Montana Residents Will Urge Governor and Legislature to Support Bison Recovery Legislation

For Immediate Release:
January 2, 2009

Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0070

Helena, Montana - As the Montana Legislature and Governor Brian Schweitzer are sworn in to office on Monday, January 5, wild bison advocates will gather in Helena to champion wild bison and their right to roam in Montana.

* WHO: Buffalo Field Campaign, Buffalo Allies of Bozeman, and everyone who cares about restoring wild bison in Montana
* WHAT: March & Rally in Defense of Wild Bison in Montana
* WHEN: Monday, January 5, 2009. 9:00 am - 10:30 am
* WHERE: Meet at Women's Park, located between Neil and Fuller Avenues, then march to the state capitol around 9:30 am.
* WHY: To hold Governor Brian Schweitzer accountable for his actions against wild bison, to encourage him to support actions recognizing wild bison as a valued wildlife species in Montana, and to provide year-round habitat for this prehistoric native species. Advocates will also ask their state legislators to support the Montana Wild Buffalo Recovery & Conservation Act of 2009."It is important for us to let Governor Schweitzer know that Montanans are very upset about his failure to provide real year-round habitat for bison in the state," said Jim MacDonald of Buffalo Allies of Bozeman, "That's why we are sending folks up from Bozeman to rally on January 5."

During 2007-2008, the state of Montana and Yellowstone National Park perpetuated the largest-scale wild bison slaughter since the 1800's, killing more than 1,600 wild bison. During Governor Schweitzer's first term, more wild bison were killed than under the combined three terms of the governors who preceded him, even though when he first campaigned he did so under the promise to provide "more tolerance for wild bison in Montana."

"For decades Montana has been squandering a national treasure by perpetuating a wild bison killing spree that has no basis in sound science nor any reasonable foundation whatsoever," said Buffalo Field Campaign spokesperson Stephany Seay. "It's time for sensible change; it's time to welcome wild bison back home to Montana."

Currently, the Montana Department of Livestock manages wild bison that enter Montana, a role authorized under MCA 81-2-120. Under this law, crafted by Montana's cattle interests, wild bison are managed as diseased pests and forbidden to enter the state without being subjected to harassment or death.

"It is a serious conflict of interest having the Department of Livestock in charge of managing wild bison," said Mike Bowersox, a coordinator with Buffalo Field Campaign, "You might as well trust the fox with guarding the henhouse."

Bison Advocates will call on the Montana Legislature to repeal MCA 81-2-120, and instead support reasonable alternative management of wild bison as outlined under the Montana Wild Buffalo Recovery & Conservation Act of 2009.

The Montana Wild Buffalo Recovery & Conservation Act of 2009, crafted by the Bozeman based Gallatin Wildlife Association, would place the management of wild bison in the hands of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The bill would also recognize wild bison as a valued native wildlife species of Montana. The bill also provides for the protection of private property for landowners who do not welcome wild bison.

Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild American buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.