Mont. lawmakers endorse bills to restrict bison

2013-04-04T16:30:00Z Mont. lawmakers endorse bills to restrict bisonThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 04, 2013 4:30 pm  • 

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Legislature is moving ahead with plans to restrict where wild bison can be moved within the state and to decrease the size of herds.

The bills underscore the division between conservationists who want to see free-roaming bison and the ranchers who say the animal's time has passed.

The measures are in part a response to last year's relocation of dozens of Yellowstone National Park bison to the Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana.

Landowners worry bison will bring disease to cattle and damage property.

The state Senate gave its initial approval Thursday to a bill to prohibit the relocation of bison from Yellowstone and encourage hunting.

A Senate committee endorsed a separate measure Thursday that would make the state wildlife agency responsible should any relocated bison damage property.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. brmoderate
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    brmoderate - April 04, 2013 10:37 pm
    Did you know the bison are no more native to Yellowstone Park than the cattle are? Bison were introduced there. The number of bison that any area is finite, and once that number is reached, they are going to spread out. It is called animal units, whether it is a cow or a bison. It takes so many acres to feed one animal. When the bison come onto rancher's property, whether BLM leases or private property, they are eating the grass that the rancher wanted his cattle to eat. Some of the ranches in that area have been settled since 1875, longer than bison have been in the Park. This is one of the few good things the legislature have done.
  2. jimira
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    jimira - April 04, 2013 7:05 pm
    Anything involving Tribal interests does not have a chance to be even heard, let alone passed... Brucellosis is found more in the elk that freely roam Montana than Bison. The Bison and the Native people are connected before Montana was even a State. So this has nothing to with Bison but everything to do with CONTROL... Control over those dang injuns who think they have the right to exist... Racism is alive and well in the state of Montucky... yee haw!!!
  3. Gadfly
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    Gadfly - April 04, 2013 4:53 pm
    There is indeed a war on wildlife in Montana and it may be getting more intense with the far right conservative legislature. Many bills, 56, were introduced in this current Montana legislature by republicans that are anti-wildlife. Democrats introduced 6 pro-wildlife bills. This anti-wildlife republican stance is evident state to state and at the national level. But then there has been a war on wildlife since the dawn of civilization with expanding agriculture, ranching, development, extraction industries, and sportsmen who want to kill off the predator population and thereby disrupt the normal ecosystem in the wilderness so that they can have more ungulates to kill. We have agencies to hopefully protect wildlife, wildlife habitat, and the environment, but if they do not do what some of the above elements think they should, then those elements and politicians who think like them want to politically manage wildlife and wilderness for their own self-centered ends. Then there is the problem of the desire of states to manage wildlife at the state level when that wildlife is on national forests or coming out of national parks. State by state management of wildlife, particularly predators, often means political management and that is terrible for wildlife, predators in particular, but also entire wildlife ecological systems, flora and fauna. If such management is carried too far, as it looks like it may, then Montana and other western states’ spite will harm their own tourist industry; but then many of the above political elements probably do not care about that. Nor do they care or fail to understand that Montana has an opportunity to leave a true legacy of wilderness and total ecological systems of wildlife. Keep it wild. Let nature.
  4. Gadfly
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    Gadfly - April 04, 2013 4:44 pm
    Bison and wolves and bears and lions and wild horses and ranchers and hunters:

    Surely we can find a place for the bison to roam, outside Yellowstone and elsewhere without hunting, like shooting a cow in a field, call it harvesting at least, no just call it killing, not hunting. This is one of the last best places, right? Tourists don’t come here to see cattle and fences. Both people living in Montana and visitors think of it as somewhat wild. A real heritage would be to preserve and restore the wildness of Montana. How much bad PR can Montana create for itself with regard to bison and wolves and other wild critters? Montana is giving itself terrible PR with regard to bison, wolves, wild horses, and soon maybe grizzlies. Why cannot bison wonder outside the Park to traditional winter grazing grounds on public land instead of leasing that land to ranchers? Manage the ranchers I say. Why cannot we find other public land in the state also? Ranchers and farmers are granted 772 permits on national forest lands in Montana, 3776 permits on BLM land in Montana, 26,000 permits in 16 western states. Who is encroaching? Man on wildlife? Let’s start retiring some of those permits or all them.

    Why are we so ruled by the oppositional opinions of ranchers and farmers and hunters (“sportsmen”}and misinformed yokels and rancher politicians and rancher legislators? You cannot confuse them with the facts. Per Lewis Carroll, "I have said it thrice, what I say three times is true." It has been suggested and even planned that bison be designated for placement (by FWP Montana) in other parts of the state. They are brucellosis free, tested, repeatedly so. Yet public meetings about the issue were attended almost unanimously by rancher-farmer crowds yelling, “No way!” Bison wander out of Yellowstone into traditional winter grazing ground, and ranchers protest and stockmen corral them, haze them and slaughter them. Instead of managing the cattle and ranchers around Yellowstone, ranchers want to manage the bison and keep them from going into a traditional outlet for grazing near Gardiner. The reports on any brucellosis of the past 50 years passing from bison or elk to cattle are anecdotal, unproven, and none documented, only once in a Texas A&M lab setting closely confined with cattle. Brucellosis is more likely by elk who are more numerous and routinely come and go by the thousands, but even that does not seem to be the case, but then elk are protected by sportsmen and FWP, farmed really, and ranchers probably do not want to step on that sacred set (sportsmen) of toes. Montana FWP, US Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services, and USFWS are agencies that serve ranchers, farmers and sportsmen more than wildlife.
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