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Crow Tribe of Montana

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Owners of a Bitterroot Valley game farm broke the law and endangered Montana wildlife when they shipped elk to the Crow Reservation and should be prevented from doing it again, a state lawyer argued before the Montana Supreme Court. Bob Lane, chief attorney for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the agency's effort to block Len and Pamela Wallace from shipping more elk to the reservation is not an illegal effort to dictate what the tribe can do. Rather, he said the state is exercising its legitimate authority over the Wallaces as licensed operators of Big Velvet Ranch. Lane said the tribe has agreed with that position, despite the Wallaces' claim to the contrary. His arguments were contained in documents filed with the high court late Aug. 1 in a legal battle over where the Wallaces can complete the donation of 400 elk from their Darby ranch. Fish and game officials contend that turning the elk over to the tribe, which plans to allow them to roam in the wild, poses a threat to Montana's native wildlife. Although the couple insists their herd is disease-free and genetically pure, that may not be true, the department said.