Published February 1, 2017
HELENA, MONTANA – A wild buffalo advocacy group is taking their message directly to Montanans by placing a billboard in the state Capitol calling for the repeal of Montana code section 81-2-120.
The billboard sponsor, West Yellowstone, Montana based Buffalo Field Campaign says it’s time for Montana to manage wild buffalo like wild elk.
“Managing wild buffalo like wild elk in Montana is a common sense approach familiar to Montanans,” says Dan Brister, Buffalo Field Campaign’s executive director. “Livestock agency command and control of wild buffalo is mired in a costly, bureaucratic mess without resolution of any underlying issue,” says Brister.
The group is mobilizing their supporters to contact legislators and Governor Bullock to advocate for the repeal of MCA 81-2-120 and restoring wildlife authority for managing the wild species.
“Wild buffalo could be managed by wildlife biologists based on sustainable populations in available habitat – the same science-based standard for managing wild elk, deer, and antelope in Montana,” says Darrell Geist, Buffalo Field Campaign’s habitat coordinator.
Repealing Montana code section 81-2-120 will not harm Montana cattle as the industry is managed in Designated Surveillance Areas under a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture approved plan.
The record shows that despite several cases of brucellosis transmission from wild elk to cattle – and none from wild buffalo to cattle – Montana’s Designated Surveillance Area rules have protected the state’s brucellosis free status.
According to the Dept. of Livestock, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture approved rules, which have been in effect since 2010, save Montana cattle ranchers $5.5 to $11.5 million dollars annually.
“The unfounded threats and discredited fears of brucellosis do not justify Montana Dept. of Livestock management of Montana’s one and only wild buffalo population,” says Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign’s media coordinator.
To rally public support for managing wild buffalo like wild elk in Montana, Buffalo Field Campaign is holding a public gathering on the steps of the Capitol building in Helena, Montana on Friday, February 17, 2017.
The billboard is located on Prospect Avenue, a main road to Montana’s Capitol, and will be up for the duration of the 65th session of the Montana Legislature.