Saturday, January 28, 2012

Land Owners Sue FWP to Stop Bison Relocation

Yellowstone buffalo still seem to be causing anguish to some folks around the state. We wrote a blog post back on Dec 6th about the Governor agreeing to allow the relocation of some of the controversial buffalo to the Fort Belknap Reservation in Blaine County. Aside from the common concern from ranchers about potential brucellosis infections infecting their cattle herds the most common complaint we heard from Blaine County ranchers was that the reservation could not or would not adequately fence their pastures to keep the bison from wandering on neighboring grazing land. Ranchers contended that tribal buffalo ranges were already over-grazed and the addition of more animals was just an invitation for disaster. In the beginning of 2009  15-25 neighboring ranchers testified that reservation bison were continually getting on their land and the problem had gotten so exasperating that one rancher actually shot some of the tribe’s forever wandering bison.

According to a 2009 news report by Elizabeth l. Doney Editor of the Fort Belknap News tribal leaders stressed that they had received money from the Defenders of Wildlife for fencing and Senator Tester was pursuing additional 2010 appropriations for funding adequate fencing. Even though three years have passed since this angry encounter bison are still deemed a problem by adjacent landowners.

A Blaine County News – Journal article on January 18th reported that a lawsuit was filed in the 17th District Court in Blaine County by Cory J. Swanson, a Helena attorney, against the Fish, Wildlife and Parks and their plan to relocate Yellowstone bison. The Blaine County News-Journal doesn’t maintain website links to their stories so we have attached a scan of the original article. Click to enlarge.

As usual the Havre Daily “News” has made no mention of this local community story but further articles can be viewed on these links

Great Falls Tribune
Billings Gazette
Idaho Press - Tribune


  1. Leave it to Tester to get involved with free gifts from the federal government for his voting bloc.

    Why should we pay for their fence because they want to be in the livestock business? If they can’t keep the animals they have now in control than I agree with the basis of the lawsuit.

  2. In all the years I have hunted bad fences and wandering animals from tribal land has been a problem. I don't blame the landowners for wanting this disrespect by the tribe to be put to an end.

    With the millions of dollars the tribes collect each year from the government for employment or tribal members wouldn't you think they could spend some on building new fences