Written by The Herald-News
Letter to the Editor
I would like to respond to an article that was printed in Wolf Point’s newspaper The Herald-News Oct. 3, which was titled Reports From The Legislature and the article was written by Senator John Brenden from Scobey.
Mr. Brenden stated in the article that a Bison Summit was held in Lewistown. The supposed purpose of this meeting was to figure what to do about the translocation of Yellowstone buffalo and the free-roaming of these buffalo.
However, the real reason this meeting was held was to provide a discussion opportunity to better inform and clarify public issues related to efforts to create a long-term bison conservation and management plan, not what Brenden claims.
Mr. Brenden also needs to realize that the State of Montana has only translocated three groups of brucellosis-free Yellowstone buffalo in this state. The first one was taken to Mr. Ted Turner’s ranch in western Montana. The second one was to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and 34 of those buffalo were taken to the Fort Belknap Reservation. Both of the reservations are in his voting district and none of the three translocations have free-roaming buffalo herds as he seems to claim.
Mr. Brenden goes on to complain that the Governor’s office and Fish, Wildlife and Parks did not invite him to this meeting. Mr. Brenden then states that the folks from the Governor’s office, FWP, Indian tribes and environmental organizations outnumbered landowners and agriculture organizations by over 3 to 1.
Brenden needs to check his facts first and not rely on what he was told before he decides to write an article, as for the people that were on the panel there was no one there representing the Indian tribes on the panel.
The following people were on the panel Sen. Taylor Brown, Rep. Mike Lang, Sen. Jim Peterson, Sen. Mike Phillips from the legislature; Vicki Olson and Lesley Robinson representing Phillips County Commission; Dick Dolan representing the American Prairie Foundation; M.F.W.P. Commissioners Mr. Stuker and Mr. Wetsit; Tom France representing the National Wildlife Federation; Keith Aune representing the Wildlife Conservation Society; Jay Bodner representing the Montana Stockgrowers Association; Dave McClure representing the Montana Farm Bureau; Chris King, a rancher from Winnett; and Jeanne-Marie Souvigney representing the Greater Yellowstone Society.
None of the people on the panel gave any public testimony as Brenden seems to think. The following people were there as agency representation and they were there just as technical support should any one on the panel have questions or need clarifications. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks personnel Jeff Hagner, Mike Volesky, Ken McDonald, Lauri Hanauska-Brown, Arnie Dood, Pat Flowers, Tom Flowers and others Christan MacKay from the Montana Department of Livestock, Mark Albers from the Bureau of Land Management and Rick Potts from the Charles M. Russell.
The public in attendance was informed about the roles of the group membership and agency representation at the beginning of the meeting. There were 15 people on the panel and out of the 15 people 11 of them were either landowners or had ranching or agriculture interests.
A week prior to this meeting Sen. Brenden was on the Voices of Montana talk show with Aaron Flint where he talks about not attending this meeting because he was asked to speak at another engagement. Now, he says that he was laid up in bed with a bad back and leg. Which one is it — bad back or speaking at another engagement?
Brenden should not threaten sportsmen and tourists about the only pushback landowners have is to lock up their lands and that would not be good for Montana. This statement could turn into a double-edged sword.
The damage could potentially be lost revenue for local restaurants, hotels/motels, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. due to no sportsmen being able to hunt and spend their money in their local communities, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks not being able to assist local ranchers and landowners with game damage control because hunters will not be allowed on their lands.
Remember, hunters are a great tool for ranchers, farmers and landowners to help keep overpopulated wildlife from destroying their crops, haystacks and fields, birds damaging windrows and shelterbelts.
As far as eastern Montana being the economic driver for revenue in the state, tourism brings in just as much if not more revenue into the state. Remember, the great state of Montana is one of the last best places to visit.
Director Fish and Wildlife
Fort Peck Tribes