Governor Visits Bison Herd
Park Service,Interior Officials Also View Holding Facility; Protestors Make Case Recipe For Bison Stew: Add Politics And Heat Well
BY SAMAR FAY, COURIER EDITOR
Published: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
The issue of the translocation of Yellowstone bison tumbled into the political area on Tuesday, as election year wrangling created another facet for the debate. Two term-limited politicians traded blows over whether the state’s decision to relocate genetically pure bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation was contrary to Senate Bill 212, passed in the last legislature.
Rep. Wayne Stahl, R-Saco, accuses Gov. Brian Schweitzer, the two-term Democrat, of knowingly violating the law that requires the state to have a bison management plan in place before relocating them. He is calling for impeachment of the governor.
“He is really not caring whether he breaks the law or not,” Stahl was quoted as saying BY KFBB-TV (Ch. 5). “That attitude and the nonchalant and the intentional ignoring of the law that he signed into being a law. That arrogance and attitude is something that is important and what next?”
The Legislature would have to go into special session to impeach the governor, and it would require 67 votes to put him on trial.
Schweitzer responded by saying, “These Republicans may want to familiarize themselves with their own legislation.”
He said there is no requirement in the legislation for a statewide bison management plan before translocation of bison, calling the notion a “figment of the imagination.” The law requires a particularized plan for bison going to any private or public land in Montana. Tribal land is neither, Schweitzer said, but a specific plan is included anyway in the state’s memorandum of understanding with the Fort Peck tribes.
SB 212 is also involved in the lawsuit against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that Sen. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek, joined. The several plaintiffs sued in January to prevent FWP from moving Yellowstone bison to Fort Peck and Fort Belknap, based in part on the interpretation that it was a violation of the law because there was no statewide plan in place and because it fails to analyze the impact on the human environment, particularly the neighboring landowners who have had to deal with escaped bison.
The case will be considered in Chinook on April 11.
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