Montana Public Radio

Landowner Group Files Complaint Against Bison Management, Conservation Plan

Mar 12, 2020
Originally published on March 12, 2020 6:19 pm

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.

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