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Montana Supreme Court Weighs in on Bison Shipments, Some Property Owners Displeased

Bison
Photo courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr

The Montana Supreme Court decided today, June 19, that Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks did not break the law when it transferred bison from Yellowstone to the Fort Belknap Reservation.

The announcement may be great for those wanting to see wild bison in Montana, but for many farmers, who see bison as a threat to fences and livestock, the judgment is unwelcome.

“In this case they completely circumvented the law,” said United Property Owners of Montana Policy Director Chuck Denowh. “They transferred bison in the dead of night and didn’t let anybody know it was happening. It was completely a bad deal. We are just asking FWP to be more upfront about these bison transfers and to be more upfront about what is going on.”

Denowh says landowners aren’t against the transfers altogether, but that they just want some safety assurances.

“Land owners just want to know that there is a process set up: they want to know that proper fences are in place, and they want to know that there is a procedure of rounding up the animals in case they get out,” said Denowh. “It’s just some side board around these things. That is what the laws were originally intended to do, so there would be a level of comfort around these transfers”

Denowh says that if Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks attempts a similar bison transfer, there will be another lawsuit.

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