There have been ongoing efforts to preserve, protect and re-introduce all other wild animals in their natural habitat nationwide. I have always wondered about why bison should be such an exception to this policy. I knew about the brucellosis "threat" but it seems there are ways to deal with this problem.
I suspect that for many decades (since the mass slaughters in the 1800's) keeping the bison contained went hand in hand with keeping Native American populations "contained" by making it harder to return to traditional lifestyles. At this point in the generally broader understanding of cultural genocide and its ramifications worldwide, the policy of not allowing bison to "roam free" seems barbarically discriminatory not only against the bison themselves, but to traditional native culture as well.
On a more practical level, it seems to me this issue is more about private land and fences than the threat of disease. Private land (another non-native concept) often requires fencing to designate borders and contain ranch livestock. Bison are notorious for their ability to render standard fencing non-functional, hence the need for "7-foot multi-strand fences" to contain them. Free ranging bison would raise the costs of constructing and maintaining fences for private landowners. There are, no doubt, some pretty strong ranching lobbies in this state, not to mention that much of our revenue comes from property tax (as opposed to sales taxes) making the owners of big ranches influential fiscal "shareholders" in the operations of our state, thus leaving little hope for the free bison initiative. On the other hand, increased need for better fences would provide much needed jobs for working class Montanans.
Still, when all is said and done, disease and fences notwithstanding, this Montana citizen prefers allowing these majestic animals to return to the wild, that is, the actual wild.
Missoula News/Independent Publishing |
Powered by Foundation