Many of the rules and laws enforced in and around Yellowstone National Park (YNP) are intended to assure that various species’ essential habitat needs are met and that long-term habit at protections for various species are in place...that is the theory anyway.
For the buffalo, these mechanisms have proven grossly inadequate—and even counter-productive.
Unexpected Activities in a National Park
Within the boundaries of YNP, “buffalo management” activities include the hazing, capture, and shipping to slaughter of the few remaining wild buffalo.
Unfortunately, as part of a court-mediated settlement in 2000, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior, along with the Governor of Montana, signed an agreement limiting buffalo numbers and habitat areas in Yellowstone and Montana. The settlement authorizes enforcement of the agreed-to numbers and boundaries through the killing of buffalo that venture near the Park boundaries.
These actions are paid for with your tax dollars and carried out by the National Park Service, Montana Department of Livestock, and other state and federal agencies.Obviously, these misguided activities impact sub-populations in many negative ways and are preventing Yellowstone buffalo from moving out of the Park into important winter feeding areas they have long used. These activities also harm many other species in the region.
More Federal Forces
The United States Forest Service administers most of the public land outside YNP that buffalo have historically used as habitat. Displaying a deep lack of bio-logic, neither Forest Service Region 1 (Montana and Idaho) nor Region 2 (Wyoming) consider buffalo to be a species of conservation concern, despite buffalo being:
- extremely rare in both local Forest Service regions;
- designated “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List;
- a species of long-standing national interest and historical significance;
- a subject of great controversy;
- clearly impacted by agency actions such as the issuance of livestock grazing permits and other activities in what has been buffalo habitat for thousands of years.
It is also important to note that state wildlife officials in Montana and Idaho have lost most of their jurisdiction over wild buffalo, and those powers were transferred to their “livestock management” counterparts in other agencies, who now treat these buffalo as diseased domestic livestock instead of the last few members of a majestic, rare, and ecologically important population.
There is much, much more to these issues than we can succinctly share here, but it can all be boiled down to this: the buffalo are in great danger of extinction, and they need your help. Please help protect wild bison under the Endangered Species Act now!
Are you ready to help defend the buffalo?
Please join us in eradicating these man-made problems by donating to protect the last wild herds!