Montana Mustang Import Bill Fails

Legislation that would have required that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) obtain permits in order to relocate wild mustangs or burros to Montana has died before reaching the state senate's floor.

Introduced by state Sen. Kendall Van Dyk, SB 402 would have required the Montana Department of Livestock to develop a management plan for any wild horses imported by the BLM into Montana. The bill would also establish a $100 fee for every BLM mustang or burro imported into the state. Van Dyk said the legislation stemmed from ecological concerns that some of his constituents expressed about the import of 700 mustangs from BLM holding areas in five western states to a ranch near Ennis, Mont., earlier this year. BLM wild horse specialist Lili Thomas said that the horses were sent to reside at the Spanish Q Ranch near Ennis under a contractual agreement between ranch operators and the BLM. Each contract is negotiated separately and each remains in force according to terms of the contract, Thomas said. The Spanish Q contract covers a 10-year agreement, Thomas said.

Following its introduction. SB 402 was sent to the Montana State Senate Committee on Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation for review, Van Dyk said. A representative for the Montana State Senate Secretary’s office said that on April 3 members of that committee voted on the bill, but the legislation failed to garner enough votes to move to the Senate floor.

“It’s in the Agricultural committee on a tie vote, and they have not been able to get it out of committee,” the representative said. “It’s a revenue bill so it’s fairly dead.”

Van Dyk was unavailable for comment on the bill’s demise.

BLM spokeswoman Heather Emmons-Jasinksi declined to comment on the legislation, but said that the agency currently has had no plan to relocate more animals to Montana.

“The 700 have already been shipped and delivered,” Emmons-Jasinksi said.

No one from the Spanish Q Ranch was available for comment.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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