The Schweitzer news release on bison

Here it is. I can’t discern the details from what is in the release. Ralph Maughan

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

CONTACTS: Sarah Elliott 406-444-9725

Governor, Park Superintendent, Church President Announce RTR Agreement

(HELENA) – Governor Brian Schweitzer, Church Universal and Triumphant and Royal Teton Ranch (RTR) President Kate Gordon, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, and several non-government groups today announced completion of a long awaited agreement that moves the Yellowstone-area Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) through a critical step for protection of both Montana’s cattle industry and the Park bison herd.

“For a decade all parties have recognized a critical piece in solving bison, livestock and brucellosis concerns has been the RTR agreement,” said Governor Brian Schweitzer. “This is a good day for bison, livestock, and Montana. I would like to thank all the folks involved in making this happen.”

The IBMP was signed in 2000 by two Montana and three federal agencies: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Department of Livestock, Yellowstone National Park, the Forest Service, and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The plan’s two central goals are to maintain Yellowstone’s wild, free-ranging bison population, and to protect Montana’s livestock industry from the risk of transmission of brucellosis.

Governor Schweitzer, Lewis, and Gordon jointly announced a draft agreement that contains the nuts and bolts of the deal. Superintendent Lewis announced a commitment of $1.5 million toward the deal, while the state has committed to working with nonprofits to contribute a similar amount to the 30-year grazing lease of RTR property. The agreement provides for tolerance of bison while removing cattle and reducing the risk of disease transmission.

“Considering where things stood just a few short years ago, this agreement is remarkable and historic,” said Governor Schweitzer. I commend Kate Gordon and FWP Regional Supervisor Pat Flowers, and their hard-working negotiators, for their perseverance. I especially want to thank Park Superintendent Lewis and the National Wildlife Federation, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association, and Montana Wildlife Federation for their help in bringing folks together, and committing to finding the dollars to seal the deal.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the recently released Government Accountability Office report that severely criticized federal agencies for lack of progress toward implementation of the IBMP. “Some thought just having this plan in place was enough, and that we didn’t need to show progress. They thought we could keep managing bison in the same scenario, year in and out and somehow expect improved results. They touted this plan as adequate protection for the cattle industry, but the discovery of a herd with brucellosis-infected animals last May way out by Bridger made clear the error of that sort of thinking,” said Governor Schweitzer. “Today we have made great progress on the disease-risk front, despite the foot-dragging by naysayers.”

“For three years now I have offered ideas and pointed out problems with the current plan. I’ve been concerned about going down the same road as Wyoming and Idaho, with loss of their disease-free status. Now we have a GAO report that echoes my concerns, and with today’s agreement we have the impetus to improve this plan, and improve it we will. We’ll continue to work in partnership with those who come to the table in a straightforward manner, with practical ideas to offer.”

The IBMP was designed to operate in steps, with each progressive step designed to better secure disease risk management and bison herd protection goals. It was originally thought that step two of the plan, the RTR deal, would be reached by the winter of 2002-2003, but the plan remained stuck in step one until Governor Schweitzer asked Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to rekindle negotiations with RTR in 2005.

Sarah J. Elliott
Communications Director
Governor Brian Schweitzer


  1. dbaileyhill Avatar

    “Great progress” was made for ?????
    I guess being direct would be too much to ask for…

  2. Nathan Avatar

    from my limited understanding of this proposal all of this money 2.5 million from state and federal funding is being spent to allowing grazing rights for a grand sum of 25 buffalo for 30 years. What good does this do when we are up to 1601 buffalo kills for this year alone? Seems like a very two faced plan to me really and is nothing more than a PR stunt to defuse the situation.

    A article i found regarding the CUT plan, its probably all old news to those well versed in the politics of the issue.

  3. Pronghorn Avatar

    I’m a life-long Democrat who won’t be voting for Schweitzer again. I’ll simply refrain from voting in the governor’s race. (Hear that, guv? Wanna bet I’m not alone?) I kept wondering why the fraud, the money, the blatant lies, the political posturing all sounded so familiar, and then I realized…oh yeah, Bush and the Iraq war.

    Nathan, they say they will continue to allow incremental numbers of bison out of the park in succeeding years. But suffice it to say that those sorry animals will have lost their inherent wildness once they’ve “prepped” them. They will be treated as surrogate livestock.

  4. bozemanactivist Avatar

    One – does the funding still need an appropriation from Congress and/or the state legislature? Perhaps, this can be killed. It’s extortion and a cynical political stunt. This is so unnecessary and does not change the fundamentals of the bison problem. Now, in addition to slaughter, we’ll simply have more testing. What a useless agreement. Now, it’s sad that all we can hope for is that it in essence is a political stunt.

    Two – I read something more disturbing in BFC’s update from the field. They are saying the Park Service is claiming that only 1,436 bison are now alive in Yellowstone. Does anyone have an electronic version of that report?

  5. jjordan Avatar

    Come on Gov, The whole deal is laughable, 25 Bison fitted with vaginal telemetry devices; what are they going to do next install a vaginal telemetry alert Siren, Can you image 20 DOL workers responding to a vaginal telemetry Alert siren just in time to catch one falling Bison calf just so they can whisk them off to the slaughter house in record time.

  6. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    “The plan’s two central goals are”

    “to maintain Yellowstone’s wild, free-ranging bison population ”
    Comment – How does allowing a few dozen bison per year to not be sent to slaughter accomplish this?

    “to protect Montana’s livestock industry from the risk of transmission of brucellosis”
    Comment – To protect from something that was never really a threat, what a load of bullshit.

    Government at work…..Let’s piss away a few million dollars and rearrange few deck chairs on the Titanic…..prolem solved.

  7. sal Avatar


    Last news I heard from Park insiders is that the winter kill this year is phenomenal due to hard, deep snow and the inability to find much forage outside the Park. I don’t recall who related this to me but I heard that it isn’t just the deep snow holding up the plowing, it’s also the removal of all the dead bison and elk inside the Park.

    I was in Lamar Valley last week and all the animals looked pretty bad, they looked pretty rough down around West Yellowstone too.

    That’s what I heard from folks I would consider credible about the goings on inside, the rest I saw for myself.

  8. Brian Ertz Avatar

    are there any other cattle on private land in the area that conflict with bison post this agreement ?

  9. dbaileyhill Avatar

    I don’t remember where i read this, but it was in the last 10 days ; The only remaining cows on private land were on the Royal Teton Ranch.

  10. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Maybe it is time we start demanding the resignation of superintendent Lewis for going along with all of this. 25 bison is a joke.

  11. Catbestland Avatar

    Vaginal telemetry devices???? What the hell is that? Sounds like IUDs to me. To keep them from getting pregnant maybe? Anything placed within the animal’s vaginal will keep them from getting pregnant. Sounds like a good day for ivestock and Montana livestock owners only.

  12. Brian Ertz Avatar

    then why the hell are they only allowing 25 through ?

    it seems to me that if there is no more private property to consider, there is ample opportunity for application of pressure relating to public management. obviously, i think that the extortion is absurd. it sets the bar too high for similar efforts in the future. but if the agreement clears the private property consideration out of the way, it seems like it might clear room for some significant effort to take tread ~

  13. Brian Ertz Avatar

    it would be interesting to know whether the 25 limit and the implants are a condition of the private lease, or whether they’re a policy of the agency(ies).

  14. dbaileyhill Avatar

    This “agreement” is one huge slap in the face!! No return on the investment, but will just cost more money for implementing the new management addition. “Historic”?? no. Merely consistent with the past.
    Somebody please pinch me because i must be having one helluva bad dream.

  15. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, back in 1980, the Forbes Ranch–now the CUT ranch–was for sale for $7 million. Instead of lobbying Congress for money to buy the ranch, the late Superintendent John Townsley stole $7 million from Congress for construction of the first 100 hotel rooms at Grant Village–in great grizzly habiatat. Once Townsley had his seed money, he argued that he needed another $30 million because what was the point of having 100 hotel rooms if he didn’t have any employee housing. Or a front desk, bar and restaurant. While we’re at it, we might as well add a couple hundred hotel rooms. If you let me do this, I promise I’ll close the Fishing Bridge Campground and RV Park (wink, wink). There should be a plaque in the lobby at Grant telling the real story. And the name should be changed to Moron Motel or something more appropriate.

  16. bozemanactivist Avatar

    Now, I hear that the Grant Village hotel rooms have a bed bug problem. I haven’t confirmed that, but it’s being written in reviews on travel sites.

    I am angry beyond words, and if there are only 1,436 buffalo left, with more winter to go, what will happen?

    I wish I had the source on that information because it would be huge news.

  17. bozemanactivist Avatar

    By the way, I just received this regarding the number of buffalo. Here’s a bit more news. The slaughter apparently is over for the season on both boundaries. There will be hazing but no more slaughter.

    The NPS is now claiming the number is down to 2,300, not 1,436. However, here is the relevant part of the report.

    “In the interior some mixed groups, totaling ~230, moving around Hayden Valley, the Lakeshore and in Pelican Valley. There are approximately 540 bison in the Geyser Basins. There are approximately 58 bison out of the park, west of Hwy 191 and on Hwy 191 itself. There are approximately 88 bison between 191 and Cougar Meadows inside the park. On the Northern Range bison are primarily utilizing Blacktail and Hellroaring slope with limited, but increasing use of Little America. There are now roughly 170 bison on Blacktail Deer Plateau. There has been some movement east from Gardiner to Blacktail with 3 radio collared bison, but movement has continued to the North, including two radio collared bison from Swan Lake. There are approximately 350 bison in the Gardiner basin, including ~135 in the Eagle Creek area.”

    (58) out of park

    So, how incompetent are they? How is 2,300 when their own report says 1,436? What’s the truth? And, how can anyone feel good about either number?!

  18. bozemanactivist Avatar

    That’s 58 out of park – not 5 with a smiley face

  19. Michael Avatar

    The DOL, Schweitzer, Lewis get to go home smiling. They believe that they have gotten the monkey off their back before it becomes a gorilla. The mainstream media goes away. Spring arrives soon and the starving bison move back to the park, until next winter when everyone gets to do it all over again.

    What irony. The stranglehold of drought is broken with a heavy snow pack but there aren’t going to be a lot of bison left to enjoy it. The combination of a hard winter and the maniacal killing of the bison results in possibly twice as many bison dying, than even the killers might have dreamed about. They might be doing more than smiling, they are probably laughing. A clear case of the “good guys do not always win.”

  20. Buffaloed Avatar

    bozemanactivist, could you provide a link to this info? I can’t find it on the NPS page.

  21. Buffaloed Avatar

    Oh, I see you’ve just posted it.

  22. bozemanactivist Avatar

    The 2,300 number is from BFC in correspondence they apparently had with NPS.

    The end of slaughter is also from that correspondence with BFC from ears at the press conference.

  23. vicki Avatar

    Okay, one of the biggest problems so far, with any moanagement of the bison, is the threat of genetic diversity being diminished.
    SO, knowing that, why the hell would anyone who’s IQ exceeds 50 place a device into a bison to keep it from getting pregnant?
    And if they are so big on contraception, why is our teen pregnancy rate rising in huge ways!!!!
    WHat does a bison have to endure to be implanted with a vaginal implant? How freakin’ stupid!
    Next thing you know they’ll be taking bulls to the vet to get a bison vasectomy. I find this ludicrous.
    And 25 sterile bison are of little genetic or numeric help in the efforts to mainatin genetically pure and diverse bison.
    This is political hogwash. It is very hard to take, as I can’t help but be insulted. How stupid do these people take everyone for? What would make them call this historical? Unless the “historical” crap is a reference to an all time level of bullshit being cultivated and then dumped onto the American public.
    Arrghhh, I am so p.o’d!!!

  24. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    Are we to believe that the buffalo migrated to Bridger and infected a cattle herd?

  25. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    Are we to now believe that the buffalo migrated to Bridger and infected a cattle herd?

  26. Buffaloed Avatar

    Brain, there are a few cattle on the east side of the river from CUT that belong to Hank Rate. I pointed them out to you when we drove by them.

  27. Buffaloed Avatar


    The vaginal transmitters are placed in the buffalo after they have become pregnant and come out while giving birth then start beeping so that a study can be done of the birthing area to find brucellosis.

  28. vicki Avatar

    Still stupid. Though studying after birth would be vauable, they could do it on any number of domesticated bison in a more controlled setting.
    So will these bison will be violated, and terrified. ANd any time you place a foreign body into a vagina, especially once conception has occured, you place the host and the fetus at risk of infection, and I am certain it would increase the risk of spontaneous abortion. I’m not big on this one. But I am happy it isn’t an attempt at a bison contraceptive. I don’t find it a very good move either though.

  29. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    They have been using the devices for some time on Ungulates such as Elk and Deer and there isnt much documented as to permenant effects (that doesnt mean they dont exist however)

    , in this case I imagine the main purpose of the devices are probably to locate fetus material and get it cleaned up and destroyed before any ‘brucellosis bugs’ could be transmitted.

    A stupid waste of money if you ask me. What I dont understand is why dont we do this backwards and shoot the few cattle that happen to come across a Buffalo, with a 2.5 million dollar budget on this ridiculous vaginal implant plan I am sure they could afford to pay off the ranchers that lose a few cattle because they brushed shoulders with a bison…maybe while they are at it they could study if Bison are really a huge transmission threat to begin with!!!

    The current plan is only going to ruin the Buffalo further by destroying its already limited genetic diversity and making it even MORE prone to diesease.

  30. kim kaiser Avatar

    all this did was get the major media markets out of the way. Now that a “Historic deal” has been made, i bet you wont see another article related to the bison for years to come.. what a crock of bullshit

  31. kim kaiser Avatar

    here is a good example of the above,

    from the earthlink headline news. note the title

  32. bozemanactivist Avatar

    Yes, that AP headline is everywhere. It’s despicable. When the story comes about actual buffalo numbers (and there’s still some confusion over that), will anyone note that almost all these buffalo would now be dead even under this deal?

    And, just as I thought, the news shows the government’s people citing the support of the sell-out NGOs who have sold out the buffalo. I expect duplicity from the government; this is essentially an act of betrayal by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the National Wildlife Federation. They stay silent, then swoop in, and take credit for a disaster.

    I am both angry and heartbroken.

    A hard winter storm is on its way.

  33. vicki Avatar

    I agree.
    You could certianly buy a chunk of land, place some domesticated bison who test positive for ANTIBODIES (which is what most bison have when slaughtered-not an active infection) in an enclosure with some cattle. (Give them realistic space, as they would have limited interection in the wild). See how many immunized cattle actually end up with brucellosis. It seems pretty simple.
    Then they could do the same in another enclosure with elk.

    That seems considerabley cheaper and much more realistic then the 007 expullsion trasmitter that they are wanting to use.
    Frankly, I think that the transmitter is a way for the governement to act like they’ve been doing so much research, and they finally found this new technology, after years of hard and expensive well meant research. They are trying to put out the dillusional smoke screen that paints them perfect, and expunges their culpability for the mass slaughter and extinction of a true Yellowstone bison herd.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan