The May 27 Chronicle guest column by Chuck Denowh of Montana United Property Owners is especially disturbing because it occurs in space usually reserved for Chronicle editorial positions; and it presents one side of a controversial public issue without providing an opposing view. Thus, I must question the neutrality of the Chronicle on the issue of bison in Montana. We expect more from the “fourth arm of government.”

Moreover, Denowh’s column is full of misleading and false statements. Here, I can address only some, briefly, within your 300-word limit.

Denowh: Montana has a “large and growing bison herd.” Fact: Montana has no wild bison other than those allowed to visit us briefly each spring.

Denowh: The impending decision by FWP not to allow any bison year-round on mostly public land near Yellowstone Park is a “compromise” and a “moderate position.” Fact: The Board of Livestock, not FWP, is responsible for this decision. Fact: Allowing no bison anywhere in Montana is an extreme position, not a compromise.

Denowh: Bison in Yellowstone are “overpopulated.” Fact: “Overpopulation” is meaningless without reference to a goal that is not being achieved. No evidence indicates there are too many bison for achieving the Park Service legal mandate of an unimpaired bison herd. For an unimpaired wild bison genome – what we leave to future generations of us – there are too few bison in the Park. Also, in terms of herd health, the annual 10-15 percent herd increase does not suggest “overpopulation.”

Denowh: The plan to allow bison out of the Park was “unpopular.” Fact: Over 90 percent of abundant comments on the plan favored having some wild bison in Montana.

Denowh: Bison would be “forced onto” private property. Fact: Existing laws (MCA 81-2-121, 87-1-216) do not allow bison on private land where they are not welcome.

Jim Bailey