Archive for November 17th, 2008

by jhwygirl

Back just before the election, the Bush Administration announced it would be creating a 2nd interagency group for bison management. That happened on October 29th, and I have to say I was perplexed. The announcement was cryptic – it didn’t really explain whether it was related to the Yellowstone/Montana/Wyoming issues concerning brucellosis – and beyond that, to manage the genetic diversity of bison, the government – whether it be the State of Montana or the Federal Government – can’t be out there sanctioning widespread slaughter of bison under the current interagency bison management plan while another group is out there supposedly trying to preserve genetic diversity.

I wasn’t the only one confused.

In other developments…

Montana FWP has extended the comment period for its draft environmental assessment that would establish a 30-year grazing restriction and bison access agreement with the Royal Teton Ranch outside of Gardiner Montana. The agreement would allow grazing of bison on the ranch, at a cost of $300,000. Bison that leave the park, and often end up on the ranch, would be spared slaughter.

Because slaughtering bison, you know, to manage brucellosis, makes sense, don’t you know?

I mean – just the title of the interagency agreement – the Interagency Bison Management Plan – shows the ignorance in addressing the problem the agreement was initiated to address……

…but I digress….

Meanwhile, on the west side of the park, near West Yellowstone, an agreement is being hammered out that would allow bison to graze near what was the site of last years capture-n-take-’em-to-slaughter facility at Horse Butte. A series of meetings held between state and federal officials over the last few months is expected to result in a formal adoption of the plan next month in Helena. The result would be that bison should be able to roam in and out of the park without slaughter.

Horse Butte is pretty important for bison and preserving their genetic diversity

Still more….

Montana’s state veterinarian Marty Zaluski announced that the governor’s plan to establish a special management zone around the park, designed to restore Montana’s brucellosis-free status and reduce livestock testing costs state-wide, is garnering nationwide support.

Five American Indian groups are seeking to obtain a herd of about 40 bison that have been held in captivity since this past spring – bison that left the park boundaries. These bison have been repeatedly tested, but have not shown signs of brucellosis. The genetics of the Yellowstone bison – Bison bison – are considered superior, and the 5 groups want to use this herd to help bolster the genetics of their own herds who graze amongst domestic cattle. The tribes have until the end of November to submit plans.

Wyoming, which had a cow test positive for brucellosis this past June, has been spared losing its brucellosis- free status. All cattle and adjacent herds that had been tested have been clean.

Anyways..there it is folks – if you got more information, please add it to the comments. I’m cautiously optimistic that the lunacy massive slaughter that we saw of bison last winter may not have to occur this upcoming winter.

How these steps will affect ranchers – both in management and cost – I’ve yet to see much in terms of specifics. The idea of having that second management zone was to isolate costs. How that will translate to what it will mean – or won’t – to those ranchers is at question…and I’m betting I’m not the only one wondering.

Maybe the state can take the money it spent in snowmobiles and labor and gas and pre-mix and trucks and capture facilities and every other bit of the nonsense and put it onto funding the vaccination program that would be imminent.

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