HELENA, MT – Bison reintroductions is putting the Biden administration at odds with state officials in Montana. Republican lawmakers have resisted returning the animals to federal lands and opposed some previous bison transfers to tribes.
Earlier this year, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced $25 million in federal spending for bison conservation. The money, from last year’s climate bill, will build new herds, transfer more bison from federal to tribal lands and forge new bison management agreements with tribes, officials said.
But Montana state lawmakers, this spring, advanced a resolution opposing the reintroduction of bison to the million-acre (400,000-hectare) Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in northern Montana — an idea that’s been floated by the Biden administration and has support among Native Americans.
“Bison were part of the culture 200, 300 years ago. We aren’t going back to that,” said Montana state Sen. Mike Lang, who sponsored the resolution. Lang said he doesn’t oppose bison on tribal lands but added that as populations grow they can cause problems for ranchers and present a public safety threat.
Congressman Matt Rosendale (MT-02), sent a letter on August 16, 2023 to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland requesting more information on meetings her Department is holding on the potential reintroduction of Bison in Montana.
“It is within the interest of Montanans and my duty as one of their Congressman to be made aware of any action the Department is considering regarding the reintroduction of bison,” said Rep. Rosendale.
“It is concerning that these hearings are occurring quietly with little to no information available to the public. I expect the process of considering the reintroduction of this animal will be public and open to feedback from local stakeholders. I hope Secretary Haaland and her staff will be forthcoming about any rule-making sessions, hearings, or meetings related to the Department of Interior’s actions to restore the bison population.”
Rep. Rosendale has requested any and all information related to the process of reintroducing the American bison to Montana, including,
*Minutes of any meeting that has taken place regarding bison restoration or reintroduction;
*A schedule of any meetings or hearings that have or will take place regarding this action;
*The times and locations of such meetings;
*A list of participants of each meeting;
*Any agendas set for each meeting;
*A list of outside groups who gave input for the actions related to bison restoration;
*A list of invited participants to each meeting;
*A written statement as to why these meetings or hearings have not been open to the public.