- Published on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 16:59
- Written by Bob Hanson, Montana Farm Bureau Federation President
Today, the Montana Sixth Judicial District Court issued an order on the bison case filed by the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, the Park County Stockgrowers Association and Park County.
The Montana Farm Bureau Federation is extremely disappointed in the Court’s determination that the State of Montana’s release of hundreds of bison, infected with a disease that is listed on the bioterrorism agent list, onto thousands of acres of private property, does not violate state law.
The Federation became involved in this case because of the unprecedented action by the State to allow thousands of bison onto private property in Montana instead of managing the bison within Yellowstone Park. The state and federal governments have managed the bison outside of Park County and kept them off of private property in Montana for more than 100 years. The court’s opinion would seem at first glance to suggest it is now permissible for the State to release diseased animals onto private property.
The Court’s decision is almost 80 pages long and we only received it this afternoon. Our attorneys, officers and board will have to review it closely to determine the next best step to protect the interests of our members and Montana’s ranching industry.
The Court in the Order stated, “To impose a duty upon FWP that would require them to ‘control’ bison in a manner that prevents them from engaging in behaviors that damage property and cause harm is a legislative responsibility, not one of the Courts.” Based on current laws, particularly the Montana Environmental Protection Act, Farm Bureau believes the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) Department exceeded their current legislative mandate, an argument with which the judge apparently disagreed.
Obviously, by this ruling bison management has again become a very important issue for the Montana legislature to consider in order to protect Montana’s livestock industry.