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Montana Farm Bureau files for intervention in Park County bison lawsuit

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) has filed to intervene in a lawsuit on bison mismanagement in Park County. The lawsuit, Park County v. the State of Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock, centers around the Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) that is part of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). Montana Farm Bureau is opposing the change to the AMP.

“We completely understand the frustration of Park County officials in dealing with this case,” noted Sky Anderson, a Park County rancher and MFBF district director. “There was no public input to the plan change and no one was aware of it until there were hundreds of bison wandering the streets of Gardiner.”

Damage done to property by the large beasts includes destruction of fences, irrigation systems, satellite dishes, telephone boxes and buildings.

“Under the Adaptive Management Plan, the government was to release 25 bison, see how that went, then release more the following year,” explained MFBF Vice President of Governmental Relations John Youngberg. “This year there were approximately 320 bison outside of the park and they caused considerable damage. A major problem is little feed in the valley where they are released. Although the government touts 73,000 acres for these bison to roam, the majority of the ground is the same elevation as Yellowstone National Park; therefore, the valley has few open meadows for grazing and provides very little forage. The only good forage is on private land along the river in the bottom of the valley near cattle and homes.”

Because of the plan change, cattle in the valley are being exposed to bison at this critical time of year. The bison, which can carry the brucellosis disease, are now calving close to cattle. Intermingling of the bison with cattle is how brucellosis is spread. The disease causes abortion in bison and cattle, and can cause undulant fever in humans. According to federal rules, if a single cattle herd in a state that is free of brucellosis becomes infected with brucellosis, that herd must be destroyed and herds around it tested so the disease doesn’t spread. There has been a tremendous amount of money already spent on this issue, and the discovery of brucellosis in a cattle herd can have dire economic consequences for the state.

“Other threats we discuss in this lawsuit include not only property damage caused by bison, but how bison distract motorists trying to drive around them, the danger of having them close to bus stops with children, and even risks to county law enforcement who generally are the ones trying to haze the bison away from a risky situation,” noted Anderson. “Bison are aggressive animals and are a threat to humans, pets and property.”

It is hoped by filing the lawsuit, the changes in AMP will be halted and bison management will once again be implemented as was agreed to originally instead of just letting the buffalo roam.

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) has filed to intervene in a lawsuit on bison mismanagement in Park County. The lawsuit, Park County v. the State of Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock, centers around the Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) that is part of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). Montana Farm Bureau is opposing the change to the AMP.

“We completely understand the frustration of Park County officials in dealing with this case,” noted Sky Anderson, a Park County rancher and MFBF district director. “There was no public input to the plan change and no one was aware of it until there were hundreds of bison wandering the streets of Gardiner.”

Damage done to property by the large beasts includes destruction of fences, irrigation systems, satellite dishes, telephone boxes and buildings.

“Under the Adaptive Management Plan, the government was to release 25 bison, see how that went, then release more the following year,” explained MFBF Vice President of Governmental Relations John Youngberg. “This year there were approximately 320 bison outside of the park and they caused considerable damage. A major problem is little feed in the valley where they are released. Although the government touts 73,000 acres for these bison to roam, the majority of the ground is the same elevation as Yellowstone National Park; therefore, the valley has few open meadows for grazing and provides very little forage. The only good forage is on private land along the river in the bottom of the valley near cattle and homes.”

Because of the plan change, cattle in the valley are being exposed to bison at this critical time of year. The bison, which can carry the brucellosis disease, are now calving close to cattle. Intermingling of the bison with cattle is how brucellosis is spread. The disease causes abortion in bison and cattle, and can cause undulant fever in humans. According to federal rules, if a single cattle herd in a state that is free of brucellosis becomes infected with brucellosis, that herd must be destroyed and herds around it tested so the disease doesn’t spread. There has been a tremendous amount of money already spent on this issue, and the discovery of brucellosis in a cattle herd can have dire economic consequences for the state.

“Other threats we discuss in this lawsuit include not only property damage caused by bison, but how bison distract motorists trying to drive around them, the danger of having them close to bus stops with children, and even risks to county law enforcement who generally are the ones trying to haze the bison away from a risky situation,” noted Anderson. “Bison are aggressive animals and are a threat to humans, pets and property.”

It is hoped by filing the lawsuit, the changes in AMP will be halted and bison management will once again be implemented as was agreed to originally instead of just letting the buffalo roam.


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