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$22 million? looks like its not over,,,,,,,,,,


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Jul 12, 2001
Wallaces sue state seeking millions

By BUDDY SMITH Staff Reporter

Len and Pamela Wallace of Darby and two elk farm owners in Blaine County have filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit alleging the state's enforcement of two-year-old game farm restrictions violates their rights and constitutes an illegal taking without just compensation.

The Wallaces, of Big Velvet Ranch, and Bruce and Shirley Buhmann, who own Circle Eagle Game Farm, are suing for more than $22 million in damages, "including lost profit in the business, lost investment in the animals, lost investment in the license acquisition and maintenance, lost good will, and all other compensation."

The 16-page civil suit, filed June 4 in Blaine County District Court in Chinook, lists as defendants the state of Montana, Attorney General Mike McGrath and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Director Jeff Hagener.

Voters in November of 2000 approved game farm restrictions in Montana. Initiative 143 bans for-fee hunts, new game farm licenses and the transfer of existing licenses.

The court papers, filed by Bozeman attorney Arthur Wittich on behalf of the Buhmanns and Wallaces, said the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from taking private property for public purposes without just compensation and that the Montana Constitution prohibits the taking and damaging of property without compensation.

They argued that I-143 and the state's enforcement of the law both took and damaged the game farmers' private property rights, without compensation, "by specifically taking the only viable source of profitability (i.e., shooting animals for a fee), thereby destroying the Montana breed stock sale market and prohibiting the transfer of licenses."

"The lawsuit was filed to obtain compensation from the state of Montana for the taking of private property, as per the Montana and U.S. constitutions," Wittich said in an interview Monday.

A state attorney also on Monday said Montana will defend the game farm restrictions "vigorously."

Among numerous other legal arguments put forth, the suit contends that by banning transfer of the game farm licenses and their value as a result of the owners' investments, the state has taken the game farmers' property rights and licenses and the profitable use of the land and increased value of the land as a result of the licenses.

They argued the prohibitions imposed by I-143 are "arbitrary, capricious, unduly oppressive and unreasonable." "In essence, I-143 does not regulate plaintiffs' business, it abolishes it," the game farmers said in court documents.

The Buhmanns purchased elk and began a breeding operation of about 30 elk and an exclusive dealership of elk feed supplements. The Wallaces started Big Velvet Ranch up Rye Creek Road in 1992, when they bought the 3,800 acres out of bankruptcy. They went on to own the nation's largest managed private elk ranch and from 1997 to 1999 harvested on average more than 100 mature bulls yearly and earned gross revenues of more than $1 million per year, court documents said.

The Wallaces depended largely on for-fee hunts of mature elk in conjunction with a lodge setting. Clients paid different prices to hunt an elk, including an average of $7,000 for mature bulls, the court filings said.

Since I-143 prohibits fee shooting, "compounded by FWP's interpretation of the initiative language not allowing live animal sales for later shooting, there is no viable market with other alternative livestock licensees in Montana for breed stock owned by the game farmers," the court papers say.

The suit is the second such case filed by game farmers against the state of Montana that involves "takings" allegations, said Bob Lane, an attorney for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Helena. Another case, filed by game farmers Kim and Cindy Kafka in Hill County District Court, is still pending. The couple sued unsuccessfully in federal court.

Lane said the Attorney General's Office is handling this latest case with assistance from FWP. He said his department and state attorneys will try to prove the Wallaces and Buhmanns do not have a valid claim against the state and the provisions of I-143.

"We're going to defend it vigorously," Lane said. "We think the initiative is the will of the people and that's what the law is. And those are the conditions under which a person can operate, and we're going to defend against any claim of a taking."

Lane said a briefing schedule has not been set so he did not know when the state will file its answer in court.

The Wallaces, meanwhile, have challenged unsuccessfully the ban on fee shooting in Ravalli County District Court. The Wallaces wanted to be able to sell elk to someone and then let the new owners shoot their property if they chose to do so. The Wallaces since last year have liquidated their herd of 1,000 elk, sold most of their property and turned in their game farm license. Last year, they gave the Crow Indian Tribe 67 elk until a court stopped anymore shipments of the elk to the wild, and have given some animals away in free hunts.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Last year, they gave the Crow Indian Tribe 67 elk until a court stopped anymore shipments of the elk to the wild, and have given some animals away in free hunts.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
How do I always miss all the GOOD hunts :rolleyes: :D
OK, if they were conducting an illegal practice then anything used to further that endeavor may be confiscated. That is why police departments can keep cars used by drug runners. I hate attorneys that file this crap as a shot at trying to get more money. If they are awarded the full $22million then the attorneys stand to make around $7 million for themselves.
This once again shows how much the Wallaces and other game farmers really care about the wildlife of Montana, or anywhere else for that matter.

All those greedy bastards care about is the bottom line, MONEY. They couldnt care less about you, me, or anything else.

Then they have the nerve to act suprised that the people of MT voted their butts out of the state.

Looks like many thousands more license dollars will spent to rid the state of Wallace. Money that should be spent on wildlife. What a dandy he is.
Maybe I-143 should/could have been written a little better? 49% of Montana voters thought so because they were against it.

This argument cut and pasted below has some sense to it,

"the suit contends that by banning transfer of the game farm licenses and their value as a result of the owners' investments, the state has taken the game farmers' property rights and licenses and the profitable use of the land and increased value of the land as a result of the licenses.

They argued the prohibitions imposed by I-143 are "arbitrary, capricious, unduly oppressive and unreasonable." "In essence, I-143 does not regulate plaintiffs' business, it abolishes it," the game farmers said in court documents."

Isn't there some law that the government can't take your property without just confiscation, oops, I mean just compensation (at least in America, that is)?

That guy must have money or the lawyers are doing it for the money and principle of the thing.

Buzz, I think they tried to provide a service to people, its not that they don't care about you and others.

I hope its settled quickly, so people can get onto better things.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 06-19-2002 12:37: Message edited by: Tom ]</font>
Tom, yer full of crap, they didnt give a rat spit about providing a service to anyone. All they cared about, and still do, is very obviously the money.

If they really cared so much about everyone else, why did they do the things they did? You know, let sportsmen pay for the admin. of their farms, illegally give elk to the Crow Tribe, etc. etc. etc.

It must have been because they cared so much about the sportsmen and wildlife of Montana? For Gods sake, wake up, you're in a daze.

For the record, they are going to lose their ass on this last lawsuit. Wont hold up, as I-143 did not TAKE anything away from Wallace. He was still able to have his elk, have his permit, and have his land. All 143 did was ban hunting on game farms, stop new farms from being permitted, and made game farm licenses non-transferable. I dont see where that TOOK his elk, his ranch, or his right to raise elk, or even sell elk to other licensed game farms. The fact is it didnt. Because of that, this lawsuit will fall flat on its face, just like it should.

You are so engrossed and obsessed with game farms, you cant see the truth. We've had these same discussions over and over again, and you still dont get it. For an educated man, you really make me wonder...

Dont worry Tom, I feel pretty confident that your game farms/petting zoos in Texas are secure. They are a big part of "hunting" in Texas, and as long as they stay there, I am all in favor of them.
To bad you don't seem to have any concept of private enterprise in any way shape or form...Your last post proves that in every way immaginable, as I have stated before...Socialism has not work in any place it has ever been tried.....And will not work here, not even a little bit or no matter how much you or others wish it would...It is a dead end theory.....
Buzz is 100% right on. Elkchsr, how is that socialism? The people of Montana voted to ban something that nobody with a conscience would be doing in the first place. Just because there was no law against charging people to "hunt" tame elk, doesn't make it right. What amazes me is that it took a new law to stop something that never should have started in the first place.
Buzz know's what I mean...It's not so much about the mob rule that has been going on...It's about the fact that he states that the elk ranchers were really supposed to be raising these animals as pets..That in reality not only the ranchers but any one in the outdoors making a living on their own laurels and not on tax dollars and good feelings is absolutely in the wrong...this starts back months ago...Not just on this one post....I don't think he really has a concept about what it takes to run a buisness off of money that is collected by any thing but direct payment from the gov...That this and all of the extraction industries are evil and any one making a dollar from any of it is stealling.....He may not say it right out...But it is alway's insinuated in his posts...Now the hypocrocy of this, and I have pointed it out in the past..You just wern't here to see that he and you in your every day lives use every bit of these industries in one way or another...Maybe not just the elkranching..But all of the extraction industrie stuff...If you would like, I could name off tons of stuff you use every day. This may seem a little off of the direct topic but it all comes together. Buzz can only be right....No matter how wrong he may be on something.....This guy had a legitamate buisness and it was just yanked out from under him...For what ever reason...I just hope some day, you don't spend your lifes blood getting some thing going and have the mob rule come along and just take it from you and leave you high and dry, then have some jerk come along and say you were stupid and you got every thing you deserved, just because he didn't like what you did...... :D Now the I-143 might have had some legitamate claims...But nothing was advertised about any disease as is touted so much here...The signs I kept seeing was, Save the wild elk. Ban game farms...
The way it was written and implied was that wild elk were being systematically herded up and hauled off to the game farms to be butcherd in cold blood...Nothing ever that I saw on T.V., news papers, or signs about CWD...
Buzz, I'm not in a daze as much as I'm in a place where I've seen the benefits of wildlife ranches. I couldn't understand what Wallace meant about moving back to America, I first thought it was a joke, but I'm getting a better understanding seeing how the "mob mentality" of 51% thinks about this. You repeatedly stating they didn't try to provide a service is an example of that. Its obvious, unless you're in a mob like daze, that they tried and did for a while provide elk for people to come shoot on their place for a fee and that's the service they provided that I-143 ended.

This is similar to what it sounds like to me.

Lets all sign a petition to end accounting businesses. Look at Arthur Anderson, one of the big five, they screwed up, plus some of the dang accounting rules don't work that well. Man, we got the big four left. Here's the petition, no new accounts for the big four, when their CEO retires, they are out of business, the whole firm, its obvious they don't give a "rat's spin" about any Montana hunter who's too poor to hire them. They got ideas on how to manage the problems but forget that, forget making new and better accounting rules, lets put them on a dead end course. I mean they can still do accounting for each other, even keep the accounts they have some. Sign here


If you think I'm "full of crap", it must really stink in your part of the country.

What do you think of the accounting analogy? It has the idea, lets not fix the problem, lets just slowly end the businesses, but act like they are still operating. That's part of the bad side of I-143, sort of.

Somebody else pointed out, the result of I-143 is to force the raising of elk on private fenced ranches, in Montana, as meat and antlers, not as a wild animal to be hunted. It got something done (ending the ranchs' elk shooting businesses), but it could have been way better done some other way. Do you see any merit in the thought that it could have been done a better way or do you think it was as good as possible the way it was?
How is charging people to "hunt" tame elk any different than eating "Tame" cattle that someone butchered? Animals are animals. Just because elk wander around in the mountains and we enjoy hunting them does not provide special status. You go to the Texas border country and you'll find lots of wild cattle that provide every bit the excitement of hunting wild elk will. Probably a little more rush if you consider that they are hard to see until they are stomping a mud hole in your butt.

If there is a PROVEN public endangerment, then there is "JUST CAUSE" for legal action. So far, no one has proven that this guy did anything except disagree with a bunch of folks. Everyone is worried about CWD. Maybe that's justified, maybe not, but if that's the arguement, then they should have condemned the property and the animals and destroyed them. Not closed the guy down and made him get rid of the animals. Specially when they cut him off every direction he turned to get rid of the critters.

Oh, and WH, about concenience, I suggest you aske Ol'Bob about his. Seems he is involved in Elk Ranching some how.

I think the words conscience and tame have been used a little loosly here in this thread. :D

WH, you have hunter in your name, yet you think noone should be shooting an animal that they bought and paid for in the first place. You think they should only be butchered, I suppose? Shooting an animal like that is unconsciencable to you, right?

Buzz, They paid a per animal tax as I understand it, there was a bill to raise it after their right to sell an elk to shoot and their right to transfer their liscense was taken away. The shooters should have paid a fee for management of hunting issues, but nobody in Montana cared to collect that.

If you weren't so engrossed, obsessed, and dazed you could see it. I don't walk up to your state wildlife people and say, here, please take this money to manage our wildlife, they tell me how much to pay, if I want to come try and shoot one. Get it? Its the truth.

Something that passes 51 to 49% has a lot to discuss that is controversial and that may improve things in the future. Get it? Its the truth.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 06-20-2002 10:10: Message edited by: Tom ]</font>
I cant believe the crap and twisted thought processes that are happening on this thread. Where to start?

ELKCHSR, if you didnt see a mountain of information on the ballot in regards to TB, CWD, etc. you apparently cant read. Unless you lived in a cave or were out of country for the six months before 143 went to ballot, I dont know how in the hell you didnt hear about CWD, etc. on the TV, in the papers, or on the radio. There was tons of discussion of all angles on 143, you cant be serious. If you missed the info, its your own damn fault. Heck, just look up some archived stuff on the FWP website.

Mob rule, thats a good one. What the hell are you talking about? Last time I checked, thats how many initiatives are passed in every state in this country. Totally legal, and a very acceptable way to pass legislation. What would you suggest for a better sysytem? Let you decide for us? No thanks, we'd be sunk. Its also kind of funny to me too, how its "mob rule" when the MAJORITY, disagree with your ideals, but "the right thing to do" when the majority agrees with your thoughts. HMMM????? Does the word hypocrit mean anything to you? It should.

Danr, if you cant see a difference between a fricking slobbering goo-butted angus, and an elk, you have my sympathy. Why dont you try selling a few of them "wild South Texas Cattle" hunts, probably fetch a nice price. Darn near as good as hunting cape buffalo, grizzly bears, or the like. I call full-on BS on the "wild" cattle being a challenge and thrill to hunt. You should right a book about all the adventures of wild cattle hunting, call it "The Thrill before the Grill", under the pen name "Danr Hathaway Crapstick", probably make a fortune. By the way Dan, dont take that personal, its a joke.

Tom, your analogy is about as weak as your argument that Wallace was providing a service. He didnt provide nothing but a pain in the ass to everyone in Montana that cared anything about wildlife or hunting. All he provided was a cheap substitute for real hunting to a bunch of out-of-state wannabe's who are too damn lazy to hunt on their own. What he did for MT is cost the residents a bunch of money administering his sorry excuse for a business. With all the places that provide that service in other states, there was no need for them in MT, thusly 143 passed.

What 143 did, is no different than hundreds of other laws that prohibit certain business practices. Thats the way the ball bounces, and he lost. Time to get over it.

By the way, it wouldnt have mattered if 143 only passed by a single vote, in this country we still pass laws under a majority rules situation, if you dont like it, start a petition or move out.
danr55, Ol'Bob's elk are in Texas and I don't care about that. It's not a state that has a large population of wild elk, and Texas is 99% private, so it makes no difference to me if their state is all screwed up.

Tom, It's not that I don't think somebody should be shooting an animal, it's that I don't think anybody should be able to BUY wildlife, especially elk.
Any thing dealing with wild life does not belong on the ballots...that is why we pay millions for experts to deal with this stuff. Not the stupid general public...You are famouse for wanting others to back up and see what was posted..I think it is time for you to back up and see mine....I mentioned nothing about what the ballot said....I mentioned what the signs said....Nothing about CWD was any where on them..they were ment solely to get the wishy washy fence sitters that don't read ballots to vote for the green side...There was every thing to do with deciet in the signs..And if you would have seen even one, with open eyes, I might add. You would have seen exactly what I mean...If the other side would have been honest, which most generally they are not....they would have had some legitamate things on their signs, not a bunch of junk that was to hit upon our hearts and make us want to jump for the cause of the poor mistreated elk.....There was no truth in advertising on any sign I saw, and they were plastered up all over town and bright orange...Not hard to miss, unless you weren't here to see them... :eek:
Elkchsr, I would agree that wildlife issues shouldn't always be decided by the general public, but at least in this case the voters went the right way, in my opinion. You say we pay the experts millions to make these decisions? Well, I think at least 99% of the wildlife biologists in Montana (and other states) would support a ban on "hunting" of domestic elk. If they had a choice they would also want to ban elk ranches altogether. I am amazed every time I hear a hunter supporting elk ranches. Of all people I would think most hunters would have enough sense to know that elk ranches, especially in states with populations of wild elk, are a bad thing.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 06-21-2002 09:07: Message edited by: Washington Hunter ]</font>
I think one of the reasons 143 was a close vote is that it was ahead of it's time. If the exact same initiative were to be placed on the ballot now I think it would pass by a landslide, probably in any Western state. People now understand the issue of elk farming much better.
I'm not going to get into the elk farm thing again, but the wild longhorn/cattle hunting is a real hunt. It has been written about every few years and has been compared to cape buffalo hunting. You get into the thick brush along the rivers, and you can't see the things, and they DO charge you. That is 1000 pounds of PO'ed bull coming at you to stomp you into a wet spot. I remember reading about it in Outdoor Life when I was a kid (yeah, THAT long ago.) The writer recommended at least a .375 H&H. I've been chased by a wild brahma mix bull for over a mile - that WILL get your adrenalin going and your heart pumping.

The rights under the Constitution are there to protect us from either the government restricting them or from the majority deciding to take away liberty. I think it's common knowledge that Hitler was supported by most Germans...the majority probably think Rosie is cool. If I take a senior employee, cut his salary to 1/3, make him clean the toilets and fetch my coffee, that could be judged as "constructive termination" - I have effectively fired him by placing him in an unreasonable position that no reasonable person would accept. It is for a court to decide if what Montana did was illegal. The elk (like it or not) WERE private property, bought and paid for. Make it illegal in the future if you want, but not retroactive. Let an elk farmer/rancher do what he wants with the elk he already has, but restrict him from selling any new animals for "hunts." If he has 100 elk at thte time the law passes, he can let "hunters" shoot 100 elk.

What the state did was say that the legal property that you now possess is now not yours to do with as you please. (Effectively an "illegal seizure?" A court will have to decide.) The elk owned at the time should have been grandfathered in, and they should have been allowed to sell the hunts. It's real easy to say that they still owned the elk, but the majority just eliminated most of their value . Yep, and the manager that I cut his pay and now cleans the toilet and licks my boots still would have a job. Sure he could quit, but what if he is 61 years old and has worked for me for 40 years and is not likely to find another job. Perhaps not a great analogy, but what I'm trying to say is that there is actual "seizure" and there are restrictions that can have the same effect, and just because the majority voted does not make it just. That's one reason the rights are in the Bill of Rights. 6 out of 10 of us decide to kill one of that legal just because the majority voted for it?
Hey Buzz, It's obvious that you haven't ever been to the Big Bend country of Texas and seen any wild bulls. These are Texas Longhorns cross bred with Mexican fighting bulls who have run wild in the brush along the river. They are the biggest "bull in the woods" so to speak and fear nothing. If you don't believe it's a thrill to hunt them, go try it. If you don't find it exciting, then send me the bill.

You sure take a lot of issue with things you know nothing about. Perhaps Tom is not the one who's been living in a cave?

ELKCHSR said, "Any thing dealing with wild life does not belong on the ballots...that is why we pay millions for experts to deal with this stuff. Not the stupid general public"

Maybe thats the reason we have a F&G commission made up of outfitters, ranchers, etc, making all our decisions for us. Yeah, thats much better, let the corrupt commission decide the fate of our wildlife. Then you bitch about the "stupid general public"????

In case you DONT get it, the Dept. of Livestock in MT also said that domestic elk are livestock. Thusly, the "stupid general public" was not voting on a wildlife issue, but rather a livestock issue, which absolutely does belong on the ballot.
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