Our History

The Warden Chronicles: A Look Back-And Ahead

By Mike Mehn & Mike Korn

America’s conservation legacy is one that dates back to the early days of a fledgling nation and the establishment of game laws and their enforcement is no small part of that. In 1788, John Quincy Adams wrote, “…It is certain that where there are no game laws, there never is any game and that without game laws very few individuals will enjoy the privilege of hunting and eating venison.” By the mid-1800’s the country had grown and there was recognition that further conservation efforts needed to be made to ensure that there would be a wildlife legacy. Several eastern states enacted additional game laws and hired the first game protectors (or “moose wardens” as some were called) as states realized the need to conserve their dwindling wildlife resources.

The westward expansion opened new vistas as well as abundant and previously unseen fish and wildlife populations to a growing country. Over time, subsistence and commercial taking of wildlife in the west depleted these once teaming resources. Buffalo were all but eliminated by the mid-1800’s; elk, deer, and antelope were reduced to small, scattered herds; fisheries were depleted and bird migrations that had once darkened the skies became simply random flocks. This near total annihilation of big game and birds came not as the result of poor habitat, but as the direct result of unregulated over hunting, coupled with a lack of comprehensive conservation laws and inadequate enforcement of those few laws that did exist. Nonetheless, there were visionaries - hunters, outdoors people, social and political leaders - who saw the writing on the wall. People such as Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Gifford Pinchot and George Bird Grinnell, took up the gauntlet on behalf of a new conservation ethic.

Montana’s conservation legacy began in 1865, when the first territorial legislature passed a bill requireing pole, hook, and line as the only legal means of taking trout. This, in response to market fishing that had depleted native fisheries throughout the state. Other conservation laws quickly followed, including some of the first stream pollution regulations and a ban on the commercial sale of game animals, game birds, and trout.…

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    Montana Wildlife Officers
    Killed In The Line Of Duty

  • Charles B. Peyton - Deputy Game Warden Peyton was shot and killed in Swan Valley near Holland Lake. October 18, 1908
  • Harold Gartside - Game Warden Gartside died. April 24, 1955
  • Roy Thompson - Game Warden Thompson was killed in a motorcycle accident. August 19, 1957
  • Marion R. Ammerman - Game Warden Ammerman died February 13, 1958
  • John C. Thompson - Game Warden Thompson died of a heart attack. November 10, 1960
  • I.L. Todd - Game Warden Todd died of a heart attack. December 27, 1967
  • Eugene Sara - Game Warden Sara and Officer Chief Don Williams of the Thompson Falls Police Department were shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance call. January 7, 1974
  • Delbert E. Bloom - Game Warden Bloom was killed in an airplane accident. June 2, 1979
  • Robert M. May - Game Warden May was killed in a motorcycle accident. December 6, 1988


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