Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains Representative
As I wrote last week, there are a number of anti-bison bills sailing through the Montana state legislature this year. These bills pose all kinds of threats to wild bison, including stopping restoration of wild Yellowstone bison to other parts of the state and allowing landowners to kill all bison that set hoof on private land. We have been working hard with Native American tribes, sportsmen’s groups and other conservation organizations to stop these bills.
On Tuesday, we all held a rally inside the Montana capitol building in Helena. Bison supporters from across the state were there to show legislators that the people of Montana want wild bison. Native American tribes from across Montana ran the event, and the crowd was predominantly from Montana’s seven Indian reservations. Dr. Ken Ryan, tribal elder from the Fort Peck Reservation Assiniboine tribe, held what we think is the first-ever pipe ceremony in the capitol building. Senator Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, a member of the Crow tribe, gave a talk that brought the crowd to their feet. A performance from Fort Belknap Reservation’s Wahkpa Nakoda Drum Group reverberated throughout the building. The message was clear: Kill the bills, not the bison.
News of the rally appeared in the Great Falls Tribune with a nice video of the event, the Bozeman Chronicle, Montana Public Radio, and local television stations. With so many Montanans speaking out in support of bison and against these harmful bills, we hope these attacks on Montana’s wild bison will soon come to a close.
We’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, check out these photos from the rally: