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This spring I traveled to D.C. with Defenders of Wildlife to speak on behalf of wildlife. I met with our representatives, Daines, Tester and Gianforte. These were my asks: to promote livestock-predator conflict mitigation, restore the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and oppose damaging legislation to the Endangered Species Act.

I consider myself lucky to be living in one of the last remaining ecosystems healthy and large enough to sustain carnivores such as grizzly bears, wolves and wild cats. Coexisting with them is a privilege and with that privilege comes responsibility. Responsibility to help ensure they can continue to live and thrive here. That is why I love seeing proactive efforts such as the collaboration between Defenders of Wildlife, the National Resource Defense Council and Wildlife Services, to implement nonlethal deterrent strategies to mitigate livestock-predator conflicts. These efforts including the use of turbo fladry, bear-resistant electric fences, and range riding have shown great success and have sparked interest in other states. This kind of collaboration between conservations groups, landowners and government agencies is exactly what we need to ensure a secure future for both wildlife and ranching—two very important aspects of our identity.

This approach was well received by everyone we met with, and I hope to see our representatives support an increase of funding in the FY20 budget for Wildlife Services to implement and sustain these nonlethal deterrence strategies.

I also advocated on behalf of two bedrock environmental laws – the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The ESA has been especially under fire in recent years. I urge our senators to oppose any legislation that chips away at the ESA by putting politics over science-driven decisions. Now more than ever, we need leaders who are willing to speak up for our last remaining wild places.

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Mariah Palmer