By Stephany J. Seay
We've been given no other choice but to seek Endangered Species Act protection for the Yellowstone buffalo. This important action has been taken by Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project.
Not a single Interagency Bison Management Program affiliate has the guts to defend wild buffalo. Not the park; not Fish, Wildlife and Parks; not even the tribes. The dastardly management schemes that continue to wage war against buffalo must end. There is no cause, nor evidence to support this brutal maltreatment. None of the actions carried out in vile service to Montana's livestock interests can be justified. The nonsensical abuse and killing of wild buffalo has become a very bad habit that U.S. taxpayers continue to fund.
Additionally, Montana's latest scheme — Alternative G — aims to "offer" wild buffalo year-round habitat that they do not use, and arbitrarily cuts in half a major migration corridor that they do use, in exchange for slaughter. If this plan is accepted, millions of taxpayer dollars will continue to be wasted to empower a livestock bureaucracy that is institutionally biased against buffalo.
Meanwhile, outrageous "solutions" to the gore of gut piles at Beattie Gulch include opening Yellowstone National Park to hunting; the only place on Earth that wild buffalo find any refuge. Another bad idea suggests transporting them from the park to a small field a few miles away so they can be shot.
The Yellowstone buffalo are America's last wild, migratory herds and the most important bison population that exists. They are the last to identify as a wildlife species and ecologically extinct throughout their native range. They've been "Red Listed" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "threatened with near extinction," and even Montana designates them as a species "in greatest conservation need," with current conditions "making (bison) vulnerable to global extinction." And to clarify, the central herds migrate into both the Gardiner and Hebgen basins.
Management actions are hammering the central herds.
Wild bison don't need a new plan. They need to exist as an indigenous wildlife species fulfilling their ecological role on their native landscape. A listing under the ESA is necessary to ensure their survival.