I have a beef with the letter from Chuck Denowh, policy director of United Property Owners of Montana (see "Bison in court," June 27). It displays a particular brand of self-serving hypocrisy common with ranchers who graze their cattle at subsidized rates on public land, i.e. "welfare ranchers."
In his opposition to Yellowstone wild bison being captured and transferred to eastern Montana he states, "If they stray from the property they are supposed to be on, it's clear that property owner is responsible for bringing them back. Equally important, that property owner is liable for any damage those animals may have caused." However, this sensible responsibility does not apply to domestic cows. I have had significant property damage done to my garden, orchard and fences, as well as health hazards caused to my domestic water, by welfare rancher's cows while liability is waved due to "open range' laws. There is absolutely no compensation due me, and it is up to me to fence the cows out. I have to support the rancher's livelihood with my labor and cost of fencing, like an indentured slave, or suffer the consequences. I call this "bovine extortion." What other privately owned agent of destruction is allowed to cause such damage without liability?
Chuck supports the notion that, "When bison are captured and placed into a Quarantine Feasibility Study facility, they can no longer be considered wildlife." So, are domestic cows running wild on public forests considered wildlife, and subject to hunting or trapping? No.
Furthermore, I have heard many ranchers who run their cattle on public land at fees well below those paid on private pasture, complain about food stamps and welfare for the poor. These supposedly self-reliant cowboys do not see their grazing subsidies as taxpayer-funded welfare.