Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

A cautionary tale about access to hunting lands

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National Park Service photo
National Park Service photo

We West Virginians haven’t (yet) had a widespread public-versus-private debate over hunters’ access to wildlife.

In Europe, wildlife belongs to landowners, and access to that wildlife is reserved for those wealthy enough to afford it. Traditionally in the United States, land can belong to landowners but the wildlife can’t. The “North American model for wildlife management” says states own the wildlife, and hold it in trust for the public to enjoy.

Out in Montana, the appointment of a former private-land game biologist to the state’s game and fish commission has triggered a vigorous public debate over the issue.  The Helena (Mont.) Independent Record has a fascinating article about it, an article all hunters should read.