Leaders in Montana’s ranching industry are in Washington, D.C., this week working on federal issues that are impacting their operations and way of life.
They’re meeting with other livestock producers from across the nation as part of the Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Spring Legislative Conference.
Vicki Olson, a Malta rancher, is also the current chairwoman of the Montana Public Lands Council. A big issue for her and other public lands ranchers is wild horse management and a recent request by Friends for Animals, an animal-rights organization. The group has asked the federal government to list feral horses in Montana as an endangered species, which would give them protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“Yes, and it has really hit the media hard again. It really bothers me that the animal-rights organization Animals First believes that wild horses belong on the Endangered Species List,” said Olson. “And especially that particular group of Montana wild horses in the Pryor Mountains. The Endangered Species Act was never meant for domestic livestock or pets. It’s a perfect example of why the Endangered Species Act needs some reform and modernizing, as we call it.”
It’s a big issue and one not just in Washington, D.C. but for also people back home and organizations like the Montana PLC and Montana Stockgrowers Association.
Olson said, “Yes, I think it does a lot of good for us come back here and talk to the people that actually make the decisions or rules that we have to live with on the ground. When we get back here, we’re lucky because our legislators and their staff make it point to be able to see us and also the agency people and talk about what’s exactly going on the ground. I think are representation here is awesome.”
Public lands ranchers can learn more about the progress of these issues this September at PLC's 50th Annual Meeting in Park City, Utah. Interested attendees can visit www.publiclandscouncil.org to learn more.