More on Yellowstone bison being moved out of YNP into Montana and rancher opposition

Ranchers reflexively oppose moving healthy Yellowstone bison onto lands of people who welcome them-

Recently we did the story “Untrustworthy: the history of Montana cattle ranchers and Yellowstone bison.”  It pointed to George Ochenski’s chronicle of the deceit and obstructiveness by Montana ranchers toward protecting the genetics of Yellowstone bison by moving some bison of the Park onto other lands. The New York Times now has an article “As Bison Return to Prairie, Some Rejoice, Others Worry.”  It is a happy story, but as always it seems, partially filled with carping from ranchers who are afraid that something other than a cow will eat a clump of grass.

The obstructiveness of ranchers to anything that honors or helps wildlife is puzzling — the tiny inconvenience to them. They seem to have a permanent “chip on their shoulder.” Why are they not clamoring for more controls to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, or fairness from the big meat packing companies?  If there are three or four more cases of BSE (mad cow disease) in the near future in the United States, it will damage their industry more than a million wolves dropped into the countryside. Infectious beef that turns a person’s brain into something looks like a sponge is a lot more scary than a bison in NE Montana knocking down someone’s fence post.



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  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    Private property rights only apply to cows in Montana. This reminds me of how the DoL violates the private property rights of the Galanis’ on Horse Butte every year because rancher don’t want bison outside of the Park.

  2. CodyCoyote Avatar

    This week the excellent Indepndent Lens series of documentaries on PBS happens to be showing the Bison documentary ” Facing the Storm : Story of the American Bison ” by Doug Hawes-Davis of High Plains Films


    It spends half the hour on the preposterous Yellowstone-Montana standoff over migrating Park bison.

    That 1-hr features film can be viewed online for free till May 3 at the link above.

  3. Chuck Avatar

    So if a person were to be living in Montana and would allow bison on their property, Montana DOL would trespass on the private property to haze the bison off?????
    Good thing I don’t live there.

    1. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      Montana DOL runs Montana and make no mistake about it. The livestock industry also runs Idaho, maybe a bit more subtly, and owns Wyoming outright.

    2. SEAK Mossback Avatar
      SEAK Mossback

      There’s definitely some irony there. Montana has a history from the 1800’s of near-absolute priority for property rights. There have even been people shot in cold blood in recent times without justice as most of us would view it — witness the woman fatally shot in the back with a rifle trying to drive a stolen Willys jeep out of the parking lot from Point of Rocks Lodge. The law seemed to view the owner’s actions as equally or more reasonable than calling the sheriffs in Gardiner and Livingston, who could easily have chased her down in their patrol cars. Or the fact that ranchers are able to block access to vast amounts of public land, the use of which is a major public interest. But if you’re harboring native wildlife against the wishes of a politically connected industry, you’ll be trespassed at will by the AGS (Ag Goon Squad) using whatever means and route they suits them without recourse. Montana is of course not the only example — there was recently an example in another state of government trespass on a ranch to poison prairie dogs, which by themselves might not have been enough to draw the AGS, had the land owner not also been attempting to harbor black-footed ferrets.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Since the tribes are playing a key role in the plan to move Yellowstone bison out onto the range, there is no doubt in my mind that there is more than just a little racism among these ranchers.

        1. Daniel Berg Avatar
          Daniel Berg

          Overt racism unless their perceived goals are in alignment. If their goals are in alignment, then they’ll ignore the tribes publicly and stick to telling indian jokes around the ranch.

          The anti-wolf crowd in Northeast Washington is very supportive of the idea that the Colville tribes may want to aggressively manage wolves on the reservation.

  4. J D Kotrla-Chipps Avatar

    Hallelujah!!! Finally someone in Montana with a 3 digit IQ speaks out.

  5. JD Chipps Avatar
    JD Chipps

    I agree, paint your corner posts purple, then shoot the trespassers.


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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