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Press Release- 8/06/14

Livestock Board Corrupts Decision on Habitat for Public Buffalo in Montana

Advocates call attention to abuse of public process that has denied access to year-round habitat
for public buffalo in Montana -- Over 100,000 people disenfranchised by livestock industry board

For Immediate Release: August 6, 2014

Press contact:
Darrell Geist, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-531-9284, z@wildrockies.org
Dan Brister, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-726-5555, bfc@wildrockies.org

Press materials: A chronology of the public decision making process is included in this press release.
Documentation is available online

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MT - Advocates for public buffalo to roam Montana say a vote by the Montana Board of Livestock to indefinitely postpone a decision on year-round habitat for the migratory species has corrupted the public decision making process.

The West Yellowstone-based advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign says members of the Board of Livestock corrupted a final decision that the public was told would be made by Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Department of Livestock.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, over 100,000 people commented on the long over-due decision to allocate habitat for public buffalo to roam year-round in Montana.

Buffalo Field Campaign executive director Daniel Brister says, “More than 100,000 people including Montanans were misled and disenfranchised. The Board of Livestock was never identified as the final arbiter of the decision on habitat for public buffalo in Montana.”

Members of the Board of Livestock based their vote on a “modified alternative” that was not presented to the public in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Department of Livestock's environmental review.

Members of the Board of Livestock also improperly based their vote on “population target/triggers” for buffalo in Yellowstone National Park - an issue that was eliminated from further study by Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Department of Livestock.

Buffalo Field Campaign habitat coordinator Darrell Geist says, “Livestock board members based their vote on an alternative that was never submitted to the public for review. The livestock board then turned around and tried to impose a buffalo population target in Yellowstone National Park rather than Montana - an issue that was eliminated from further study by the agencies.”

A buffalo population target would have required Yellowstone National Park to capture buffalo for slaughter. The agency is not a party to Montana's proposal for habitat the migratory species could roam year-round in the state.

The boundary of the most expansive alternative considered is 0.4% of habitat in Montana. Nearly 90% of the habitat is on the Gallatin National Forest.

In July 2012, the Board of Livestock was invited by Governor Bullock “to be a part of the forthcoming plan as part of the decision making.”

According to Buffalo Field Campaign executive director Daniel Brister, it is now up to Montana's Governor Steve Bullock to undo the board of livestock's action, “The Governor invited the livestock board to the table. It's now up to the Governor to fix a public decision making process that has been broken by the livestock board.”

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