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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Bill Would Remove Brucellosis-Free Requirement Before Bison Transfer

Bison being released at Fort Peck Reservation, November 2014.
Courtesy of the Defenders of Wildlife
Bison being released at Fort Peck Reservation, November 2014.

Tribal members and wildlife groups were among those asking lawmakers today to consider a bill to change how bison can be moved and sold. The bill proposed by Rep. Willis Curdy, a Missoula Democrat, would remove an existing requirement for wild bison be cleared as free from brucellosis before being transferred.Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy from Crow Agency testified in support the bill. She says it will make it easier for Native American tribes to bring bison onto their reservations, especially those on the Fort Peck Reservation where a quarantine facility has been built for the animals. 

"The buffalo is the original animal that provided sustenance to the people of this land, to the indigenous people of this land," says Stewart-Peregoy.

But representatives from several livestock and farming organizations say this bill could be dangerous for their industries. Levi Ostberg spoke against the bill on behalf of the Montana Farmers Union.

"The movement of bison before they can be verified to be free of brucellosis is an incredible risk to our livestock industry across the whole state," Ostberg says.

The House Agriculture committee did not immediately vote on the bill.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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