Resolution 13-03

Wild & Free Roaming Bison

WHEREAS, MCA 76-15-102, which is the Montana Association of Conservation Districts Declaration of policy, states “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the legislature to provide for the conservation of soil and soil resources of this state, for the control and prevention of soil erosion, for the prevention of floodwater and sediment damages, and for furthering the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water and thereby to preserve natural resources, control floods, prevent impairment of dams and reservoirs, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base, protect public lands, and protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of this state.”

WHEREAS, Conservation Districts believe private property rights are primarily and fundamentally being protected, preserved, and enhanced through the US Constitution, State of Montana Constitution, and the conservation districts. We recognize that MCA 87-6-101 “Wild Buffalo” means buffalo or bison that have not been reduced to captivity.

WHEREAS, diseases associated with bison such as brucellosis, mycoplasma bovis, anthrax, etc.  affects a substantial number of bison and elk in the state of Montana and poses a health threat and economic detriment to the livestock industry;  and

WHEREAS, Montana, outside the Designated Surveillance Area around Yellowstone National Park, is currently brucellosis free, and every effort should be taken to maintain this designation; and

WHEREAS, the natural migration of free roaming wild buffalo or bison may create containment issues, threaten public safety, and infringe on private property rights; and

WHEREAS, due to free roaming wild buffalo or bison being a migratory animal, their presence creates the following natural resource concerns:  spread of noxious weeds, riparian area degradation, loss of habitat for current wildlife species, impacts of dust wallows to top soil, vegetation loss, streambank erosion, loss of watershed function and stability, and damage and loss to high value cropland; and

WHEREAS, free roaming wild buffalo or bison can severely impact domestic, privately owned bison;

WHEREAS, free roaming wild buffalo or bison have the potential to negatively impact the existing tax base of Montana;

WHEREAS, private property rights are limited to each property holder and are not to infringe upon his or her adjoining neighbor’s property in any detrimental or threatening way.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Montana Association of Conservation Districts stand is opposed to free roaming wild buffalo or bison.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED Montana Association of Conservation Districts identify a sponsor for a bill in the 2015 Montana Legislature to amend Montana Law to prohibit the establishment of any free roaming wild buffalo or bison within the state of Montana.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts identify a sponsor for a bill in the 2015 Montana Legislature to amend Montana Law to clearly define that any bison or buffalo that has been captive, corralled, fenced in, or transported is no longer considered free roaming and/or wild.

FINALLY BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts identify a sponsor for a bill in the 2015 Montana Legislature to amend Montana Law to clearly state that bison or buffalo that are not kept in the confines of those wishing to house them will be defined as domestic livestock and subject to Montana laws.

 

Submitted by: Valley County Conservation District

Area Meeting Action: Passed Area I as amended

MACD Committee Assignment: Soil Resource & Land Use

General Session Action: PASSED AS AMENDED