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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Bison: Wildlife or Livestock?

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16 October 2013, 3:38 PM
As wild bison return to the plains, ranchers target them as livestock
Newborn wild bison at Ft. Peck in the spring of 2012. (Bill Campbell)

Now that the court battles have been won and the wild bison are back on tribal reservations, the anti-bison interests are at it again.

The latest tactic is to get a Montana court to declare that the transplanted bison are “livestock” instead of “wildlife” under state law if they leave the reservations and roam on to public or private lands. Not only would this require treating roaming wild bison just the same as stray cattle, but it would likely put up a major roadblock to additional bison restorations in the future, as wildlife managers would have no authority to transplant animals classified as “livestock” under the law.

Earthjustice filed a brief today in response to this new effort to prevent bison restoration.

The bison in question originated from Yellowstone National Park and were relocated over the past two years to their historic prairie habitat on the Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indian Reservations. These are genetically pure bison from a herd that rebounded from near-extinction, growing from a couple of dozen animals to more than 4,000. Bison originating from Yellowstone represent the best hope for future restorations of this iconic species to suitable habitat on the Great Plains.

But some politically powerful cattle ranching interests in Montana don’t want to share the range with the state’s native bison. As Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who has been handling the bison casework says:

Anti-bison interests originally filed this case to stop Native Americans from bringing wild bison back to their reservation lands.

Having failed to accomplish that, they are now trying to convince a court to classify wild bison as livestock, which would require treating wild bison like cows escaped from a feedlot instead of wild animals that are a valued part of our natural heritage.

We are opposing this gambit because we want to see a future in which wild bison can once again roam as wildlife across suitable habitats in Montana.

It seems to me that these big ranchers always spell disaster for the animals that live on PUBLIC and reservation lands. Everything to them is to promote their cattle herds and hunting ambitions. I think it's time to stop grazing on public lands and let the native animals (and wild horses) come back.

Perhaps the ranchers will get smart and begin ranching bison instead of cattle - I won't hold me breath but it is the solution. Why they continue to manufacture an unsustainable commodity instead of changing over to bison - the natural indeginous wildlife that was here- is really inexplicable. It would be a win - win - win situation.

While the cattlemen are busy exporting their beef, pork, poultry to China, India, Mexico, driving up the obesity rates in all those countries and encouraging the pharmaceuticals who treat diabetes, hypertension, etc. to the same countries, the shennigans continue in the U.S. Give it a rest. Americans are far too smart to believe the cattlemen are still beating the "same old drum" about the Bison.

Bison are wildlife,period.Bison roamed the Americas for God knows how long,now greedy cattlemen would call bison livestock well,the cattlemen are just wrong.Bison will always be wild animals!

Bison and other wildlife are merely proxy: I suspect that the anti-bison forces' primary issue is not so much about the bison per se, they are just determined to uphold their self-centered stranglehold on control of public lands, resources and yes, us. They are engaged in capital warfare and most of us don't even realize we're waging battles to survive. Thank you all for not surrendering.

Some deeply diseased few minds have been granted the right to savage the environment and thereby bring all life to extinction in the foreseeable future. It seems to me that the popularization of brutal militarism is a cancer that has spread to every dimension of brutality and hate. By all means, hate the elderly, children, women, civil liberties, freedom with responsibilities and accountability. If my relatives that risked their lives during both World Wars had realized they were effectively fighting for the filthy ultra-rich 400 and their cronies to brutalize our fellow citizens in this country and on a global scale, they would have gone to prison instead and at least rioted.

Bison are wild animals that once roamed this country and should be doing the same now!
Certainly, do not label them as livestock!

People are trying to declassify the bison so they will have an excuse to kill them. People aren't stupid. These are natural treasures that have been here WELL BEFORE man. It is our responsibility to protect them, regardless of where they roam. I think it is wonderful that they have a chance to roam the way nature intended.

Keep up the good fight, me and my good Earth thank you.
You have many times over won the minds and hearts Her honest people.
1000 lights, you have shined against the darkness.
Justice is true, only in the hands of the wise.
Regards Forever.

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