In today’s Buffalo Field Campaign Update from the Field the depths that Montana’s livestock barons will stoop to protect livestock interests is revealed.  Because the Montana Department of Livestock is limited by a temporary restraining order issued on Monday by a federal judge, they have decided to explicitly violate the property rights of a landowner who has explicitly told them that the agency is not welcome on their land.  The Galanis family “alerted the Department of Livestock to the fact that the buffalo are welcome on the preserve and that the agents, buffalo hazing, and harassment are not.”  The State of Montana has made it explicitly clear that the rights of the Galanis family are subservient to the livestock industry and that they are willing to violate those rights at any time they please to conduct their hazing operations.

The hazing takes place in the midst of bison birthing season and calves just days old spend the beginning of their lives being chased by cowboys on horses and ATV’s.

Here is the update from the Buffalo Field Campaign.

* Update from the Field: Judge Orders Halt to Helicopter Hazing

We’ve been seeing a lot of grizzly bear sign this spring.  A few patrols have seen actual grizzlies.  Buffalo Field Campaign’s documentation of the presence of the protected bears has helped secure a Temporary Restraining Order in U.S. District Court to ground the helicopter.  Attorney Rebecca Smith, representing the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, successfully argued in court on Monday, May 14 to prohibit the use of helicopters for hazing buffalo in threatened grizzly bear habitat.  The Order, issued by Judge Charles C. Lovell, prevents the Interagency Bison Management Plan agencies “from conducting further bison helicopter hazing operations…pending further order of this Court.”  Buffalo Field Campaign’s expert assistance and video and photographic evidence played a central role in the case.  The grounding of the helicopter is a major and immediate victory that is already being felt on the ground.

BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

For the first time in at least fifteen springs we needn’t fear the chopper’s overwhelming noise and vibrations or squint our eyes to the powerful dust-stirring gusts of the rotor wash.  We don’t have to see the buffalo frantic with terror or watch grizzly bears, moose, elk, eagles, swans, and herons–and so many other precious species–flee from the deafening noise.  We don’t have to watch newborn calves run on broken or dislocated legs as the chopper hovers and lunges from overhead.  Spring is blooming along the Yellowstone boundary and, for at least the time being, the hell of the ‘copter is over.

BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

The landscape on the western edge of Yellowstone is the buffalo’s home.  The south-facing, grass-growing slopes of the Horse Butte Peninsula are birthing grounds; pregnant mothers gather here to gain strength and nourishment after the long and cold winter; newborn calves, reddish-orange and brimming with life, draw their firsts breaths and take their first steps here.  The meadows, bluffs, banks, and forests that envelop the Madison River on its westward course from Yellowstone National Park comprise a rare and precious patch of Earth still blessed with wild buffalo, grizzly bears, wolves, and wolverines.  This is one of the very last places in America where wild buffalo still leave hoof prints, tufts of hair, and pie shaped droppings.

BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

The Montana Department of Livestock, helicopter or not, refuses to tolerate buffalo on this landscape.  Since Monday we have documented one hazing operation after another as a host of horse-mounted agents, from the Department of Livestock, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the National Park Service, do everything in their power–and some things beyond their rightful power–to clear the land of the buffalo who belong here.  Trespassing, chasing buffalo past the point of exhaustion, depriving thirsty animals of water, and separating newborn calves from their mothers are not too much for these livestock agents, game wardens, and park rangers.

BFC file photos by Justine and Stephany. Click photos for large images.

BFC file photos by Justine and Stephany. Click photos for large images.

The Galanis family thought they could help the buffalo when they bought land on Horse Butte and designated it as a preserve where buffalo and other wildlife would be safe and protected.  They alerted the Department of Livestock to the fact that the buffalo are welcome on the preserve and that the agents, buffalo hazing, and harassment are not.  On Tuesday morning, three horse-mounted agents of the Montana Department of Livestock willfully disregarded the rights and wishes of the Galanis family and entered their land without permission to chase away the buffalo.  We were there at the Galanis’ invitation to greet the agents at the property line, remind them that they were trespassing, to tell them that the buffalo are welcome, and to document their illegal entry.  The agents ignored our warnings, charging their horses at the buffalo and chasing them toward the back of the property.  Justine and I got on our bikes and followed, videotaping and shooting photos as the frightened buffalo fled the horsemen.

BFC file photos by Justine and Stephany. Click photos for large images.

BFC file photos by Justine and Stephany. Click photos for large images.

Even without the helicopter, hazing is intolerable.  The agents ran the buffalo at top speed up and over the crest of Horse Butte.  We left our bikes with our patrol partners and sprinted after the haze with our cameras.  The things we witnessed then and since are things no one should have to see or endure: calves separated from their herds by the strong current of the Madison River, their mothers emitting plaintive bellows; the pronounced limp of a newborn calf as it flees the horsemen, the umbilical cord still trailing from its mom; collapsed and panting calves being prodded from the ground to run; protective mothers turning to face the riders, “back off, already!”

This is what the lives of wild buffalo are like this week along Yellowstone’s western boundary.  Buffalo, members of America’s last wild population, are being chased as you read this.  With the grounding of the helicopter we achieved a major victory that will benefit the entire landscape and all its inhabitants.  The helicopter will probably not be back this spring.  But to mistake this victory for the end of the struggle would be dangerous and dishonest.  Hazing buffalo, by whatever means, must stop.  Buffalo Field Campaign will continue to fight for the buffalo in the field, in the courts, and in the policy arena.  We will be here to document every last action against the buffalo and to do everything we can to further their protection.  Please support us in this crucial work.  

For the Buffalo,

Dan Brister
Executive Director
Buffalo Field Campaign

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.

42 Responses to Montana Department of Livestock violates private property rights on behalf of livestock industry.

  1. skyrim says:

    I don’t get it…..
    If this hazing BS is being pulled of by Montana Cattle goons, why is an NPS LE on horseback this morning hazing a small herd of new cow/calf pairs near Bakers Hole? Are we also paying for this tragedy through tax money?
    Can these clowns drive the animals into the interior of the park or must they back off at the park boundary? Helicopter overhead yesterday nearby but no evidence of hazing.

    • Savebears says:

      I sat through it a couple of years ago and it is a mess, we were camped at Baker’s hole and the buzz of the choppers started before 5 AM. The NPS cowboy/LEO was there to allow the DOL to haze into the park, I talked with him extensively. So yes, if you are a Montana resident you are paying, if your a Federal Tax payer, you are paying, if you have paid your entrance fee, you are paying! So many of us are paying many different ways to ensure this un-needed action goes on!

      The NPS/LEO has the power to allow the Montana DOL to enter the park to ensure the Bison are within park boundaries and I am not talking just inside, the DOL cowboys hazed them to almost Old Faithful. I was also caught in the traffic jam, that went on for miles, it took me from 8 AM to after 1 PM to get to OF and I missed an appointment I had.

      • Ken Cole says:

        When they haze bison into the Park, like SB says, they don’t stop at the Montana border, they haze them deep into Wyoming.

        This whole thing is bullshit. There is no risk that their precious f’n cows are going to get brucellosis. They are just doing this because they want everyone to know who’s the boss.

        • Rancher Bob says:

          “No risk”, you have a bacteria that can be transfered by inhalation or ingestion. I see you have no risk but after that bullshit is a matter of personal opinion.

          • Savebears says:


            Despite Ken’s terminology, the brucellosis issue is bullshit, I have work on this issue for over 20 years now, including a stint at Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks as a biologist, it is a fight for grass and that is all it is.

            • Rancher Bob says:

              It’s about grass and a lot of things like egos but for Ken it’s about the fight against cows, so I give him a jab once in a while.

            • Salle says:

              A fight over grass and political control over vast tracts of public land with no consideration for the health of the biosphere which includes all the wildlife who inhabit the lands.

          • Ken Cole says:

            Yes, Rancher Bob, I stand by what I say. It is bullshit. No cow can ingest or inhale brucellosis if it is fifty miles away from where it is deposited. And, no cow is going to ingest or inhale brucellosis a month after it is deposited on the ground, drying out, sitting in the sun, or eaten by a coyote or bear.

            It is complete, utter BULLSHIT.

  2. Chuck says:

    I have a hard time containing my language about this subject. I have been there and watched these macho cowboys pushing the bison back into the park. One of the BFC guys warned me a might get a ticket for impeding their progress or as he said taking pictures they didn’t want people to see. Maybe someone should round up these cowboys wives & kids and herd them just like bison!!!

    • Savebears says:

      Chuck, I have received over 20 tickets in so many years, no big deal, the tickets get thrown out, when the judge realizes you know what you are talking about.

    • Salle says:

      And perpetrate the same level of physical abuse as well. What goes around comes around.

      • Savebears says:

        Right Salle, you dish it out just as well as anyone else, so piss off.

        • Savebears says:

          Salle, I misread your statement, I thought you were addressing me. That said, I am surprised you would advocate for physical abuse against the wives and children, it is criminal against the bison and would really be criminal against humans!

          • Salle says:

            Let put this in a more clearly stated manner;

            Humans are the problem. Their cattle are an offshoot of the human problem. Humans who show that they have no capacity to resepct any life-form beyond humans really needs to be shown “the door” when it comes to respect and humanity. If they have no means by which to express any respect, then I proffer that they deserve none in return. If brutality is your way of expressing your beliefs then you should be shown the very same, if that equates to physical abuse then so be it.

            Like I said, what goes around comes around, full circle… it is a cyclical world we live in whether you can see that or not, it is the way it is. No amount of bluster in favor of abusers is going to change the reality of what is.

            Ken is absolutely correct in his BS claim and I back him 110% on it.

            • Savebears says:

              I have no problem with abusing abusers, no problem at all, but the wives and children are not the abusers.

            • Salle says:

              It’s okay if we do it in other countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, etc… What goes around… In fact, it does happen here so I guess it may come to that out in the west soon to. Not that I am recommending it but I get the feeling it will happen anyway regardless of what anyone thinks, just like it does everywhere else in our name.

  3. Rich says:

    Montana continues to tilt at windmills much like Don Quixote but unfortunately they are wasting our tax dollars to do so. You can register your displeasure by calling Montana Travel whose website has ironically posted a picture of a buffalo. The numbers are 1-800 847-4868 for the travel office and 1-800-548-3390 for the Administrative office of Montana. The person who answered at the latter number was able to patch me through to the head of the MFW&P to leave a message there as well. If enough people call and tie up their lines maybe someone will knock some sense into the Governor’s head.

    • Savebears says:


      The Governor is not the problem, he is trying to relocate bison to other areas of the state and the land owners, ranchers and DOL keep fighting him, they now have us under a restraining order to not move anymore bison until such time as the court case is settled.

      The Governor pulled a fast one a couple of weeks ago and approved the relocation of several bison, only to be hit with the restraining order perpetuated by his own Dept of Livestock!

  4. Robert R says:

    I can understand the concerns of hazing of any wildlife and the way the government agencies and stockman handle these matters. The thing that concerns me is the examples some are setting by the use foul language and idol threats toward others. Remember not just adults read the content of your replys and they also want to preserve the wildlife and there habitat, so please set an example for the next generation.

    • WM says:

      Robert R.,

      With all due respect, the language on this forum is usually pretty tame. In this instance, I presume you are referring to Ken’s comments and a couple in reply. Ken is usually pretty reserved, as a moderator should be. HOWEVER, there are just times when some folks assert things that are just not true, then repeat them, as in the case of this brucellosis discussion it is appropriate in my opinion to use a little stronger language.

      These are adult topics, and pretty tame compared to most of the stuff you find with little effort on the internet, or even network TV these days. Shielding the young ‘uns from reality is futile. And, I think Ken should be able to call BULLSHIT, when it’s needed! Or, have we relegated the disculimited the language to male bovine poopy, which just doesn’tseem to have the same impact when you call someone out?

      • Jeff N. says:

        I agree. These are adult topics and the actions used by the MT DOL are inexcusable. We all know this…except for Rancher Bob.

    • Ken Cole says:

      Have you actually witnessed the behavior of DoL agents in the field? Have you ever gone to any of these meetings where they LIE over and over? I have done both and I reserve the right to call bullshit on my own post.

      I have friends who have been physically assaulted by police officers just because they are trying to document what is going on here. They and the DoL agents act like a bunch of thugs and do whatever the hell they please for a bunch of whiney bastards who don’t want bison to eat grass. It’s not about brucellosis.

      The whole plan is a sick, ridiculous joke perpetrated on the American taxpayer just so the cowboys can shove their power in our face. I’m sick of it. It’s bullshit.

      • Salle says:

        “I have friends who have been physically assaulted by police officers just because they are trying to document what is going on here. They and the DoL agents act like a bunch of thugs and do whatever the hell they please for a bunch of whiney bastards who don’t want bison to eat grass. It’s not about brucellosis.

        The whole plan is a sick, ridiculous joke perpetrated on the American taxpayer just so the cowboys can shove their power in our face. I’m sick of it. It’s bullshit.”

        It’s state sanctioned weenie-waving at it’s lowest common denominator.

    • skyrim says:

      Rancher Bob
      Putting aside your malice toward Ken for a moment, do you see this as a prideful moment for Montana and the beef industry?
      Now, just so you know; my own distain for cows goes back to 1999 when I stopped eating the stinkin’ damn things. No one on this planet has more hatred of the almighty bovine than me. And when I am gone, my money will be supporting all serious efforts against these pests and the misguided power they enjoy.
      My family homesteaded in Montana in the 1860s, but blood only spreads so far in my household today.
      Put me down for load of Bullshit too………..

      • Ralph Maughan says:

        Rancher Bob,

        You don’t know Ken Cole, but I do. I think it takes remarkable restraint to watch what goes on with MTDol and the phoney justifications for these bison hazings, and killings in the past.

        I have avoided witnessing them because I’m afraid my anger would be too great. It is not so much the killing of the bison, but the lies told to explain it.

        If these people are going to lie to us the way they have done, we at least deserve the respect that they take time to make up some lies that are at least slightly believable.

        • Rancher Bob says:

          Read my comment not the people translating the comment.
          Ken said there was no risk, which he latter clarified, with the 50 mile comment.
          IMO, Ken is two faced on how he treats fish and then commenting on how others treat wildlife, so I needle him. He can call what ever he likes BS this is still the U S A.
          As for the free roaming bison, they haven’t been free since 1910, IMO. I’ll read all the blasting comments later.

          • Ken Cole says:

            Oh, so fishing is analogous to hazing day-old calves 10 miles a day with a helicopter now?

          • JB says:

            I suspect that most (if not all) of us hold different standards for what we believe is appropriate treatment of organisms based upon their sentience? I regularly kill mosquitoes without a thought, but would never think to treat fish the same way; likewise, I wouldn’t think to go “fishing” for coyotes with a hook and live bait. Seems your “needling” Ken just to be a…well, you know. 😉

          • Jerry Black says:

            Rancher Bob…..would you and your fellow “big hats” treat your “sacred” cows this way???
            BISON HAZING CONTINUES……”a closer look revealed the reason she was lagging behind…2 small legs protruded from the womb….”

            • Nancy says:

              “Rancher Bob…..would you and your fellow “big hats” treat your “sacred” cows this way???”

              Certainly wouldn’t want to speak for RB but actually Jerry, they do…..

              At a ranch last week and calves (as in bovines) while just a couple of days old, some even younger (you can tell because they had not been ear-tagged yet) were rounded up, frantic mother cows bawling right along with them, to be branded.

              Seems like there ought to be a better way to manage the stress levels of another living, breathing species, especially when they provide a nice income.

              But it seems, if you can hold hard and true, never look another species in the face when it comes to their pain or suffering, then its okay to feel righteously comfortable, knowing its JUST a source of income – a commodity – a way to make a living.

        • Salle says:

          I’m going to chime in here. I am personally acquainted with both Ralph and Ken and I will say that these are two of the most mild-mannered activists I know, rarely being heavy on the emotive values or showing their disdain emotionally in any forum whether it be this blog, at public hearings or in their written or one-on-one comments on any heated topic. I think it’s an amazing trait for both these men to possess given their work.

          That being said, I back both their comments on this subject that is so old and stale that it amazes me. The point that nobody can quell the power of the livestock industry… much like the military industrial complex, they have their tentacles penetrating so many facets of life in the US, particularly in the western states, that it’s hard to nail them when they blatantly usurp our rights, is nothing short of appalling. And don’t forget that Kenny-boy Salazar is a rancher and so is the Gov and both Senators of MT.

          Yell all you want, Ken, I’m listening even though I’m a member of the choir. I could use some new material for my arguments.

          It should also be noted that MTFW&P has no interest in what folk in the Hebgen Basin have to say as an example; nobody from the area is ever selected to sit on the citizens’ advisory boards they (MTFW&P) claim are objective. You have to take them to court to get any reaction or response for attention to grievances made by the public. If they don’t already know you and you aren’t a rancher or hunter, they really don’t want to hear from you. Like in Idaho.

      • JEFF E says:

        ditto, the livestock industry

  5. mike post says:

    Where is the HSUS, the CBD, PETA, et al when they might actually have a chance to do something credible about real animal abuse? If you did the same things to feral cats in Hollywood you would be in jail.

    • Savebears says:

      We don’t need HSUS or PETA, they are false saviors when it comes to wildlife!

      • Nancy says:

        “We don’t need HSUS or PETA”

        Its been a long work week SB and when I read the first few words of your comment “we don’t need” I had a knee jerk response to it and “no stinking” came to mind:

        In the 1989 Weird Al Yankovic film UHF, the line occurs in a spoof of Raul’s Wild Kingdom, during the scene where Raul (Trinidad Silva) receives his animal delivery. When he is asked to take a consignment of badgers, he says “Badgers? We don’t need no stinking badgers!”


      • Jerry Black says:

        SB…we don’t need the NRA either.

        • skyrim says:

          ditto that Jerry…..

        • Savebears says:

          Jerry, I never said we did, I am not a member of the NRA, don’t agree with their positions, I wish you guys would realize, I don’t belong to any of these organizations, never have and never will! I fight just a hard against the political positions of the NRA as I do against HSUS and PETA..

  6. mikepost says:

    …obviously the sarcasm escaped you…


May 2012


‎"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