- Written by John Plestina
Several semis loaded with a total of 139 wild bison will arrive at the cultural range unit on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Thursday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m.
The bison are certified to be genetically pure and disease-free. These bison will add to the tribe’s existing herd, started with a previous relocation in 2012. With this second transfer, the tribes will become the caretakers of a combined herd of almost 200 bison, the largest conservation herd of pure, wild Yellowstone bison in Montana, outside Yellowstone National Park.
This paved the way for using Yellowstone’s genetically pure bison to start new conservation herds outside the park. The 139 animals that will be transferred to the Fort Peck Reservation are currently held at Ted Turner’s Green Ranch. These bison have undergone more than eight year of multi-generational testing.
The public is invited and the Fort Peck Tribes will provide bus transportation to the site from the senior center that is located near Tribal Express on U.S. Hwy. 2 in Poplar. People wishing to ride need to be there by 8:45 a.m. Transportation will be available for anyone.
For those driving, the site is north from Hwy. 2 on Montana Hwy. 13, turn right at mile marker 19, travel three miles and go over a cattle guard, entering the cultural range unit. Green flagging will be posted.
A feed for the public will follow at the activity center in Poplar.
“It’s a pretty historical moment with the return of bison onto their homelands,” Robert Magnan, of the Fort Peck Tribes Fish and Game Department, said.
Magnan said he expects a large turnout of local people, state and federal officials and Montana and national media.
The tribes have two buffalo ranges. The Turtle Mountain Buffalo Ranch is located six miles north of the cultural range unit. Currently, there are about 200 head on that range. A buffalo herd was reintroduced on the reservation in 1999. Hunting is permitted with permits from the tribes at the Turtle Mountain Buffalo Ranch only.
State wildlife officials recently announced a decision to implement the recent approval by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Fish and Wildlife Commission to relocate the 139 bison to the reservation.
Following the completion of environmental analysis and review of public comments, a decision by the FWP found no significant issues associated with relocating bison to the tribal location, or to three out-of-state locations that were also under consideration.
The finding essentially follows the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s October approval to keep the bison within state borders if a finding of no significance was determined.
The wild bison were part of a quarantine feasibility study conducted by FWP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at a facility near Corwin Springs north of Yellowstone National Park. The work was aimed at finding a feasible method to produce wild bison free of brucellosis, a disease that can cause some pregnant bison, elk and domestic cattle to abort their first calf. Bison in the program have been repeatedly tested over the course of their quarantine and are brucellosis-free.
In March, state wildlife officials requested proposals from agencies or organizations capable of permanently caring for the bison for conservation purposes. The bison have been held at the Green Ranch, west of Bozeman, during their five-year monitoring period.
Brucellosis, initially introduced to North America through livestock but now also found in Yellowstone bison, has been the main reason for opposition by some individuals and groups to the relocation of Yellowstone bison, even though bison have not been implicated in a single case of transmission of brucellosis to cattle in the wild.
FWP received 10 proposals, four of which were analyzed in the environmental assessment. The examined proposals included one from the Fort Peck Tribes and others from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Wildlife Conservation Society Zoo Consortium in New York and Ohio.
Yellowstone bison have been called true descendants of the massive wild herds, totaling up to 30 million that roamed the West over a century ago. By the late 1890s, only 1,000 bison remained in North America, and most of these animals were held on private ranches and interbred with cattle. The numbers dwindled because of illegal hunting.
Today, Yellowstone’s bison population of approximately 4,900 is the largest wild herd in the nation, as well as one of the few herds free of all cattle genes. This combination of genetics and lack of domestication sets the Yellowstone bison apart from any other herd and offers hope for complete restoration of the species.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
(Editor’s Note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence to The Herald-News and The Searchlight to help keep the public informed and to illustrate that the jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues in the 17-bed facility.)
As of Monday, Nov. 10, 19 inmates were housed in the Roosevelt County Jail. Valley County Detention Center was holding two female inmates and the Fort Benton Detention Center was holding three males to alleviate overcrowding.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail between Tuesday, Nov. 4, and Monday, Nov. 10:
•Adam Alonzo, 31, Williston, N.D./San Bernadino, Calif., criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell.
•Malinda Bibb, 31, Minot, N.D., arrested on a warrant for bail condition violation, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Kyle Fuchs, 32, Cul-
bertson, disorderly conduct, partner/family member assault, assault with weapon, unlawful restraint, criminal endangerment.
•Steven Gray Hawk, 37, Poplar, arrested on U.S. Marshal’s warrant.
•Alexander Jirone, 33, Rapid City, S.D., criminal endangerment, fleeing or eluding a peace officer, speeding on non-interstate-exceed night speed limit, operating with expired registration, operating without liability insurance.
•Jennifer Johnshoy, 29, Crookston, Minn., criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Gary Jones, 44, Madisonville, Tenn., assault on a peace officer.
•Dakota Kinzie, 23, Wolf Point, assault on a peace officer.
•Dustin Kinzie, 20, Wolf Point, criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal endangerment, criminal possession with intent to distribute, criminal endangerment.
•Jason Knight, 37, Spokane, Wash., criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Robert Lindquist, Chattoroy, Wash., 41, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence.
•Darryl Lewis, 45, San Bernadino, Calif., criminal contempt warrant.
•Timothy Oglesby, 31, Hot Springs, Ark., out-of- county warrant.
•Michelle Parker, 41, San Diego, Calif., arrested on bench warrant.
•Derek Reed, 32, Seattle, Wash., criminal contempt warrant.
•Jeremy Sepanski, 30, Plentywood, forgery, theft, obstruction of a peace officer.
•Kelly Severson, 47, Saco, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Alvin Sherrill, 61, Culbertson, driving a motor vehicle while privilege is revoked, driving under the influence, serving sentence.
•Christopher Smith, 24, Abilene, Texas, speeding and driving under the influence. Bonded out.
•Kalob Trowbridge, 22, Wolf Point, assault on a peace officer.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Ballot counting in Roosevelt County was completed after 11 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 4, with only provisional ballots remaining to be counted on Monday, Nov. 10. Clerk/recorder Cheryl Hansen reported that 2,728 ballots were cast countywide, with 5,738 registered voters, for a 47.58 percent turnout at the polls.
The following unofficial results were reported.
The jail bond was approved 1,502-1,149.
Allen Bowker defeated Frank Smith 645-368 for the County Commission District 1 seat that is currently held by Jim Shanks.
Interim sheriff Jason Frederick defeated recently resigned sheriff Freedom Crawford 2,433-223.
Republican Austin Knudsen of Culbertson was reelected to state House District 34, defeating Gene Hartsock of Glasgow 698-154.
Republican Steve Daines held a commanding 210,509 to 145-338 lead over Democrat Amanda Curtis for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by John Walsh with over 99 percent of the statewide vote counted. Libertarian Roger Roots trailed with 7,689 votes. In Roosevelt County, Daines defeated Curtis 1,331 to 1,255. Roots had 56 votes.
Republican Ryan Zinke led Democrat John Lewis 200,633 to 145-939 for the at-large U.S. House of Representatives seat currently held by Steve Daines with over 99 percent of precincts reporting. Libertarian Mike Fellows received 15,033. In Roosevelt County: Zinke, 1,256; Lewis, 1,251; Fellows, 116.
Nationally, Republican candidates won control of the Senate and added to the number of GOP held House seats.
Montana Supreme Court Justice 1: Jim Rice over W. David Herbert 233,301 to 64,229 with over 99 percent of precincts reporting. Rice won 1,761-422 in Roosevelt County.
Montana Supreme Court Justice 2: Mike Wheat over Lawrence VanDyke 192,066 to 132,823 with over 99 percent of precincts reporting. Wheat won in Roosevelt County 1,402 to 922.
Legislative Referendum No. 126, which would have ended Election Day voter registrations, failed 202,081 to 153,547 with over 99 percent of precincts reporting. LR 126 lost 1,448 to 1,149 in Roosevelt County.
Constitutional Amendment No. 45, which would have changed the name of the state auditor to commissioner of securities and insurance failed 174,716 to 163,883. Roosevelt County voters voted down the measure 1,381 to 1,092.
In State Senate District 19, Republican Frederick Davis Moore defeated Democrat Bill McChesney 5,216 to 2,438.
In State House District 31, Democrat Bridget Smith was reelected unopposed with 1,797 votes.
In State House District 37, Republican Lee Randall defeated Democrat Dixie Rieger 3,622 to 902.
For Public Service Commissioner District 1, Republican Travis Kavulla was elected unopposed with 48,967 votes. He received 1,882 votes in Roosevelt County.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
First Community Bank employees in Culbertson were ready for trick or treat, Friday, Oct. 31. Pictured are (from left to right) Brittny Marchwick-Wix, Tara Nickoloff, Jaci Davidson, Pamela Arneson and Sarah Murray. (Photo by Nancy Mahan)
- Written by John Plestina
A Minot, N.D., man with four previous felony convictions was sentenced in 15th District Court, Wednesday, Oct. 29.
Judge David Cybulski sentenced Brandon J. Bigham to 12 years in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections with eight years suspended six months on each of two misdemeanor charges, suspended, a $25,000 fine and credit for 231 days previously served.
The recommendation in the plea agreement was for eight years confinement to the DOC with four years suspended.
Cybulski cited that the 30-year-old had four felony convictions over an 11-year period, including a drug-related conviction in Oklahoma as justification for the 12-year sentence with time suspended, allowing for longer probation supervision.
Probation and Parole Officer Trevor Newman completed the pre-sentencing investigation. He testified during the sentencing hearing that he did not agree with the sentencing recommendations in the plea agreement Bigham signed during early October and recommended commitment to the Montana State Prison for 10 years with five years suspended.
“In the initial interview, he [Bigham] was against [substance abuse] treatment of any length of time,” Newman testified, and also said that Bigham later said he would go to a 60- or 90-day treatment program.
He cited previous incarceration.
“The fact is, he has not stayed sober outside of being incarcerated his whole adult life,” Newman told the court.
He went on to say that the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office told him detention officers had trouble with Bigham in the jail. Fighting with other inmates was cited.
“He’s young and I like to think younger people are more amenable to redirection,” defense attorney Allison Moulton said.
She asked the court to impose sentencing in accordance with the plea agreement.
During a redirect, Roosevelt County Attorney Ralph Patch cautioned that there could be problems if a stricter sentence is imposed than is called for in the plea agreement. He said a Montana Supreme Court ruling could allow Bigham to withdraw his plea agreement if the agreement is not followed.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a car carrying Bigham, Malinda Bibb, 31, and Jamie D. Vert, 36, all of Minot, on U.S. Hwy. 2 near Bainville, on Sept. 20, 2013. Vert was driving, according to the charging documents.
Methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and weapons [no firearms] were found in the vehicle, according to charging documents.
All three were subsequently arraigned on felony charges. Bigham and Vert pleaded not guilty to all charges and both later withdrew guilty pleas under plea agreements.
Bigham pleaded not guilty in 2013 to felony criminal possession with intent to distribute and two misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police in North Dakota arrested Bigham in September while out on bail. Cybulski added $20,000 to $10,000 bond Bigham previously posted. He remained lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail until his sentencing.
Bigham withdrew his previously entered not guilty pleas and entered guilty pleas, Wednesday, Oct. 15, behind closed doors in Judge David Cybulski’s chambers with his attorney and Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen present. The reason stated by an officer of the court for the closed hearing was that Bigham did not want to plead in public.