So far this year, we’ve been visited on a regular basis by a large flock of regular assorted sparrows with a larger bunch of white crowned sparrows than usual in the group and a dozen or so of Cassin’s finches. We’ve also seen the return of our three resident gold finches and a pair of Lazuli’s buntings.

Granted, I couldn’t tell you why a finch is a finch and a wren is a wren. It’s not like the difference between a mule deer and a whitetail deer or bighorn sheep and domestic woolies. Nope, who ever figured out bird taxonomy couldn’t let it be that easy or simple. Simple I can handle – usually.

Speaking of bighorn sheep, it seems like the Crow tribal treaty rights to bust bull elk anywhere, anytime, are not the only ones that have upset the status quo. At present, the Idaho Game and Fish refuses to recognize as a new state record a huge bighorn ram killed in 2016. Its headgear measured 201 5/8 inches. The oversize ram was killed in Idaho county by Nez Pearce tribal member Gary Sublett.

The hunter claims the ram is legal and was taken under the treaty of 1855 which allows Nez Pearce tribal members the right to hunt ancestral areas in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana. According to Idaho G&F, the ram was killed in violation of its game regulations, but treaty rights apparently preclude issuing a citation to Sublett.

Despite the Idaho G&F not recognizing the ram as a new record, the prestigious Boone and Crockett club has decided to recognize the ram because it was killed in Hell’s Canyon under tribal regulations. Which makes it legal in their eyes, I guess.

Just as an aside, I thought treaty hunting regulations were designed for sustenance hunting and not sport hunting? You’d have to have a darned good argument to convince me that anyone has to hunt trophy sheep, and especially in Hells Canyon, because they needed it for food. That particular piece of real estate is some of the most rugged terrain in our country. Only the most perverse and dedicated hunters go in there. It’s so rough a sane person pretty much leaves it alone, except chukar hunters and everyone knows they’re all masochists – or so I’ve been told.

If all this treaty hunting wasn’t enough bad press for hunting and our country’s western states game and fish departments, now Montana is raising a major fuss about the influx of feral hogs believed to be crossing over into Montana from Canada. As Texans and just about anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line can attest, the animals are a major agricultural and wildlife problem. Yet, as destructive as these swine are, Montana G&F’s method of handling the porcine invasion baffles me.

I personally believe when you encounter an invasive feral or wild critter, such as pythons in the Everglades or feral hogs in any state, they need to be eliminated. As in shot right there. However, in Montana, if you see one, a dozen or several dozen when out and about, you can’t shoot them. They’re a several thousand dollar fine if you’re caught doing that. One of their excuses for this is that if hunters start shooting the pigs, those critters will scatter for parts unknown.

Those learned intelligentsia who run that department up there are also leery of letting their citizens shoot the hogs simply because they might enjoy it. Their theory is that if people start to enjoy chasing hogs through the back 40, unprincipled ruffians that they are, some citizens might illegally introduce more hogs into an area just so they can pursue free bacon. Nuts, huh?

It’s like killing off a blue ribbon rainbow and cutthroat trout fishery by illegally introducing walleyes and lake trout into it. I mean, really? Is anybody that stupid?

Instead you’re supposed to report the location of the feral swine to the Montana G&F and they will send a warden and, presumably, some border patrolmen out to check on the illegals. Which, as we all know, will be long gone by the time the good guys show up. Which means the authorities will see nothing and be able to do nothing. Hogs ain’t stupid and will either be brandishing their green cards or be back in Canada by the time the wardens show up.

And just what happens if those Montana wardens happen to catch a group of illegal feral hogs? Can these aliens request sanctuary? Are they going to deport them back to Canada? Are they really illegal or just undocumented? Maybe we should build a wall? So many questions!

Thinking outside the box, what happens if a Nez Pearce tribal member or a Crow tribal member decides to go bust some bacon? Remember they’ve got treaty rights. Or if some enterprising tribal individual decides his treaty rights and the lack of reservation regulations governing the matter allows him to transport feral hogs onto the reservation and turn them loose where he can charge the city dudes a few bucks to pursue their pork?

Is it illegal if he keeps the feral swine in a corral and only turns them loose for the dudes when the mighty hunters show up? Kind of a reverse play on the way we used to let the buffalo people kill their beef back when we first delegated them to the reservations.

Sometimes the worm turns and sometimes the worm squirms.

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