- Yellowstone National Park
- Yellowstone Bison Management Plan EIS
- PO Box 168
- Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Bison are incredible animals who once roamed the Great Plains in astounding numbers. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Bison populations were estimated to be 30 million – 60 million in the 1500s. Today, those numbers are a fraction of their former glory – only 20,000 – 25,000 remain in small herds across the US. The Yellowstone National Park Respresentives have recommended 900 park bison be removed this winter through hunting and ship-to-slaughter methods. A better solution would be to relocate these animals to other herds…there is NO reason to kill them. Join us in making our voice heard for the Bison who shouldn’t have to perish!
The award for Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century goes collectively to Kit Fischer, sportsmen’s outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation (what the hell kind of environmental/wildlife advocacy group hires an outreach coordinator to attract sport hunters?); Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation; Jim Posewitz, board member of Helena Hunters and Anglers; Casey Hackathorn, president of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers; Chris Marchion, board member of Anaconda Sportsmen and Glenn Hockett, president of Gallatin Wildlife Association. These revisionists recently had the insolent audacity to try to boast that “hunter-conservationists saved bison from extinction a century ago” in their article, Enlist Montana Hunters to Manage Bison Numbers.
Let’s not forget that the vast herds that once blackened the plains for hundreds of miles on end were almost completely killed off by hide-hunters, market meat-hunters or by sport-hunters shooting from trains just for a bit of fun.
The only reason hunters stopped the insanity was that the bison were all but completely wiped out. By the time they ended their killing spree, only 18 wild bison remained, holed up like wrongfully-accused outlaws in the upper reaches of the Yellowstone caldera.
Although Yellowstone National Park is now synonymous with the shaggy bovines, bison would prefer to spend their winters much further downriver, on lands now usurped and fenced-in by cowboys to fatten-up their cattle before shipping them off to slaughter.
If today’s ranchers and hunters had their way, bison, along with wolves and grizzly bears, would be forever restricted to the confines of the park. Rancher-hunters already have such a death-grip on Montana’s wildlife that bison are essentially marooned and forced to stay within park borders, battling snow drifts no matter how harsh the winter, despite an instinctual urge to migrate out of the high country during heavy snow winters.
Instead of making amends for the historic mistreatment of these sociable, benevolent souls, twenty-first-century sport hunters want their chance to lay waste to them again–this time in the name of “tradition.”
Parts of this post were excerpted from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport
(West Yellowstone MT)— Did you know that Yellowstone National Park and other government agencies behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) are planning to slaughter 900 buffalo this coming winter under the guise of “disease risk management” even though there has never been a documented case of a wild bison transmitting brucellosis—a bacterial disease that affects livestock and wildlife—to cattle?
In an effort to avert the bloodshed, Friends of Animals (FoA) and the Buffalo Field Campaign filed an emergency rulemaking petition Sept. 15 with the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to protect the genetic diversity and viability of the bison of Yellowstone National Park. They are requesting that the NPS and USFS undertake a population study and revise the IBMP to correct scientific deficiencies, make the plan consistent with the best available science, and follow the legal mandates the U.S. Congress has set. Until then, the groups are also requesting that the capture, removal or killing of bison at the Stephens Creek area of Yellowstone National Park and the Horse Butte area of the Gallatin National Forest be prohibited.
“Yellowstone National Park and other federal agencies are required to follow the best available science and not the latest political whims of Montana,” said Daniel Brister, executive director of Buffalo Field Campaign. “Our joint petition seeks redress to ensure the buffalo are protected for future generations. The IBMP currently is heavily weighted in favor of protecting the profits of the livestock industry at the expense and peril of our nation’s only continuously wild bison population.”
Every winter and spring, snow and ice cover the bison’s food and hunger pushes them to lower elevations across the park boundary in Montana. When they cross this arbitrary line, the buffalo enter a zone of violent conflict with ranchers. Last winter 653 bison were slaughtered, and back in the winter of 2007/2008, the largest scale wild buffalo slaughter, claimed the lives of 1,631 animals. At the turn of the 20th century, similar reckless behavior nearly drove bison to extinction.
“Slaughtering wild bison is the livestock industry’s way of eliminating competition and maintaining control of grazing lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park and across the west,” Brister said. “Montana’s livestock industry continues to use brucellosis to frighten and mislead the public into supporting its discrimination against bison. There has never been a single case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to livestock.”
The IBMP was designed to be an adaptive management plan allowing for greater tolerance for bison as new information becomes available and conditions on the ground change, but no such tolerance has been afforded to the bison. Despite new scientific research showing that the Yellowstone population is comprised of distinct herds with unique genetics and behaviors, the agencies continue to treat Yellowstone bison as though they comprise a single homogeneous herd, Brister said.
“We want to make sure that each herd has a viable population number so that we are not starting to degrade the species,” said Mike Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “Right now they are managing the numbers based largely upon misinformation regarding the genetic viability of the herds. The data they are using is not the best available data right now. They are using data that doesn’t match up with what is the actual status of the herd populations in the park. The petition is asking the federal agencies responsible for protecting these animals make an effort to establish stronger scientific criteria to protect the viability of the remaining Yellowstone herds, and to stop slaughtering the last 4,000 genetically pure bison left in the United States.”
August 21, 2014
Contact: Noah Greenwald,
One Month After Center Files Petition to Expand Grizzly Bear Recovery Feds Take Action
WASHINGTON— The National Park Service this week took an important step toward recovering grizzly bears in the North Cascades in Washington state. The agency says it is beginning a three-year process to analyze options for boosting grizzly bear populations in the area, including the possibility of translocating bears and developing a viable population.
“We’re happy to see the Park Service begin the long-overdue conversation about bringing grizzly bears back to the North Cascades,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Grizzlies have lost more than 95 percent of their historic habitat in the lower 48 states so we welcome any step that brings them closer to returning to some of their ancestral homes.”
In June, the Center petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin returning grizzly bears to vast swaths of the American West. The petition identified more than 110,000 square miles of potential grizzly bear habitat, including parts of Washington, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.
Today, there are roughly 1,500-1,800 grizzly bears in the continental United States, most of them in and around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks. The grizzly populations remain separated from each other, which impedes genetic exchange and limits their ability to expand into new areas.
The Northern Cascades ecosystem includes about 9,800 square miles in the United States and 3,800 square miles in Canada. A grizzly bear has not been spotted on the U.S. side since 2010.
“The Northern Cascades has the potential to host a viable grizzly bear population,” Greenwald said. “The same could be said for many spots scattered throughout the West. If grizzly bears are ultimately going to have a thriving, healthy population no longer threatened by extinction, they’ve got to be given a chance to return to some of the places they were driven out of years ago.”
The Park Service says it will develop its “environmental impact statement” for grizzly bears in the North Cascades in conjunction with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
In the latest move to curtail wolf hunting across the country, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio–one of the most vocal, influential, and persistent critics of Western wolf management–called for federal intervention to protect gray wolves that range beyond Yellowstone National Park.
DeFazio claims hunters who harvest wolves outside park boundaries are directly responsible for the recent decline in Yellowstone’s wolf population. To help solve this “problem,” he penned a letter to the Department of the Interior requesting the agency coordinate among states to establish a “wolf safety zone” around Yellowstone National Park. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation responded to DeFazio with a letter of their own.
RMEF described the request for a no-hunting buffer zone “unfounded by any science,” noting that it also “contradicts what the entire wolf reintroduction and ESA listing represent.” The organization goes on to point out scientific studies that account for the decline in wolf numbers in Yellowstone Park.
First, the availability of elk–the primary prey of northern range wolves–has declined significantly. Yellowstone’s northern elk herd has fallen from 17,000 animals in 1995 to roughly 4,000 in 2013. Second, a recent study demonstrated wolves will kill one another when an area’s population becomes too large for the available prey and habitat.
DeFazio has overlooked such evidence, and instead finds fault in state management of wolf numbers.
“…Gray wolves do not respect invisible park boundaries and once the wolves cross out of the park and onto bordering lands,” DeFazio wrote. “…There are myriad inconsistent state regulations that allow hunters to kill wolves on sight; in some instances without limit.”
Both Wyoming and Montana maintain strict management quotas that apply to wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2013 Montana limited its combined hunting/trapping sub-quota (unit 316) to four just four wolves near Gardiner. Wyoming biologists indicate its harvest quotas near the park are deliberately small to provide proper management. Additionally, Yellowstone officials support RMEF’s position that hunting wolves outside the park does not contribute to the park’s overall downward trend in wolf numbers.
Finally, RMEF notes gray wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rocky Mountains met minimum recovery goals nearly 15 years ago, and has since exceeded the mutually-agreed upon population by 500 percent. M. David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, concludes his letter: “The continuing drumbeat of individuals and organizations to halt any form of state based management of wolves shows a total disregard for the state based management system, the originally agreed upon [wolf] recovery goals and the 10th Amendment which delegates such matters to the states.”
DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the House National Resources Committee and has previously opposed the USFWS proposal to lift ESA protections for gray wolves in the lower 48.
(Reuters) – A rally to protest sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the United States drew about 150 participants on Saturday outside the gates of Yellowstone National Park, an organizer said.
Demonstrators at the event in Gardiner, Montana, at the northwest entrance to the park called for an overhaul of government wildlife management policies for the animals.
Thousands of wolves have been legally hunted, trapped or snared in the three years since the predators were removed from the federal endangered and threatened species list in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes.
“We need some places out West where wolves can be wolves without fear of being shot, trapped, strangled or beaten to death,” rally organizer Brett Haverstick said in a telephone interview.
Haverstick said roughly 150 people attended the rally, with participants coming from a range of U.S. states such as Idaho, Montana, California and Florida.
Wolves neared extinction in the Lower 48 states before coming under U.S. Endangered Species Act protections in the 1970s. Federal wildlife managers two decades ago released fewer than 100 wolves in the Yellowstone area over the objections of ranchers and hunters, who complained wolves would prey on livestock and big-game animals like elk.
Wolves in the park and its border states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were estimated at nearly 2,000 at the time of delisting and now number about 1,700 due to liberal hunting and trapping seasons and population control measures by states such as Idaho.
Ranchers and sportsmen say wolf numbers must be kept in check to reduce conflicts.
“Livestock producers have made many concessions to accommodate wolves on the landscape and the result is we have a healthy wolf population and yet a decrease in cattle depredations,” said Jay Bodner, natural resource director for the Montana Stockgrowers Association.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Bernard Orr)
Editor’s note: A rally to raise public awareness about wolves in and around Yellowstone National Park is scheduled for late June near the north entrance to the park at Gardiner, Montana. The following release came from the program’s organizers.
The establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 represents one of the greatest achievements in American history, affording protection to one of our country’s true wild places. Appreciation for this action, and the land it preserved, is increasing with each passing generation. And Yellowstone is much more than an American treasure; it is an international jewel, attracting millions of people from all over the world every year.
Fast-forward 123 years to 1995 and 1996, when the federal government, at the behest of the American people, released 66 gray wolves into Yellowstone. After one of America’s most iconic species was brought to near extinction through hunting, trapping, poisoning, and other government-funded methods in the 19th and 20th centuries, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service finally began to recover this internationally beloved species. And, because of its wildness and large size, as well as its complement of abundant prey species, Yellowstone was one of two places chosen to welcome the wolves home. Idaho was the second place.
On June 28-29, 2014, people of all walks of life are invited to attend Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014, a 2-day family-friendly celebration of wolves, predators and other native species that contribute to our rich national heritage. The event will be held at Arch Park in Gardiner, MT, just north of the Roosevelt Arch, near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 will feature prominent speakers and authors from the conservation community, and will include live music, education booths, children’s activities and food vendors. The event is free and open to the public.
In addition to daytime activities at Arch Park, the screening of two wildlife documentaries will occur on Saturday evening, June 28, at 7 pm. The films will be shown at the Gardiner Community Center, which is located at 210 W. Main Street in downtown Gardiner. Organizers will be showing Predator Defense’s film, Exposed: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife and Project Coyote’s film, Coexisting with Wildlife: The Marin Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program. The films will be followed by a panel discussion composed of conservationists and scientists. The films are free.
Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 is an opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform, and to take an important step toward restoring our national heritage. Unbeknownst to many Americans, over 3,000 gray wolves have been slaughtered across America, including around Yellowstone National Park, since certain segments of the wolf population were prematurely stripped of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act just a few years ago. The controversial delisting of the northern Rockies gray wolf was the first time Congress intervened and delisted a species in the 40-year history of the Endangered Species Act.
Lengthy hunting seasons now occur in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Hunters are permitted to hunt wolves with dogs in Wisconsin. Barbaric trapping/snaring seasons exist in Idaho. The USDA Wildlife Services just gunned-down 23 wolves from a helicopter in a rugged national forest in Idaho. In just 20 years, the federal government has completely reversed its course on the biological recovery of the gray wolf, and is now in the business of wiping them out again.
While many people are calling for relisting of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act, others are saying that it is time to completely reform wildlife management in the United States.
Event organizers for Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 have developed the following five keys to reforming wildlife management in America:
* Ban trapping/snaring on all federal public lands.
* End grazing on all federal public lands.
* Abolish the predator-control department of the USDA Wildlife Services.
* Reform how state fish and game agencies operate.
* Introduce legislation to protect all predators, including wolves, from sport hunting, trapping, and snaring.
Please consider attending Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014. The only thing that can save the gray wolf from a second extermination is a strong grassroots movement consisting of every-day people. Let’s come together and embark on this journey together. Let’s make the world a better place, for not only current generations, but also for those generations still to come. Your support is greatly appreciated! Learn more at www.speakforwolves.org or follow the event for updates at www.facebook.com/speakforwolvesyellowstone2014