12/15/15 – Cheyenne,WY.
In Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, just to name a few places where Nature plays a huge role in our daily lives, we show a serious concern for the natural environment and the animals that populate it. One such concern is for the bison which live in and around Yellowstone National Park.
In fact, the concern for bison is such that there has been a bison management plan in effect since at least the year 2000. Friends back East are surprised to learn this, just as they were surprised to learn of our concern when wolves were re-introduced to the Park back in 1995.
That plan is currently being re-negotiated. Why? To take into consideration the new knowledge gained during the past fifteen years, regarding the health and habits of bison, changes in the landscape, including a greater tolerance for bison in areas of Montana, where bison migrate each fall, and a better understanding of the risks of transmitting the disease Brucellosis from bison to cattle, which is a huge concern for ranchers and those operating large farms in the above-mentioned states.
Another important issue under consideration is what, if any, impact a Yelowstone Area Bison Management Plan/ Environmental Impact Statement would have on the various American Indian Tribes that inhabit these areas. For example, consideration has been given to keep the current plan in effect. That plan sets a bison population cap at 3,000 animals. But, the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, the Shoshoni-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the Nez Perce Tribe have all raised objections. They claim that “this arbitrary population target minimizes the opportunity for bison recovery and tribal hunting opportunities,” which are guaranteed to them by their Tribal Treaty Rights. As you might imagine, bison meat and fur play a role in the life of these Tribes.
At this year’s (2015) meeting of the Interagency Bison Management Plan, the group decided to back away from a proposal to kill about 1,000 bison as they migrate into Montana from Yellowstone for the winter. Officials noted that to keep the current population level of about 5,000 bison from increasing, at least 600 would have to be killed this winter.
That is not a popular idea, especially with the Indian Tribes. To enable a greater Tribal harvest, which is what they want, the Park proposed a delay in trapping bison until February 15th. But, some Tribal governments objected and called, instead, for trapping to be delayed until March.
So, you can see that there are many issues to be considered. And not just locally. Comments received on the Plan have come from many states; California, New York, Florida, and Illinois, to name a few. Other countries have also commented: Canada, Russia, South Africa, and Israel have sent their opinions, as have some countries of Europe, such as Germany.