Buffalo Field Campaign mobilizes to protect bison in Island Park
Idaho’s livestock politicians is as regressive as Montana about bison leaving Yellowstone, but a bison bull has wandered into Idaho near Henry’s Lake, and they are out to kill him.
The Buffalo Field Campaign wants to document what goes on to give it some media attention.
Buffalo Field Campaign mobilizes to protect bison in Island Park. Island Park News.
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.
51 Responses to Buffalo Field Campaign mobilizes to protect bison in Island Park
Subscribe to Blog via EmailJoin 973 other subscribers
- The Logging Juggernaut June 6, 2023
- New Bison Video From Yellowstone Voices June 5, 2023
- We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate. May 31, 2023
- Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges May 27, 2023
- Grizzlies Get A Win On Upper Green May 26, 2023
- Ida Lupine on New Bison Video From Yellowstone Voices
- Jeff on The Logging Juggernaut
- Charles Fox on The Logging Juggernaut
- Maximilian Werner on New Bison Video From Yellowstone Voices
- Diane Martin-Brodak on New Bison Video From Yellowstone Voices
- Steve Kohlmann on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Ida Lupine on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Kevin Bixby on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Lyn McCormick on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Jannett Heckert on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Rick Meis on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Ida Lupine on Save Our Sequoias Act–A Stealth Attack On NEPA, ESA and Our Sequoia Groves
- Mary on Save Our Sequoias Act–A Stealth Attack On NEPA, ESA and Our Sequoia Groves
- Rambling Dave on Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges
- Ida Lupine on Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges
I don’t hear much about bison and how they are handled outside of Montana. Could anyone tell me more about laws to deal with the bison in Idaho?
They kill all of the them, at least until there is no more brucellosis in Yellowstone.
There are, of course, some private bison herds — livestock.
What ignorance. It is really astonishing that in this age we could still have people be so oblivious to what constitues a real threat, and what constitutes manipulation. The irony is that Idaho has so few cattle compared to the other states that have such hard core responses to bison.
It is so difficult for me to explain this to people. Why do they kill the bison? I can’t even try to tell them that it is because they pose any real threat. When I tell people it is really about cattlemen controling government entities and grazing rights, they ask if people still do that.
I can only think of a few other injustices toward wildlife in this country that equal the malice of the treatment of bison. I can only say that it SHOULD be criminal, and is exceptionally inhumane.
It is truly disheartening to see the stand still of progress for the bison. But it is inspirational when you see people like Ralph, and Jim, and Bob, and so many others here, who keep fighting the good fight. I wish there were more that could be done from other states.
Just wait, if Palin gets elected (with McBush), she will use Fed funds for a propanda campaign to continue this pathetic routine of hazing/killing….
If Obama, gets in, I bet all this changes within a couple years.
Therefore, vote Obama. A no brainer for me….
Why is there any belief that this will change under Obama? There are two federal departments and three federal agencies under this plan, and you’d have to make inspired choices under all three, and then you’d still have the problem of the conflicting missions under the agencies. If Schweitzer, who is at least as progressive ideologically as Obama – from those I trust who know him personally – can’t get two agencies to pull from the plan in Montana, why believe that Obama will do much as President?
Could he? Yes, in theory, he could … but you can’t even get Obama supporters in Montana to care about this issue (from my own direct experience here trying) – how are you going to get anyone at the national level to care about this, though they hold so many of the cards?
My point is that the vote is meaningless to this issue. This started under Clinton, continued under Bush. It started under Racicot and Martz and continued under Schweitzer. It doesn’t change; the system is truly broken. And, electoral politics won’t change it. And, we have to stop putting energy into candidates and elections where nothing happens – we might get lucky on an issue here and there and cherry pick success, but that’s not a fundamental improvement and not worth our time.
As for Idaho, one bull was already shot in Idaho this summer according to BFC. I don’t have high hopes for this one. In the old days, that part of Idaho was famous for sheltering poachers. But, it won’t shelter bison. Rex Rammell can get away with losing his domestic elk near Yellowstone, but one buffalo will not be able to get away with crossing these stupid borders.
Unfortunately, it won’t matter who is elected at the national level, there will be no change in how Bison are treated, it is not a big enough issue to really garner any national attention, and in the whole scope of things, it is not even a blip on the map. I know McCain has been running around talking about the Grizzly DNA project, but I strongly suspect if elected, you will not see any change in that program either, it is simply a rally point, there is much more waste going on in Government to worry about than Bison and Bears…these are important issues to us in the know and involved. But they mean very little in the big picture..
I guess to put it a diff’t way since you 2 are probably right, I am willing to bet there is much more of a chance (if there is one) in an Obama admin of this being changed, even though the Republicans decry the waste of tax $ being spent (while we continue to spend trillions overseas)…
Bison were very numerous in Idaho when the first trappers arrived on the scene. In the 1820s, John Work of the Hudson Bay Company, complained that his horses were starving in the Big Lost River drainage, near the mouth of Antelope Creek due to the heavy grazing by thousands of Bison. Osborne Russell makes many references in his Journal of the large numbers of Bison that he encountered in Idaho.
Idaho has lots of public land that would support Bison (Birch Creek, Upper Little Lost, Upper Big Lost, INEEL Site, and many others) , but the same livestock interests that don’t want Bighorns or Elk eating “their grass” are opposed to letting any Bison get a start in the state. Brucellosis is just an excuse to keep Bison out.
That’s interesting Larry because I learned, perhaps wrongly, that Idaho had only several hundred bison which the Indians slaughtered quickly when they gained horses and rifles.
You can read Osborne Russell’s entire journal here:
Very interesting stuff.
As I recall from reading it there were numerous references to buffalo in Eastern Idaho. The area around INL and Fort Hall seemed to come to mind.
I think Birch Creek, INL and other public lands should have buffalo too. In fact I’ve been thinking about that for a long long time.
The bull was shot on Monday. So much for protecting native wildlife.
Is Western Watersheds advocating for bison on public lands yet? I understand first things first.
WWP just opened a Montana office – including hiring two lawyers to bring the state’s BLM, FS, and livestock industry some public oversight of the WWP variety. From what I understand, WWP will be joining the conversation, perhaps even the legal conversation, concerning bison advocacy.
I also would like to know what WWP wants to “do” with the feral horses if they are “successful” in getting them removed from public lands? Just advocating for their removal resolves NOTHING. They’ll be sent to slaughterhouses.
These horses have been terribly persecuted by cattle ranchers since the 1960’s. Now it appears they’re even being persecuted by WWP, an organization I have incidentally donated to.
WWP does not advocate the removal of feral horses. actually, WWP has a band of feral horses that visits its Greenfire preserve – much to members delight. BLM has certainly recieved an earful when hazing these beautiful horses with helicopters. Elissa Kline has visited the preserve and photographed them.
the caretaker of Greenfire describes beautifully a day watching the horses when a wolf approached, not for long ! The wolf turned tail and was out of there upon confrontation.
From what I understand Barb, there are differing opinions within the organization as to feral horses.
Then they should probably put their stance on that on their website to make it clear as it’s a big issue.
Yesterday there were 2 comments on their blog — one was blasting away horses trampling on public lands — the guy used a term like “blast them away” –and another commenter asked about it and someone responded quite confidentially that they DO advocate for the removal of feral horses on BLM land.
Either way, they do need to make it clear so people know how they stand on the issue.
… but today the comments I noticed were gone. They were removed.
I have to agree with Save Bears and Jim Macdonald above. Election of Barack Obama, which I fully support for other reasons, won’t make much difference to bison. Obama has made it quite clear that he’ll listen to western (Democratic) governors on resource issues, who themselves can’t see beyond their agricultural glasses.
Bison (mis)management will continue for as long as we depend upon the political process to end it.
More than ever, I believe our only legal recourse is an ESA petition to list Yellowstone bison based upon their genetic uniqueness and fragility. I have mentioned this before with some opposition to a DPS approach from readers of this blog. They say we should include bison in all conservation herds. Our problem is that we don’t have strong genetic data on all the conservation herds, and it is also a big problem that the conservation herds, with the exception of bison in Yellowstone and Wind Cave National Parks, have or very likely have cattle genes. Including these other herds in an ESA petition would disqualify it immediately.
It’s also true that the livestock and land management agencies, despite the extraordinary slaughter of bison this past winter, seem to have no interest in the precarious genetic status of Yellowstone bison. They rely instead on the use of raw numbers, arbitrarily established by the livestock industry-generated Interagency Bison Management Plan, to assert that bison are being managed sustainably. We know this claim is false, but so far the agencies make the claim without shame.
It seems to me we have no choice but to pursue an ESA listing. Since we know ahead of time the Fish & Wildlife Service would deny such a petition, we’ll have to take the issue to court. The sooner the better, because we don’t have much more time to stop the slaughter.
A question here on the ESA listing … It took several years for a response on the last request. While it sets the roadmap for how to request the next one, any reason to believe that the answer will come sooner? Didn’t the last one take more than five years to be rejected?
Just wondering because if it is sooner, then the tactic is definitely worth pursuing.
I have been advocating for listing of the Bison for over 19 years now, and it has been falling on deaf ears, and according to a law wrote, it should have been done in 1919…but I am starting to lose faith, and am at the point, I don’t know which direction to go.
But based on research, the Yellowstone Bison, do indeed deserve protection under ESA…
SB — 1919? The ESA didn’t exist then — ???
If we are following law, they should have been protected many decades ago…there is NO reason to shoot and kill them, the genetic nature of Bison in Yellowstone, deserves protection..
I agree, could you explain the legal aspect more? I’m not understanding what you mean.
Take a look at the original Lacey act..
Then take a look at this over view..
Thanks — I read both — jeesh — the legalese of the “various” Lacey acts is confusing.
I am thinking the issue boils down to who is shooting the bison in buffalo. If it’s a governmental agency, do they have the “proper authority” and does that take precedence over the Lacey Act – – if so, did they get permission to “override” a law? Need a good atty. to answer this one.
If Obama is like Schweitzer, he’ll kill even more bison than have died under Bush. I certainly hope Obama is not as weak a Democratic leader as Schweitzer.
We need a true environmental advocate not afraid to stand up to the Good ol’ boys! At the very least, one that is not HOSTILE to the issues.
Obama, McCain and Bush probably have never heard of the Yellowstone Bison.
What will count is who is Secretary of Interior and the various undersecretaries and bureau chiefs.
Many will be from the West, but not the same pool as the Republican’s from the West.
You’re so right.
I read that article re: the economy and found another good one:
Interesting that the Dept. of Interior uses A BISON as its friggin’ logo but can’t take the time or effort to really protect them.
raul grijalva 4 secretary of DOI
RH says: “More than ever, I believe our only legal recourse is an ESA petition to list Yellowstone bison based upon their genetic uniqueness and fragility. I have mentioned this before with some opposition to a DPS approach from readers of this blog. They say we should include bison in all conservation herds. Our problem is that we don’t have strong genetic data on all the conservation herds, and it is also a big problem that the conservation herds, with the exception of bison in Yellowstone and Wind Cave National Parks, have or very likely have cattle genes. Including these other herds in an ESA petition would disqualify it immediately.”
First, I agree that bison should be listed under the ESA and would be very happy to see the Yellowstone bison listed as a DPS. However, I am one who believes it shouldn’t stop there. It would be absurd to claim that wild Yellowstone bison are in danger of extinction in a significant portion of their range, but that bison outside of this area are not.
Bison once ranged across most of what is now the United States– from west of the Rockies across all of the Great Plains, through the Midwest, and even to the East coast.
If what I’ve read is accurate, genetically-pure, free-ranging bison occupy a fraction of a fraction (< 2%?) of their historical range. Thus, I would argue that bison bison (the species, as a whole) is in danger of extinction–not just in Yellowstone–but throughout its range in the conterminous United States.
So what I would suggest is NOT that we should include bison in all the conservation herds (for the reasons you point out), but, as was done with the red wolf, start by determining which bison are genetically pure and removing those that are not pure from the wild breeding pool. This would allow FWS to assess (1) exactly how many genetically-pure, free-roaming bison there are, and (2) what portion of their potentially-suitable historical range they currently occupy. Were this done, I believe it would become obvious to all (well, with a few exceptions) that the species bison bison is in danger throughout the United States.
Interesting that the Dept. of Interior uses A BISON as its friggin’ logo but can’t take the time or effort to really protect them.
MT uses a bison skull on some of there license plates as well,, fits in for the process they use to make the skull
I don’t disagree; of course it shouldn’t stop there, but we have to start somewhere, and it might as well be Yellowstone bison, given the politics and the short-term impacts of the slaughter on the health of Yellowstone bison. I think we simply don’t have enough data to support a North America-wide listing of genetically pure bison. Believe me, however, people are working to develop this data. It just takes time and funding.
The last petition to list Bison was submitted by a private citizen and was allowed to sit for years. I don’t think that’ll happen this time. Failure by the FWS to make a determination with the time period required will immediately go to court. Our efforts will be more formal and will attempt to cover the issues you mention.
I think it will be very difficult to argue that bison in conservation herds with cattle genes should be removed from the wild. An option would be to sell them for commercial use, but that obviously has some philosophical problems (commercialization of wildlife, even with cattle genes).
A major problem is that we do not in fact have a good strategy for restoring bison to their historical range in North America. The American Bison Society/American Prairie Foundation/Wildlife Conservation Society plan is very limited, primarily because it generally ignores Native American Tribes and gives too much consideration to the cattle industry, which is a significant obstacle to bison restoration.
I have come to the conclusion that restoration of bison to their historical range necessarily involves the Tribes, who hitherto have been ignored and denigrated. The entire political mess at the National Bison Range, with the conflict between the FWS and the Salish Kootenai Tribe over control of the Range, is absurd and mostly manufactured out of a turf war.
Unless we have the Tribes as full-fledged partners, bison restoration will fail. That’s where our thinking really needs to go.
I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said. My worry is that–as with the previous petition–FWS will find a convenient way to argue that the Yellowstone bison are not endangered and the petition will fail. Of course, it would go to court, but I could see a judge siding with FWS in this scenario.
In contrast, given the rulings on the SPR issue, I think FWS would have trouble denying that the bison (in general) is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its range. Even if it did, I think its likely the courts would not agree. Still, I understand the desire to make the Yellowstone listing happen ASAP, and wish all the best to anyone willing to work on a petition.
RH and JB,
You both make good points.
I wonder, (maybe Jim knows) is there a map that could be shown which would represent ranges where bison could be allowed to roam if their numbers were ever to increase? As, I see it, one huge hurdle to any signifigant restoration would be the fences and the lack of corridors blocked by private land. I have often wondered about where they would roam and how far. I wonder if they would ever instinctually wander farther than they attempt to now.
I can see that it would be argued that the YNP bison are not endangered, because of the “close supervision and management of the herds”. Yet their preserved space could easily serve as their ‘gas chamber’ if ever a disease came into play that really posed a threat. What if anthrax made it’s way to the YNP herds…they have no course of escape, they are imprisoned by their current “protection”. All it would take to wipe out the genetic purity would be one bad year, one bad illness, one natural disaster.
Considering the numbers of bison slaughtered each year for traveling outside the park (or often traveling toward the area outside the park), and the change of weather patterns..it would be a minimal act of Mother Nature between breeding season and spring, to wipe out the herds entirely. Starvation looms in good and bad weather. Should there not be a plan inplace to revoke grazing permits and allow bison access to public lands when snow levels reach a certain number of inches? The inches would be reflective of bison being unable to forage.
Likewise, should there not be a plan to allow migration into public lands when drought inhibits the bison from foraging as well?
I know I might be sounding naive, but I am no expert, and ask so I can better understand.
I wonder how we might get the native tribes as full partners? What’s “in it” for them?
In it for them? Well, atleast part of it is tradition. They value the earth as a part of their way of life. Unlike many others, who value their way of life, and the earth seems to get in their way.
Native American’s would be allowed to hunt, and eat some of the bison too.
But, what else RH?
I’m trying to understand what would motivate them to get on our side, from their point of view. I understand Native Americans do not fit our stereotypes of them (Dances with Wolves). That they are very much into casinos, making a profit, etc. Does that make sense?
Buffalo Field Campaign has a petition on their website … scroll down right hand column … you can download, gather signatures and send to me at:
barb abramo, Office Coordinator
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone MT 59758-1089
thanks for your help
BFC’s website is:
It is all hard to get, I know. I can’t figure a lot of it out.
I see Natives as stuck between what has been forceabley become nesessary for them to survive and what has always been sacred to them.
I wish I had details too, what elese could be pursuading them to our camp?
As to ranges, the very best person to talk with that I know is Glenn Hockett of the Gallatin Wildlife Association. He goes around from meeting to meeting with a giant Gallatin National Forest map that he’s added to with private property markings and wildlife areas.
Personally, I think Yellowstone buffalo if allowed to would simply expand and expand and should be allowed to do that.
However, Glenn suggests there are a couple natural geographic boundaries – one in the west and one in the north (the one in the north in particular is fascinating because it’s clear that it ends at what has to be a natural buffalo jump and would serve as a kind of ironclad boundary unless buffalo took another route before getting there (which under current use boundaries would not be possible). In any event, the hope then would be to manage buffalo as wildlife since they would have sufficient wintering habitat. That would at least allow these buffalo movement back and forth, and when numbers got too high, then a hunt would be appropriate because the buffalo at least have wintering and summer movements. Buffalo would then be treated as wildlife and not as livestock.
I don’t think we should pose any management boundaries on buffalo who live in Yellowstone, but at least at the point they have habitat, we could understand why people depending on buffalo for their own survival might do so. Right now, I don’t think any hunt – even those of the Nez Perce and Salish Kootenai – serves the purpose of the animals, even though it’s never easy at all to criticize what tribes do without at the same time acknowledging the genocide that makes any government enforcement against what these tribes do morally impossible. It’s almost as if to say the hunt shouldn’t happen, but there’s nothing anyone can rightfully do outside the tribes themselves to put a finger up to stop it without also dealing simultaneously with centuries of ongoing abuse.
Anyhow, to the comments that have been made about Native Americans being into casinos and making a profit, etc. … It is very dangerous to think of indigenous peoples as monolithic. There are tribes that have refused casino revenue. There are plenty of people within each tribe that oppose casino revenue. There are all kinds of shades in between. There are divisions of all kinds within tribes, haves and have nots, etc. But, there is one thing that holds everything together. There is no getting Native Americans on “our side,” which is patronizing. That is, no matter what, wildlife advocates won’t meaningfully work with any tribe without at the same time working on a history of abuse that those tribes face. That is, we don’t win indigenous people to our side; we work in a spirit of solidarity with the overriding concerns of the people and centuries of abuse.
That doesn’t mean we agree with what the tribes always do; it means we have the conversation within the larger context in which we both inhabit – where buffalo slaughter and genocide were functions of the very same processes and abuse. And, maybe that doesn’t get everyone in a tribe running to “our side”, but at least we are all dealing with our shared environment in a helpful and healing way.
Anyhow, the short of it is to be careful of stereotypes and be even more careful to avoid trying to win indigenous people over. Before people work together, we must develop a working relationship on equal terms. That is, in simplistic terms, we must be won over as well. But, it remains simplistic because being won over doesn’t mean we agree with everything, it means solidarity and respect.
Then, maybe we might all roam free.
Appreciate your posting and your thoughts.
I definitely was not suggesting that all native americans are into casinos. But some are and that is true.
What I was trying to do was point out that Native Americans do not all think the same way — that we will be surprised when we find out what we thought they care about, they actually don’t. We can’t be condescending.
I had the opportunity this past summer to go the Native American Museum in D.C. It was quite a place, incredible — let me tell you. A main theme was that they are “not all alike” nor think in the same ways, from tribe to tribe.
The only way to find out how we can work with them is to ask them directly/open up dialogues. I think these are already going on?
if you think that shootin them over the hood of a car as they pass certain boudaries is the way the indians should hunt them to give them there “legacy” as a basis for a hunt, then they shouldnt have back that kind of legacy, because that is exactly what they do up in jardine,,, sit in their trucks on the road, and shoot over the hood of the car, or better yet, in some cases, right out the window,,,then hook them to a cable winch, and drag them to the truck,,, sounds like a fine sport to me, makes elk hunting off the back of atvs look like a real expedition hunt
Self-determination – sovereignty of indigenous nations – is importand and ought be respected whatever the determination may be.
Jim, I think you’re right. I don’t think there is anything that can be done to stop it – and ultimately, I don’t think trying to stop it to save the species is a good way of going about preservation of bison. I think efforts ought focus on the threats other than those that are an exercize of native sovereignty such that bison come to recovery in tandum with the excersize of native self-determination. To do otherwise is to focus on a small element that may or may not threaten bison disproportionately to the huge and more substantive abuses underway given the current management regime. That is to say, it’s up to the federal government to halt its own actions and management regimes that threaten the species. The end-line to recovery is at that point that bison are able to co-exist with whatever the actions of tribes are to be and it ought be wholly shouldered by the federal and state governments – not the tribes.
Barb, interesting that you and I have had almost the opposite sense about the Native American museum – I lived in DC when it opened and visited not long after it opened and even know a Piscataway who works at the museum. Still, I couldn’t get away from the sense that a lot of abuse by the government that now trophies Indian culture had been whitewashed. I don’t remember anything on the Trail of Tears, but we dubbed the long empty trail toward some of the display areas by that name.
Perhaps, I couldn’t get past my knowledge of the museum, how for so many years the Smithsonian has had grossly low population estimates of American Indians in North America, adding to the narrative that this country was founded on a largely empty continent, perhaps feeding our narrative that we ruined a nature unspoiled when in fact it was more complicated than that. Perhaps, well … I don’t know … the museum left me feeling uneasy about it.
Brian, I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying. We are going to be making a similar point at a Bioneers workshop that we are hosting in Bozeman next month. If anyone is coming to Bioneers, please consider checking it out.
Jim and Brian,
Well said, and I appreciate the input.
As far as Bison free roaming, they are not like elk and deer. The elk and deer that roam are able to move under or over fences on private land. Bison, uhh, obviously not so much. When you have bison that knock down fences, you will get a wider variety of opposition. I know there will be no way to keep them contained to one spot (such is evident in the YNP area now). But what will be done to provide compensation to private land owners? The bison deserve to be free, but this “free country” doesn’t provide much without a hefty price tag.
As far as perception of indigenous people, well there are huge degrees of variability there. I have been to many reservations and have family living on a couple. The differences in their own perceptions of themselves is so vast , that it can hardly be expected that we could sum them all up either (we being those not directly affiliated with or connected to a tribe). It can safely be said that the two common threads that I have heard running through is that there were and are great injustices inflicted upon these people, and upon the natural earth that they generally hold in great reverance.
On that note, I should add, that these are the same agruments being used by ranchers. It is a fine line we walk when we engage unity with one people (or group) that claims ownership or rightfulness over use of lands…and oppose another that argues the same. There is no one way to predict outcomes…we can only predict with certainty that when it comes to anyone’s sense of entitlement, there will be mountains to move to accomplish great deads on behalf of all.
“When you have bison that knock down fences, you will get a wider variety of opposition”
I think we need to knock down some fences out West, both real and metaphorical. 🙂
Very true JB…as usual I agree with you!