Landowners Livid Over Bison Relocation


This Friday, the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission will make their final decision on translocating a number of bison, originally from Yellowstone National Park, to four areas in the state of Montana.  While a comment period was open earlier this year to move bison to two Wildlife Management Areas and two Indian reservations, a recent suggestion from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Joe Maurier is to relocate 68 “disease-free” bison only to two northern Montana Indian reservations (click the maps off to the right to see where pastures will be).  Public meetings focusing on the Marias River and Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Areas had drummed up absolutely no support with going forward with that part of the plan.  While the tribal locations on the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations were supported by local tribes and bison advocates, neighboring landowners expressed opposition during a recent public comment period.

The points that have landowners near their boiling points include:

  • The “wildlife friendly” fences used on at least one of the reservations would mean that wildlife would be able to travel through and thus be exposed to the quarantined bison.
  • The bison are said to be under quarantine for brucellosis until 2016.  This, some claim, means that the tribes are not getting bison with a clean bill of health.
  • Will the fences to be enough to hold the bison in or will they be causing property damage to private land nearby?
  • Is the movement of these bison just another step closer to having a wild, free-roaming bison herd in the state?

With these points and others in mind, a group of landowners in northeast Montana has started contacting the members of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission in the days leading up to Commission meeting.  They are encouraging that you also share any concerns you may have with the commissioners.

District 1

Bob Ream, Chairman

Helena, MT 59601

(406) 461-3202

District 2

Dan Vermillion, Vice-Chairman

Livingston, MT 59047

(406) 222-0624

District 3

Ron Moody, Commissioner

Lewistown, MT 59457

(406) 538-2698

District 4

A.T. Stafne, Commissioner

Wolf Point, MT 59201

(406) 653-2881

District 5

Shane Colton, Commissioner

Billings, MT 59101

(406) 259-9986

The two-day meeting will begin at 10:00 AM on Thursday, December 8.  The bison relocation decision is set to take place after 8:35 AM on Friday, December 9.  The audio from these meetings is streamed live over the internet.  A link to that information will be available on this website starting on Thursday.  For more from FWP on this suggestion, read “FWP Recommends Tribal Lands for Bison.”

© Northern Ag Network 2011

Haylie Shipp


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