Montana FWP wants local anti-bison judge replaced on Gardiner Basin bison case

Judge who singlehandedly stopped years-in-making decision to let bison roam, not acceptable, says FWP-

Finally, after years, state and federal government agencies agreed to let bison begin to roam the Gardiner Basin just north of Yellowstone Park, but Park County district judge Nels Swandal sided with the Park County Stockgrowers Association to put the landmark agreement aside.

The stockgrowers were effective with their tired, but still effective arguments about spread of brucellosis and danger to people (the classic children at the bus stop argument). “Large numbers of bison now regularly congregate at school bus stops and other locations, interacting with children, elderly, and other individuals that live in the area to a degree not previously encountered,” Park County’s lawsuit stated.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and other agencies are asking for a new judge, but the existing judge (Swandal) gets to pick any replacement.

State wants new judge in bison case. By Carly Flandro. Bozeman Chronicle.

Meanwhile, we haven’t heard anything more about Park County prosecuting the man cited for shooting numerous .22 rounds among the houses to kill a bison.

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Regarding the views and actions of the Park County Commissioners, here is an interesting guest editorial. Guest column: We must rein in fears, attitudes over roaming bison. By Karrie Taggart (co-founder/coordinator of Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo in West Yellowstone — HOBNOB)




  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    It is a common occurance to see bison, elk, pronghorns or mule deer grazing on the Gardiner High School football field.
    If a student gets sent to detention, he or she is given a shovel and a bucket and is sent out to clean up the manure and droppings off of the field before practice and games.
    The premise that bison will congregate at bus stops and endanger students is laughable. They see them everyday at the school and have since it was built years ago.

  2. Virginia Avatar

    I laughed out loud when I read the statement about the buffalo congregation and interaction with children and the elderly. Do these people know how ridiculous they sound?

    1. Jeff N. Avatar
      Jeff N.

      It is their tired, endless routine of scapegoating kids and the elderly; using the supposed concern for their safety to make sure the status quo is maintained. They simply do not have the balls to be honest. If I were a resident of Park County I’d be embarrassed to have these people represent me.

  3. Elk275 Avatar

    ++Meanwhile, we haven’t heard anything more about Park County prosecuting the man cited for shooting numerous .22 rounds among the houses to kill a bison.++

    I doubt that they could find a jury to convict them. I was told that by ?????????? a person in the know, has been, but not currently in office in Park County. We had a talk about the store the other day.

    1. Alan Avatar

      Well Elk, I live in Park County and if the evidence was there I certainly would vote to convict, as would my wife and most of the people I know that I have discussed this with. Granted, I don’t hang out with ranchers though.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan