Sunday, February 19, 2012

Protecting the Yellowstone Buffalo

I recently sent the following letter to the National Park Service at Yellowstone regarding the treatment of the only wild buffalo herd left in the United States. I would like to clarify one thing and that is in general I support the work that the National Park Service does but on this particular issue I believe that for a variety of reasons the park service has failed to live up to it's mission. I would also like to acknowledge that funding for our National Parks is woefully inadequate making the job of protecting our national treasures that much more difficult.
Many years ago millions of buffalo roamed freely in America, unfortunately that is no longer the case. Relentless slaughter for profit nearly wiped out the buffalo then and now it's up to us to make sure that the few thousand wild buffalo that remain on the land are free to roam and prosper.


Thank you for your response to my letter about the Yellowstone Bison and their treatment under the Interagency Bison Management Plan. I have followed the debate concerning the Yellowstone Bison for many years and have yet to understand how a management plan can be predicated on a non-existent threat to a few cattle. Using brucellosis as an excuse to haze, trap and slaughter buffalo because they seek food in their ancestral lands is nothing more than obfuscation and cruelty dressed in scientific mumbo jumbo.
Anyone paying attention to this issue knows that there is zero threat to Montana’s cattle from brucellosis. If even one case of documented transmission could be presented as a reason for the brutal treatment of the bison it would still be a spurious argument in that so few domestic cattle are on the disputed lands. While buffalo are are treated as an invader into Montana elk that carry brucellosis throughout these areas are ignored and move freely about the state.
In my opinion it’s time to scrap the IBMP altogether and create a working group who’s mission is to save the Yellowstone Bison from the misguided and some would say down right hostile stance taken by Montana via the Montana Department of Livestock which is in my opinion the buffalos real enemy.
 A group that has the Montana Department of Livestock and APHIS in it’s membership cannot do the right thing for the bison that travel into Montana looking for food because of their complete lack of concern for the buffalo and their disregard for the facts about the transmission of brucellosis from bison to cattle.
 Cattle can be and are raised in hundreds of other areas including public lands across America. The last wild buffalo herd has only one option and it must continue to seek food where it exists in southern most Montana when no other option is available for their survival. The cattle industry enjoys unbelievable access to public lands and surely it can accommodate this single small herd of buffalo that is the symbol of the United States Interior Department and is loved by Americans everywhere.
As the group charged with the protection of America’s premier national park hopefully you can understand how this treatment of the Yellowstone Bison is viewed as a stain on the record of the National Park Service who otherwise have made remarkable contributions in protecting Americas parks.
It’s time to change from “managing the bison” to “allowing them to roam free”. Capturing and slaughtering wild buffalo is not even remotely humane and it does not matter if the numbers are 700 or 330 or 1 it is still wrong. Allowing bison to migrate into Montana so they can be prey for hunters in an equally bad idea and is also inhumanity at it worst.
Imagine the outcry if domestic cattle that roam public lands were suddenly available to hunters or imagine that they could be rounded up and sent to slaughter if they happened to wander where they were not welcome by environmental groups. Allowing the Montana Department of Livestock to control the future viability of the last remaining wild buffalo in America will ultimately lead to it’s destruction and that will be a sad day for all of America.

Ray Goodwin
Sonoran Connection
Tucson Arizona

I sent a copy of this letter to the Buffalo Field Campaign which is the group that works to document the treatment of the last wild bison herd in Yellowstone and according to Stephany it was read out loud to the group at their nightly meeting.

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