“No Hunting” Until Montana FWP Says “No Bison”


Northern Ag Network Note:  The following article was originally published on May 21.

Montana FWP continues this week with “scoping” meetings as they try and establish what action, if any, the state should take in managing bison through a formal environmental impact statement (EIS).  The agency is looking at a number of potential alternatives.  One option is to keep things as they are now, but other alternatives being looked into include a free-ranging bison herd.  For details and a schedule of meetings, read “Wild Bison?  Give FWP Your Opinion this Week!”

Meetings last week in Missoula, Kalispell, Glasgow, and Helena found the majority of attendees against a wild bison plan.  FWP personnel at each of the meetings took the time to listen to and document those concerns.  The comments from those meetings will be accumulated and, after they have been recorded, will be available for public viewing.

In the meantime, some are not happy with just submitting comments.  They’ve been telling FWP that they don’t want wild bison and the push continues. 

It was nearly two years ago when FWP’s Arnie Dood, now in charge of this EIS, received a chilly response after conducting a bison meeting in Circle, MT.  To refresh your memory on that July 2010 meeting, read “Wild Bison Herds in Circle, MT?”  Fast forward and a similar picture unfolded in Glasgow this past Wednesday.  While the local FWP staff and wardens had a very productive meeting with over 100 participants, 20 or so were so infuriated by the process that they left in the first 10 minutes.  Get the details from that meeting by reading “Glasgow’s Bison Meeting Starts with Walk-Out Protest.”

With at least two more years ahead of us in this EIS process, some ranchers, farmers, and landowners have simply had enough.

John Killen owns a farm and ranch near Angela, Montana.  John’s property has been part of the FWP’s “Block Management” program for several years.  Block Management is a cooperative effort between FWP, private landowners, and public land management agencies to help landowners manage hunting activities and to provide free public hunting access to private and isolated public lands.

John’s contention that Montana does not need a free-roaming bison herd is so strong that he has chosen to pull out of the program.

He added that he does not want to close off public access to his place or make things more difficult for sportsman.  However, he says that FWP has not been listening to the landowner with the bison issue and that this is showcased by their persistence. 

He looks forward to again working with FWP to allow public access but says that will come with they put a stop to their bison agenda.

John isn’t the only landowner frustrated.  Bright orange signs being sold at the scoping meeting last week read “NO HUNTING” at first glance.  A closer look reveals that the private property behind the fence is now off limits “Thanks to the Mt. Fish & Games concern about Landowners Opinion.”  If you’d like a sign of your own, email Vicki at beefherder@hotmail.com.  We have been notified that the sign supply is somewhat tight at this point because of the availability of the orange material they’re being printed on.

Those taking this action are quick to point out that this is not a landowner/sportsman conflict.  They unfortunately feel that this is the only bartering chip they have left.  What they want is a bigger voice for their private property rights and against free-ranging bison.  It is the hope that when sportsman and others realize the reason they are now being denied access, they will speak up for the landowners, gaining more traction with FWP.


© Northern Ag Network 2012

Haylie Shipp


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