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Landowner Group Files Complaint Against Bison Management, Conservation Plan

Bull bison walk through the snow on the East Entrance Road in Yellowstone National Park on February 5, 2020.
Jacob W. Frank/YNP (Public Domain)
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Bull bison walk through the snow on the East Entrance Road in Yellowstone National Park on February 5, 2020.

A landowner advocacy group in Montana filed a complaint this week against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks saying that the department has not thoroughly explored the consequences of allowing free-roaming wild bison in the state.

The United Property Owners of Montana says Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks failed to fully investigate the possible effect wild bison could have on Montana ranchers and farmers in a document that assesses how the state should reintroduce the animals in Montana, if at all.

United Property Owners policy director Chuck Denowh says the group believes free-roaming wild bison could do damage to property, crops and livestock. 

“They could decimate a crop for instance. They could cause regular damage to hay supplies and other type of forage, but probably the biggest risk is with disease and brucellosis,” Denowh.

There are no documented cases of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle.

United Property Owners of Montana filed a complaint in Fergus County Court Monday demanding the agency take a harder look at data and the risk of disease transmission, among other things, then revise its report accordingly.

Earlier this year, the FWP wrapped up what it called an “exhaustive” eight-year public process studying what it would take to restore wild bison to the state. It has not yet developed proposals for potential or future reintroduction of wild bison into Montana for conservation purposes.

As of Thursday afternoon, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon said the court has not yet served the department with the complaint and it is not able to respond.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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