Senate Bill 143 Threatens to Prohibit Bison Restoration in Montana
Is this déjà vu? Didn’t the legislature have its wily way with bison back in 2011? Well, you guessed it, they’re back and they still have some beef with the buffalo. And Senate Bill 143, introduced by John Brendan (R-Scobey), aims to bypass the bi-partisan support forged in 2011 that resulted in Senate Bill 212. Among other things, SB 212 directed the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to develop a comprehensive statewide bison management plan before any reintroduction effort is undertaken. That seems like a good idea to us.
And that’s exactly what FWP did this past year by initiating a public planning process for statewide bison management. During the scoping alone, the department received more than 22,000 comments from individuals and organizations interested in the future of bison in Montana.
So why are we still arguing in circles about bison management?
Just when it seems like Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Department of Livestock have agreed on how to move forward with bison management in the state, the legislature is trying to put us back to square one. John Brendan’s bison bill (SB 143) declares bison “vermin in need of extermination” eliminating a regulated hunting season, allowing bison to be shot similar to coyotes. We’ve come a long way in the past 100 years of wildlife management in Montana, let’s not move backwards.
Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Sen. John Brendan:
· Allows Landowners to shoot wild bison for any reason if they are on private land so long as they obtain a hunting license
· Turns Wild Bison management over to the Department of Livestock completely
· Forbids the State of Montana from ever releasing Wild Bison on Public Land (Section 3, sub 4)
· Establishes a year round Bison Hunt meaning that people will be shooting pregnant cows during the calving period (Section 9)
· Forbids the transplanting of bison anywhere other than the National Bison Range at Moise, Montana.
· Violates the ethics and standards Montana has set in regards to wildlife management
· Eliminates participation in the Interagency Bison Management Plan & working Group (section 1)
· Disallows Wild Bison from entering the state
· Eliminates the ability of the State of Montana to transplant Bison to Tribal Governments completely. (P.2, L.1)
Here is a link to the complete bill: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/SB0143.pdf
CALL TO ACTION:
When: This Thursday, January 31, 3pm
Where: State Capitol Building, Helena, Old Supreme Court Chambers, Room 303
What: Hearing on SB 143, a bill to kill or remove all bison migrating into Montana and end tribal and state efforts to restore wild bison
We need as many people as possible to pack the room to testify against this bill. Even if your testimony is very brief, simply stating your name, address and opposition to the bill, this will help! If you’d like to say more, please do, though the committee may place a time limit on each speaker. Please be respectful but clear in your opposition.
If you cannot attend, please email the Senate Fish and Game Committee here: http://leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/63rd/legwebmessage.asp