Buffalo Field Campaign and Gallatin Wildlife Association speak

Stephany Seay, media coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, writes a letter in response to the Casper Star Tribune’s poorly researched op-ed of December 30th titled “Turner ranch plan is the best way to save bison“.

Giving bison to Turner isn’t legal
Stephany Seay – Buffalo Field Campaign

It’s not legal: according to the permit from Yellowstone National Park (Permit #YELL-2007-SCI-5506) “Yellowstone National Park bison transferred to quarantine shall not be used for commercial or revenue-generating purposes.”

The Gallatin Wildlife Association speaks out as well.

Wildlife group explains position
JIM BAILEY, Belgrade, Mont.
Gallatin Wildlife Association

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

21 Responses to Giving bison to Turner isn't legal

  1. Robert Hoskins says:

    Nothing like turning up the heat on Governor BS.


  2. ProWolf in WY says:

    So how long have these buffalo been in quarantine? It seems to me that they have no hopes of surviving in the wild if they have been fenced in like that for a long time.

  3. Si'vet says:

    This is starting to have wild horse/burro overtones. The worst enemy horses ever had were the folks who wanted to save them all and ban the butchering of horses in the U.S. Pick up any local paper, starving, mistreated horses, by pathetic owners almost everyday. The BLM wild horse and burro program, a total waste of tax money, loading, unloading and transporting these animals from auction to auction, day after day, week after week, month after month is abuse.. Do the same to the wild and regal buffalo, abuse…

  4. JimT says:

    No, the worse enemy the wild horses and burros have had is the BLM administration of the program and the massive overgrazing of public lands by cows, leading ranchers to blame horses and burros for reduced forage in order to get them off the lands so they can put more cows on. The result of those efforts resulted in the horrors you allude to in your post.

    Get cows and sheep off public lands, put bison on them. The ecosystem will thank us.

  5. Si'vet says:

    JimT not sure where you live, but pick up the paper, any horses dead or dying from mistreatment in your neck of the woods. The BLM is stuck managing mostly feral, horses and burrro’s turned loose years ago on public land. I believe there are only “legal” issues with regards to removing livestock from public lands, should be easy to resolve through the “system” right

  6. bob jackson says:


    I agree with getting domestic animals off public lands but just putting native animals back on doesn’t assure any or very few gains to the ecosystem if those natives have shattered herd infrastructure. I agree the Corwin Springs public animals should go to public or at least non profit entities but we should consider these animals as a big protective brother would…..or to relate it to humans….someone who knows the compassionate loving care it is in trying to help those who went through their whole lives in a refugee camp.

    These animals were orphans with not adult help. They know nothing of what to eat or how to live in a social setting. They are the cross we need to all bear and remember. But, no they can not, after what the collective “we” did to them, ever think they will be able to help the environment or ecosystem any different than a cow or sheep.

  7. Robert Hoskins says:

    As far as putting “domesticated” quarantine bison on the landscape, let’s give them the chance to prove themselves as wild animals.

    In any case, the principle at stake, the privatization of wildlife–the callous, craven, corrupt and cowardly assault on the public trust–is too important to let these bison go to Turner.


  8. Ken Cole says:

    The issues are different. Bison are native while horses are not. The worst enemy the bison have is the livestock industry, which is responsible for confining them to the harsh winter habitat in Yellowstone using a LIE.

    There are similarities to a degree but horses are very hard on the landscape that they are not native to. Bison play an integral role in a landscape they are native to. Cattle just plain destroy nearly every aspect of the landscape and contribute nothing to it.

    In addition, we’re talking about two entirely different landscapes. Horses are mostly confined to the most arid landscapes of the Great Basin where there were no large ungulates and bison lived on the plains and areas of higher precipitation in comparison. The plants and animals evolved with them and mutually beneficial relationships developed.

  9. Robert Hoskins says:

    Find below I letter I just sent to the Montana FWP Commission.


    Being absolutely opposed to the disposition of QFS bison to Ted Turner, I have been doing some research into the issue. Now, I recall that Governor Schweitzer has “delegated” decision-making authority over the disposition of QFS bison to FWP Director Joe Maurier to make the predetermined decision to give the bison to Turner, thus bypassing the Commission.

    However, it seems to me that the Governor doesn’t have this authority to bypass the Commission; rather, final administrative authority for the disposition of QFS bison lies with the FWP Commission, not the FWP Director or even the Governor.

    I would like to bring to your attention the following legal issues based upon the Montana Code (Annotated):

    1) I note that the FWP Commission is designated a “quasi-judicial” board and as such has significant independence from the Governor’s exercise of his purely executive powers. MCA 2-15-3402(5); MCA 2-15-102(10).

    2) A quasi-judicial board or commission has “rule-making authority” and decision-making authority over the granting of “privileges, rights, or benefits” and “issuing, suspending, or revoking licenses, permits, and certificates.” MCA 2-2-102(c); MCA 2-15-102(10)(b)and (c).

    3) I note further that the Governor’s positive powers over the Commission are limited to appointment of Commission members, appointment of the presiding officer, and removal of Commission members for cause. MCA 2-15-124. It strikes me that the Governor’s legal authority over the FWP Commission is remarkably limited.

    4) I further note that the FWP Commission has full authority to make decisions over the state’s wildlife–not the FWP Director. MCA 87-1-301(a). The duties of the Director are purely executive in nature–to carry out the policies and decisions of the Commission. MCA 87-1-401.

    In short, nothing nothing in the MCA authorizes the Governor to bypass the authority of the FWP Commission in this matter and delegate Commission authority to make decisions about QFS bison to the FWP Director. The Director is not a policy- or decision-making employee of the State of Montana.

    As a matter of fact, I see nothing in statute that gives the Governor any legal authority whatsoever over these bison.

    This is an important matter. May I recommend that the FWP Commission seek an official Attorney General’s opinion on just where legal authority for the disposition of QFS bison lies? Doing so could prevent future problems.

    I would also recommend that the Commission seek as well an AG’s opinion on the legality of privatizing these bison.

    Robert Hoskins

  10. Virginia says:

    I wish I had Robert’s knowledge to write such a great letter, but I did personalize the letter on the BFC site and sent it off tonight. Hope it helps our wild bison!

  11. ProWolf in WY says:

    Ken, I agree with your statement. The fact is that bison are native and have a rightful place in the ecosystem, not confined behind fences in a quarantine facility. Horses and burros are not native to North America. That being said I hate to admit it but I would hate to see the horses go from the deserts. It’s probably just some dumb romantic idea of wild horses but I love seeing them. If they put buffalo back though I might change my mind.

  12. Robert Hoskins says:


    Personalizing the BFC draft letter is fine.

    Stay tuned. It appears that this is a done deal and that we will have to litigate.


  13. Petticoat Rebellion says:

    Write on Hoskins! Write on!! You really know your stuff and you rock!

  14. Robert Hoskins says:

    We try.

  15. bob jackson says:

    I realize this thread has been put on the back burner, but I did want to add that wild bison and wild horses did occupy the same turf for a hundred to 200 years in some cases. There still was lots of grass with both not being “managed”. A lot of accounts were written on this by buffalo hunters and explorers. Their herd composition was so similar as seen at a distance there was a lot of mistaken identity by those pursuing bison.

    The reason they looked the same was both were based on the same extended family infrastructure. This is not allowed to be maintained with todays “wild” horse herds. Thus distruction to the environment.

    As for putting these orphaned and totally dysfunctional bison on public lands, I say lets do it. But there needs to be assistance to insure they stay in place and have time to develop the ancestoral learning needed for ecosystem functioning.

    They need to have supplimental feeding (hate to say this, I don’t like it either) or they are going to have to be behind a fence…large area hopefully. Home has to be established first and foremost. Then there can be no hunting until all roles are in place. This will take 12-15 years . Only then do these orphans have a chance.

    I propose those in agencies who did such dastardly, inhumane and insensitive things to these little ones now be required to be their big brothers and sisters. Make those who were cruel in the Stevens Creek Corrals…those who were the administrators who made the decision to put them in “schools” without teachers…any and all be required to take care of them…in a volunteer, unpaid capacity. Then they will see the true cost to the very ones they were to protect in the first place.

  16. Robert Hoskins says:

    Fair enough. But we first need to get them there–home.


  17. Si'vet says:

    Bob, in the last 6 weeks I’ve gone from disdain to respect with most of your position’s again not always agree but respect. Are you sure about this reintroduction issue with these bison. Please step back and rethink, better a few should be lost than???? If I couldn’t tie a double Diamond then I wouldn’t have wasted your time. thanks

  18. bob jackson says:


    Maybe I am a bit slow this morning but I need to have you expand on your thoughts and question of reintroduction so I can answer it. Your position ?? and what you think I advocate?

    And as for double diamonds, my packing philosophy was to try to get space between the animal and pack if possible. Too much heat made for sores or eventual white hair spots. Diamond hitches (or box hitches that didn’t incorporate styles ….sierra box hitch…..) kept the packs tight against the animal and allowed for more soring.

    There were many reasons I used this double diamond, of course, whether I wanted to or not. Fall, as compared to summer packing caused less heat build up ….. and if I had no way around putting a full rounded load on top it was a necessary evil. Double diamonds were a good way to control “fluff”.

    Trips including steep or lots of down timber off trail terrain sometimes meant I’d have to repack for these sections to include this or the single diamond hitch. Stability, tightness to the body and safety then took precidence.

    Generally I tried to figure out ways to pack without using these type of hitches, however.

    Of course all were a lot better than the natives sqaw hitch. Take a stick and twist it around a body circling rope ….and ta da …. away you go.

    As for pro ball I looked at the chances of making the big time as compared to staying in the minor leagues …. or the possibility of injuries. I was a pitcher, threw a bunch of no hitters, had an era under 1, but I saw too many folks hurt their arms to go on to the top. I could feel some difference in the shoulder and maybe today there is enough sports therapy and exercise knowledge to counter these type of things…but back then there were none.

    My son pitched for San Diego state and the arm is what went even with all those top ten rated team sports assistants. I never looked back on my decision.

  19. Robert Hoskins says:

    What does the double diamond have to do with bison conservation?


  20. bob jackson says:

    Answer: Sharing common ground with individuals adds strength and personal understanding by those individuals to the main issue at hand…such as bison conservation…..or to clarify more so do you think of “double diamond” as two diamond rings on one finger…or is it related to the song where they sing,”This diamond ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys (1965) ….or does all this just sound like more dribble???

  21. Robert Hoskins says:

    I know what diamond hitches are–I learned them from Tory Taylor and Joe Back. And they’re irrelevant to bison conservation.

    Common ground–very marshy.



January 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey