Though they’d love to take credit, it wasn’t animal-rights activists who killed a Montana bison hunt near Yellowstone National Park in January. It was hunters.
“I opposed this hunt because I support bison hunting,” says Tim Mulligan of Whitehall, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) commissioner who along with three of his fellow commissioners voted to postpone the hunt. Because he felt it wouldn’t be held over a large enough area to provide fair chase, Mulligan feared the hunt could have given Montana hunters bad publicity in the national media. The commission has already voted for an expanded hunt to be carried out later this year. However, the Department of Livestock (DOL), which has most of the regulatory control over bison, can still veto it.
The DOL simply wants bison controlled to prevent the spread of brucellosis to cattle. The Montana Wildlife Federation wants a hunt, but only if bison are managed as wildlife, not livestock. The federation believes that won’t happen until FWP has total management responsibility for bison, something that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.