Appearing in today's Missoulian and Billings Gazette, Lee Newspapers reporter Jennifer McKee misrepresented the press release of Buffalo Allies of Bozeman.
I wrote the following letter to McKee in response.
I am writing on behalf of myself and not the group I am a member of - Buffalo Allies of Bozeman - regarding your article today that appeared in some newspapers on the brucellosis issue as it relates to corriente roping cattle. Though I am writing for myself alone, I am quoted in the press release that we sent out, and I helped edit and distribute the release.
I believe there is a severe misrepresentation of what's said in the release, and I hope to set the record straight - hoping that the papers will correct the mistake or at the very least that you will give written acknowledgment of the error.
You write about Bozeman Allies of Buffalo:
"Another wildlife group, Buffalo Allies of Bozeman, put out a statement calling for Gov. Brian Schweitzer to pull out of the current brucellosis management plan because Corriente, not bison, were behind the outbreak."
In fact, this is wrong on two counts.
What we say in our press release regarding corriente is the following:
“The current rhetoric from state officials refuses to consider that diseased Mexican Corriente roping cattle may have been the source of the outbreak in Pray. Let’s stop pouring tax dollars into a failed plan, where we spend more than what Montana’s economy will suffer for losing its brucellosis-free status.”
First of all, we don't say that corriente were involved; we say that they may have been the source of the outbreak. Secondly, and more importantly, we never say anywhere in the release that Schweitzer should pull out of the management plan because of corriente, especially since we don't identify corriente as the cause. What we say here and elsewhere in the press release is that bison weren't involved since they have not been in the Paradise Valley near that ranch in a long time, that the continued slaughter and hazing of bison did not prevent brucellosis, and that the IBMP has cost more over time to implement than it will cost Montana for losing its class free status (especially absurd given that buffalo were certainly not the cause - and note that we do not identify the cause and merely tangentially suggest what might have been the cause).
So, we never say that corrientes "were behind the outbreak"; we never call on Schweitzer to pull out of the plan "because Corriente" were behind it. All that's correct is that we have called on Schweitzer to pull out of the plan and that we believe it's not possible that bison were behind the outbreak.
As a new grassroots group in Bozeman, this is the first mention of our relatively new group in the newspapers that this appeared in; it's not helpful to our group to have our press release and therefore our group misrepresented. I ask again that you would correct this for us.
Thank you for your research on corrientes; I'm not sure that what you've written proves definitively that the cattle was not involved; however, I did find the piece informative. If anything, it only deepens the mystery of the source. However, no matter what, what's been happening with cattle and brucellosis in Montana only further is exposing the absurdities of the Interagency Bison Management Plan.
Update: McKee wrote me back saying that she believes her report is "essentially accurate" but failing to elucidate what is essentially accurate. about it.