Montana Department of Livestock Proves Once Again that Only Livestock Owners Have Private Property Rights

Despite an executive order signed by Governor Steve Bullock on May 22 that restricts Montana Department of Livestock agents from entering “private property without landowner permission unless there is an imminent threat of disease transmission from bison to livestock or people”, Montana Department of Livestock agents trespassed onto the property of West Yellowstone resident Ed Ryberg’s property on June 23. The reason, there were bison on his property that they felt compelled to haze back into Yellowstone National Park. They don’t just haze them — using helicopters, horses, ATVs, and cracker shells mind you — into Yellowstone National Park, they haze them deep into the neighboring state of Wyoming.

Ed Ryberg isn’t too happy about this either, as can be ascertained from his letter to the Missoulian newspaper.

As he succinctly points out, there was no imminent threat of transmission of brucellosis to livestock or people on June 23 when the Montana Department of Livestock showed up at his door to inform him they were going to violate his private property rights.

Arguably, based on decades of experience in Wyoming, there is no imminent threat of brucellosis transmission from bison to anything, let alone during the time between when bison have given birth and before they become pregnant again in August and September.

Of course, as Matthew Koehler points out in his comment on the article, the right wing militia types and Democrats who are afraid to speak against a fellow Democratic Governor are silent on the matter.

I guess that there is a special class in Montana who merits private property rights, and it’s not you, that is unless you have a sacred cow.

Watch this Buffalo Field Campaign video:


  1. Sheryl Avatar

    I just don’t understand this article. It makes a tile statement and doesn’t follow it up. The video is informative and I respect Ed Ryberg on his stand. Does he have cattle or not? That’s one question the article doesn’t answer. What does a sacred cow have to do with everything? If he has a sacred cow what difference would it make?

    I would like to know what happened when their 911 call was answered and who came and said what? Where is the followup? Poor article I thought. Good subject.

    1. MAD Avatar


      In order for DOL Agents to enter PRIVATE PROPERTY there must be specific circumstances. In this case, they were not met.

      It’s absolutely pathetic how low IQ people defend Cliven Bundy about land he doesn’t own (and never owned) and a private citizen who chooses to allow native wildlife to enter their private property with no danger to livestock or any other golden goose of the politicians.

  2. Garry Rogers Avatar

    I scooped ( and reblogged your article. Garry

  3. Amre Avatar

    And a lot of people (wolf haters, ranchers, etc) act like environmentalist take away private property rights. Well, look at who’s really doing that!

  4. Linda Jo Hunter Avatar
    Linda Jo Hunter

    Where are all the gun toting patriots to protect this guys property? They only gather to protect law breakers and people who use public lands like their own?

    1. Amre Avatar

      Good point. Their total hypocrites. I can’t understand anyone that defends Bundy because its PUBLIC LAND THAT BELONGS TO ALL OF US, NOT THE PRIVATE PROPERTY OF THE RANCHERS!

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        It’s not the private property of the Federal government either, for fracking and energy development. They’re not working in the best interest of the public lands, either.

    2. CodyCoyote Avatar


      Cows were not a co-signer of the Magna Carta in 1215 AD .
      Fast forward to the modern American West , where cattle have more rights and better protections than humans.


  5. Ellen Avatar

    There is no scientific evidence that bison transmit bruscellosis to cattle for one thing. Plus, there is NO EXCUSE for coming on to private property regardless as to whether or not the property owner has cattle or not.

    1. Nancy Avatar


    2. rork Avatar

      “No excuse” seriously?
      In MI, if you’ve got CWD captive ungulates we are coming in with swat teams to kill all your deer, and if you’ve got wild pigs we are also gonna violate your fantasized rights. That’s me and the rest of the citizens reminding you that we have the right to say what is and what isn’t acceptable stewardship. Suspicion of poaching or pollution concerns works fine too.

      1. Ellen Avatar

        PRIVATE property should mean private. not ‘private until other people decide differently’. CWD, while a devastating disease is not only passed by ungulates but is passed by birds (carrion eaters??) from what I’ve read. that means that an animal affected by CWD in the wild is just as likely, if not more so, to pass it on. Also, decimating a private herd (which I’ve read about happening) without any testing is abhorrent. adults and fawns alike were destroyed for no apparent reason other than the ‘suspicion’ of CWD. NO PROOF! the wild hog problem is different – THEY destroy much of what they come in contact with and need to be controlled. Private herds of ungulates should be under some other category.

        I sure hope that “freedom of speech” is never taken from the citizens of the United States of America. but I do hope that bigotry, fanaticism and any other kind of intolerance or “my way is better because I say so” dies a quick death.

  6. Yvette Avatar

    This is completely nuts. My first thought was where are those private property talking heads now? BTW, don’t elk carry burcellosis and have even a greater potential to transmit it? What hypocrisy.

  7. snaildarter Avatar

    Wow once again this is all very sad and so unnecessary. Bison are no threat to cattle and the mindset of controlling wildlife is right out of the 1890’s. Elk get a pass because people like to hunt them and pay big money to do it.

    1. alf Avatar

      Oscar Wilde said of someone : “They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.” That’s the way it is in this country now. Sadly, virtually everything in this country has been monetized and commodified.

      That said, maybe bison would get a pass because there are a goodly number of people who would like to hunt them and would pay big money to do it. So let them roam, multiply, and have a regulated bison hunting season. (Yes, I know they have bison “control hunts” outside YNP, but I’m talking about treating them as “normal” game animals, like elk and deer, not as vermin to be controlled, if not eradicated.)

  8. Kat Avatar

    I’m tired of hearing of the same old non-truth arguments, attempting to justify the continual disregard, displayed to the wildlife of this region. Bison have had horrible treatment by those affiliated with the livestock industry, that continually attempts to blame them for the disease which was initially introduced into the region from the cattle industry, as the west was settled. Cows, descended from various European species, spread the disease to elk and others in the region, as non-indegenous species always transmit various diseases to native species, who had never been exposed to such, and therefore no chance to develop immunity. You don’t hear a lot about the Elk, and I believe it’s because of many involved in the cattle industry are also involved in the hunting of Elk. But the Bison, which was native to much of the country west of the Mississippi, was nearly driven to extinction, mandated by the Federal Government, as a means to remove the livelihood of Native Peoples dependent upon them for their very existence. And what was left of the last remaining 26 wild Bison of North America, who just happened to find shelter in Yellowstone, were threatened, the outpouring of concern from the citizens of this country, resulted in some of the very first environmental laws, The Lacy Act of 1903. The people of this country wanted Bison protected and the people of the country still do. There is something inherently wrong with humans who devalue one species for the sake of another species. All species, native to any region, belong in that region and serve a much greater purpose than we humans have the ability to comprehend. This land was not occupied by a non native species until settled. My family was one of many who came as homesteaders, to ranch and farm this region of the country. And as a result I have always had a special connection to this land and subsequently studied more about it. A natural migratory path, for any species, deserves special considerations, in order to allow for nature to do what nature does best, without manipulations under the hand of man. This landowner seems to understand the value of his land and did not want the DOI to interfere, more than it already does, with the Bison that he was co-exisitng with. Sounds to me that responsible stewardship of land surrounding the wilderness is not respected by the cattle industry, let alone the laws designed to protect individuals and wildlife from such. Transmission of Brucellosis to Bovines, from any Yellowstone Bison, has not been documented ever. And there’s a very small window of an opportunity of transmission from an Elk to a Bovine, and no documentation of such that I’ve ever heard of here. So allow education, tolerance and respect, consideration and science to rule the decision making process, in all aspects of life, in and around our wilderness. And stop persecution of native species, potentially to exclusively benefit the few, affiliated with invasive species.

  9. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Well stated!


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.

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Ken Cole