Montana Demoting Bison Specialist


by Sarah Jane Keller, High Country News

As Montana’s first threatened and endangered species coordinator, Arnie Dood oversaw recovery plans for some of the state’s most sensitive species including grizzly bears and gray wolves. Five years ago he took a new job leading the state through one of its toughest wildlife conservation struggles—settling on a statewide strategy for restoring bison in Montana.

But earlier this month, Dood learned he wouldn’t see the bison plan through to the end because Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is eliminating his position. His supervisor has taken over the bison planning process, and Dood has been offered another job, and likely a pay cut, managing brucellosis, a disease affecting bison, cattle and elk.

Dood, who has been with FWP since 1975, is a victim of budget cuts, according to FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim. “This isn’t about a change in plans on bison, or a suggestion that we’re less committed to doing what’s right,” Aasheim said.

Yet some critics of the demotion are wondering whether it’s not just budget cuts, but politics at play. The news of Dood’s departure comes just before the release of a draft environmental impact statement for a controversial statewide bison plan. Currently, the only unfenced bison in Montana roam Yellowstone National Park. While Yellowstone bison are going through their own planning process, the goal of the statewide plan is to determine if bison, managed as wildlife, not livestock, can be restored elsewhere in Montana. (Yellowstone bison deemed disease-free could be used to start the new herd.)

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Source: High Country News



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