Animal Welfare Bill – SB 203 headed to Montana Senate Floor


HELENA, MT (February 21, 2017) — Some livestock industry leaders are very concerned that Senate Bill 203 has narrowly passed out of Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 6-5. 

Senator Eric Moore, (R) a cattle feeder from Miles City said, “The bill would allow for animals that have been seized by law enforcement under suspicion of animal cruelty to be sold before the owner is convicted.  This is a violation of due process, private property rights, and has serious potential consequences for Montana's livestock industry.” 

Maggie Nutter, Sweetgrass Rancher and President of the Marias River Livestock Association expressed concern that while SB203 specifically excludes most livestock, that could easily change, “If in the next session a new bill simply draws a line through Line 14 on Page 4, then suddenly this law will include cattle, swine and sheep.  All the rest of the bill refers to ‘animal(s)’.  The bill is truly set up to apply to animals…all animals.”  (See Maggie Nutter’s Opinion Editorial on SB203.

Jay Bodner of the Montana Stockgrowers Association opposed SB203 in Committee, as did Nicole Rolf of the Montana Farm Bureau who said “Animal Care is our way of life. This seizure process seems to be a taking of property before a guilty verdict can be issued.”

SB203 was requested by Billings Senator Margaret MacDonald (D), who has worked with Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) on previous Animal rights bills; and it was introduced by Senator Nels Swandal (R) of Wilsall. 

Several County Attorneys supported the bill in committee, pointing to the high cost that a County can incur when it is forced to step in and provide care for animals.

 Senate Bill 203 will now move to a vote of the full Senate, perhaps as early as Thursday, February 23rd.


© Northern Ag Network 2017


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