Yellowstone Initiates 2014 Wild Bison Slaughter:
25 of America’s Last Wild Bison Trapped at Stephens Creek; 20 Shipped to Slaughter
A wild bison is confined in Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek Trap
National Park Service Photo
Click HERE for Print Quality Version
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 12, 2014
Dan Brister, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-6506
GARDINER, MONTANA: Yellowstone National Park shipped 20 of America’s last wild bison to slaughter this morning. 25 bison were captured on Friday in the Stephens Creek bison trap, located inside the world’s first national park. After being confined in the trap for five days, 20 of the bison were handed over to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, who are required to slaughter them under a controversial agreement between the tribes and the Park. Five bison remain locked in the trap as of Wednesday afternoon.
Yellowstone plans to slaughter between 600 and 800 bison this winter, according to park spokesman Al Nash. “We’re going to seek opportunities to capture any animals that move outside the park’s boundaries,” he said. Yellowstone has set a “population target,” or objective, of 3,000 to 3,500 animals.
The current buffalo population numbers approximately 4,400 (1,300 in the Central Interior and 3,100 in the Northern range). The Central Interior subpopulation also migrates north into the Gardiner basin and has not recovered from the last Park-led slaughter in 2008 that killed over half of the Central Interior buffalo. The government’s “population target” makes no distinction for conserving subpopulations in this unique buffalo herd.
According to Dan Brister, Executive Director of Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), “This number was politically derived to limit the range of wild buffalo and has no scientific basis. It does not reflect the carrying capacity of the buffalo’s habitat in and around Yellowstone National Park.”
This is the first time Yellowstone has turned bison over to the tribes under the slaughter agreements. According to James Holt, a Nez Perce Tribal Member and a member of BFC’s board, “It is disheartening to see tribes support these activities.”
“Buffalo were made free, and should remain so,” he said. It is painful to watch these tribal entities take such an approach to what should be the strongest advocacy and voice of protection. It is one thing to treat their own fenced herds in this manner, it is quite another to push that philosophy onto the last free-roaming herd in existence. Slaughter Agreements are not the answer.”
Brucellosis is the reason used by Yellowstone to justify the slaughter of wild bison. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the livestock disease to cattle. Other wildlife, such as elk, also carry brucellosis and are known to have transmitted it, yet they are free to migrate, and even commingle with cattle with no consequence.
Year after year, Yellowstone and Montana officials executing the ill-conceived Interagency Bison Management Plan forcibly prevent wild bison’s natural migration with hazing, capture, slaughter, quarantine and hunting. Millions of U.S. tax dollars are wasted annually under activities carried out under the IBMP.
The wild bison of the Yellowstone region are America’s last continuously wild population. Like other migratory wildlife, bison cross Yellowstone’s ecologically insignificant boundaries in order to access the habitat they need for survival. During 2007-2008 more than 1,300 wild bison were captured in Yellowstone National Park and shipped to slaughter. Nearly 7,200 wild bison have been eliminated from America’s last wild population since 1985. Bison once spanned the North American continent, but today, fewer than 4,400 wild bison exist, confined to the man-made boundaries of Yellowstone National Park and consequently are ecologically extinct throughout their native range.
Buffalo Field Campaign is a non-profit public interest organization founded in 1997 to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone’s wild bison, protect the natural habitat of wild free-roaming bison and other native wildlife, and to work with people of all Nations to honor the sacredness of wild bison. BFC has its headquarters in West Yellowstone, Montana, and is supported by volunteers and participants around the world who value America’s native wildlife and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
For more information visit Buffalo Field Campaign on the web http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.
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Thank you for the update. I distributed it on Facebook, Twitter, and others, and I scooped it (see the scoop at http://scoop.it/t/ecoscifi).
I spent a month in Yellowstone last fall and it was obvious to anyone with any training in range managemnet and botany that there are far too many Bison in the park. They are competing with the elk for the available vegetation and damaging the the top soil and plant cover.
I talked to a retired wildlife biologist/photographer from Utah last fall and he suggested that the park start a program of culling the Bison by shooting some of them year round to provide additional food for the Wolves and Grizzlies.
I hate what they are doing, but if it has to be done, killing some and leaving them for the bears and other animals is a good idea.
I just won’t go to the Gardiner area anymore. It stinks of death and mean politics.
Shooting is not an answer for anything. It’s what confused, lazy monkeys do.
Monkeys? Monkeys are moral creatures.
Shooting is what confused, lazy, greedy, arrogant, speciesist, politically-motivated humans do.
“Monkeys? Monkeys are moral creatures.”
Rubbish. According to Jane Goodall, chimps engage in infanticide, hunt other creatures, and go to “war”. Ascribing human morality to animals is wishful thinking.
why you don’t apply the same sentiment towards wolf intraspecific violence then?? or when you are eager to generelize one incident when sisters have torn apart face of their mother – while not many wolves are running around with 50% of their faces
Not sure what you mean, Mareks? I actually apply the same logic (not sentiment) to the idea that non-human animals are not “moral” creatures–whether chimps, wolves, or whales. I don’t expect animals to act in a way that conforms to human moral standards (which, by the way, humans can’t even agree upon). I simply provided some examples that demonstrate the folly in ascribing moral reasoning to non-human animals.
I see what you mean by not applying human values to animal behavior but you are not so quick to point out that humans are responsible for predictable consequences of their own actions and not to leash zero-tolerance wrath out against any offender against livelihood of rural families
I mean, it would be interesting if there would be a poll about to what extent wolf hunters are ‘true representatives’ of struggling farmers and their children – is there substantial overlap in their moral sentiments or wolf hunters are just using farmer complaints as some knee-jerk cover for their own agenda
non-human animals are not “moral” creatures–whether chimps, wolves, or whales
but animals truly care for their own offsprings, i’m sure that much we can agree
so the question remains if the whole nation can compensate for some farmer suffering (due to some accindental livestock predation)or we just use our superiority and kill anyone who disturbs divine Status Quo
“…humans are responsible for predictable consequences of their own actions and not to leash zero-tolerance wrath out against any offender against livelihood of rural families”
Well, to be honest I see these as entirely unrelated issues–i.e., (Q1) Are non-human animals capable of moral reasoning; and (Q2) What obligation do people have to try and co-exist with wildlife?
I may be able to answer your question about wolf hunters’ (at least ‘would-be’ wolf hunters’) sense of ethical responsibility for wildlife later this year.
Well, to be honest I see these as entirely unrelated issues
related or not, human beings have to evaluate their own actions not from killing prowess’s capacity aspect but from ability to co-exist with wildlife … at least, that’s the way how i interpret Kathleen’s remark
Let’s revisit the thread, just to be clear.
Shooting is not an answer for anything. It’s what confused, lazy monkeys do.
and Kathleen replied:
Monkeys? Monkeys are moral creatures…Shooting is what confused, lazy, greedy, arrogant, speciesist, politically-motivated humans do.
This comment is pretty clearly an attempt to suggest that monkeys are more “moral” than human hunters. That comparison–putting people and animals on the same moral playing field–is what I object to.
I should add– I welcome attempts to evaluate hunting, trapping, lethal control, or other human behavior aimed at wildlife from an ethical perspective. But I expect a logical argument, not blanket condemnations and name-calling.
Larry, you are misinformed.
It is the overpopulated elk that are overgrazing, which has been somewhat rectified since the rebound of wolves (if we would only stop killing them too).
Bison grazing increases plant biodiversity and ecosystem heterogeneity. Prairie ecosystems have developed in the presence of large ungulate grazing; it is good for them.
Any news on what is happening with REVA (Act)? Is it stuck in committee or has it been kicked out ? My dying wish would be that the wild horses and buffalo and predators be given free range in their original HA’s and/or all Public Lands. They can manage themselves and we should stay out of their business.
Are the cull buffalo available for purchase to other buffalo producers ?
No, and they shouldn’t be. They are wildlife, not livestock.
Yes, of course they are a wild native species. So if they are to be managed as wildlife, do you think there should be a hunting season on them ? And, why not let the tribes receive live buffalo from YNP to manage however they want ?
Year after year, Yellowstone and Montana officials executing the ill-conceived Interagency Bison Management Plan forcibly prevent wild bison’s natural migration with hazing, capture, slaughter, quarantine and hunting.
It’s destroying a national treasure to slaughter these genetically pure bison, and one that we don’t realize the value of, in exchange for what in the long run means nothing. I hate this. Can’t they be relocated?
I don’t feel they even need to be relocated. The brucellosis storyline is a bunch of bullshit and bison are not “overpopulated”. There is plenty of suitable habitat available to bison but they aren’t allowed to use it.
Ken- Permanently damaging the range in Yellowstone by allowing the Bison to eat everything in sight is misguided.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Lamar Valley and the area around Slough Creek and Little America is being damaged by over-grazing by Bison.
The park biologists say the Yellowstone Bison herd needs to be reduced by about 1500 animals. For once I agree with them.
By the way, I got an A in a graduate class in Range Management at the University of Montana.
I took two Systematic Botany classes (A’s in both)from Dr. Ray J. Davis(Author of Flora of Idaho) at Idaho State University. At the end of the year, I could identify 50 monocots(grasses and sedges) and 250 dicots by their genus, species and family without using a key. I did well enough that Dr Davis encouraged me to become a botanist.
The IDF&G hired me to set up range transects and do the initial plant studies on Bighorn winter ranges on the upper Salmon river. They also hired me as a biologist to survey most of central Idaho for Bighorn reintroduction because of my knowlege of range conditions and the plant communities throughout that part of the state.
Years later, I still can identify many grasses and range plants by their genus and species.
When I say a range is overgrazed, I know what I am talking about.
Bison are over-grazing the range in Yellowstone!!!
No they aren’t!!
Isn’t it because the bison are not allowed to roam and migrate like they were born to do?
As long as there are over 300 million people and their cattle in this country, I cannot believe this.
Ida, the private land adjacent to north of Yellowstone National Park has for the most part been subdivided into 10 acre tracts. It may look like large contiguous tract of land but the county plats indicate 10 to 20 acre tracts. The Royal Teton Ranch was subdivided into 20 acre tracts years ago.
The national forest land around Gardiner does not lend it self to buffalo grazing do to steepness. In West Yellowstone area there are some land around Hebgen Lake that could and can be used for grazing, otherwise the buffalo are headed for the Madison Valley. The Reynolds Pass area is 10 acre tracts. Buffalo are not going to stay confined to the national forest. The best grazing is on the Valley floor which is private. Large private landowners do want buffalo on the property their grass is for their cattle.
It is to bad that in the late 1800’s there was not a large national reserve set aside for buffalo, but Europe opened their jails and the land hungry immigrants went west and stake out their homestead.
It must be fairly difficult to get the wildlife in the park such as the bison to respect the boundaries of the 10 and 20 acre tracts surrounding it. I always wonder about how can we expect our wildlife to have the same selfish interests as the naked apes who butt up against their homes where they have always roamed free.
There are many bison in and around Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. They have bison coming into the large lots and subdivisions and we hear little of it. This is a lame excuse being offered north and west of Yellowstone.
Larry, with all due respect (another A student here) can you define “overgrazed” as compared to what?
The history of grazing regimes and results in Yellowstone is well documented and interconnected with apex predator populations (or lack thereof). At what point do you declare a Bison population natural or unnatural?
Larry, thank you so much for posting this! I am a graduate student who just recently got her masters degree in wildlife biology. Its hard to explain to people who have not taken courses in wildlife mgmt. to understand that populations need to be controlled.
It is because of us that we no longer have the predator numbers to control these large populations of grazing animals. But people must remember also that before the west ward expansion there was an estimated 100 million bison on this country from coast to coast. Accounts from journals tell of herds of bison going on for days and leaving in their wake “waste lands”. A landscape such as Yellowstone is not designed to handle such large volumes of a single species.
With the re-introduction of wolves it helped, but there is only so much a small population of predators can do…not to mention that bears are only awake during a certain times of the year. If these animals need to go to slaughter than it must be done.
Here where I live we have a HUGE number of white-tailed deer. Because of that two years ago we had the worst EHD/Blue Tongue outbreak to ever be seen in several years. Large populations equal the rapid spread of disease, and I am not just talking about Brucellosis, there is pink eye, and other viruses and diseases that can be transmitted. Hunting is regulated here in our state to help control populations of wildlife.
Please people, I can understand that some are not for the “slaughter” of the wild bison. But for those who are against it and eat meat I want you to think on where your meals come from….and its not from the frozen meats section in “Walmart”. If this meat is going to local tribes then good for them, at least they are not going to waste.
As a newly minted wildlife biologist you should also understand that this population of bison is the only remaining population that shows no sign of introgression with cattle and how important they are. You should also understand that populations have to be of a certain size with a metapopulation structure to maintain a healthy genetic diversity and to ensure that the entire population isn’t put at risk when a stochastic event takes place like a disease introduced by some idiot who introduces malignant cattharal fever or something similar. Think domestic sheep in Gardiner. This population doesn’t have those qualities and the management they receive doesn’t help them achieve these characteristics.
This is precisely why I, and other Buffalo Field Campaign supporters, strongly oppose these kinds of actions. The bison wouldn’t be so heavily impacting the park resources if they were allowed to leave and seek winter range just as EVERY other species in Yellowstone National Park is allowed to do. Why the difference in treatment? It’s because of the paradigm that is being taught to new and old wildlife biologists alike by those who are sympathetic or beholden to the current power structure.
I’m asking people to think outside of the box and quit thinking that there are any “surplus” bison. There aren’t and there needs to be a metapopulation structure that includes large areas outside of the artificial confines of Yellowstone National Park. The park isn’t big enough to sustain this incredibly important species and people should realize that.
Well stated Ken. Sadly, we will probably see free roaming feral pigs in parts of Montana before bison.
Yes, I agree – well stated.
“” Why the difference in treatment?”” Because buffalo can not jump fences.
That’s not true. I’ve seen a bull walk up to a 4 foot log fence and jump over it like a deer from a stand still.
I saw one jump high enough to get its front feet over an eight foot enclosure made of railroad ties.
Sorry to inform you Meagan, but a Masters degree in Wildlife Biology does not make you a Wildlife Biologist. How many years of field work and experience do you have? What tyoe of research and peer-reviewed publications do you have? 36-42 credits of graduate work is not sufficient in today’s complex scientific world (30 yrs ago it was, not now). Additionally, there are only about 10-12 Universities in this country that have top notch PhD Wildlife Biology programs. Most schools are chock full of mediocre Professors, watered down programs, and have become degree mills churning out students with Masters degrees and PhDs with little to no field work and even less real world experience.
“”Sorry to inform you Meagan, but a Masters degree in Wildlife Biology does not make you a Wildlife Biologist.””
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks requires that a wildlife biologist has a masters in wildlife biology, there are a few biologist with Ph.D.’s. So the employees with only a MS are not wildlife biologist by your definition and those with Ph.D.’s from lessor quality school and inferior biologist. From meeting and interacting with these employees for over three decades, I have meet some many dedicated and hard workers who cared really about wildlife.
Actually, The Wildlife Society certifies wildlife biologists as “certified wildlife biologist” or “associate wildlife biologist”. Both designations require rigorous, interdisciplinary course work and the CWB requires five years of experience. Neither requires a M.S. or PhD, nor do they require you to attend a specific university.
Standards for certification are here: http://www.wildlife.org/sites/default/files/images/certbook2014%20-%20final.pdf
If you want to see a wasteland just look at the lead picture Dr. Maughan posted on the Jan 22 2014 edition of Do you have some interesting wildlife news –
That wasteland wasn’t created by bison but by the very people (cattlemen) who want to kill all the bison that step out of Yellowstone. Confining bison within a limited amount of land even though there are abundant public lands available outside the park is ludicrous.
Regarding your contention that bison created a wasteland in America, I don’t remember ever reading that anywhere or in the journals of Lewis and Clark who saw it first hand. What I do remember instead is the quote by Aldo Leopold –
No living man will see again the long grass prairies, where a sea of prairie flowers lapped at the stirrups of the pioneer.
And by the way, I eat meat but not the hormone induced, corn fed, antibiotic laced crap that the cattlemen produce and use to justify killing off our wildlife. If you want to make a difference in your career I encourage you to break away from the paradigm that our native wildlife must be micromanaged and killed to benefit a few humans. Realize that the problems wild animals are experiencing are actually caused by humans. If our wild animals are to survive the goal must be to restore a functioning ecosystem with all the parts. It is easy to just assume that one day the N. American content will be wonderfully covered wall to wall with homo sapiens and their multicolored boxes. So let us just tailor wildlife management activities to killing off wild animals that become homeless as we make way for humans to take over their habitat.
If you are young you can make a difference but not by following in lock step with the corrupt politicians, wildlife and park managers who are killing the last genetically pure American bison remaining on the planet. Use your head – there are thousands of places those bison could be relocated to protect the gene pool. They don’t have to be destroyed along with their genetics that might someday be critical to saving this iconic species. If you want to make a difference find ways to preserve healthy populations of bison and not just contend they have to be killed to save them.
nicely put, Rich. If there was a ‘like’ button, I’d click it for that…especially the last sentence.
Meagan, congratulations on finishing your M.S. It’s a lot of work, but worth it.
I try to keep in mind who is conveying the information, whether it’s historical or current, and I attempt to realize there are usually good points from all sides, and sometimes, those things that are accepted as fact are, in reality, not fact.
Who was it that described the lands after the bison came through as ‘waste lands’? From what perspective did they come from, and if the bison are native species, do you really think we can put much belief in that description? Could there possibly be an ecological benefit from those ‘waste lands’? Remember, these same people that also filled, drained, and destroyed over 50% of the wetlands in the lower 48…….they too, were considered ‘waste lands’.
Read this tribal resolution from the Montana & Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council regarding the transfer of living bison to tribal lands. Please especially note the last ‘whereas’ on page 2, and the 3rd and 5th ‘whereas’ on page 3.
…bison and “waste land.”
It is not at all unreasonable to believe the observations about bison, by early explorers and immigrants who saw large numbers of heavy cloven hoofed animals walking, running and/or slowly grazing across areas, that produced swaths of deeply churned up soil, and vegetation munched down to ground level. Incidentally, there were lots of things Lewis and Clark didn’t see travelling mostly major waterways – heck they didn’t see ANY geothermal evidence in the Yellowstone area.
There are many accounts of bison impacts on the land, and more in the journals of early explorers and immigrants crossing the Plains. Some of this is discussed in Chapter 1 of Ted Barsness, “Heads, Hides and Horns,” (1985) with references back to the original documents from which he or others took quotes or paraphrased these historical observations.
And, there are references of criss-crossed trails, some on steep ground, deeply etched into the land (several feet even, so deeply trenched into the ground stirrups on saddle horses in such trails would drag the ground), and instances of large scale erosion where bared soil combined with intense rainfall runoff allowed gravity to eat away at hillsides. Even descriptions of buffalo wallows, devoid of any vegetation as large as an acre, dank ponds in the wet periods, and crusted or dusty the remainder of the year.
But, in large part, some of these churned over areas repaired quickly as bison moved on to visit months or even years later after ground cover grew back in the fertilized and aerated soils (with no invasive cheat grass or other undesireable plants to crowd out the good native stuff).
I agree with some of your comment, especially the part about deeply cut ruts in trails. We have those even today only now they are made by herds of dirt bikes and ATVs. Regarding the observations of Lewis & Clark – according to their journals they did encounter large herds of buffalo. Here are some quotes from the journals:
“This senery already rich pleasing and beautiful was still farther hightened by immence herds of Buffaloe deer Elk and Antelopes which we saw in every direction feeding on the hills and plains. I do not think I exagerate when I estimate the number of Buffaloe which could be comprehended at one view to amount to 3,000.”
“I must have Seen near 20,000 of those animals feeding on this plain.”
“I asscended to the top of the cutt bluff this morning, from whence I had a most delightfull view of the country, the whole of which except the vally formed by the Missouri is void of timber or underbrush, exposing to the first glance of the spectator immence herds of Buffaloe, Elk, deer, & Antelopes feeding in one common and boundless pasture. we saw a number of bever feeding on the bark of the trees alonge the verge of the river, several of which we shot, found them large and fat. walking on shore this evening I met with a buffaloe calf which attatched itself to me and continued to follow close at my heels untill I embarked and left it. it appeared allarmed at my dog which was probably the cause of it’s so readily attatching itself to me.”
Remember at least part of their purpose was to observe and document their journey and the plants and animals they encountered. While the descriptions may be considered anecdotal and not be as precise as we expect by modern scientific research, it sure doesn’t sound like a wasteland to me. With all due respect I haven’t read the book you mentioned but if the documents were written by homesteaders, I could imagine the alarm at finding native wildlife where they hoped to find undisturbed grass for their animals. As a consequence their observations might have been somewhat skewed. Of course the pioneers soon removed whatever native grass was left and replaced it with the dust bowl.
Please recall that Lewis and Clark’s expedition occurred well over 300 years after Europeans began to occupy North America. By some archaeological accounts, the diseases introduced by Europeans had reduced native populations by as much as 90%, resulting in 200+ years of reforestation. Thus, the “pristine” environment L&C encountered was, in part, a function of the elimination of peoples who had traditionally occupied and managed these lands. A good account of these changes can be found in: Denevan WM (1992) The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492. Annals of the Assoication of American Geographers 82(3):369-385.
While native peoples no doubt had an impact on the environment and ‘managed’ them, the point is that our impact is so much worse today, after the industrial revolution and mechanized agriculture, interstate highways, automobiles, and millions of cattle and livestock, and on and on.
So it may not have been ‘pristine’, but it was a lot more so than it is today. No doubt the coming of Europeans had a devastating effect on indigenous populations, both intentionally and not. But also there was a lot more uncharted, never populated areas than we have today, and populations were nowhere near what they are today.
It really isn’t fair to put the past in the context of today, and try to use the past to justify and excuse present mis- and overuse of resources.
So I don’t think anyone thinks the pre-Columbian Americas were untouched-by-man Edens, just that they were more so than they are today. We know of the great civilizations of the Americas.
But, another point I think is that whether or not the landscapes are permanently altered by humans. So, if a native peoples altered the landscape by fire to create the prairies, when they moved on, the prairie would return to whatever state is was before (that’s assuming this was the case).
The Gulf of Mexico and our oceans, by contrast, are fast becoming a wastelands than may never recover.
My point was not to start an argument about what constitutes a pristine environment, nor did I suggest that the impact of Native Americans was equivalent to the impact of modern Americans. Rather, my point was simply that the people who encountered the West during the 18th and 19th century were looking at a landscape that was vastly different from what it was just 200-300 years earlier. The ‘baseline’ created by early writers would have been much different had the been traveling through the same lands during the 15th century–there would have been many more people and a much heavier impact. This, of course, impacts are modern notions of what type of restoration is desired.
“But, another point I think is that whether or not the landscapes are permanently altered by humans. So, if a native peoples altered the landscape by fire to create the prairies, when they moved on, the prairie would return to whatever state is was before (that’s assuming this was the case).”
No, this is not necessarily so. Humans can and do create impacts that fundamentally change the environment. We compact soils, change their chemistry, tear up vegetation that allows them to blow away (or be swept into watersheds). In short, we create a variety of types of disturbances, some of which have long-lasting effects. We’re doing this now with climate change.
Of course, native people’s did this too–and they did it all around the world. Megafaunal extinctions, deforestation and the subsequent depletion of soils, the list goes on and on.
The lessons of Easter Island, by Clive Ponting
Reading Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” at this time. I’m only sixty pages in, but his crystal ball seems to bode ill for Montana in regard to ranching, agriculture, and water…
Easter island is yet to come…but as JB says, wherever we have humans, we have impact on the landscape.
Oh no, I didn’t mean to suggest an argument either, but it is a interesting, fascinating, totally engaging discussion.
I guess I don’t like to think that our environmental footprints can’t be repaired. 🙁
Dang JB, you’re good. I recently saw a presentation by an anthropologist that basically stated what you said. It was on the Southeastern tribes, which is where my tribe originated, but the point was we did alter the land by the methods in which we used for basic life needs. After the Mississippian era (I think the time is correct) my tribe farmed and was known for growing crops, and this was before arrival of most Europeans.
I think we’d do well to shift away from the Hollywood stereotype of the Native American. Plus, the tribes are not homogeneous, and differ in cultural practices. However, most of the Indigenous of this continent did have a philosophy far removed from the private property concept that the English brought to the continent. I don’t know of any of the tribes that participated in attempting to annihilate entire species that they felt endangered their property as the English did with wolves.
++However, most of the Indigenous of this continent did have a philosophy far removed from the private property concept that the English brought to the continent.++
Maybe so, at least in the context of written recordings of who “owned” land, with continued written recording of subsequent owners who had a right to exclusive possession, in fee simple. Native Indigenous peoples certainly did hold certain lands as against all others as their “exclusive lands” to occupy, hunt/fish, gather and the like. They raided each other, killed rivals and took other personal property belonging to others, and made slaves of those they felt had value for their own purposes. There were also tribes that lived in more harmony. But, let’s not forget there were conquerors and those conquered, or made subservient. Happened throughout history, and Native Indigenous peoples of North America were little different from anywhere else.
I have not read Diamond’s “Collapse,” but if it is done with the same level of intensity as “Guns, Germs and Steel,” I look forward to reading it. In 2010 National Geographic did a documentary of sorts, including interviews with Diamond. A quick search of the works “Diamond + Collapse” on Youtube will result in links to a multiple part video series.
The perspective (don’t know how the book does it) is from futuristic archeologists from the 22th Century looking back at our “collapsed civilization” and relics of the desert West, like the abandoned city of Phoenix with its once employed lifeline of intensively managed water resources for power generation (air conditioning anyone?) and agriculture.
Impressive so far, in just a few minutes of viewing a possible, and maybe even prophetic, future.
As per Diamond in “Collapse” Montana ranchers cannot compete with “ranchers” in the East as the cattle cannot be fattened up as those in the East (wolves have little to do with lack of forage in Eastern states). Logging industry, same thing. Trees grow several times faster in US south east and north east than in Montana. Got nothing to do with birds and unions.
The mining legacy in Montana is atrocious.
And perhaps most important for wildlife… So often we have heard of wild areas in jeapordy if ranchers sell off their land piecemeal. In areas like the Bitteroot where original 160 acre blocks are subdivide into 40, 4 acre house lots, there isn’t enough water when when each of those 40 house owners tries to water and keep gardens green.
I don’t know of any of the tribes that participated in attempting to annihilate entire species that they felt endangered their property as the English did with wolves.
I was going to ask that very question, Yvette. There’s modifying the environment, and then there’s really modifying the environment.
Good stuff to think about here, y’all. There’s an argument that the ivory-billed woodpecker would be somewhat close to qualifying, as it’s bill was used as a kind of currency. (not shocking…here we go with ‘the money’ again). Of course, deforestation finished them off, which seems to be a trend for many southeastern animals.
The documentary “500 Nations” does a good job of showing how distinct some of the cultures were (and ARE).
Yvette, I was in just Cullman last week, still a nice place! And my son and I still play ‘little brother of war’, if you know what that is.
I am also a graduate student in biology. There are some instances where animal heard need culled (deer heard in Pennsylvania for sure).
1. We need to stop allowing the recovering wolf population to be killed.
2. Not all grazing animals are the same. Prarie ecosystems have devoloped in the presence of ungulate grazers. They are helped, not hurt, by bison grazing. We should allow the bison heard to spread naturally.
3. Overgrazing is NOT why they are killing these bison. It is the manufactured threat of Brucellosis by the livestock industry that is claimed as the reason(which has never been documented to spread from wild bison to livestock.)
See the links I posted above or do a scholarly search for any papers about Bison grazing and prairie plant community dynamics.
Other wildlife, such as elk, also carry brucellosis and are known to have transmitted it, yet they are free to migrate, and even commingle with cattle with no consequence.
The inconsistencies in the way we manage our precious wildlife are glaring. And Sally Jewell just ignores it, saying her hands are tied by science – ignore the wild horses, ignore the wolves, ignore the bison all in favor of energy development, ranching and other special interests. We really need to get out of the 1800s and into the 21st century.
Ida & Ken, I cannot express the rage I am feeling right now. It’s the same old bull-shit. Same old excuses. What is going on in this country? Every day it’s something.
This is a KEY talking point:
“The wild bison of the Yellowstone region are America’s last continuously wild population.”
Brucellosis is the reason used by Yellowstone to justify the slaughter of wild bison. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the livestock disease to cattle. Other wildlife, such as elk, also carry brucellosis and are known to have transmitted it, yet they are free to migrate, and even commingle with cattle with no consequence.
That is what I’m talking about. Same old crap – lies.
I am so angry –
I agree with both of you (Ida & Ken)
Mr Larry Thorgren – – they use the same fucking argument for ALL of the wildlife. We don’t have the right to slaughter anything. If humans would just mind their own fucking business – nature really does take care of itself.
But humans have been fucking with it for so long, of course there are going to be more deer, elk, etc. Because there are not enough predators. To sit there & say that there are “far to many bison” is a load of shit. Cattle ranchers & hunters make me sick. They are the ones who are doing this, GREED, GREED, GREED. If you need to hunt because you need food, you don’t have enough money to feed your family – that’s one thing. But to hunt the wildlife that has been here way before any of us is fucked up. mho
Ramses, I share your emotions here. The pattern is the same, native species are demonized and exterminated in the name of “overgrazing” while the undeniable ecological damage of subsidized livestock grazing throughout the west the past 200 or so years is never on the table. Neither is the obvious fact of human overpopulation, and the impacts so many of us make, which can be considered a form of “overgrazing” as well. When we religiously kill off predators, scrape thousands of acres of topsoil for drill pads, or pave over how many thousands of acres of strip malls, parking lots, and housing developments, why is that never considered part of the problem? Demonizing and targeting individual wild species is the easy way to affix blame and justify unjustifiable killing. Surely we are smarter than this?
Travesty continues year after year. Whatever happened to the suggestion that the Dept. of Ag. exempt the GYE from the ‘brucellosis-free’ stamp. Its’ never gonna happen anyways with elk transmitting the disease. And who cares if their meat has brucellosis anyways. It doesn’t affect humans.
Ironically, our local buffalo Ranch–Antler Ranch in Meeteesee–had to stop selling buffalo meat for the last 2 years because their herd was infected with brucellosis from the local elk population.
They should move the 500 – 600 head to the Kansas prairie.
This would be great, but ranchers have greatly resisted moving any of the Yellowstone bison out of the Park. Only about 60 were moved to an Montana Indian Reservation before a livestock friendly judge stopped moving any more.
Ralph, what was the reason for the rancher’s complaint here? This is the same model used for wild horses and burros but the BLM just contracted another $12million for roundups and removals – to facilities already at capacity. I don’t hear of ranchers complaining about this. Any fears of contagious diseases being carried along (by horses anyway) have brought me absolutely zero response from my elected officials, though domestic horses must have all sorts of vaccinations and travel documents to cross state lines. Double standard?
I went to Yellowstone at couple years ago. On the lower loop I saw 3 bison at Mud Volcano. That was it for the WHOLE park. I talked to other visitors who had come down from Montana and they didn’t see a single one.
I almost always see bison in Teton National Forest across from Moose and the airport outside of Jackson. Last summer I was so close I could almost reach out of the car and pet one. HOWEVER I know better! You can look, take pics, take video BUT YOU DO NOT TOUCH!
IMHO it is time to relocate some of this last wild bison herd to other public lands, and continue to relocate if for no other reason but to ensure that the herd itself does not succumb to some disease in the future. It is a small herd compared to what the USA had and I think there are a couple other smaller herds that may be genetically pure (no cow genes), but before slaughter they should be shared and not slaughtered. What is happening with YNP bison is disgusting, we have been supporters of BFC and will continue. The new book out tells the tale very well. The whores on the hill in Washington DC will never help anyone that doesn’t pay for their interest.
Deb, Folks have been trying hard to relocate some of these last pure bred bison, but moving them to other public lands has been fiercely resisted by ranchers.
Why do the ranchers resist moving them? I thought the ranchers didn’t even want the bison around.
For the same reason ranchers shoot coyotes on sight: because they can.
By the way, most ranchers are hunters. So there’s a nice double-effect of sociopathy in play here.
That must be why they don’t mind the elk transmitting brucellosis either – blame the buffalo, get rid of them, and then hunt the elk. Seriously, we have to break the stranglehold Western politics has on our nation.
I would like to know why domestic Cows and Sheep are allowed to overgraze on public lands..but a native species the Bison is not allowed to graze or even overgraze on public lands?…Do Bison not have the right to eat on these lands that are rightfully their home
Sadly, you are right Ralph, the money (ranchers) have more control than they should, but the money gives them the power. The only way those of us that want to change things for the benefit of wildlife is going to matter is when we have the lobbyists to speak for us in $$$. Become unified somehow. I like the idea of boycotting states via tourism, but I live in WY so it feels pretty hypocritical since my state is part of the killing of wolves. I prefer urging like minded, non neanderthals to move to Wyoming and thus we may see a change one day.
Small powerful, rich, groups should not dictate how our wildlife is impacted but that is how it is done today.
If they are overpopulated, I’d like to see an actual report about it and it’s potential causes. Are there not enough wolves and bear around to naturally manage the herd? I’m of the opinion that messing with nature just causes more harm than good, and if you leave things alone they’ll sort themselves out. That however, would include allowing bison to naturally wander where they want to wander. Perhaps the continual hazing of them back into park boundaries is contributing to the supposed animal density?
I’m really surprised there have been so few movements to really reestablish bison herds in the prairies of middle america. They need to be allowed to travel and fill the wild spaces that still exist that they’ve been exterminated from.
Another government sponsored slaughter on the tax-payer’s dime that disregards the best-available science and public sentiment. The Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 event just ramped up a few notches and will have a strong focus on the buffalo slaughter, too. Expect thousands of people in Arch Park on June 28-29, 2014. Be there and take a stand.
Steve Braun, owner of Adventure Yellowstone Inc., which offers year-round tours of the park to vacationing Americans and international travelers, said he would fiercely oppose any measure aimed at bison hunts in Yellowstone and criticized the existing management plan that authorizes slaughter.
“Killing these animals is senseless and outrageous. In terms of tourist dollars, they are worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year. In terms of the heritage of the American West, they are priceless,” he said.
I find these animals absolutely thrilling. There needs to be a protected corridor for all migrating animals. It is senseless to confine them all to a limited area.
This is frustrating. “A politically derived population number”. Brett, I hope the ‘Speak for Wolves’ event this June also speaks about this bison culling.
It most definitely will Yvette. Except we won’t be using the words “culling” “controlling” or “managing”.
This is all about politics and hysterical ranchers not science. Bison can’t over populate Yellowstone if wolves are present and they are allowed to range freely. Nature always moves toward a balance or equilibrium, its mankind over does everything.
The treatment of the Yellowstone bison is among the most vile and unethical behaviors of “wildlife management” in the U.S. There are few other issues that bring my blood to a boil. A deep-seated hatred of the wild is the emotional basis for this fiasco, along with the hijacked science of brucellosis and an arbitrary “carrying capacity” of Yellowstone. The Interagency Bison Management Plan is the institutional basis of failure. Despite its paper legality, the IBMP is not legitimate because it has been an abject failure for bison and an undemocratic mechanism of public policy. The money wasted on the IBMP, bio-bullets, roundup and slaughter should be redirected towards purchasing rangeland for bison and permanently retiring grazing allotments in bison territory. I’ve been following/writing about this frustrating issue for years and find it to be a microcosm of fundamental deficiencies in the way things are done in our society. How do we turn this around so the bison can live and prosper as a wild animal? How do we prevent the NPS from subverting its mission to protect and preserve? The willful intransigence of some public agencies and official mindsets means the bison will continue to unnecessarily suffer indignities of the foulest kind. Aside from supporting a handful of local organizations, what options do we bison lover have available to overturn the existing debacle?
There is going to be a rally in Gardiner, MT on June 28-9. See Brett Haverstick’s article here in the News at The Time to be Bold is Now.
Buffalo Field Campaign forgot to say how many bison they think yellowstone can handle, nor did it offer a single alternative solution. Pretty fluffy.
It’s not for BFC to say; BFC is an advocacy group. And what the park can handle is beside the point; the park isn’t fenced like a game farm. Bison need access to their tradition lower-elevation migratory lands outside park boundaries, period.
I thank god for Buffalo Field Campaign and for their years of vigilance–without which I doubt we’d even have any wild bison left…maybe just a “show herd” confined somewhere in the park.
They do state here some data
and some ideas for alternatives to slaughter
They are working to change things. Wolves and Bison need a couple rich, influential people to take up the cause. Madeline Perkins has done wonders for Mustangs. I did contact her about moving bison from YNP to her place in Nevada, but the Mustangs are her cause right now. Maybe she has a few friends that can help out. Then Washington may listen and some whores can be replaced by non neanderthals?
Pickens just gave up on her mustang reserve idea in Nevada and is now subleasing her allotment to a cattle rancher. It’s not a good place for bison, or horses and cattle for that matter, because there were no large ungulates that historically grazed the area and the plants did not evolve with that kind of pressure.
I was criticizing their article as mere petunia bait. It’s a criticism of the writing.
The Plumb paper (down whatcapacity) thinks 2500-4500 is reasonable. So North Range may be too high now is my current thinking (but I can change with evidence and teaching). I agree current killing could be more targeted at them. Will BFC agree to more targeted killing, or is any killing forbidden? The article doesn’t get anywhere near the brass tacks.
I fully agree with weaning ranchers off public grazing (alternatives). I agree with getting alternatives in place. I agree with bemoaning the killing of bison, and calling for alternatives, but not with calling a halt to it before other solutions are in place.
I have seen overstocking (deer, MI) and it makes me cautious. The skepticism I was born with.
I boggles my mind that people talk about limiting the only remaining population of wild bison to the confines of Yellowstone National Park and to limiting them to such a small number. The paradigm needs to change.
Before calling for bison to be relocated out of their rightful home, remember that the “target population” of 3000 is a political number, just as the wolf breeding pairs and total wolf population numbers are politically-motivated and not based in any biological/ecological reality. The park is *not* overpopulated with bison, and bison are *not* overgrazing it. Years ago (mid-2000s), when a similar slaughter situation was playing out, I heard a park biologist say “we don’t even know what YNP’s carrying capacity is–it could be 5000, it could be 7000, we just don’t know.” Unfortunately, that was many years ago and I heard it on the radio or TV and have no attribution.
What’s happening to this precious native wildlife is a wholly manufactured “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist but for the demands of bloated special interests and the shameful capitulation by spineless, ethically-challenged bureaucrats.
“Carrying capacity, migration, and dispersal in Yellowstone bison” Biological Conservation 142 (2009) 2377–2387. It’s where my 2500-4500 numbers come from. In early 90s maybe it could handle more.
Why does it seem that elk have a carrying capacity in Yellowstone National Park and buffalo do not. The wolves have thinned down the elk herd and the wonderful things have come about for the those who love wolves. The Buffalo can do no wrong: I think there is a bias.
“The buffalo can do no wrong.” Oh come on, they’ve been slaughtered by the thousands–family units ripped apart, group social structure destroyed–for something
they’ve never once been responsible for on the land: brucellosis transmission to cattle. And why is this? Because the livestock industry said so.
++…for something they’ve never once been responsible for on the land: brucellosis transmission to cattle.
So, are you saying there is no risk whatsoever that bison can transmit brucellosis to cattle, and that bison increasing in density on lands also occupied by livestock is also zero risk?
WM – you know as well as I do – Its all about the grass/grazing in these parts.
I can just imagine the political scrambling that must be going on “behind closed doors” lately in Montana, Wyoming & Idaho now that word has surfaced about elk (the other “what’s for dinner” meat) possibly infecting cattle with brucellosis.
My question is if elk, who are all over these states – coming and going over private land and public lands… for decades – why no spike in brucellosis episodes?
there is no scrambling at all.
Montana DOL has been calling for reducing Yellowstone elk numbers for years, as has various and sundry Montana politicians(Bartlett), and as can be seen here:
they conveniently address reducing both elk and wolf numbers.
one of those topics that you will never see addressed by the daffodils
ELK, the park intends to keep the buffalo herd at around 3500 in the Park, so yes, they can do wrong.
Also, here is a summary of where the bison are supposed to be able to travel outside the Park in winter. Over a million dollars was paid, after years of negotiation, by private organizations and the feds to purchase rights to an easement across the Church Universals’ land to FS lands and that is being blocked by the MT. DOL.
It’s because elk can leave the park and there is more to the issue than carrying capacity. There is the question of genetic diversity and a whole host of other issues.
That paper puts the theoretical carrying capacity at 6200 with the 2500-4500 range as the authors choose as a compromise of the ‘collective interests of the stake holders.’
Section 7. ‘Implications for Bison Management’ is quite interesting and does a good job of explaining the difficulty of assigning a carrying capacity. To me this part of the paper is really discussing a wider issue; whether our national parks are reservoirs for wildlife, or simply zoos without metal cages.
Thanks for the paper info.
Love the Speak for the Wolves plan, we will be there in spirit, we make our annual trip in May to avoid crowds. I would urge all who love the buffalo to read the book by Dan Brister, he really covers it all. https://org.salsalabs.com/o/2426/t/11564/shop/item.jsp?storefront_KEY=554&t=&store_item_KEY=4664
Available at BFC website. The Taylor grazing act is one of the biggest problems we have with wildlife, but I don’t see how that can ever be overturned, even tho it is outdated and antiquated.
Who really is the big bad wolf? Currently the AUM cost for grazing a cow and calf each for one month on public land is about 75 cents. With those prices what is the return or benefit to the American tax payer? When Timber is sold on public land the value for the logs or stumpage paid is based on market value. Money from timber sales collected, as much as 25%, goes back to the Government and county. Why should a timber company pay market value for timber when a grazer on public land does not have to pay fair market value for the forage or grass their animals consume.Perhaps the government should collect 25% of the net profit from these operators when they sell their cattle at auction just to cover the cost of management and to return money to the American people. The AUM cost for a cow and calf each on private land is rated between $15 and $20 a month. Since the price paid for grazing a cow and a calf on public land is free compared to the real cost incurred for grazing on private land the real issue related to bison and public land is that bison are more efficient, better adapted and cost less to the American public to maintain than cattle are. When was the last time a cattleman rented his pastures to a second party and charged 75 cents a months for a cow and calf to graze for one month.
Actually, the price per AUM is $1.35
This is what I have visions of when I read of the modern-day buffalo slaughter:
Speaking of values, how little respect people had/have for this country, very sad.
What are the opportunity costs lost by not allowing grazing, logging, and recreation?
It’s easy to say that we want to halt logging, hunting, logging, and other natural resource consumptive practices, but where does other revenues come from? I see Yellowstone bison all the time, but doesn’t mean they are paying the bills. How do we turn these non-consumptive practices into a revenue stream so decision makers will pay attention? That is the question.
“It’s easy to say that we want to halt logging, hunting, logging, and other natural resource consumptive practices, but where does other revenues come from?”
Yes, it is easy to say, but where did anyone say it? I’m serious–I’m looking for the post where someone said that we should end all logging, hunting and other natural resources consumption and I don’t see it?
Awhile back WM called for a more complete c/b analysis when accounting for wolf benefits. The same criticism could be laid at the feet of those who document the cost of wolves. And I have yet to see an analysis that examines the costs of health care associated with heart disease and other acute, chronic illnesses associated with red meat consumption. If we’re we’re really counting costs and benefits, shouldn’t such an analysis be part of the calculus?
I know why this is happening. But is anyone or someone planning in making sure this never ever happens again?
In 2012, ~60 Yellowstone bison were transferred to 2 tribes in Montana. The Montana Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision that had blocked further transfers to tribal lands. The Interagency Bison Management Plan includes proposed protocols for Yellowstone bison to be transferred to tribes (26 are interested) without being slaughtered.
The bison would be quarantined and once validated bruceollosis-free would be available for transfer to tribal lands. I think bison are only eligible for transfer to tribal lands (not private) under the current court decision. This is not the ultimate solution but it beats the slaughtering and hunting that is occuring now.
Whether bison are overgrazing, being unfairly targeted for slaughter, or be allowed to roam free are relevant issues, but is the transfer to tribes (to live) a feasible solution?
“The last elk sales from Yellowstone were in the 1960’s.”
Why doesn’t that recent ruling apply to this year’s bison cull ?
What is the reason the tribes cannot receive live bison from the Yellowstone herds ? They should, above all, be allowed to receive live cull bison and allowed to manage their own herds.
A good read LM:
Thank you Nancy. The key sentence in the whole article was what he said about his banker refusing to “associate” with him if he sides on the pro-buffalo side of the issue. We know the banks hold PL allotments as collateral against loans (I even heard a rumor last week that the PL’s are being used as collateral on the US debt to China. Can anyone verify this ?????)
Maybe you’ve already read this:
Had not read that article LM, thanks –
“There need to be studies on what has disappeared since Lewis and Clark came here. Go back and read those Lewis and Clark diaries. Look at the diversity of animals, plants, insects, birds that were here when they came up the Missouri River. And look at it now, what’s left—a minuscule amount compared to what they originally saw.
I see it from a different perspective, because it wasn’t just the plants and animals that disappeared. It was my people too. My ancestors.
So if anything is to be saved, we’ve got to get away from just looking at the dollar. You can’t eat the dollar when there’s no food, and can’t breathe it when there’s no air. Can’t drink it when there’s no water” Charmaine White Face
Yes, my ancestors too. It makes me heartsick.
” Mita ku ye oyasin”
++, that’s my way of saying ‘like’. A thumb’s up tab would be a great addition to this wonderful blog.
Jeff, having difficulty with this link. Not sure if it’s my side or your side.
opens for me
Thank you everyone for your interesting comments & resource links. Signing off with a quote by Paul Salopek – Out Of Eden Journey:
“Humanity is remaking the world in a radical and accelerating cycle of change that strips away the memory of place as well as topsoil. Our era’s breathtaking changes flatten collective memory, disrupt precedence, sever lines of responsibility. (What so disconcerts us about suburbia? Not only its placelessness but a void of time; we crave a past in our landscapes.)”
🙁 Sad Big time. When one actually takes the time to think about and digest those words, LM.
If you want an understanding of why the situation is so dangerous for America’s last wild buffalo, you need to look no further than the comments on this posting.
“We don’t talk about bringing back the dinosaurs, but that’s exactly what big herds of free-roaming buffalo are,” John Brenden, a Montana state senator and a leading bison opponent, told the Associated Press. “Their time has passed.”
That statement is disgusting and I need not explain why.
Yes. He’s not God (although I’m sure his ego tell him he is) and he doesn’t speak for other states. Bison didn’t disappear naturally, and what will we replace them with. Let’s hope cheesy landscapes and cheap grazing fees’ time has passed also.
We can’t seriously talk about past wastelands, with the environment we live in today – oil spills, factory farm waste, garbage everywhere and in our oceans, etc. It would probably make Lewis and Clark weep.
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold
And there were different cultural attitudes between the Old and New World.
Some good news!
We as Americans have become so arrogant and so concerned about the almighty dollar and what the ranchers want, we are destroying our natural heritage. Wolves, buffalo, it is so sad and disheartening to see this. The govenment ignores science and destroys wolves, now they just destroy buffalo just in case or just because. We are a dispicable people.