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A bill to phase out funding for a pheasant rearing and release program housed at Montana State Prison would — according to supporters — halt a poorly conceived and implemented proposal, while opponents argued the project helps inmates and young hunters and needs more time to judge its effectiveness.

House Bill 826 brought by Rep. Marilyn Marler, D-Missoula, would phase out by 2027 a $1 million appropriation adopted by the 2021 Legislature to fund the rearing and release of pheasants on state wildlife management areas. The program, designed as a recruitment tool for young hunters, has been controversial since passed as part of a wide-ranging and complex bill that has seen opposition from several hunting groups.

“I feel and a lot of other hunters feel this program missed the mark for what we’re trying to do in Montana” in terms of conservation and ethical hunting as well as cost-effectiveness, Marler told the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee on Thursday.


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Tom Kuglin is the deputy editor for the Lee Newspapers State Bureau. His coverage focuses on outdoors, recreation and natural resources.

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