Lieutenant Governor candidate Lesley Robinson an advocate for property rights

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The addition of Phillips County Commissioner Lesley Robinson to Greg Gianforte’s ticket for governor is a welcome one for Montana ranchers.  Robinson has been a lead advocate for property rights and local control in Northeastern Montana where several NGOs have been collaborating with Montana FWP to establish a free-roaming bison herd.  Gianforte’s pick could bring more attention to the issue, which would be welcome as the vast majority of Montanans oppose establishing free-roaming bison herds when they learn that private landowners would be forced to host the animals on their property and absorb the cost of any damage they cause.

We want to extend a big Thank You to Greg Gianforte for showing genuine concern for agriculture and property rights.  And good luck in the race Lesley.

A heartfelt thank you from one of our members

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We received the following thank you note in response to Mark Robbins’ recent opinion piece in the Billings Gazette, shared in its entirety below:

Dear Mark:

I want to offer a big, heart-felt thank you for your well-written article in the Billings Gazette re: “Don’t transport bison out of Yellowstone Park”, Feb. 18, 2016. And of course, in true Billings Gazette/’Pravda’ fashion, it was followed by a Gazette opinion on Feb. 20th, ‘Fort Peck ready to quarantine Yellowstone bison’.  Yes, sometimes it seems it never will end, but anyone who can THINK, sees the truth in what you say, and the utter fallacies proposed by the Gazette.

As landowners/farmers in that area of Fort Peck, the bison issue has been a constant presence for more years than I can count.  My mother’s homestead sits directly between the two bison herds on the reservation. And yes, there are ranchers beside them also.

Thanks so much to you and your organization Mark. We are proud to be members of UPOM.

Linda Prescott
Billings, MT  (and Poplar)

UPOM Oped: Don’t transport bison out of Yellowstone Park

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Eastern Montana Shadows by Loren Kerns

UPOM’s Mark Robbins responds to the Billings Gazette’s call for transferring YNP bison to Eastern Montana.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Billings Gazette editorialized in support of creating a brucellosis testing facility on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. (“An Alternative to Yellowstone Bison slaughter” Feb. 14). Rather than addressing the root problem —poor federal management practices that has led to a severe overpopulation of bison in the park — the Gazette advocates simply moving the problem somewhere else.

It’s a ludicrous proposition. It won’t fix what’s wrong at Yellowstone National Park. And worse, it will create the exact same problem in northeastern Montana.

And let’s correct one big point the Gazette got wrong. These are not animals that have been proven brucellosis free. That’s the whole point of a “quarantine facility;” it’s a place where they’ll be tested to see if they have the disease.

It’s like saying I’m going to take care of my leafy spurge infestation by transferring a few hundred plants over to my neighbor’s pasture. Rule one in preventing disease transfer is to isolate the disease.

This proposed transfer is doubly problematic because the bison in question would be classified as wild free-roaming bison, not livestock. That distinction makes all the difference in the world.

A livestock classification means that some entity is responsible for the animals. If they get out onto neighbor’s property then there’s someone to call to come and get them. And moreover, there’s someone liable to pay for any damage they cause.

It’s the opposite for wild bison. If they roam onto your property, then you eat the cost of any damage they cause, which can be substantial. As wildlife, there’s no one to call to come get them. Like any other wildlife, as a landowner you’re expected to tolerate them—but of course, bison are not like other wildlife.

UPOM files protest with BLM over APR grazing permit

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UPOM has filed a protest against the BLM’s proposal to adopt an application by the American Prairie Reserve to remove interior fencing and allow year-round grazing on certain allotments.  APR’s application also indicates their desire to switch the classification of the bison they own from livestock to wild, free-roaming bison.

UPOM’s protest is the first step in stopping the APR’s grazing permit change.  It establishes standing for us in the event BLM goes forward with adopting the proposal even with the strong protest against it. You can download UPOM’s official protest letter by clicking here.

MOU Between FWP and Turner Enterprises, Inc.

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Over the past several weeks we have had several members inquire as to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between Turner Enterprises, Inc., Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and the Montana Department of Livestock regarding the quarantine and relocation of Yellowstone National Park Bison. Click here to view the MOU.