Montana Stockgrowers Association President Watty Taylor asks, in the June 1 Gazette, whether Montanans support the restoration of bison as wildlife somewhere in the state.
The answer is a resounding "yes!"
When asked that question last year, a solid majority of Montanans expressed support for bringing bison back as wildlife. Specifically, 63 percent said Montana can manage wild bison in the same way it manages elk, deer and other wildlife. Seventy percent said they support restoration of wild bison in and around the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Seventy-five percent favored hunting as the way to manage bison numbers at the CMR. Eighty-six percent agreed with the statement "Bison are wildlife, just like elk or deer."
Ninety-four percent agreed with the statement, "We should try to find places where we can have wild populations of all species of wildlife that once lived in Montana, including bison."
This statewide poll was conduced by Moore Information Inc., a respected public-opinion research firm. The survey's accuracy is plus or minus 5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
When Taylor suggests that most support for bison restoration comes from outside the state, he ignores the plain fact that Montanans have a century-long tradition of restoring wildlife. We've done it for elk, for pronghorn and for bighorn sheep. We can restore bison in appropriate places (like the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge), and we can manage them successfully, just as we have other big-game species.
Sportsman's Outreach Coordinator
National Wildlife Federation