Amazingly enough, despite their wrongheaded policies toward wolves and wolverine (which I covered in the post, “WTF’s Up w/MFWP?”), the Montana WDFW actually came up with a good idea regarding bison. According to an article in the New York Times:
Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks department is considering allowing bison year-round access to cattle-free pockets of public land on Yellowstone’s northwest side. Officials are also working on a statewide bison management plan that could allow the reintroduction of a few disease-free bison to some of the most remote parts of the state, possibly including the million-acre Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Montana.
Public polls show that most Montanans support reintroducing wild bison that could be watched by wildlife enthusiasts and harvested by hunters. That approach would parallel established management plans that allowed elk, deer, antelope and bighorn sheep to return after they were hunted to near-extinction around the time bison vanished. …
Because of attitudes held by ranchers like John Youngberg, vice president for government affairs for the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana has traditionally held to a policy of intolerence toward free-roaming bison.
Youngberg said that since wild bison were exterminated by the time Montana became a state in 1889, landowners should have the right to live without them.
“They got their property with the expectation that there were no buffalo,” he said. “And these are not white-tailed deer you’re talking about, they’re 2,000-pound animals”
Now, two new bills introduced in the Montana legislature would usher in a zero-tolerance policy for wild bison, potentially opening the way for a return to the shoot-on-sight practices of years past.
Under a bill proposed in the state Senate, Department of Livestock officials would have the leeway to exterminate all wild bison. And a different bill in the state House of Representatives would allow landowners to kill any bison that sets foot on private property.
“Why do you want to spread this creeping cancer, these woolly tanks, around the state of Montana? We’ve got zero tolerance left in our bones,” said John Brenden, a state senator from Scobey, Mont., who is chairman of the Senate Fish and Game Committee and authored that chamber’s bill.
My response to Mr. Brenden: If you want to see a creeping cancer whose destructive behavior can be compared to a tank, look in the mirror.
Over the last three decades, around 7,000 bison from Yellowstone National Park, descendants of the less than two dozen free-range bison in America known to have survived the great slaughter of the Nineteenth Century, were killed for migrating from federal parkland into the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
Yet in Montana, where most Yellowstone bison have been shot or shipped to slaughterhouses, the state agreed last year for the first time to allow bison access to 75,000 acres of public land north of the park for a few months each year.
For more on the plight of bison, past and present, read Chaper 1, “Hide Hunting Holocaust Survivors Still Under Fire,” in the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport.