USFWS National Bison Range - Montana
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USFWS National Bison Range - Montana

National Bison Range - Montana

The National Bison Range is located in Moiese, Montana. It is owned by the Federal government and administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. If you are looking for the government website for the USFWS National Bison Range in Moiese, Montana;  Click Here

Recent Actions at the National Bison Range


U.S. District Court Rescinds Annual Funding Agreement at the National Bison Range

Inspector General Opens Bison Range Investigation

April 11th, 2009 - Blue Goose Alliance Sues Interior Department Over National Bison Range

Don Redfearn, President of the Blue Goose Alliance, a national conservation organization, announced today that the Alliance has sued the Interior Department.
The suit, filed in DC federal court yesterday, relates to an agreement signed in 2008 affecting management at the National Bison Range in Montana for three years. That agreement delegates significant federal responsibilities to the Salish and Kootenai Tribes creating a joint management arrangement at the refuge in violation of the laws guiding administration of National Wildlife Refuges. The suit further alleges violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the Endangered Species Act in the process used at Interior to develop the agreement. Those violations prevented disclosures vital to an informed public having knowledge and an opportunity to comment upon the proposal at the refuge complex consisting of three refuges and nine Waterfowl Production Areas.
The Alliance has been involved in the issue at the Bison Range since 2003 and has submitted many comment documents, has met with departmental officials and refuge personnel, and has urged the Congress to increase oversight and initiate a full investigation by the General Accounting Office. “All of those efforts have received only cursory and incidental attention” said Redfearn.
He added that, “with the signing of the new agreement in 2008 that will substantially change the management arrangement at the refuge complex, it became obvious to the Alliance that our concerns and interests would only be given due attention by a federal court”.
These actions by Interior will, in the view of the Alliance, will seriously impair integrated and coordinated refuge management at the complex, which is essential to achieve long-term recovery goals for the iconic American Bison, and perhaps other species. In addition, the process used and action taken at this important complex of refuges also represents a precedent that could be used to create many more joint management arrangements throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System—thereby having a disastrous impact upon the world’s most comprehensive wildlife, plant and habitat conservation system. In essence, the Alliance felt that our nation's wildlife and wildland heritage is being threatened.

Summary of Recent Events
In 2003, in violation of the Refuge Administration Act, top level Department of Interior (DOI) appointees, allowed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal government (CSKT) to bypass the US Fish and Wildlife Service's authority to negotiate with the CSKT for some responsibilities the National Bison Range.
Instead, DOI appointees took over negotiations from FWS and in a politically expedient decision, promised the CSKT that they could have complete operational management of the Bison Range. This action was illegal, arbitrary and capricious.

In 2004, the DOI appointees and some FWS Regional to top level management declared "open season" on Federal employees at the Bison Range, targeted specific people for removal and replaced them with less experienced tribal contractors.
From 2004 to 2006, the CSKT and DOI officials carried out their joint strategy to outsource Inherently Federal positions, using heavy-handed tactics and unethical political maneuvering to achieve their goals.

The FWS positions that the CSKT took were not open and unfilled positions. They were already filled with qualified FWS professionals, who were displaced and in some cases, forced to move out of state. These changes were made abruptly and without consideration of the negative impact this would have on the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Federal Bison Range employees and their families. Once the CSKT government got their political "foot in the door", they went after every Federal employee's position at the Bison Range. Federal Bison Range workers were repeatedly politically targeted and harassed by the CSKT and pressured to accept "go away offers" by the FWS & DOI.
Most employees had no choice but to leave their positions.
These FWS employees had to give up their homes, farms and ranches. Some left behind members of their extended family and friends.
Ultimately, these FWS employees lost their way of life and had to start their lives over.

This displacement through forced attrition was part of the joint DOI and CSKT strategy. The CSKT thought it would give them a "clean sweep", but they failed to realize that the FWS budget went with each position that the Bison Range lost due to employee transfers. The Bison Range budget was reduced, leaving only a handful of Federal employees at the Bison Range and no further positions available to the CSKT.

In September 2006, a group of Bison Range federal employees filed
a legal grievance, citing intolerable working conditions.  These include: being subjected to hostility, harassment, intimidation and a public campaign of false statements made by the CSKT against the federal employees. In addition, unsafe conditions were allowed to exist without resolution.
Almost immediately, in response to the filing of the legal grievance, the DOI appointees released the Bison Range employees Privacy Act protected information to the CSKT Tribal government. More retaliation by the CSKT government ensued.

After DOI's Lynn Scarlett repeatedly ignored FWS employee requests to informally resolve valid and serious issues at the Bison Range, the workers filed a formal grievance and this too, was intentionally ignored by the DOI. 
Due to the blatant disregard shown by the DOI appointees to the FWS employees at the National Bison Range, the grievance went to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

US Government settled the USFWS Bison Range employee's legal grievance, on its merits, in May 2007.

While it was a victory for the Federal employees who endured so much political targeting and abuse at the National Bison Range, the US Fish and Wildlife Service could not guarantee these same employees a safe work environment in the future, as DOI and the CSKT continued to press forward with their joint political agenda for the National Bison Range.

USFWS employees deserve to live free from a politically toxic and hostile work environment created by DOI's top-down policies.

Congressman Dingell (D-MI) took a stand to support the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Bison Range.


On December 29th, 2006, the Department of Interior attempted to reverse a decision made by USFWS Director Dale Hall on December 11th, 2006, in which Director Hall legally terminated an expired contract with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) to perform work at the National Bison Range.

The USFWS Director Hall acted legally, in response to documented evidence of the CSKT's failure to perform duties in their contract. He also made the decision based upon one and one half years of blatant harassment and intimidation by Tribal employees directed at USFWS employees.

While the CSKT denies it, and the DOI ignored it, there are witnesses to these and other incidents, including a verbal tirade and assault done by the CSKT Tribal Chairman to the now former NBR Manager, where the Chairman called the NBR Manager a derogatory word for a "white person" in the Salish language and repeatedly poked his finger into the NBR Manager's chest.
The CSKT government repeatedly slandered the USFWS staff in the local and national media, yet both the FWS and DOI stood by and did nothing to refute the deliberate misinformation being spread by CSKT and their supporters through these media attacks.


The Refuge Administration Act of 1966 grants authority to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to administer National Wildlife Refuges. By law, the DOI may only administer these lands THROUGH the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Instead, top level political appointees at the Department of Interior created Federal legislation from their positions, acting "arbitrarily and capriciously" and intentionally ignored the serious problems that the DOI created at the National Bison Range by choosing to treat Federal Indian Law as the ruling law in this issue, putting it ahead of the Refuge Administration Act.

The Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act legally grants the right of Federally recognized, "Self Determination" Tribes who meet certain requirements, to ask for negotiations to take work responsibilities of non-BIA Federal agencies.

Federal agencies, such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, have the legal right to determine which responsibilities are available for negotiation. If something isn't available, it can't be contracted.
Also, if a tribe has a contract with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and is in violation of their contract, or the contract expires, the US Fish and Wildlife Service can terminate the contract, as was done by FWS Director Dale Hall.
Inherently federal jobs and responsibilities are unavailable for contracting.  Due to the fact that what is "inherently federal" has yet to be decided in Federal Court, the tribes and DOI are taking full advantage of it and pushing forward their own agenda.

In November 2007, H.R. 3994 was introduced by the tribes, which would have turned over most public land management of the National Parks, Refuges and BLM lands to tribes.  The Bill did not pass.

See the links page for more ways to support our Federal lands and preserve them for future generations of Americans.

The NBR is owned by the Federal government and the American public and it was the first land set aside as a game preserve by Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican conservationist President.

Act now to protect America's "Last Best Places" and to support the Federal employees at the National Bison Range who faithfully steward the lands and uphold the US Fish and Wildlife Mission.

Contact Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at:
Tell him to keep America's National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks, as well as the jobs within them, inherently Federal.