Northern Ag Network ran a story on December 2nd that included a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that said in part;
Accordingly, management-plan agreements for each tribal site must include commitments to: (1) continue disease testing for five years, (2) properly contain bison, (3) immediately respond to any escapes of bison, and (4) provide Montana with disease-free bison for future conservation efforts. There are no infrastructure costs for FWP to pay associated with the recommended tribal lands.The management plan sounds great but what will ensure it is being followed? You may recall that the Chinook Opinion-Journal ran a couple of articles last winter dealing with Blaine County rancher's frustration with the Fort Belknap tribe for failing to keep their current bison herd confined to their own range land. Ranchers adjoining tribal land said that the tribe failed to maintain their property line fences and the bison repeatedly were getting out and mingling with their cattle herds. To make matters even worse when the ranchers reported these incidents tribal officials many times didn’t even bother to come out to herd their animals back onto their own land. Are we to believe that they will now somehow miraculously change their ways with the addition of more bison?
The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission will be holding a two-day meeting on this matter which will begin at 10 AM on Thursday, December 8. Northern Ag Network has published the names and contact information of each of the FWP commissioners if you would like to comment. Also the audio of these meetings will be streamed live over the internet. See the contact information here.
As a side note I found the letter to the editor published in Monday’s Bozeman Chronicle highly enlightening as to what the ranchers are dealing with when it comes to the bison “free-range” advocates. This letter writer believes that Montana does not belong to cattle or ranchers. The buffalo is native to Montana and should be allowed to wander wherever they please. She believes it is shameful that the FWP is attempting to appease the livestock industry by participating in containment and slaughter.
You just can’t make good stories like this up. Read the letter to the Chronicle yourself here.
The following illustration is the recommended fence to hold bison. Does anyone recall a fence like this around any of the Fort Belknap pastures?
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