Monday, February 2, 2009

Response to HB 253

My mom attended the public comment in Helena, MT. Here's what she said.

Yellowstone Bison Herd
Protect, Respect, Honor

January 29, 2009

My name is Julia Vincent. I reside and work in the Helena area. I am the granddaughter of Montana homesteaders. My father's parents had a homestead along the North Fork of the Flathead River. My mother's family homesteaded in Daniels county. I was raised to revere and appreciate the land and her native inhabitants.

I am asking you to please support HB253.

The Yellowstone Bison Herd is the last remnant of the 35 million bison that once enjoyed freedom—freedom to roam, freedom to graze, freedom from abuse and slaughter by the Department of Livestock. Due to the relentless attempts by the DOL to exterminate the buffalo, they are now ecologically extinct. The Yellowstone Bison are the only true bison remaining in the U.S. All other herds are descendants of forced crossbreeding of cattle with bison. The Yellowstone Bison are indigenous wildlife, not livestock! The abuse and slaughter of these animals by the DOL is a reprehensible misuse of taxpayers' money. For the State of Montana to continue with the displacement and elimination of the indigenous inhabitants of the land, as has been done since the 1800's—this time at taxpayers' expense—violates public trust.

During the hazing operations, calves have been trampled to death, the herd has been chased onto ice where their members fell through and drowned. In the winter, when bison have left Yellowstone National Park in search of food, the DOL has forced them back into the park, where there is no food and they have starved. Some have died in cramped capture pens the DOL has forced them into. Again, all of this at taxpayers' expense. The DOL's justification for their actions? Brucellosis. Brucellosis is a disease that was brought to North America by imported livestock. Cattle are not indigenous to North America. They brought the disease with them. There has never been even one documented case of cattle contracting brucellosis from bison. Yet that is the lie and the excuse that taxpayers' money is spent on to abuse and slaughter indigenous wildlife. The DOL is working to protect the economic and political power of a few individuals in private industry. Again, back to the 1800's and with it, the beginnings of the range wars. So, why are the cowboys at the DOL being paid by Montana's taxpayers to “manage” native wildlife? Does this oligarchy of the cattle industry benefit Montana's economy? Montana's wages rank fiftieth in the nation. The cost of living here does not.

Because of the inhumane treatment of the Yellowstone Bison by the DOL, I quit purchasing beef a few years ago. I will not support an industry that allows acts of animal cruelty for which there has been no accountability.

To say the DOL is guilty of mismanagement of wildlife would be a euphemism. They have abused their power and misused taxpayers' funds. They need to be removed from wildlife management.
HB253 fails to address the need for year-round habitat for the bison. I ask that you would please amend it so that this is included in the bill. The Horse Butte Peninsula, a cattle-free area, would serve this need well. Public support for the bison and the absence of cattle should make this a conflict-free area.

This bill addresses the concerns of private property owners, both those who welcome the bison on their land and those who do not. It is a good thing to address the concerns of the citizens.
I close with following quote:

"In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.." ~ Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa), Pawnee

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