Mont. Farm Bureau protests decision to allow bison on Flat Creek Allotment
January 8, 2016
The Montana Farm Bureau Federation has sent a letter to Vinita Shea, Field Manager for the Bureau of Land Management in Malta protesting the recent decision of approval of the American Prairie Reserve's (APR) request for change of use on the Flat Creek Allotment.
"Montana Farm Bureau, along with its members, was in opposition to the initial application for change in April of 2015 and submitted comments at the time saying as much," said Montana Farm Bureau President Bob Hanson. "Our members are very concerned with the idea of and movement toward establishing a 'wild' bison herd in Montana. We think this decision symbolizes the BLM's endorsement of doing just that."
The letter explained that the state's largest agricultural organization is especially concerned with
the term 'indigenous bison'. Under Montana law, bison are considered "a species in need of management" (MCA 87-1-216) and thereby under the authority of the Department of Livestock and the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
“Our members are very concerned with the idea of and movement toward establishing a ‘wild’ bison herd in Montana. Bob Hanson, Montana Farm Bureau president
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"For all intents and purposes, we believe they should be classified and referred to strictly as 'bison' to avoid any confusion or ambiguity regarding Montana state law," said Hanson. "Nowhere in state law are bison classified or referred to as 'indigenous bison'. Using the term here creates the potential for confusion regarding jurisdiction over the animals. Additionally, it appears APR and BLM freely manipulate the term considering bison are not listed as a class or kind of livestock in the BLM Hi-Line RMP Appendix."
Hanson states that the APR's comments that year-round grazing fosters economic development for private ranchers and ranching communities is plain wrong. "This decision does the exact opposite; it ensures, for the foreseeable future, these allotments are merely an extension of APR's boundaries and serve no economic benefit to any rancher or citizen of Phillips County or the state of Montana."
–Montana Farm Bureau Federation