Trouble Dakotas bison ranch prompts lawsuits
FORT YATES (AP) -- Three ranchers are suing a Florida real estate tycoon over alleged damage caused by wayward bison from his property that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.
The legal action is the latest development in a complex case that has strained relations for years between Maurice Wilder and ranchers in the Dakotas.
Bachmeier Farms, Nick Vollmuth and Gary Sandland allege that Wilder Ranch bison have been trespassing on their land for years and damaging pasture, crops, hay and fences. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages.
Wilder's attorney, Jackie Stebbins, has about another two weeks to respond to the lawsuit. She did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment on Tuesday.
Wilder's ranch encompasses about 35,000 acres, sprawling from Selfridge, N.D., to McLaughlin, S.D. For years it has sparked complaints about bison running loose and causing problems for neighbors.
In February, authorities rounded up thousands of Wilder's bison after reports of starving animals. Wilder, of Clearwater, Fla., paid $57,000 for feed and expenses after the impoundment ended, and in March he took about 850 bison to auction
In April, Sioux County Sheriff Frank Landeis authorized ranchers in the Selfridge area to round up more bison that authorities said had been running loose for months. The animals were taken to Bachmeier Farms, owned by Gerald and Leo Bachmeier. Landeis has demanded $45,900 for damages, and county State's Attorney John Gosbee says costs are accruing for the animals' care.
Wilder made a counteroffer of about $28,000. Stebbins has asked a judge to determine final costs for damages and end the impoundment. A June 21 court hearing is scheduled, though Ben Pulkrabek, the attorney for the three ranchers who are now suing, has asked the judge to dismiss Stebbins' case.