Montana Department of Livestock: Criminals

by jhwygirl

Disgusting. Shameful. Reprehensible.

Montana’s complicity in this is beyond any possible justification. I don’t know how to express more disgust.

Montana Department of Livestock officials are in full attack mode at Horse Butte this week, “managing” bison, and the Buffalo Field Campaign has several videos exposing the reprehensible activities of these state-paid officials harassing wild Yellowstone bison on conservation easement land near West Yellowstone.

If you or I or any rancher were to manage their livestock this way, we’d be arrested.

Watch this video as helicopters swoop low over bison with their young calves. Watch as a cow bison protects her calf, struggling with a broken leg – injured as a result of the Department of Livestock’s air and ground assault – from further harassment by a Department of Livestock official on horse.

Rob and Janae Galanis bought 800 acres on Horse Butte in 2007 with the intention of preserving as much open space for bison as financially possible. Horse Butte has always been a gathering area in the spring for bison, and Galanis was well aware of the history of the Montana Department of Livestock entering the area to harass bison. He sought to bring an end to that.

In 2007 Galanis told the Department of Livestock that he intends to file trespass charges against the department should they enter the property. I wish he would, on the grounds that the current plan is no plan at all – that overwhelming evidence both in Montana and Wyoming show that managing bison has no effect on halting brucellosis transmission and that until an effective plan is in place, entering onto his property under the guise of “management” is nothing more than fraud.

Fraud. Criminal.

Brucellosis has been found in both Montana and Wyoming in the last year – and Montana lost its brucellosis-free status last June after two cases were found in the space of one year.

Horse Butte is isolated, and no cattle graze there.

Brucellosis is transmitted by body fluids – and bison are hazed under an assumption that the afterbirth leaves brucellosis virus in areas where cattle graze. The problem with that “logic” (and I use that term facetiously) is that bison birth from mid-April through mid-May. Cattle can’t utilized public grazing lands until mid-June. By then the afterbirth has been returned back to nature by the activities of coyotes and ravens and eagles who feed on those remains.

Bulls can not transmit brucellosis

Governor Schweitzer? You threatened to pull out of the interagency bison management plan last July. The time is now. Stop the insanity. Stop the waste of state funds. Stop this cruel embarrassment now.

(There’s plenty more written on these pages about the insanity of the state’s brucellosis management. Start here.)

  1. Pronghorn

    Thanks for posting this. I find it sad that these kinds of posts get so little comment traffic on this blog–this is a crime against wildlife, a private property issue, and a taxpayer fraud issue happening right here at home–yet where is the outrage???

    • Lizard

      where is the outrage? that’s a good question. for me, it’s outrage overload, also known as empathy fatigue. after engaging supporters of sadistic enhanced interrogation methods, i simply don’t have much outrage left for our fellow warm-blooded creatures who are being terrorized.

  2. Rimrock

    I’m kinda beyond outraged, Pronghorn.
    I’m not sure there’s a word for it, something like deep disgust, squared. Or maybe more multiples than that.
    Although, I attended a recent joint meeting of the FWP Commission and the Board of Livestock, and must say, for a change I was slightly encouraged. FWP straight-up said brucellosis elimination wasn’t going to happen in wildlife, not as long as the Wyoming feedgrounds are in existence.

    And, just last night, the local Safari Club hosted a very interesting presentation by my neighbor, Dr. Tom Roffe, wildlife veterinarian (among other things) for the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

    Some of the powers that be are beginning to speak up. Whether this results in change on the ground…?

    Who knows. All I know is when I step out the door I’ll be back in the sixties, or maybe even earlier, seeding golden flax and lentils with our museum-quality ’67 Massey and (significantly) older John Deere-Van Brunt disc drill. So for better or worse, I’m kind of in a long-term perspective mode. What was old is new? Might that include wild bison in Montana someday?

  3. Glenn Hockett


    Thanks for posting this. Governor Brian Schweitzer and Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester continue to fund and perpetuate this reprehensible power play by the Department of Livestock. They are the problem. If they aren’t willing to right this wrong, then we need to seek real change in the voting booth.

  4. goof houlihan

    “”We bought the (Horse Butte) property because we have an affinity for the area and we didn’t want to see it developed.”

    Galanis, a Salt Lake City real estate investment banker, sold seven home sites on the property to fund the purchase…”

    There ya go. We developed it to save it from development, and paid for our own piece of paradise in the process, the out of state real estate investment banker explained.

    • On one hand, goof, I don’t care if the guy only owns 5 acres. If he doesn’t allow cattle to graze on his property, and he tells the DoL to “step off” they damned well should be stepping off.

      On the other – I don’t know that I’m adverse to someone buying a chunk of land, creating and selling some lots, and then putting a conservation easement on the rest. I’m surprised you’re against that. If the world and wildlife get more forever openspace and the developer gets whatever they get, I don’t know that is all wrong.

      I did, though, after your comment go peeking around on the cadastral to try and get a sense of what it is he conservation easemented, and the location of the lots, etc. But I couldn’t see anything obvious (unless by conservation easement, he turned it over to the USFS).

      Back in the Hole, we had snarking conversations saying that in 20 years (and that was near 10 years ago now) our backyard was going to be in conservation easement. Consider that backyard was a 1 acre subdivided lot, and you’ll understand the ridiculousness of it.

      A good bit depends upon the holder of the conservation easement and how well they are doing their jobs. In truth, there are groups that will accept stuff that others won’t.

      What I’m trying to say is that “on the other hand” there should be some value in what it is exactly that Galanis is protecting, and how those 7 lots are situated (including their surrounds), etc….

      Given that we know Yellowstone bison have gathered there forever, we know the benefit. We also know that Galanis doesn’t graze cattle – that means, specifically, no threat to cattle.

      “Threat” is all very relevant also – do bison threaten cattle? Or is it elk? Have the other steps to delay cattle grazing allotments until later (I believe it is mid-June) been significant enough? Certainly, evidence in all the the brucellosis transmissions both here and in Wyoming would say yes – that bison pose little to no threat, while free-running elk are the true transgressors here.

      I really don’t recognize bison as the problem. Therefore, the DoL is trespassing on private property, wasting taxpayer money and perpetuating fraud by spending our taxpayer money by rounding up, harassing and slaughtering bison, in the name of brucellosis management.

      • goof houlihan

        Real environmentalists live…in town.

        Or they farm or ranch and have a legit reason for their acreage. These rich man enclaves/ preserves garner no praise from me. Plunking a house and a dog or two out in the middle of elk and bear country seems like loving it to death.

  5. ladybug

    But goof, right-wingers don’t like regulation, remember? Or are you wishing for an authoritarian exception to the Bill of Rights for “environmentalists” own property and want to protect it from government abuse?

    • klemz

      Don’t be daft. He’s not suggesting they shouldn’t legally own the land, just supposing that their self-righteous outrage smacks of hypocrisy considering these particular self-styled environmentalists are themselves encroaching upon the GYE.

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