Why buffalo and why not the CUT deal? Against utilitarianism






  1. vicki Avatar

    That was a very insightful essay, and I appreciated it.
    I get asked, daily almost, why did I pick wolves? Why bison? I think you summed it up. They are the Yellowstone I love.
    I wsh you luck in your endeavor to save them, and if I can in any way help you…feel free to call upon me.
    Is this new group by chance the one Bozeman Activist is involved in? He seems quite the resource.

  2. bozemanactivist Avatar

    That’s me.

    Thanks for your kind words,

  3. Russell Williams Avatar
    Russell Williams

    Very well written. Thanks Jim.

  4. dbaileyhill Avatar

    Very much appreciated. Thank you Jim.

  5. bozemanactivist Avatar

    Well, there are several sloppy errors – some driving me nuts at the beginning at the end of the essay. But, though I edit for a living, I don’t usually have the patience in my own writing because there’s a certain timeliness to the moment in which I craft an essay.

    Still, I appreciate the comments. I know that there will be a lot of buffalo allies who bring their own utilitarian analyses to the situation. While I will always believe the approach to be flawed and think that the challenges of answering these sorts of questions bring out the flaws, I think we should all still work together as we have that conversation.

    If there are stronger arguments we should make, we should make them – we never want to settle for the lowest argument that wins because it often sets us up for future disaster. One thing that always came to mind in the anti-war movement was the WMD argument. A lot of us would still have opposed the Iraq war had their been WMDs in Iraq, but so many insisted so much on the “no WMD” argument that if there had been any, it would have set the movement up for failure, and the success of the argument would have been to build only a paper thin movement.

    I think the buffalo, the wolves, the land deserve our most consistent arguments; those arguments can sometimes have radical implications that make us unpopular in the short term. However, if we persist, we will win out. Think of the abolitionists, for instance. No one liked them, but now we might look back at many of them and think of them as relatively conservative (many of those abolitionists for tactical reasons, for instance, opposed pushing woman suffrage after the Civil War).

    So, though we need to be open in our movements to people of all persuasions and all reasonings (after all, our motivation in a movement is motion – a change in behavior), our internal dialogue is just as important so that we can strengthen our sense of why.

    I guess it’s kind of like building family units and herd integrity in a way that works within what makes humanity humanity.

    I’ve gone on longer than I intended. I wanted to thank people here for all they add to the conversation and the movement.

    Thanks again,

  6. Monty Avatar

    bozenmanactivistist: from a cold rainy day in Oregon, I have taken a day off from hiking in our beautiful rain forests and have read your essay 3 times. A month ago, I spent a week in the Lamar Valley, observing bision & elk grazing the south rocky slopes & wondering how these beasts could survive on such an impoverished diet. Our elk & deer, in westside Oregon, live in a “tropical lush forest” compared to Yellowstone. My point being is that it is “cruel & unusual punishment” to continue to fatten the bison in the summer while starving them to death in the winter. If we want to have bision, they must have access to adequate winter range. Anything less is unacceptable! Thanks for the wonderful essay.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    You sure are right about western Oregon versus Yellowstone, Monty.

    So many people don’t understand that. They think because they can openly see wildlife in Yellowstone the land there must have some special wildlife generation powers, when it is, as you saw, sub-marginal during much of the year.

  8. bozemanactivist Avatar

    As an interesting follow-up to this controversy over CUT, Amy McNamara, of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, has written an op-ed in National Parks Traveler defending the CUT deal as a “huge step forward.”

    See http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/04/gyc-explains-value-latest-agreement-yellowstone-national-park-bison

  9. dbaileyhill Avatar

    Thanks for the link. Same bs different day. McNamara has successfully pulled the wool over her own eyes. She can think whatever she pleases, but what makes me so darn pissed off is that she is peddling this crap on the travel site! I am sick of all the lying, oops( lets make that sound not so bad)… all the dishonesty. Yes the word “dishonest” sound much more nice than saying the GYC flat out lied. If they can’t tell the truth they need to shut up. I really hate lying!! It seems to me that the result–nothing–is evidence of what was put into the “agreement”, nothing. I hope their supporters realize they are dumping donations down a hole.

  10. jjordan Avatar

    Im just providing this news link, I am not endorsing this in any way, However its nice to know the Bison meat is being used for a good cause.

    Billings Food Bank buys 3,200 pounds of Bison meat at 55 cents per pound



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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan