* Update from the Field
BFC file photo.
Spring is coming very early to West Yellowstone this year. We are already experiencing a big melt-off, with bare ground beginning to show. With so much available grass in the park, we haven't seen many bison in Montana. This hasn't stopped Department of Livestock agent Shane Grube from wasting U.S. tax dollars, making himself look busy at the Duck Creek bison trap, where we've seen him several times this week.
BFC has been focusing our energy on addressing the problems with Yellowstone buffalo being kept on the private ranch of media mogul and bison rancher Ted Turner. This has been an extremely challenging task, because the government and the media have been so clever in their coverage of the issue, hailing Turner as a hero who is "saving" Yellowstone buffalo. But Turner is a buffalo rancher who sells buffalo meat and canned hunts, and this is not a goodwill gesture on his part: he will be paid with living breathing Yellowstone buffalo. Buffalo that will be lost to the public and the tribes forever.
BFC has always opposed the bison quarantine, on the grounds that it is unnecessary because brucellosis is not really a threat and because it is a livestock management tool that is inappropriate for wild bison. Quarantine jeopardizes the potential for bison restoration by giving a false impression that it is the only way bison will be restored to their historic range. To buy into quarantine is to buy into the brucellosis myth. Even so, the agencies who put these buffalo through the ill-conceived program - Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) - promised the public that any buffalo surviving the study would be placed on public or tribal lands. By transferring Yellowstone buffalo to the private/commercial lands of Turner, they have violated the public trust and possibly broken the law.
The agencies had more than five years to work with tribes and public lands managers to develop a meaningful plan for the quarantined bison. They failed to do so. Instead they called on Turner to bail them out at the last minute while falsely threatening the public that the only other option would be to slaughter the bison. Nothing, in fact, could have been further from the truth because there were tribes ready to take them home, and public lands in Montana where they could live as wildlife. Now the agencies are forcing us to pay for their mistake by treating the buffalo's future offspring as currency and using them to pay Ted Turner. Quarantine is part of the Interagency Bison Management Plan, so we believe that funds appropriated for that failed management scheme should be used to pay Turner, not American buffalo.
If you are still unsure about how you feel regarding members of America's last wild bison population being sequestered from the public and tribes, and placed into private, commercial hands, please read BFC's Supplemental Comments to the quarantine plan or send us an email with your questions and concerns.
* Watch & Share: NEW BFC Video on Why bison do not belong on Turner's ranch
Buffalo Field Campaign recently produced a video in response to the misguided decision by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to send quarantined buffalo to Ted Turner's private buffalo ranch. This is an excellent piece, though some portions are disturbing.
Watch the video and please spread it far and wide! Many thanks to Mike and Tony for their work on this video.
* Threatened with Extinction: IUCN Report on American Bison
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just issued an in depth report, "American Bison: Status Survey and Conservation Guidelines 2010." IUCN "helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges ... working on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy..." IUCN "is the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization."
The report reveals that wild American bison are indeed threatened with extinction and that the next 10 to 20 years will be very important if we are to ensure a future for these prehistoric wonders. The report also cites the mounting evidence of the critical role that wild bison play on their historic range, demonstrating that the biodiversity of ecosystems can benefit from bison restoration. While this is clear to wild bison advocates, it is great to have the backing of this important document.
Download a PDF file of the report. If you'd like some quick information, there's a good article here.
IUCN has placed American bison on their Red List , under the category of "near threatened" (with extinction). BFC agrees and will continue to press for Endangered Species Protection for the Yellowstone population of this great prehistoric mammal, the last continuously wild buffalo in the United States.
* Last Words
"Although the effort to restore bison to the plains of North America is considered to be one of the most ambitious and complex undertakings in species conservation efforts in North America, it will only succeed if legislation is introduced at a local and national level, with significant funding and a shift in attitude towards the animal."
~ Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. Thank you all for the poems, songs and stories you have been sending; you'll see them here!
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2009-2010 Total: 1
2009-2010 Slaughter: 0
2009-2010 Hunt: 1
2009-2010 Quarantine: 0
2009-2010 Shot by Agents: 0
2009-2010 Highway Mortality: 0
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
Total Since 2000: 3,703*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortalities