Governor Schweitzer just sent me email…

Yellowstone National Park

Yes, THAT Governor Schweitzer; he just sent me an email about his efforts to abate the bison “management” problem in Yellowstone – follow me after the jump.

We’ve known for some time that bison who strayed out of the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park have been subject to removal, even slaughter, because of rancher’s fears of their cattle contracting brucellosis from the bison. Many of us wrote officials, asking if there wasn’t some better way to address the problem than what amounted to indiscriminate slaughter – and they responded.

Here’s the relevant parts of Gov Schweitzer’s message:

I would like to direct your attention to the recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) report on the Interagency Bison Management Plan, its shortcomings, and the inability to move to Step 2 of the Plan (expected to occur during the winter of ’02-’03).

The GAO conclusions track very closely changes that I have been advocating, including consummation of a grazing agreement with the Royal Teton Ranch, allowing for removal of that cattle herd, and passage through the ranch for hungry bison.

The State of Montana will continue to work with the land owners, livestock interests, wildlife and conservation groups, and the federal agencies that bear responsibility for bison management. At this point, negotiations have been completed with the Royal Teton Ranch, site of the largest cattle herd near the park. As directed by the Interagency Bison Management Plan, this agreement will better secure Montana’s disease-free status while providing more tolerance for bison…

As is urged by the GAO report… we will continue to seek and support vaccine research that provides protections against brucellosis, work with other willing landowners on creative grazing and management agreements, and utilize fair-chase hunting to manage bison in a manner similar to other large game species.

Sounds like some measure of success to me – although “fair-chase hunting to manage bison” is a phrase that lends itself to wide interpretation and potential abuse, if previous experience is any guide, and therefore stands out as a red flag. Keep an eye on that!

Kudos to Gov Schweitzer, who is proving our assessment of him to be correct; he is a valuable ally and supporter of common-sense progressive values.

We’ll be watching this as it works itself out. I’ll add more as I look into it – please post any additional info you dig up as well.

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