By Ron Stoneberg
Letter To The Editor 

What's In a Name?


“What's in a Name”

How did that line go? What’s in a name? A rose would smell as sweet . . . It seems MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is following Shakespeare’s musings. We no longer hear about ‘wild, free-ranging’ bison. Now they are being labeled as a ‘native species’ and FWP is looking for, “somewhere in Montana where animals (bison) could be managed as a native species”. Apparently, FWP does not know the meaning of either ‘species’ or ‘native’. All plains bison in North America (federal, private and Indian Reservation herds) belong to the same genus and species (Bison bison). In addition, a native species is one that evolved in an area, region or continent and bison in North America are considered a native species. Secondly, FWP implies that management somehow defines a native species. Not true! A pronghorn antelope in a zoo is still considered a native species. The good news is that since all bison in Montana (and elsewhere) are currently being managed as a native species, FWP can relax and quit looking!

Montana Code lists bison in two different sections. In one they are classified as ‘wildlife’ and are under the jurisdiction of FWP and in the other they are considered ‘domestic’ and are overseen by the MT Department of Livestock. Now, according to FWP Director Jeff Hagener, “Bison are currently designated as both a wildlife species in need of management and a species in need of disease control in Montana.” Does this mean that all bison in Montana are now classified as wildlife in need of management and disease control? Or is he saying there are two classes of bison in Montana, one in need of management and the other in need of disease control? If it is the latter, which conforms to Montana Code, is he suggesting bison classified as wildlife do not need disease control? FWP wouldn’t be trying to confuse people with their obfusticating semantics . . . would they? My advice to all bureaucrats is, use plain English! What’s in a name? If it smells like intentional deception, it probably is!

– Ron Stoneberg

Hinsdale, MT


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