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Ted Turner, Montana FWP, and Environmental Groups in Fight Over Bison Ownership

Ted's Montana Grill
Photo courtesy of The Rocketeer/Flickr

A group of Yellowstone Bison, on media mogul Ted Turner’s Montana ranch, are now the subject of a legal fight between environmental groups seeking the reintroduction of wild bison and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Gallatin County Judge Holly Brown could decide the case this week.

“We’re in court to protect all of those buffalo as public and tribal wildlife; that was the promise Montana made and broke,” said Habitat Coordinator for The Buffalo Field Campaign, Darrell Geist. “I think that if the court agrees to let these public buffalo become private domestic livestock that Montana is going to rue the day of that decision.”

If Judge Brown rules in favor of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Ted Turner will be able to keep 75 percent of the bison born on his property, leaving 25 percent under state control. If this happens, Geist believes Governor Bullock may step in.

“One of Governor Bullocks priorities in his outdoor access plan was to ‘fight attempts to privatized and commercialize public wildlife and protect fair chase hunting.'” said Geist, who believes the Governor should step in if the court sides with Montana FWP.  “Hopefully the governor will pay close attention to this decision and this agreement with turner. We believe these buffalo were promised to the public and we would like to see the governor live up to that.”

Turner, who is often involved with environmental causes, harvests the bison on his property and serves the meat at 46 Ted’s Montana Grill locations.

“I’m an environmentalist and have been for my whole life, since I was a little boy,” said Turner in a sustainability statement published on the Ted’s Montana Grill website. “It just comes very natural to me to try to conserve and encourage people to be as efficient as they can possibly be. It makes good business sense and it’s the right thing to do for the planet and the people on it.”

Darrell Geist:

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