of Livestock met in Helena on March 18, 2014. On the Agenda was:
Action Item #3: Bison Environmental Assessment for Year Round
Tolerance - this DOL
Proposal took the existing Bison EA and added the
MT BoL and DoL's conditions that Yellowstone National Park kill
off bison to get their numbers down below 3000 or no extended
habitat for bison in the state of Montana.
Legislative Proposal - Feral Swine
Miscellaneous Animal Health Updates, which included the Elk Capture
Program, The Upper Yellowstone Watershed Basin Elk Management
in Areas With Brucellosis Plan - Paradise Valley Modification
hundreds or thousands of bison, so that a few can enter Montana,
just so that you can say that you are doing something, is bullshit!
Audio file, Time Markers
and Transcription below.
MP3 2 hours 7 minutes
Environmental Assessment for Year Round Tolerance,
the January BoL mtg they voted No Action.
- John Scully asks if bison are allowed further range outside
Yellowstone, where you already have an elk population with brucellosis?
Does the risk of transmission go up, down or stay the same, when
you add buffalo with brucellosis to the same pasture?
11:20 - Dr. Marty Zaluski, MT State Veterinarian
replied that the intent would be for it to not increase.
11:36 - Christian MacKay answered, "...minimally,
if any, you would think that yes, the risk is higher, but it hasnt
borne out to a transmission."
- John Scully asks why the 3000 Yellowstone National Park bison
population hasnt worked?
Christian MacKay, "Theres no enforcement of the number."
Dr. Marty Zaluski, states this proposal creates an incentive to
maintain population number at the agreed upon level (the IBMP).
12:23 - Scully, "Lets be honest, theres
no political will to do it. In my view. Theres no political will
to use the tools that are already in Statute and a part of the
IBMP. So I'd like to ask, Doc (former MT DoL State Veterinarian,
now MT APHIS VS - Dr. Tom Linfield) in back whether the Federal
Rules have now been changed? (This
refers to the Code of Federal Regulations, 4, 5, 6 and 7 down,
right hand side, which advocates eradication of brucellosis in
15:38 - Dr. Tom Linfield, "Federal Rules
have now been changed somewhat as far as portions of the brucellosis
eradication rules, specifically, we have the Interim Rule that
does change the way States are classified, maintaining their classification
(Brucellosis Class Free Status). Just some other definition changes,
so forth, but there have been some - the Rules themselves have
not changed as far as the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) we
have the Interim Rule that does make some allowances as far as
maintaining Class Free Status, even in the face of having infected
herds within the prescribed areas (Designated
Surveillance Area - DSA). (Montana is
required to have a Brucellosis Management Plan and annual MOU,
just as Wy and ID do, in order for APHIS to give Montana their
Brucellosis Class Free Status. This is how they got control of
the Fish, Wildlife & Parks concerning bison and elk, through
the Governor. This has gone on since 2008 and a previous version
occurred with Governors Marc Rosicot and Judy Martz.)
16:27 - Scully, "Has the Strategic
Plan of APHIS 2010-2015 (right side 3rd down), has that changed?"
Dr. Tom Linfield (APHIS) - "I dont believe so."
Scully, "So it still states that we're to eliminate brucellosis
from the nations cattle population?" ("Goal
4 - Develops control and eradication programs, with the assistance
of State governments and industry participants, for invasive pests
and diseases that have become established. Works to eliminate
brucellosis from the Nation's cattle population, changing its
disease surveillance strategy from one that focuses on disease
detection and elimination at the State level to one that ensures
the continued absence of disease in the domestic cattle population
at the national level. - As well as eradication in wildlife.)
Linfield, "I believe thats correct."
Scully, "Can you tell me what you have done at the Federal
level, to enforce the IBMP, with the Yellowstone National Park,
in the manner in which they are managing their bison? Because
clearly there is that requirement."
Linfield - I dont know the agency, APHIS Federal agency, has the
specific authority to manage wildlife, so we have to be somewhat
respectful as for, as their authority and responsibility and jurisdictions
so, even though we have eradication program, as far as livestock
and the goal there, the intent is to eradicate brucellosis in
the entire countrys livestock industry, we dont have that same
authority over management of wildlife (hence
the mafia shakedown Brucellosis Management Plan requirement with
each GYA state).
17:52 - Scully, "In your Concept
Paper of Veterinary Services (APHIS VS, right side 2nd "Eradication
depends on finding the last remaining brucellosis-reactor animal,
the last remaining brucellosis-affected herd, and eliminating
the disease from wildlife reservoirs"), doesnt it
suggest that its your obligation to coordinate, cooperate, collaborate,
whatever, with Yellowstone National Park, the State and producers,
cause thats the only reservoir of brucellosis left in the United
Linfield, "I believe thats accurate, as far as coordinating
with the other agencies, but not necessarily extending our authority
or jurisdiction beyond what we are legally able to do."
- Dr. Zaluski discusses the incentives of their proposal.
- Jan French asks if the whole Bison EA area can be fenced off,
saying APHIS could do that. Dr. Zaluski defers to FWP Pat Flowers,
saying there are wildlife corridor issues. Flowers points out
legally it would not be possible. Then they discussed if bison
passed the expanded habitat area they could be lethally removed.
- Scully brings up a budget, asks if the governors office has
agreed to fund this whole thing?
Christian MacKay mentioned helicopter hazing cost $65-$75,000
one year. Under this plan they would not have that cost.
APHIS, Dr. Tom Linfield stated they continued to support the department
through cooperative agreements, 90% dedicated to brucellosis related
activities and primarily within the designated surveillance areas
- how Dr. Zaluski and Christian utilize those funds for surveillance
and mitigation is bore out in their work plan, APHIS is supporting
the State as far as brucellosis, both as surveillance and mitigation
MacKay stated they were currently operating 100% under Governors
budget. No indication from Governor or staff that they are going
to scale back funding for the DSA.
- Christian MacKay states in reference to the Yellowstone National
Park bison, "We're not going to let them out until the population
Scully, "We have the tools right now to change that population."
MacKay, "No we dont."
Scully, "Yes we do."
MacKay, "We dont have access to the Park."
They discussed the IBMP process and the 3000 population objective.
If after hunting season, the numbers were not below 3000, then
they would use trapping and slaughter.
- Scully, "We dont have the political will to eliminate elk
that have brucellosis in the hottest time of the season, it just
got moved from June 15th to April 15th, in the last year, in Oct.,
so why would we have the political will to do it to bison?"
Dr. Marty Zaluski then details capturing operations of bison,
not having the capability of managing the larger numbers, having
to rely on the Park to do this.
- John Scully, asks about the stocking rates of bison in the YNP.
Is 3000 the appropriate stocking rate of bison in YNP and do they
(YNP) agree with that?
FWP Pat Flowers stated that was the current population target
in the IBMP and they have signed off on it. And so, based on that,
Id say yes." (Actually, the YNP is
forced to this number because of the APHIS and MT DOL objectives
of reducing the brucellosis seroprevalence level by reducing the
population. YNP does not manage any other wildlife in this manner
and in conversations with the Park personnel, they have not expressed
any "concern about overpopulation of bison in the Park,"
as another politically misinformed, canned response email from
Governor Bullock's office released on March 14th.)
One of the BOL members
asked, who had the authority
to lethally remove the bison that "dont deserve to
be outside the Park?" Dr. Zaluski answered that
has always been the state veterinarians position, because of 81-2-120.
- John Scully brought up FWP position relative to hazing elk,
local working groups, is not that contingent on public hunter
Pat Flowers answers no, the Statewide Working Group did not make
that a requirement.
- Ed comments, "This board is supposed to protect cattle
industry and not wildlife industry." They discussed nearby
ranchers and their property.
Jan French stated, "Its
(Bison EA) not ready yet, we're not ready yet to vote on anything.
We voted last time on, calling on no, we dont want anything done...whatever
in this draft is not enough, to prove to me that I should be voting
yes to anything like this."
They continued the fencing
conversation. Scully believed this belonged in the IBMP process.
- Jan French, "I frankly would like to have it, something
positive done before we go into the IBMP, so that we are not accused
of just stonewalling every time we turn around. I want to be able
to say, 'We've dont this, and we need you to do this,' when we
get to the IBMP."
A budget, 3000 head, survey
of surrounding ranchers was to be done before further action.
- BOL asked Pat Flowers what they gain in this process. Flowers
referred to dual status of bison and the "unholy marriage"
with the Dept. of Livestock on managing them. He mentioned bison
as a big game hunted species and this would provide a broader
area for that, and they are also interested in managing bison
as wildlife in Montana, that means having habitat available and
managing their numbers through hunting. "Thats how we manage
other populations, and in my opinion the more we can move in that
direction, the better opportunity we have for taking the controversy
out of this and normalizing how we manage them. I know it will
never be as elk or different animals, they have a higher seroprevalence
right now and for the foreseeable future, that reason will always
be different in how we manage them. But the closer we come to
managing them on a broader landscape, through hunting as opposed
to other means, I think the more support we're going to get from
the general public. I think we can provide for limited risk."
MacKay brought up the
other important role of FWP has is recognition of Tribal Treaty
Hunting Rights and working with those Tribes to coordinate those
hunts along with the State licensed hunters. He stated they were
up to 4 Tribes with Treaty Rights and another that is knocking
at the door.
French stated hunting
would not reduce wildlife numbers. Once reduced, you could manage
with hunting. It would have to be a catastrophic event to reduce
the wildlife population.
- Gene asked if increasing the bison population would increase
the prevalence in the elk population, therefore putting more ranches
at risk, not from the bison, but because the bison spread it to
the elk and the elk to the cows?
Zaluski replies that transmission from bison to elk is alot less
than they previously thought.
Flowers said it likely happening elk to elk rather than bison
The study bringing up who the vectors were was brought up - A
Risk Analysis of Brucella abortus Transmission Among Bison, Elk,
and Cattle in the Northern Greater Yellowstone Area (2010)
John Scully then brings up that hunting
bison in Montana is contingent upon the approval of the
Department of Livestock, which most MT hunters dont realize.
Though the regulation is listed in MCA 87, the FWP portion of
the Montana Law, it states DOL has jurisdictional authority,
Bison Hunting in Montana "permitted
only when authorized by the department of livestock under the
provisions set forth in 81-2-120." "fair chase hunting
of wild buffalo or bison, including requirements that hunting
be conducted on foot and away from public roads and that there
be no designation of specific wild buffalo or bison to be hunted;
(e) means of taking and handling of carcasses in the field,
which must include provisions for public safety because of the
potential for the spread of infectious disease;" "87-2-730.
(Effective March 1, 2014) . Special wild buffalo license --
regulation. (1) The public hunting of wild buffalo or bison
that have been designated as a species in need of disease control
under 81-2-120 is permitted only when authorized by the department
of livestock under the provisions set forth in 81-2-120."
1:15:20 - BOL discusses a legislative proposal
to make Feral Swine in MT illegal. This was agreed by a number
of stakeholders in Montana, including MWF, whose representative
Nick Gevock spoke in favor of outlawing Feral Swine in MT. Having
lived in Texas and had to deal with feral swine on our property,
I can whole heartedly agree with how devastating feral swine
What was not mentioned during this
discussion was that feral swine are not only a reservoir for
Brucella suis, a brucellosis bacteria preferring swine
populations, but they can also become infected with Brucella
abortus, the variety favoring bovines and cervids (cattle,
bison and elk). Academics are looking into whether swine are
a dead end host of Brucella abortus, or if they can
transmit it to cattle. Another disturbing note on the swine
and brucellosis front is that currently there is no vaccine
for swine brucellosis. Montana does not want feral swine here.
in Areas with Brucellosis and Elk Surveillance
1:35:00 - BOL discussed the Park County Paradise
Valley Working Group and their proposal to the FWP Commission
to extend kill dates of elk to May 15th, as well as have FWP
Sportsmens dollars pay for miles of large scale pasture fencing
that will be 6-8 foot high, wildlife proof. At first they were
confused about the language. Scully objected to anything that
would require ranchers to have to allow public hunter access
on their ranches. I clarified that this program operated outside
of any Montana Law, not requiring public hunter access as in
Game Damage laws. They also misunderstood a reference - as in
Game Damage laws, involving the fencing, as to who would be
be paying for this. I clarified that the reference was to FWP
Sportsmens dollars paying for the fencing, which they then accepted,
deciding against striking some of the language. My purpose in
clarifying was to show that there were objections when they
thought public hunter access was required and they might have
to pay for fencing, but when they were shown there was no public
hunter access and the massive, wildlife obstructing fencing
would be paid for with MT FWP sportsmens dollars, those objections
1:55:30 - Dr. Marty
Zaluski and Dr. Eric Liska spoke about the FWP Elk Surveillance
study where elk cows are captured, tested to see if they show
antibodies to brucellosis. Those that are positive are collared
to track movement, those pregnant receive vaginal transmitters.
This winter they tested the Tobacco Roots, capturing 70 elk,
all tested negative. East of there in HD 311, southwest of Belgrade,
they captured 60 elk with 10 testing positive. As a result the
Area will be expanding. The DSA is mandated by APHIS, forcing
the GYA states to sign onto this action, in order to receive
their livestock Brucellosis Class Free Status. This give APHIS
control of our FWP concerning elk and bison due to brucellosis,
which is why the Elk Management in Areas with Brucellosis program
According to a MT
Legislative DSA Inquiry, conducted in 2010, concerning the
DSA, "Question: Is the DOL's Designated Surveillance For
Brucellosis Official Order 10-01-D (January 13, 2010) an action
that should have been is subject to the MEPA review process?
Answer: Probably, yes. The DOL is not a state agency that is
exempted from MEPA. The DOL's administrative rules implementing
MEPA, MEPA case law, provisions of the Montana constitution,
dictates whether the DOL's Order is subject to MEPA review...Conclusion:
Based on this unfortunately lengthy but necessary legal analysis,
the DOL's Order probably should have been subject to the MEPA
John Scully then asked for a comparative
update on how each GYA state (Wyoming and Idaho) handles brucellosis.