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October 12, 2018

MT Department of Livestock Announces New Brucellosis Rules - From Northern Ag Net

Helena, Mont. –  The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) has adopted changes to rules affecting vaccination requirements and the boundary of the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA).

The newly adopted brucellosis vaccination rule (ARM 32.3.433) mandates that eligible animals in 10 Montana counties must be vaccinated against brucellosis. The change requires that all sexually intact female cattle and domestic bison 12 months of age or older in Beaverhead, Big Horn, Broadwater, Carbon, Gallatin, Jefferson, Madison, Park, Stillwater, and Sweet Grass Counties must be brucellosis vaccinates. Prior to this rulemaking, only cattle and domestic bison in Gallatin, Madison, Park, and Beaverhead Counties were required to be vaccinates.  This rule includes cattle that enter any of these counties for seasonal grazing.

Beyond the addition of new counties, the rule also moves away from December 1st as the cutoff date for completion of vaccination and no longer specifies that animals be calf-hood vaccinates. This gives producers more options for the management of replacement heifers and allows animals to be vaccinated as adults.

May 02, 2018

MBA Releases Statement on APR BLM Grazing Lease Plans

The Board of Directors for the Montana Bison Association (MBA) was recently asked by a member to consider commenting on the request from the American Prairie Reserve (APR) to allow additional bison to graze under its land lease with the Bureau of Land Management.

As you may know, APR is seeking to modify its 18 grazing permits to bison instead of cattle, allow for season-long grazing, fortify existing external boundary fences by replacing the second strand from the top with an electrified wire and remove interior fences.

During a Board of Directors conference call on April 17, 2018, which included representatives from the National Bison Association, after considerable discussion, the board voted and approved the following action plan:

1. So not submit any comment(s) to BLM concerning APR’s request, since this issue is truly an issue related to an existing lease agreement between the two parties.
2. Share the MBA’s position on bison management , as well as the NBA’s Conservation Plan, with the Montana Conservation Districts, along with other state and federal departments including
3. Provide information to the MBA membership to allow members to submit their own personal comments to BLM, if they so desired. Comments are due by May 9, 2018. Scoping comments can be emailed to: or mailed to APR scouting comments, BLM
Malta Field Office, 47285 Highway 2, Malta, MT 59538.


March 08, 2018

Montana Bison Association Summer Meeting - June 22 - 23

Join the Montana Bison Association for its annual Summer Conference and ranch tour in Billings, Montana this June 22 - 23, 2018. The meeting will include expert speakers, a chance to tour a working bison ranch and loads of fun to boot! See a conference agenda here and see why you don't want to miss out on this great opportunity!

March 07, 2018

Montana Bison Association Supports Western Heritage Center Bison Exhibit

Currently on display at the, Western Heritage Center, is an exhibit titled: Bison: The Past, Present and Future.  This exhibit traces the historical treatment of bison, from near extinction to modern conservation and ranching practices that have brought the population of our national mammal back to over 500,000.  The exhibit is provided by the National Bison Foundation, Montana Bison Association, Buchanan Capital, Dr. Don and Bobbie Woerner, and the Carbon County Historical Society & Museum.

The exhibit is on display at the, Western Heritage Center, Billings, Montana (located at 2822 Montana Avenue, Billings, MT) through April 7, 2018.

The WHC is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.  A small admission fee is charged.

For more information visit their website at: or call: (406) 256-6809
The Montana Bison Association, is a non-profit organization, comprised of bison producers and enthusiasts with a passion for this majestic animal. For additional information on this association go to:

“We are proud to be one of the sponsors of this informative, historical and professional exhibit of the great American Bison,” stated Aaron Paulson, President of the Montana Bison Association(MBA). “We want to encourage everyone who might have an interest in bison, to view the exhibit at the Western Heritage Center.” 

Please join us for the 2018 Montana Bison Association's annual Winter Conference. Held January 5th and 6th at the Radisson Hotel in Helena. Rooms can be reserved by calling the hotel at 406-443-2100 and requesting the Montana Bison Association room block.  Friday evening we'll have a presentation on grizzly bears by Hilary Cooley. Saturday will include presentations on a variety of bison and pasture management strategies as well as an update from Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. Saturday night will feature the usual MBA fun auction banquet dinner and live-streaming of the first ever Turner Prairie Performance bison auction. Don't miss out on this great opportunity! Registration is $100/person and includes three meals. Register online at Please register by December 26th. Thank you to our conference sponsors!

July 11, 2017

Major bison restoration campaign launches today

BIG SKY, Montana (July 5, 2017) – One million bison, one continent and one cohesive commitment to bison herd restoration. If the bison industry achieves its goal, the North American bison herd will swell to 1 million strong by 2027. This aggressive growth goal was announced today at the 2017 International Bison Conference as the “Bison 1 Million” campaign.  More than 600 bison ranchers, producers, marketers and enthusiasts were in the capacity audience when National Bison Association Executive Director Dave Carter announced this new and audacious brass ring for bison herd expansion.

Representatives of The National Bison Association (NBA), Canadian Bison Association (CBA), Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) are participating in the formal announcement today as a demonstration of the collaborative commitment to bison restoration among private ranchers, public herd managers, tribal leaders, conservationists, government agencies and other stakeholders in the United States and Canada.

 “Six years ago, many of us came together in the successful campaign to establish bison as the National Mammal of the United States. Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to continue to work together to restore bison in commercial, conservation and cultural herds across North America,” said Dave Carter, executive director for the National Bison Association.

“It is great to be part of these bison enthusiasts who are so committed to grow bison numbers,” added Terry Kremeniuk, executive director of the Canadian Bison Association. 

North America’s bison population, once on the verge of extinction in the 1880’s with less than 700 bison, has steadily recovered. Today, an estimated 391,000 bison are in North American private, public and tribal herds, according to NBA data.  Adding 609,000 head of America’s official mammal to this continent’s collective herd will be no easy or swift feat.

 “We will always be dedicated to returning and promoting buffalo in Indian Country,” said Ervin Carlson, president of the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

“In the coming months, each of our partners will be providing outreach education on the activities that will help promote the continued restoration of bison on private, public and tribal lands,” Carter added.

Over the past century the Wildlife Conservation Society and other conservation groups have expanded bison herds and established several new herds in their efforts to ensure the future of American bison. Today there are 68 conservation herds hosting 31,000 bison in refuges, parks and conservation lands in North America. The conservation community has recognized the need to increase bison numbers and create more herds on large landscapes to achieve full ecological restoration of this iconic species. To do this, WCS shares the stewardship and partners with private, public and tribal interests.

“The Bison 1 Million campaign gives us an ambitious target to focus our collective energy for the benefit of bison recovery,” said Keith Aune, director of the Bison Conservation Program for WCS.

March 17, 2017

Bison Community Plans Historic Rendezvous in Montana in July

The largest gathering of the bison community in the past five years, scheduled July 4
th-8th in Big Sky, MT, is being slated as one-part celebration of the growth of the bison business, one part planning for future expansion, and one part rest and relaxation for the estimated 500 participants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and around the world.
The fifth-ever International Bison Conference, set for July 4th-8th, will bring ranchers, researchers, tribal leaders, policymakers, culinary professionals and buffalo enthusiasts to Big Sky, MT for workshops, planning sessions, tours, recreational activities, musical entertainment, and more, according to Aaron Paulson, the Montana bison rancher who is heading the conference planning committee.
“We are excited to host this gathering of the international bison community,” Paulson said. “The theme, Big Skies, Bright Horizons, really sums up the state of the bison community as we prepare to gather this summer.”
The conference is scheduled to kick off July 4th with an all-American get-together at the historic 320 Guest Ranch near Big Sky. Attendees will enjoy an old-fashioned chuck wagon, musical entertainment, and recreational activities during the day, before returning to Big Sky for fireworks.
Educational and informational sessions will dominate the morning schedules on July 5th-7th. Keynote speakers each day include Dr. David Hughes of Imperial College in London, Dr. James Hurrell, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Laurie Demeritt, CEO of the Hartman Group research firm. Breakout sessions will cover the spectrum of herd health issues, bison meat marketing, and business expansion.
The Wednesday and Thursday sessions will be held at the Big Sky Resort, and attendees will head to Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch nearby for the Friday events. On Saturday, July 8th, an optional tour of Yellowstone National Park is available for those who want to spend a little extra time in the region.
Full conference details, including on-line registration, are available at Early-bird registration rates apply through May 15th.
“The area around Big Sky is steeped in the history of bison, so it’s a fitting location for the International Bison Conference,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “Great herds of bison shaped the landscape of this region and sustained the Native Americans for centuries. When bison perched on the brink of extinction in the late 1800’s, Yellowstone Park housed about 25 surviving animals, while a handful of Montana ranchers gathered up remnants of the decimated herds to create the basis for the nearly 400,000 bison that now thrive in North America.”  
“We have a lot to celebrate, and even brighter horizons ahead,” Carter said.

March 08, 2017

Man sentenced for shooting bison bull that was prized for its bloodlines

The bison bull illegally shot and butchered by a Pryor man on a Fort Smith area ranch in 2014 was no ordinary bison. The animal was prized for its bloodlines going back 25 years and a key member of a bison-calf livestock operation on the White Buffalo Ranch, owned by Brandon and Tricia Siemion. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Watters of Billings sentenced Tyler Dale Medicine Horse Sr., 58, to two years of probation and ordered $8,000 restitution for his guilty pleas to two misdemeanor charges.

February 22, 2017

International Bison Conference Registration Now Open!

The 2017 International Bison Conference, July 4 - 8 in Big Sky, Montana and which only occurs once every five years, is now open for registration! Please register here by May 15th to take advantage of the best pricing before rates go up on May 16th. Please also see important information regarding lodging below as well as a tentative conference schedule to help plan your travel to what is sure to be an epic event! 

January 07, 2017

Montana Bison Association conference focuses on advantage of bison ranching

GREAT FALLS - The Montana Bison Association held their annual winter conference at the Holiday Inn this weekend in Great Falls. The association encouraged anyone interested in commercial bison ranching to join the discussion. Attendees ranged from seasoned experts to novices considering getting into the industry.  The Montana Bison Association chose Great Falls as this year's location for their conference because they have several members from North Central Montana, and they were also hoping to attract people staying in Helena for the opening week of the legislature. The theme of this year was "Best Management Practices," but a major focus was the advantages of bison ranching over beef cattle ranching. While experts cited numerous advantages regarding easier management, better herd health, and less impact on the land; the advantage that was most reiterated was the increasing market value of bison meat.

November 29, 2016

Winter Conference and Workshop Slated for January 6 & 7

This year the Winter Conference will be composed of two separate but entirely related days. Both activities will be held in Great Falls, Montana on January 6 and 7, 2017 at the Great Falls Holiday Inn. Register online here. Download a hard copy registration here.


Friday morning activities will focus on the ‘Bison Advantage’ and be presented by the National Bison Association in the morning. Later that same day, the Bison Advantage Workshop will include presentations by a panel focused on sharing information on grazing management, herd health programs, winter feeding, employees, etc. The cost for the Friday event is $30 and will include lunch. The Winter Conference will begin Friday evening with a meet and greet and a presentation to kick off our event. The theme for this year’s winter conference is Best Management Practices for Raising Bison Commercially. The Best Management Practices show that when properly managed, bison can have a beneficial impact on the land, can be humanely raised, can be socially beneficial for the community, and can support a growing population with a very healthy food source and other useful by-products.


These best management practices will focus on:

  • Bison will be grazed using an ecologically sound grazing program.

  • Bison will be humanely treated using low stress handling techniques.

  • To ensure good health, all bison will be recurrently monitored and tested using a well thought out herd health program.

  • To ensure good containment and management of bison, each ranch will use a well thought out land plan.


At the end of our conference, we plan to ask our membership to adopt these Best Management Practices for Commercial Bison Producers.


Cost for the general conference will be $95/person. Information will be shared via email as details are further determined.


Please contact the Great Falls Holiday Inn to book your room at (406) 727-7200. Rooms are $89/night.

State Conservation Districts at Odds With Producers

As reported in our last newsletter, the Board has now had to address several challenges from Montana state conservation districts who have either obtained voter approval, or are in the process of seeking it, for county resolutions that contain specific requirements for new and existing buffalo ranches. With a tremendous amount of assistance from the National Bison Association’s Dave Carter, Jim Matheson and Roy Liedtke, we have attempted to address their concerns and educate the public about commercial bison ranches. In addition, we asked that commercial bison ranches be separated from any language that mentions free roaming bison.

The Splendor of Grass with Marielle Hewitt, Northstar Bison

Marielle Graese Hewitt (27) lives in Rice Lake, WI where her family owns and operates NorthStar Bison. NorthStar Bison is a vertical integrated, 100% Grass-Fed meat company. Early on, Marielle favored working outside in the pastures with her dad, Lee Graese. Today, she and her husband Brett, are the herdsman overseeing the grazing management and health of three to four bison herds. Marielle manages almost 800 head of bison on 1,200 acres.

October 01, 2016

2017 International Bison Conference Coming to Big Sky, MT this July 4th

Where? Big Sky, Montana

When? July 4 - 8, 2017

What? The once-every-5-year International Bison Conference (IBC) is a celebration of the American bison and typically draws nearly 500 attendees from around the world! Most attendees hail from North America, but all are welcome. The 2017 IBC will be an exceptional event in part due to its location, just one hour outside of Yellowstone National Park, and just 30 minutes from Ted Turner's famed Flying D bison ranch, both of which we'll tour as part of the conference. Please mark your calendars for this special event that is not to be missed!

October 01, 2016

MBA Hires Jim Matheson as Website & Social Media Manager

The Montana Bison Association is pleased to announce that Jim Matheson, long time assistant director at the National Bison Association, has been hired as the Montana Bison Association's new Social Media/Website manager. Matheson brings over 12 years of experience in the bison business and over 20 years working in sustainable agriculture. He will work to improve these two very important communication vehicles to enable the MBA to better spread the work about the good work that they do, and the Montana bison business. His first task was to overhaul the website, which was recently completed and will work to expand the association's outreach via social media. He can be reached at

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