Montana FWP Commissioner Bob Ream resigns

2013-04-12T05:30:00Z 2013-04-30T18:50:54Z Montana FWP Commissioner Bob Ream resignsBy EVE BYRON Independent Record missoulian.com
April 12, 2013 5:30 am  • 

HELENA – FWP Commissioner Bob Ream unexpectedly resigned Thursday afternoon, tearing up momentarily as he read a statement explaining how he felt he couldn’t get a fair hearing at next week’s confirmation hearing, but enjoyed his past four years on the commission.

Ream, who was first appointed to the commission by Gov. Brian Schweitzer four years ago and renominated by Gov. Steve Bullock earlier this year, said the partisan nature of the current Legislature made him believe the confirmation hearing would be “a sham.”

“I choose not to waste my time on a sham hearing or subject myself to the Senate confirmation process, which I believe would have a predetermined, partisan outcome,” Ream said. “I will miss, and am extremely proud of my work during the past four years. I strived to find a balance on some of the most contentious issues this commission has faced.”

As commissioner, Ream participated in highly controversial decisions. Those included delisting gray wolves and setting hunting and trapping structures, as well as seasons, for them. He voted on how to handle brucellosis in elk, what to do with bison that migrate into Montana from Yellowstone National Park, and walleye management in Canyon Ferry, Hauser and Holter reservoirs.

But he believes it was his decision in land acquisitions – particularly the Milk River Ranch – that put a partisan target on his back.

“That was vociferously opposed by Sen. (John) Brenden and many others,” Ream said. “However, this action offered an additional 6,000 acres … we paid $4.7 million for it and were criticized for that but the ranch was on the market for $12.75 million. Without the action we did there’s no doubt in my mind that sooner or later that place would be bought by some wealthy out-of-stater.”

The purchase drew the criticism of dozens of ranchers along the Hi-Line, who believed the Milk River Ranch was overpriced and claim that it was a sweetheart deal to bail out the owners. As a protest of that decision, as well as the movement of Yellowstone bison to Indian reservations in northeast Montana and the real or perceived impact of wolves on elk populations, in the past year ranchers said they pulled more than 100,000 acres from public access for hunting.

Brenden couldn’t be reached for comment late Thursday.

Earlier in the day at the regularly scheduled FWP Commission meeting, Ream noted that he had served eight sessions as a legislator and four years as a volunteer on the commission, but gave no indication of his intention to resign. He announced his decision at the end of the meeting, and made his final motion to adjourn.

“I have been incredibly impressed and convinced FWP is one of the best, if not the best, department in the country,” Ream added.

Bullock said that he’s disappointed Ream no longer will be serving and the commission, and that his expertise will be missed.

“As an educator, a legislator and a commissioner, Bob Ream has dedicated his life to public service and ensuring that Montana is a better place for the future generations,” Bullock said in a statement. “He’s been a powerful advocate for resident hunters and anglers and a tireless supporter for the rights of everyday Montanans to access public lands, rivers and streams.”

Tim Aldrich, the past president of the Montana Wildlife Federation, also was saddened by Reams’ decision to stop serving on the commissioner.

“As Dr. Bob Ream steps down from his position on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, I and many thousands of Montanans owe him a debt of gratitude for his many contributions to the amazing public wildlife and fish and public lands and water resources they so often enjoy,” Aldrich wrote in a statement. “As an educator, a wildlife researcher, a legislator and most recently a commissioner, he has steadfastly supported and mentored many in the substance and application of all the parts of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”

He added that Ream leaves a tremendous legacy, including his 28 years teaching as a wildlife professor and scientist at the University of Montana; ensuring public access to Montana’s rivers and streams; and the acquisition of thousands of acres of state-owned publicly accessible wildlife habitat.

FWP Commission Chairman Dan Vermillion said he only learned about Ream’s decision not to proceed with the confirmation process shortly before Thursday’s FWP Commission meeting. He said he was disappointed because he’ll miss Ream’s expertise, but having had gone through a difficult confirmation hearing two years ago, Vermillion understood Ream’s reasoning.

“I wasn’t naïve enough to think the confirmation would be smooth sailing or easy, but I was surprised from the perspective that I thought he was a good commissioner and did a great job as chairman. He was exceptionally qualified,” Vermillion said. “I’m disappointed, but I understand why he did it. It’s not a fun process for anyone to go through.”

Vermillion now is the only incumbent on the five-member commission who has previously served; Bullock nominated Larry Wetsit, Richard Stuker and Mathew Tourlotte to fill positions vacated by Shane Colton, Rusty Stafne and Ron Moody. Vermillion said he expects Bullock will now nominate someone to replace Ream, but added that the three new commissioners did an excellent job at their first meeting Thursday.

“I was really impressed with the guys who showed up today; they did a great job and were totally prepared,” Vermillion said. “I think we will be fine and the commission will continue to do a good job. We have a lot of support from FWP staff.

“But it would be nice to have a few people up there with experience.”

Ream said he expects to stay involved in wildlife issues, but now will have more time to hunt, boat and ski.

“I’m available as a resource any time,” he told the commissioners. “I’m deeply humbled by the outpouring of support I’ve have received from all over the state.”

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076 or eve.byron@helenair.com

Follow Eve on Twitter @IR_EveByron

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(43) Comments

  1. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - April 15, 2013 10:44 pm
    You don't have a big issue with wolves? You even blamed the bear maulings 2 years ago on wolves and said it would just get worse with increased wolf numbers. We have since seen and increase in wolves and a large reduction in bear maulings since. And wolves are being managed, aggressively. We have increased the wolf quota every season, have lengthened the season, and even introduced trapping now. And the purchase wasn't "Bob's", it was voted on 4-1. The pictures I've seen look like decent bird hunting and deer hunting, there are even elk some years. If it took 20 years to accrue the money it took to buy the ranch I would demand the habitat to be amazing, but again it took only 2 or 3 years at most.
  2. rajaju
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    rajaju - April 14, 2013 1:47 am
    Reality 22f the only ignorance & hate comes from livestock welfare rancher pimps such as yourself. To think that livestock and wolves will ever live in harmony is the epitome of ignorance & the bigoted hate you have for women is well documented. Comments like that are directed at you & tell you exactly what the local people think of you & the cattle pimps from around the country.
  3. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - April 14, 2013 12:56 am
    I really don't have a big issue with wolves. I just think all wildlife should be managed for modern day times, not 1850. I do have a problem with this particular land purchase. If you really research it with an open mind you will agree. FWP does many good things to benefit wildlife, the "Milk River" purchase isn't one of them and Bob knows it. If you are able to make the trip and IF this land is open and accessible this fall go spend a few days there, you will be shaking your head in disgust.
  4. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - April 13, 2013 10:09 pm
    "Trust me" bittersweet seems like a smart and ok dude most of the time, but when it comes to wolves and FWP he tends to check logic at the door sometimes.
  5. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - April 13, 2013 10:07 pm
    Yep, completely dodge your logic fail again. You said we shouldn't have bought the Milk River ranch because it was bad terrain and we lost access to neighboring land that for some reason was good hunting land. Now it's we shouldn't have bought the Milk River ranch because there are other ranches for sale in the Missouri breaks. When you find a new excuse please let me know. There are over 1 million acres of public land in the breaks open to public hunting and good elk trophy potential due to the habitat and permitting system. FWP will have a couple million dollars to blow on a ranch almost every year. Funny you praise out of staters who had to limit access to their land due to other out of staters. The irony of your statement is just too funny Bittersweet, priceless!
  6. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - April 13, 2013 9:27 pm
    ???? Please elaborate.
  7. reality22f
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    reality22f - April 13, 2013 8:32 pm
    Kane, the only ignorance & hate comes from wolf pimps such as yourself. To think that livestock and wolves will ever live in harmony is the epitome of ignorance & the bigoted hate you have for sportsman is well documented. When things get all sorted out and the local people figure out what wolves are all about you see bills like hb73 that passed UNANOMOUSELY. Bills like that are direct at you & tell you exactly what the local people think of you & the wolf pimps from around the country.
  8. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - April 13, 2013 8:02 pm
    Go see for yourself. Just a coincidence both Aageson Bros served under Schweitzer I guess? There is a couple more ranches in the Missouri River Breaks that would have been a far better purchase for Montanas sportsmen. One in particular was the key to allowing access to a ton of BLM property. (loaded with game including trophy elk, deer and sheep) It has since been purchased by some "rich out of staters" as you call them from Texas. Funny thing is they paid over $20,000 out of their own pockets last hunting season to have a full time gatekeeper and patrols and allowed a limited amount of hunters in (either sex elk and sheep tag holders) for a wonderful experience. They didn't want it open to everyone unlimited as they are tired of non accompanied mid westerners making a mess of the place, leaving trash around, gates open and driving their ATVs wherever they want. I spent 12 days there with a friend that had an elk tag. It was unbelievable terrain and my friend was even able to harvest a fairly decent bull (just over 375) Thanks rich out of staters!
  9. rajaju
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    rajaju - April 13, 2013 7:58 pm
    Your first sentence says it all "Trust me",,,is that what you tell the children
  10. rajaju
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    rajaju - April 13, 2013 7:09 pm
    Why do you speak for Montana you are in WI
  11. rajaju
    Report Abuse
    rajaju - April 13, 2013 7:08 pm
    Some Rogers are incredibly ignorant about wolves, and too lazy or stupid to do a little research
  12. rajaju
    Report Abuse
    rajaju - April 13, 2013 7:05 pm
    Why are you involved in MT affairs
  13. rajaju
    Report Abuse
    rajaju - April 13, 2013 7:04 pm
    reality 22f is from WI why is he an expert on MT
  14. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - April 13, 2013 3:40 pm
    So 7 miles of riparian corridor has very few trees, no cover, and little food, yet neighbors with even drier upland has more food and cover? Yeah that makes sense.
  15. reality22f
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    reality22f - April 12, 2013 9:04 pm
    Travis Day, Shame on whom?? "very few men of science and good conscience live in Montana" you have got to be kidding me! You must have mistaken "science" for "wolf science" there is a huge difference! & "wolf science" certainly has NO good conscience!

    The people of Montana have had it with "wolf science" and the results are bills like HB73 that passed unanimously a few weeks ago! The North American Model of wildlife management is the envy of the world & Montana is an excellent model for managing wildlife under the NAMOWM. Yet, they can still be a responsible neighbor to the private land owners of Montana. The departure of Ream will allow MT at continue that tradition & responsible management for the people of Montana!
  16. J555-5
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    J555-5 - April 12, 2013 8:07 pm
    When a spokesperson from Eugene, OR's Cascadia group offers his recommendation for Professor Ream, we should all breath some relief that the good Prof bailed out.

    Thanks Prof Ream!
  17. J555-5
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    J555-5 - April 12, 2013 8:03 pm
    Please, please. Stay "outside the boundaries of the state of Montana" and we will all be happier.
  18. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - April 12, 2013 6:27 pm
    Trust me. I have been on Aagesons land many times. Most of the other ranches that have now closed their land to the public because of this absurd purchase have far better habitat and game numbers than Aagesons. Very few trees along the river, no cover, little food. It holds some upland game birds, a few deer and an occasional antelope. Montanas sportsmen got screwed because Schweizer is good buddies and Aagesons are big contributors. At this time there is still no reasonable access to this land, that is something the FWP is still working on. Good idea guys, overpay for poor habitat with no access. I guess if you like to hike in several miles to shoot a couple sharptails this was money well spent. Pack lots of water. This isn't the Milk River country you are thinking of packed full of trophy whitetail deer, it's good for fossil hunting and that's about it.
  19. louisekane
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    louisekane - April 12, 2013 4:16 pm
    Travis you are correct, Montana politicians pander to ignorance and hate while ignoring evidence, facts and biology. Montana may be the Big Sky state but its become a state with no heart, no morals, no humanity and no use for integrity. I suspect Dr. Reams may also have been saddened by the all out war against a species whose only crime is to need to eat. Mr. Reams was a voice of reason and conscience in a world of vitriolic hate and violence against wolves, and other wildlife. The comments by people like Kuato, are not only ignorant but disrespectful to Mr Reams and his service.
    These comments also illustrate the depth of ignorance and habituated cruelty toward wolves and other wildlife like wolverines. Montana does not deserve Reams, wolverines or Wolves. Where are the good people of Montana. Its a sad day when the sheriff is run out of town by the outlaws....
  20. RPT
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    RPT - April 12, 2013 3:35 pm
    Ream goes down in disgrace.. Good riddance.
  21. Travis Day
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    Travis Day - April 12, 2013 1:45 pm
    Outside the boundaries of the state of Montana it is widely observed that very few men of science and good conscience live in Montana. Articles like this, detailing the departure from public office of one of those men, do no good to the image of Montana. However, the comments that follow, seemingly entered by small, scurrilous creatures using Internet anonymity as they use the cover of the darkness of night, hurt Montana even more. Shame on you.
  22. reality22f
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    reality22f - April 12, 2013 1:41 pm
    Failure to recognize that "Wolf Science" is a disaster to wildlife in western Montana was Reams downfall...... In 2011 Doug Smith "Yellowstone wolf biologist" had this to say about the elk herd in Montana. Still, back in 2011 "wolf science" has them "scratching their heads" and talking "anomalies"

    http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2011/01/12/northern-range-yellowstone-elk/

    Now wouldn't a level headed commissioner call them on this citing cow to calf ratios that STILL to this day says the population is STILL headed south? Wouldn't a responsible commissioner cite that biologist like Dr Kay predicted something "wolf science" has yet to even acknowledge?

    http://www.idahoforwildlife.com/Charles%20Kay/8-%20Wolf%20Recovery-political%20Ecology-%20and%20endangered%20species%20(1996).pdf

    Has Ream been the face of "Wolf Science"?
  23. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - April 12, 2013 1:16 pm
    Some biologists are incredibly ignorant about wolves, and too lazy or stupid to do a little research on them by examining Canada's and Alaska's experience with wolves, which can severely reduce ungulate herds.
  24. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - April 12, 2013 1:12 pm
    Right 7 miles of Milk River bottomland is a cactus patch. And nice I noticed you completely fail to answer if the area is such a wasteland why be concerned if neighbors stop allowing hunter access to their "wasteland". A poor Wisconsin transplant hasn't done anything to me. Rich out of staters have sued multiple times against our river high water line and supported the jumping corner to corner on public land ban.
  25. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - April 12, 2013 1:08 pm
    How does increasing the wolf quota every season, lengthening the season, and allowing trapping = wolf lovers?
  26. RPT
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    RPT - April 12, 2013 12:19 pm
    Good riddance
  27. Kuato
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    Kuato - April 12, 2013 12:11 pm
    Great news ! It is very important that we get the wolf lovers off our state game commission. Don't let the Bullock (mini Obama) replace Ream with another wolf lover. Get involved ,and keep a close eye on who is on our game commission.
  28. elkguy
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    elkguy - April 12, 2013 10:51 am
    Good riddance to the last wolf lover on the FWP commission! The people of Montana have spoken!
  29. gferren
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    gferren - April 12, 2013 10:32 am
    Even a "cactus patch" has potential for wildlife habitat. Might be a good place to try some improvement projects, food plots and such. It is something that could enhance recreation on a lot of our public lands.

    Just to stir up some right-winger rants...

    hunter goes to rancher and asks for permission to hunt his property, rancher says sure but you have to put down that old sick cow over there for me, hunter walks back to truck acting angry, grabs rifle and drops said cow, his buddy jumps out of the truck and mows down the rest of the herd, and says I guess he'll think twice about not letting people hunt ...
    I hunt public land, you can do whatever you want with your private property, but only the property you actually own.
  30. Josh
    Report Abuse
    Josh - April 12, 2013 9:46 am
    The real reason the wolf hating people don't like Ream is because he's an actual biologist. Having someone with real education and knowledge of wildlife on the commission drives the armchair wildlife "experts" crazy.

    If the next nominee doesn't believe that all of Montanas problems begin and end with predators he/she will face the same kind of loud, ignorant opposition.
  31. bobferris
    Report Abuse
    bobferris - April 12, 2013 9:46 am
    Bob Ream's departure is truly sad as he represented the last bastion of informed reason. He has demonstrated his courage and integrity repeatedly and should be proud of his accomplishments under very trying conditions. Bob is a man of stature in his own state but also has a reputation that reaches beyond the borders of Montana, which is rare for someone in his former position. Montana's loss is everyone's loss. Thank you for all that you have done Dr. Ream.

    Bob Ferris
    Cascadia Wildlands
  32. J555-5
    Report Abuse
    J555-5 - April 12, 2013 9:37 am
    Please, please Gov. Bullock. Don't nominate Prof. Ream to the Board of Regents!
  33. BSUjack
    Report Abuse
    BSUjack - April 12, 2013 9:10 am
    There's more to this Milk River purchase than meets our eyes.Otherwise. he if not guilty of suspected problems, would hang in there and take on the opposition. He is, as suspected, running!!
  34. RPT
    Report Abuse
    RPT - April 12, 2013 8:57 am
    Over time all of those like Ream and Molloy who have attempted to destroy the wildlife in the Great State of Montana and Yellowstone will go down in disgrace and be replaced.

  35. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - April 12, 2013 8:37 am
    "....The senate is going to ask me questions about the Milk River Ranch purchase..."

    ............

    You got that right.
  36. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - April 12, 2013 8:34 am
    Not even a "rich out of stater" was idiotic enough to purchase this cactus patch. Funny how "rich out of staters" seem to be your enemy but you are just fine with poor Wisconsin transplants. Go figure.
  37. RPT
    Report Abuse
    RPT - April 12, 2013 8:22 am
    Ream goes down in disgrace same as Molloy did.. Good riddance.
  38. hellgatenights
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    hellgatenights - April 11, 2013 11:38 pm
    “I choose not to waste my time on a sham hearing or subject myself to the Senate confirmation process, which I believe would have a predetermined, partisan outcome,” Ream said.

    Translation: The senate is going to ask me questions about the Milk River Ranch purchase and I can't defend it........so rather than make the case in a open forum, I am simply running away (yep....I thin he already has a fat pension).
  39. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - April 11, 2013 10:22 pm
    Thanks for the Spotted Dog purchase and Milk river purchase, tens of thousands of acres that won't be sold to a rich out of stater and removed from public hunting. At $1288/acre it's cheaper than most other FWP purchases even though it includes 7 miles of river and riparian corridor. And good upland bird land which also has ungulates is hardly wasteland. If the area is wasteland than why be concerned that neighbors are going to be closing access? Grouchy neighbors holding their land hostage out of spite won't do so for long when unhunted animals start eating their cattle's range. They're also just mad that they might get bison as neighbors. Now why would we want a healthier animal with leaner meat and public moneymaker instead of private cows? And spare the brucellosis spiel, it has never been documented that bison transmit it to cattle, yet elk do and we don't want to exterminate elk.
    Habitat is our number one priority for wildlife and I'm glad money from my hunting and fishing tags are going to things I can directly use, and may make it easier to pull a bison tag in the future. The Milk River purchase was voted on 4-1, you know the same idiots that have lengthened the wolf hunt, increased quotas, and now allow trapping. FWP gets millions every year I'm glad they buy up ranches instead of rich out of staters who want to play cowboy for 2 weeks a year, you know an average Montanan can't shell out a couple mil for thousands of acre ranches.
  40. Deadwolf
    Report Abuse
    Deadwolf - April 11, 2013 9:33 pm
    Bob Ream has been a disaster for Montana's big game. His pandering to those who support expanding the predator base to replace hunters has brought game populations in much of the state to its knees. It will take decades to recover from his misguided policies. He won't be missed by me.
  41. LCHelenajr
    Report Abuse
    LCHelenajr - April 11, 2013 9:03 pm
    The hunting opportunities have dwindled away for the past 4 years as the Wolf population has exploded. The commission should be ashamed of themselves as they were promoting Wolves and the destruction they cause to game herds.
  42. Snowcrest
    Report Abuse
    Snowcrest - April 11, 2013 7:32 pm
    Ream will not be missed. He sold out the citizens of this state and played his hand to liars and the losers.
    Bye Bye!
  43. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - April 11, 2013 7:04 pm
    Good bye and good riddance. The Milk River purchase was a joke. It's simply wasteland that sat on the market forever with no takers. Funny how the family was big contributors to Schweitzers and Bullocks campaigns. 100,000 more acres closed to the public because the Governor wanted to do his good buddies a favor.
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