MSGA Raises Concerns Regarding USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System Rule Changes

Helena, Mont. (March 7, 2024) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) submitted comments this week voicing concerns with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service: Biological Integrity, Diversity, and Environmental Health (BIDEH) proposed rulemaking and policy revisions. The rule changes include prioritizing “natural processes” over agricultural uses, the ability for the agency to introduce species, including federally protected ones, to the refuge, and the ability to acquire private land to fulfill refuge purposes and protect the biological integrity, diversity, and economic health of the lands. 

Being home to multiple national wildlife refuges, land grazed by many producers, puts Montana at risk for experiencing all of the negative impacts this rule change may create. In their comments, MSGA emphasized the importance and value of livestock grazing for land health, habitat conservation, rural communities and the economy. The stockgrowers also expressed concerns with detrimental effects to cattle operations surrounding the refuge if predatory species are introduced to the landscape. 

The comments stated, “Our organizations include producers who have grazed cattle on refuge lands for generations.There is a mutually beneficial relationship between wildlife habitat and cattle grazing, one that is tended to by producers who prioritize land, soil, and habitat health.”

MSGA closed their comments by reiterating the value, and benefits, of cattle grazing for land management within wildlife refuges. MSGA will continue to monitor the proposed rule changes and push back against further adjustments that serve to make grazing cattle on or around refuges increasingly difficult.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots membership organization and is the trusted voice of cattle ranchers. With over 135 years of history, MSGA advocates and ensures cattle ranching remains relevant, safe and a sustainable way of life for generations to come.


Keni Reese

Director of Marketing & Communications


[email protected]

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