September 1, 2014 in City

Bobcat fur farm draws global reaction

Montana agency considering proposal
Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A bobcat rests in this undated image provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A North Dakota bobcat fur farm’s proposal to relocate to central Montana has generated a large number of public comments.
(Full-size photo)

GREAT FALLS – A proposal by a North Dakota couple to relocate their commercial bobcat fur farm to central Montana has generated comments from around the world, according to a game official.

“I would say more like thousands of comments than hundreds of comments,” said Shawn Briggs, a state Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden in Lewistown.

Briggs said Saturday he still was counting the number of comments received on an environmental assessment on the fur farm proposed about 6 miles southwest of Roy in Fergus County. The public comment period ended Friday.

A substantial number of comments came from all over the United States and the world, including Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia, he told the Great Falls Tribune.

In a draft assessment on the proposal, the agency considered whether the farm would impact environmental resources, terrestrial or aquatic life and the introduction of new species into the area.

It also reviewed the impact on vegetation, water quality, air quality and aesthetics.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks concluded in the draft assessment that the impacts of the farm would be minor.

Briggs said most of the comments he’s seen relate to how people felt in general about a bobcat fur farm and didn’t address specific questions or issues.

Briggs said he hadn’t counted how many of the comments favored or opposed the facility.

The agency will analyze the comments and attempt to answer questions posed by the public before rendering a final decision on issuing a permit for the fur farm, Briggs said.

Larry and Carol Schultz currently operate a bobcat fur farm in Arnegard in western North Dakota.

Larry Schultz said previously that the couple wants to move because the noise and traffic from the area’s booming oil industry is affecting the animals.

They are seeking a permit for an animal facility that would be 150 feet by 140 feet and house bobcats in separate pens.

Its purpose is raising and selling bobcats and then slaughtering them for fur, which would be sold in the commercial fur industry.

Briggs said he was not sure how many bobcat fur farms are in Montana. Fox and mink fur farms are in the state, but they don’t require a state permit, he said.

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