You might be surprised how much wildlife is discussed and dealt with at a Montana Board of Livestock meeting. I certainly was.
The summer of 2013 I began attending BOL meetings, due to a bison environmental assessment discussion. At that time, they were surprised when I came in, as a member of the public, stating they had not had the public at meetings before. I quickly realized there was a hell of a lot being discussed about our wildlife there, determined to attend regularly. I also bought a digital recorder that I take with me everywhere, so that I can extend the ability of the public awareness and involvement in our Public Trust issues.
This last meeting was a perfect example of why the public, concerned with Montana's wildlife and habitat, needs to keep an eye out on the Department of Livestock. The following is the account of the BOL meeting on March 18, 2013, in Helena, MT.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of this meeting was when BOL John Scully grilled APHIS Veterinary Services, Dr. Tom Linfield about numerous documents which I researched this last spring and summer, compiled on the APHIS Brucellosis Eradication Agenda Page. Scully asked if they were still current and active, which Dr. Linfield replies that they are. These documents - Code of Federal Regulations, Interim Rule, APHIS Strategic Plan 2010-2015 and their Concept Paper 2009, all state the goals of APHIS to eradicate brucellosis, not just from livestock in the US, but also from all wildlife reservoirs, especially their target of the GYA.
This APHIS brucellosis eradication is what is driving the MT DOL actions against the bison and now the elk, in MT. The APHIS strategy, through the Brucellosis Class Free Status, forced the State to agree to a Brucellosis Management Plan. This is how they got control of our Fish, Wildlife & Parks concerning elk, bison and the peripheral predator issues.
FWP Region 3 Supervisor Pat Flowers remarked about the "unholy marriage" forced on FWP with the DOL. DOL's Executive Director Christian MacKay laughed and said that he preferred to call it a "shotgun wedding." Well, when you are not the agency with the gun to your head, forcing you to manage wildlife like diseased livestock, I suppose that you can laugh about it. APHIS is the one wielding the shotgun here, forcing the 3 GYA states to turn over their wildlife agencies to APHIS and state departments of livestock, who are more than willing to "marry" the wildlife agencies to gain access to what they want.
Hopefully, the public will wake up to the governor's marrying of these two agencies and get this damn "unholy marriage" annulled. Our Fish, Wildlife & Parks deserves to be managed by scientific wildlife management, not livestock management and politics.
So if you can show just cause why these two should not be wed, for Montana's sake, speak now or experience the hostile takeover by the APHIS/DOL as in the cattle wars of days gone by!