Stockgrowers sue to protect non-existent cattle from a non-existent threat

Ridiculous lawsuit to show who is boss over everything and everyone in Montana is being heard today.

Montana Stockgrowers Association is suing to make sure bison are removed from the Horse Butte, which is devoid of cattle, by May 15th of each year. They would force the State of Montana to violate private property rights of those who live on the peninsula each and every year.

Cattle are no longer grazed on Horse Butte and there are few cattle grazed in the entire Hebgen Valley.  Even those cattle don’t arrive until late June long after there is any threat of brucellosis transmission.  Even so, bison are hazed, captured, and slaughtered by State and Federal Agencies at taxpayer expense at the cost of $1.5 million dollars per year to protect a few operators from a non-existent threat.

Stockgrowers sue over Horse Butte bison
Bozeman Daily Chronicle

A reminder of the consequences of this policy:

Buffalo hazing frustrates the owner of Horse Butte

Galanis’s brought the Butte to help wildlife, especially bison, but Montana DOL hazes the bison away to protect the non-existent local cattle-

Buffalo hazing frustrates property owner. Conservation easement not getting intended use. By Brett French. Billings Gazette Staff.

Brutal harassment of bison west of Yellowstone Park

Whatever happened to the vaunted new May 15 tolerance date?

Supposedly it would be different this spring. Bison would allowed to migrate out of the Park and onto Horse Butte free from harassment until at least May 15. The reality is pretty much like recent years. Brutal Montana Department of Livestock agents and Yellowstone Park personnel on horses are chasing bison back into the Park. Helicopters harass them from above. Not just bison, but all Yellowstone wildlife on the west side of the Park are disrupted.

The whole exercise is pointless because there are no cattle in the area to which the bison can theoretically transfer brucellosis. According to the Buffalo Field Campaign, there remains just one small hobby rancher in the area who won’t have cattle on his ranch until mid- to late-June.

In case anyone has missed it, my view is that the entire point of this yearly outrage is simply to show us who really runs things in Montana, and it’s not the citizens of the state or of the United States.

Please contact President Obama. It’s time to see if our new President cares any more about this than George W. did.

Ralph Maughan

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Here is the report from the Buffalo Field Campaign.

~Update from the Field


This mama buffalo and her newborn calf have had a very difficult week.

Chaos is reigning along Yellowstone National Park’s western boundary as the thumping of chopper blades and the shouts of government agents repeatedly harass wild buffalo families and all wildlife near the Madison River.  Nearly 200 buffalo – including dozens of newborn calves, yearlings, and pregnant mothers – have been ruthlessly run off of their spring habitat within the Gallatin National Forest.  Agents are out harassing buffalo as this Update is being written.

Newborn buffalo calves and many pregnant buffalo cows have been run for miles through pockets of deep snow, barbed wire fences, thick forests laden with dead-fall, fast moving river currents, mucky wetlands, and steep, sandy bluffs.  For these babies, it is a terrible and sometimes deadly introduction to the world.  The new and developing muscles of these little ones cannot sustain such abuse. Today, mounted Montana Department of Livestock and Yellowstone National Park horsemen have picked up the hazing operation at Yellowstone’s border, after it left Gallatin National Forest land, and are currently pushing the exhausted buffalo deep into Yellowstone National Park’s interior with the assistance of the Montana Department of Livestock’s helicopter. Read the rest of this entry »

Agencies to let more bison outside Yellowstone

Bison will be able to occupy the Horse Butte area for the first time-

Finally, the bison will be able to leave the Park and occupy this now cow-free area area for the first time this winter.

Conservation groups and the couple who bought Horse Butte have prepared the way, and it looks like the plainly obvious right thing to do will finally be allowed.

One caution, this is still a draft.

Associated Press story. Agencies to Let More Bison Outside of Yellowstone in winter. This is a much longer version of the story than the one first posted.

Hank Fischer: Royal Teton Ranch Deal Critical for Yellowstone Bison

Hank Fischer: Royal Teton Ranch Deal Critical for Yellowstone Bison. Guest commentary. New West.

I wish I could agree with Fischer, and we do know the world can’t be changed in one step. However, if this is “a template” for future deals, as he says, then we won’t see much improvement in a lifetime.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photo of Horse Butte

The importance of Horse Butte-

This is a photo of Horse Butte taken on April 13, 2008. The bare slope is extremely critical spring bison range, and Montana Department of Livestock tries to kick the bison off it every spring despite the Hose Butte Grazing allotment being closed and the rest of the Butte owned by people who want to see bison.
Horse Butte in mid April 2008

Gardiner, Montana is the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The area around Gardiner is much lower than the rest of Yellowstone Park, so hungry bison naturally travel downhill from the deep snow seeking the bare ground.

West of the Park, however, the country is flat and almost the same elevation as inside the Park. So why do they leave to the west?

The major reason is Horse Butte, a long low ridge that runs east to west, presenting a long bare south-facing slope to the rays of the spring sun.

In the past Montana Department of Livestock has been adamant that bison won’t get to use this grass although there are no cows to eat it in the spring, summer or fall. Moreover, the people who own the Butte and most neighbors want to let the bison use the butte.

Yellowstone Bison: Madison Valley Landowners Get Tough with Montana DOL

A couple just bought much of the top of Horse Butte, a place bison love to come when they leave Yellowstone Park searching for grass, and where Montana DOL loves to capture them for slaughter and haze them back in the Park to “protect” the non-existent cattle from getting brucellosis from the bison.

The new landowners will not tolerate the DOL trespassing on their property (we will see if DOL cares about private private rights. I’ve said they don’t. Hope to be proven wrong). There will be a confrontation this winter because a lot of bison are going the leave the Park because this summer’s drought has left the range in bad condition according to biologists I have talked with.

It will be winter of starvation for elk and bison . . . worse if the bison are confined to the Park.

Here is the story in New West.  Yellowstone Bison: Madison Valley Landowners Get Tough with Montana DOL. By David Nolt.