Horse Butte villagers, Earthjustice prevails in lawsuit to keep wild buffalo in Montana
On May 27, 2010 Montana District Judge John Brown ruled against the Montana Stockgrowers who filed suit to force or slaughter all wild buffalo that remain in Montana after May 15 of each year.
Judge John Brown ruled the Sitz Angus Ranch, Bill Myers, and the Montana Stockgrowers Association cannot obtain the relief they seek because the Montana Dept. of Livestock is not bound by a mandatory legal duty to take the actions requested by the ranchers.
The ranchers sought a court order compelling forced removal or slaughtering of all wild buffalo in Hebgen Lake basin, wintering range and spring calving grounds for buffalo migrating along the Firehole, Gibbon and Madison rivers from Yellowstone National Park to the Gallatin National Forest.
Judge Brown wrote neither Montana law or the Interagency Bison Management Plan "creates no legal duty mandating" the Montana Dept. of Livestock remove or kill all wild buffalo in Montana.
The ruling came too late for several hundred buffalo inhabiting Hebgen basin that were forcefully removed by Montana livestock inspectors, National Park Service rangers, and Forest Service law enforcement officers over a grueling three week period.
Several female, new born calf and bull buffalo were injured in the 20 mile forced march from Horse Butte peninsula to Fountain Flats inside Yellowstone National Park.
Earthjustice lawyers representing Horse Butte residents Edith Ford, Joanne Mayo, Ed Millspaugh, Tom Sheperd, Ann Stovall, Joann Stovall, Karrie Taggert, and Jeannette Therien, intervened in the rancher's lawsuit to protect their "distinct interests in private property, wildlife conservation, and preservation of habitat outside Yellowstone National Park for bison."
The local villagers, along with the Galanis family owned Yellowstone Ranch Preserve, have long sought to stop the Montana Dept. of Livestock from trespassing on their private property to remove wild buffalo.
Horse Butte peninsula is comprised of 10,000 acres of habitat migratory buffalo have fidelity to - returning year after year for spring green-up on the south facing buttes and rolling sagebrush grasslands and forests overlooking Hebgen Lake and the Continental Divide.