HELENA - From lead news stories to conversations at the coffee shop,fish and wildlife issues are front burner topics in Montana. In this week's Outdoor Report, we meet the person, who was selected to lead Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks into the future.
Montana's fish and wildlife abundance and diversity contribute to our quality of life, economy, and at times divisive issues on the landscape. When it came time to appointing a new director to lead Fish, Wildlife and Arks, Governor Bullock turned to a familiar face with a proven record and a common sense approach to resolving issues.
Jeff Hagener served his first term as Department Director under Republican Governor, Judy Martz, and his second term under Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer. He is a native of Havre, a lifetime sportsman and ready to listen to all Montanans.
"Governor Bullock has made it very clear that landowner relations are a critical issue that needs to be addressed," said Jeff Hagener, the Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "To go out there and take a look at what have been the problems with landowner relationships, and how we can rebuild relationships and build new relationships so all of us can enjoy that wildlife that we so cherish."
Hagener goes on to say, "Some of the other factors that come into play nowadays are like the Endangered Species Act. Wolves was one that was listed. They have been delisted now that recovery was considered sufficient by the Fish and Wildlife Service. We have Grizzly Bears that have been threatened for many years, but we believe we have strong and stable populations and they could be delisted, so we need to look at managing those species in concert with all the other species we have. We need to recognize that a good part of our wildlife spends a good part of their life on private land."
"Probably the most recognized people in our agency are the wardens and biologists in the field," said Hagener. "I'm putting emphasis on each one of those folks in spending more time in building relationships. Learn what it's all about to be a landowner out there on the landscape, what it takes to raise cattle or the sheep or the wheat, and spend some time visiting with them about how wildlife is impacting them, and how we can work together to make the best wildlife management we can for the landowners, as well as all the sportsmen that enjoy that wildlife."
As Hagener points out, the most effective way to manage these resources is to begin with respect for all the players at the table.
Hagener said he also intends to take a closer look at licenses structure and fees for resident and nonresident hunters and anglers.