In December, 2007, the Montana FWP Commission took an unprecedented step by passing a tentative proposal to limit archery elk permits in the Missouri River Breaks Elk Management Unit and 24 other hunting districts. In spite of overwhelming public opposition from landowners, businesses, and industry leaders, the Commission voted unanimously to adopt it.
FWP saw greater attendance at the public meetings and received more written and emailed comments than for any other issue in recent history; they received 319 comments Against the proposal, 179 For, and 62 were unclassified. The FWP wrote in their Public Comment Summary, “In nearly unanimous fashion, commenting outfitters, landowners, businesses, commerce, local governments and non-resident hunters adamantly opposed limited permits…Among resident hunters, strong support was articulated for limited permits in the Breaks (but) unlike limited permits in the Breaks, resident hunters expressed only limited support for this proposal from a statewide perspective.” Staff recognized a “geographic boundary” to the comments, noting that the further away from the affected area the greater the support for the limits.
When the Commission voted to adopt the limited permits and ignore public comment, the seeds for the formation of a united group of property owners were planted. In attendance at this meeting were Toby Dahl of Roundup and Mark and Deanna Robbins of Roy, landowners, ranchers, and outfitters. They saw the majority of the public’s efforts ignored by the Commission in favor of appeasing special interest groups and were no longer willing to sit back and allow a state agency to ride roughshod over private property rights—thus, United Property Owners of Montana was born.