March 9, 2022
Dear Colorado Wildlife Commission,
The Rocky Mountain Bison Association (RMBA), representing 76 Colorado bison ranchers, marketers and enthusiasts’ as well as 60 members in surrounding states, appreciates the opportunity to provide input regarding the Citizen Petition to Reclassify Bison as Big Game. We are also joined in these comments by the National Bison Association, a Colorado-based membership organization representing 1,200 ranchers, marketers and supporters in 49 states.
The RMBA Board of Directors met on Friday, March 4th and unanimously voted to oppose this petition. We support the current designation of privately-owned bison as livestock, and do not support the unauthorized killing of migrating bison from the Utah Book Cliff bison herd.
The regulatory changes proposed in this petition seek to impose a solution to a problem that is not yet clearly defined.
The members of our respective organizations represent producers who are stewards of more than 95 percent of the bison in Colorado. While our members strive to manage our herds largely as undomesticated animals, we also recognize the importance of being classified as livestock in terms of disease control, transportation and marketing.
The remaining bison in Colorado are in public herds, primarily the Great Sand Dunes National Park, The Rocky Mountain Arsenal, and Denver Public Parks (Genesee and Daniels Park). These herds are all managed to prevent the free-roaming animals to range beyond the boundaries of the parks or the arsenal property.
Thus, this petition only seeks to address a perceived threat to bison that are ranging into Colorado from the Book Cliffs herd in Utah. To date, the extent of this ranging is not well documented, and most evidence is based on anecdotal evidence at best.
This is a very faulty basis for enacting any significant change to the classification of bison in Colorado.
This issue warrants much more study and information before any proposed policy change is considered. We recommend that a study group be established, with representatives to include (but not be limited to):
- Private bison producers
- Cattle and sheep producers
- Public lands managers
- CPW representatives.
This study group can establish the current situation and analyze future developments, and then come back with any future recommendation that is based upon factual evidence, rather than anecdotal concerns.
President, Rocky Mountain Bison Association
President, National Bison Association