, your
magazine is absolutely beautiful
and tells and illustrates the stories
very well. It should be manda-
tory reading material for all of
those who call Montana home.
EDITOR REPLIES: Mr. Troth cer-
tainly deserves recognitio?/ for his
contributions to the art of fly tying,
not to mention photography (see
his images in this issue, pages 6
considered a game species and
be much more popular with
hunters and wildlife biologists.
Camillus, New York
Troth or consequences
In the May/June issue you pic-
tured a fisherman on page 31 of
the article "Keeping the Ribbon
Blue." It might be nice if you
gave some credit to the gentle-
man, who, by all rights, is prob-
ably the most well-known fish-
erman in the state and one of
the top experts in all of North
unless their identity is relevant to
the article in which it appears.
Subsidies aren't charity
I've been in and out of
Montana's river system, both as a
ranch hand and as a fisherman,
since I was a kid in the 1960s. I
agree with Duane Phinney
("Letters," March/April issue)
that Montana's traditional con-
cept of public ownership of
waterways below the high water
mark successfully ensures multi-
ple use of the resource. However,
I take exception to his character-
ization of government payments
to agriculture as charity. This
country has had a cheap food
policy in place for generations.
Government price supports and
disaster payments should not be
seen as any different from gov-
ernment subsidies of highways,
airports, or a multitude of other
social and infrastructure pro-
grams. The expenditures for the
federal Conservation Reserve
Program, for example, will bene-
fit our country for years to come
and are a cost we pay in exchange
for growers producing food at
low prices. The fact that we do
have open spaces left with habi-
tat and associated wildlife stands
as a living tribute to the millions
of agriculturalists who preserved
it for us.
Lloyd L. Wilson III
update on the 194-foot-tall sped- America, Al Troth, of Dillon,
men and Montana's other cham- creator of the Elk Hair Caddis
pion trees, see our story on page it. fly. I am certain that Al would
2 I Jul y/August 2003 I Montana Outdoors
"Actually, /prefer to think of this as a 'gated community. '"
H- Hoiv do you
tell a cutthroat
trout from a
□ The most
says Mark Lere, FWP Fisheries
Division Habitat Restoration
Program officer, is to look for
the red or orange "cut throat"
slash on each side of the lower
jaw. Another fairly reliable indi-
cator is that cutthroats have
black spots that are more dense
toward the rear of the body,
near the tail. The rainbow
trout's black spots are more
uniformly spread out along
the body, Lere says.
Color illustrations of rainbow
and cutthroat trout
can be found in
H- What are the odds of
drawing a bighorn sheep
□• Better than those for win-
ning the state lottery, though
not by much. Hank Worsech,
chief of FWP's License Bureau,
says your chances depend on
what district you put in for,
whether you're a resident or
not, and how many other
hunters are applying. "In some
places, the odds are less than 1
in 100 most years," he says.
"But in other districts, where
access is real remote, there aren't
many sheep, or we allow ewe
hunting only, you might have a
50:50 chance or better. There's
no pat answer; it depends on a
lot of different factors."
H- The Wolverine character in
the X-Men movies and comic
books has foot-long, retractable,
razor-sharp cLiws. What about
□•According to Brian Gid-
dings, FWP furbearer coordina-
tor, wolverines do have sharp
claws, but they aren't razor
sharp, can't be drawn in like a
cat's, and are only about 1 inch
long. Unlike the fictional super-
hero character, real wolverines
don't use their claws to slash
and kill enemies, either. "They
use them mainly to excavate
ground squirrels, marmots, and
pikas, and to dig through snow
to get to elk carcasses in the
winter," Giddings says.
B Wonder about some part of
Montana's natural world? E-mail
us at: email@example.com
OUR POINT OF VIEW
JEFF HAGENER | Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
What we can do about elk impacts
At the recent legislative session, several lawmakers
told me they don't believe FWP does enough to
address the problem of expanding wildlife populations. In
particular, they said, some of their constituents are
upset that growing numbers of elk are eating their
grass, hay, or corn. Landowner groups and legislators
representing their interests maintain that FWP isn't
responding to complaints and that landowners shouldn't have to
feed the public's wildlife without compensation.
I'm sympathetic to those concerns. Over the years I've seen what
a herd of elk can do to cornfields and haystacks. I also know that
elk numbers are increasing in some areas of Montana and are caus-
ing more impacts than in years past.
The big question is whether FWP is adequately responding to
this problem. Our point of view is that we are, as much as we can.
We respond to every wildlife damage complaint we get, with-
out exception. We'll meet with the landowner, survey the situa-
tion, and offer solutions. For instance, we might open up a
hunting season earlier than usual to reduce elk numbers in that
particular area. Or hire herders to chase elk off the private prop-
erty onto public land in the spring and summer. Or pay to fence
haystacks on private land to keep elk out.
However, we don't always respond in ways every landowner
wants. Some ask for cash reimbursements for crop losses, and
others request free hunting licenses. FWP has no legal authority
to use hunters' license dollars to pay landowners for grass or
<WikUife (Si ParKs
crops consumed by wildlife, and free licenses don't reduce or pre-
vent wildlife impacts.
Some landowners who insist that FWP "do something"
about game damage won't open their property to public
« hunting. Hunting is the primary tool we use to control
wildlife populations, and, by law, we can provide
damage assistance only to landowners who allow
public hunting on their property. It's not fair for
those who shut out hunters to then expect hunters to
foot the bill for their depredation problems.
Managing a species as big and mobile as the elk is expensive,
labor-intensive, and often involves factors beyond our control.
For example, during a mild fall and winter, elk may stay up in
the high country beyond the reach of hunters. And often it's
impossible to reduce elk numbers in areas where landowners
don't allow public hunting and the elk hole up in these private
"refuges." Because one landowner's management decisions can
affect neighbors miles away, it is essential for all landowners in
an area to work together, and with this agency, to address elk
issues that affect everyone.
Elk are beautiful, majestic animals that add greatly to this state.
Most landowners I talk to agree. But like deer and antelope, elk
cause problems in some places. Part of our mission is to help
solve those problems, and we're doing that throughout Montana.
But we can't reduce wildlife impacts without the cooperation of
those seeking our assistance.
Montana Outdoors i July/ August 2003 | 3
MONTANA OUTDOORS REPORT
FWP receives much legislative
interest during 2003 session
FWP staff members tracked
more than 200 different bills
or bill drafts affecting Montana's
and state parks
remember having to follow,"
says FWP director, Jeff Hagener.
According to Hagener, much
of the voluminous legislation
was introduced due to misin-
formation about FWP pro-
grams and what the agency
legally can and can't do to man-
age fish, wildlife, and parks.
"A lot of bills really didn't need
to be there in the first place if
people had known more about
the department and its programs
and current authorities," he says.
Hagener adds that the session
highlighted the need for FWP
to do more to tell citizens and
lawmakers about its mission,
programs, and issues.
"When we would meet with
legislators and explain that what
they were proposing just wasn't
practical, a number of them
dropped their bill's introduction
or agreed to amend or table
their bill," he says.
Many bills did survive, howev-
er, often with FWP support.
Here is what the final 2003
legislation changed for anglers,
hunters, and parks users:
• The special state lands access
license was eliminated. Begin-
ning in 2004, a $2.25 fee will
be added to all resident and
Montana lawmakers prepared
200-plus bills affecting FWP.
nonresident hunting, fishing,
and trapping licenses to allow
access on most state lands.
cents of that
will help pay
£ for county
s rescue opera-
5 tions for lost
• Also beginning next year, a
$4 assessment will be added to
state vehicle license plate fees
(there is an option of not pay-
ing). Your license plate will
then work as a parks admission
sticker. Nonresidents will still
need to pay a daily fee or buy a
parks passport, good for entry
to all parks for one year.
• Starting this fall, the youth
combination license will be tree
to first-time resident hunting
license buyers age 12 to 17.
• There is now a new ten-day
nonresident fishing license
available for $43.50 — which is
$16.50 less than a full-season
• FWP was given authority to
auction a special elk and deer
license — as it does for moose and
bighorn sheep — to raise funds
• FWP can now issue a second
antlerless elk license to residents
and nonresidents in areas that
have too many elk.
• This fall, Montanans will vote
on whether to amend the state's
constitution to include lan-
guage that acknowledges the
privilege (though not the right)
to hunt and fish.
• Beginning this October 1,
anyone born after January 1 ,
1985, must have completed a
hunter education course in
Montana or another state
before buying a hunting license.
• The FWP Commission was
granted authority to use hunting
seasons to manage the growing
number of bison that leave
Yellowstone National Park. The
commission has taken no action
so far, but if a hunt were
required, it would first undergo
an environmental assessment.
• FWP was given authority to
regulate the importation, sale,
and possession of exotic wildlife
to protect people, livestock, and
The following bills affecting
FWP were widely publicized
during the session but didn't pass:
• Several bills would have made
it harder for game wardens to
enforce laws that protect
wildlife and public safety. One
called for transferring game
warden funds and responsibili-
GENTLY: Preparing to release an arctic grayling.
LET EM GO
_L _1 growing number of Montana waters have
special fishing regulations that require anglers to
release some sizes or species of fish. And, increas-
ingly, more anglers are letting fish go whether the
law says to or not.
But a released fish isn't necessarily a live fish.
Still stressed by drought, and often caught repeat-
edly by a growing number of anglers, trout and
other species need special care when being
caught and released. Some guidelines:
■ Play and land a fish quickly. A prolonged strug-
gle places too much stress on a fish and causes a
build-up of harmful lactic acids.
■ Handle the fish gently and keep it in the water
as much as possible. Wet your hands before
touching the fish so you don't remove its
If possible, unhook the fish without lifting it
from the water. Use a forceps or needlenose
pliers to quickly remove hooks.
Consider using barbless hooks to make it easier
to unhook fish.
If a hook is imbedded deeply, cut the line. Fish
have strong digestive acids that will dissolve
metal. Studies have shown that fish released in
this manner have a higher survival rate than fish
that have hooks torn from their throat or stomach.
Release fish into calm water. A tired fish placed
in rapids can die by tumbling downstream into
rocks. Hold the fish lightly until it swims away
on its own.
When lifting a fish for a photograph or just to
admire it for a moment, don't squeeze hard or
hold it by the gills.
4 |uli August 2003 | Montana Outdoors
MONTANA OUTDOORS REPORT
ties to county sheriff offices.
• One bill would have allowed
landowners to herd elk and
other wildlife off their land
without having to consider the
effects of that activity on their
• Another bill would have pro-
hibited FWP from taking part
in cooperative wildlife manage-
ment plans that include habitat
• Several bills would have com-
pensated alternative livestock
producers for the elk and the
value of their business lost due
to restrictions imposed by
Initiative 143, passed by
Montana voters in 2000.
• One bill would have required
FWP to re-prove its water
rights each time a new land-
owner filed for a water righr
on a river or stream. Munici-
palities, industry, and landown-
ers would not have had the
• Several bills would have elimi-
nated or weakened FWP's ability
to buv conservation easements.
Hunting and fishing licenses
now available on the Internet
Montana keeps watch on
Arizona nonresident lawsuit
Montana and other western
states might have trouble
charging nonresidents more than
residents for hunting licenses, or
restricting the number of nonres-
ident licenses issued, if federal
courts continue to rule as they
In August 2002, the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals (which
covers western states including
Montana) ruled that Arizona
needs to show a "compelling
state interest" for providing only
1 percent of its deer and elk
tags to nonresidents and charg-
trophy elk mounts and hides,
which the court considered as
interstate trade in animal parts,
and two, because the nonresi-
dents were engaged in interstate
commerce when they traveled
to Arizona," Lane explains.
Arizona argued unsuccess-
fully that nonresident hunting
is recreation, not commerce.
The court acknowledged that
some discrimination against
nonresidents might be justifi-
able in order to conserve
wildlife and ensure recreational
hunting for residents. But it
ing them more for those licenses said the higher fees and limited
licenses need to be "the least dis-
criminatory alternative for
accomplishing wildlife manage-
According to FWP legal
council Bob Lane, the appeals
court gave two reasons for
merce clause of
the U.S. Consti-
tution to the
tions and fees.
argued that they
planned to sell
Hunters, anglers, and parks
visitors have been want-
ing this for years. Now,
Montana hunting and
fishing licenses and
state parks passports
are finally available
1. Begin by going to
Click the "Online
Licensing" icon and
follow the instructions.
2. You'll need a MasterCard
or Visa credit card. (A process
ing fee of $1.25 plus 2 per-
cent of the purchase price
will be added to the total.)
• Note to Montana residents:
Before buying hunting or
fishing licenses online, you
must first purchase your $4
License in person at any FWP
license provider. There, you'll
also need to show your
Montana driver's license or
state photo I. D. card.
3. After you make
your online licenses
purchase, FWP will
mail you durable,
Meanwhile, you can
licenses from your
home computer and
use them to bird hunt, fish, or
visit state parks, with these
exceptions: Licenses that
double as carcass tags — such
as those for deer, elk, and
black bear — can't be printed
from home (in other words,
you may not buy these
licenses online and immedi-
ately go hunting).
Allow FWP roughly ten
days to mail permanent
licenses and carcass tags.
Arizona appealed to the U.S.
Supreme Court, which declined
to consider the case. "That
doesn't mean [the Supteme
Court] wasn't interested, just
not interested now," says Lane.
The case was then sent back
to federal district court in Ari-
zona. The state is arguing that
its regulations do meet the
"compelling state interest" test.
"Arizona has a tough task to
convince the court that its regu-
lations restricting nonresidents
complies with the commerce
clause," Lane says.
In 1975, Montana won a U.S.
Supreme Court case (Baldwin
vs. the State of Montana) that
alleged the price differential
between resident and nonresi-
dent licenses was discriminatory.
The high court ruled that states
can deny certain privileges (but
not rights) with a reasonable
rationale for that discrimination.
The ruling was critical for
Montana and other sparsely
populated western states, where
higher nonresident hunting and
fishing license tees make up the
bulk of conservation agency
Lane is not sure how the
Arizona decision relates to the
"We plan to wait and see what
happens with the next court rul-
ing," says Lane. "The best thing
would be for this to get to the
Supreme Court so the issue can
Montana Outdoors | July/ August mx 5
LAST YEAR WAS THE WORST EVER for
Tom Harman's fly shop in Sheridan.
Harman, who has owned the business
since 1990, used to run some 200 fishing
trips each year on the nearby Ruby, Mad-
ison, Beaverhead, and Big Hole Rivers.
"Last year I did 15," he says, "and my
gross sales were just a third of what they
were four or five years ago."
While acknowledging the likely effects of
drought, a faltering national economy, and
the travel scare after 9/11, Harman believes
the main cause of his sales slump was a new
regulation that restricted outfitters and non-
resident anglers from floating certain por-
tions of the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers
some days during the summer.
"The rules themselves aren't that big a
deaf" he says, "but the way they got reported
nationally just about killed us around here."
Not everyone, however, is soured on the
river regulation. Butte angler Steve Luebeck
says the restrictions have reduced crowding