Dear Buffalo Supporters,
During this week of family gatherings and feasting, I am grateful for my family, friends, and for all of you, our multitude of wonderful supporters. Together, we are a powerful voice for wild Yellowstone buffalo. Recently, we kicked off our 26th Field Season, monitoring agency activity and reporting on the deplorable outcomes of the government’s Bison Management Plan. Even now the State of Montana and its agencies seek to derail the development of a new plan that presents an opportunity to manage wild buffalo the way we manage wild elk and other wildlife in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.
For decades the State of Montana has been failing the public trust regarding the management of our National Mammal, and obstructing the natural expansion of buffalo populations throughout the federal lands in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. The demise of the natural world and important wildlife is highly visible this year as it pertains to extreme weather events, climate change impacts, and the ongoing hardships afflicting our built environments. The linkage is clear, as more wild spaces and wetlands are developed, we will face even more extreme weather. To build resilience into our own existence, we must protect and restore large landscapes. Buffalo, as a keystone species, are critically important in restoring and maintaining the Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Our shared environmental conditions are important to keep in mind as the managing agencies gather next week for public meetings in West Yellowstone, MT. Today, the Campaign has hope as the populations of wild Yellowstone buffalo grow, as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service studies the threats to Yellowstone’s herds, and as new management planning proceeds. However, as we expected, the state of Montana has become more frantic, demanding Yellowstone National Park halt current planning efforts, and return to slaughtering of the wild herds back down to dismal numbers.
The failures of the state of Montana, as it caters to special interests in the region, must now finally be overridden. Federal supremacy must be asserted to honor, protect, and restore Yellowstone buffalo to their rightful place in the ecosystem.
For decades the Campaign has called for Yellowstone buffalo management to mirror that of elk in the ecosystem. During that same 26-year timespan, we have supported local communities and neighborhoods dealing with migratory herds of buffalo. No other organization can make such a claim. We know it is important to build up the transportation and wildlife passage infrastructure as we grow buffalo populations. Protecting wildlife and improving the safety of the regional highways, dictates the planning and construction of appropriately-placed wildlife crossings and fencing. Minimizing conflict and harm are essential to protecting wildlife and maintaining their habitat.
Similarly, we can scientifically-manage wild buffalo throughout the Yellowstone Ecosystem in a way that protects our regional built environment. We must use the power of our collective voices to ensure that holistic ‘coexistence’ solutions are implemented.
It is time to reach out to the leaders of pertinent federal agencies and let them know that Yellowstone National Park’s buffalo management planning process must continue forward with dramatic, wildlife-focused improvements. Further, that a holistic plan must also protect the transportation systems and regional communities as buffalo expand into the 8 million acres of suitable habitat on National Forests surrounding the Park.
The massive flooding in the Yellowstone region last spring and the subsequent coordinated federal response, are a testament to the capabilities of federal support in so many ways. Thus, the role of the federal government in wildlife management is more vital than ever. Federal agencies must fulfill their trust responsibilities and protect wild buffalo throughout their natural range. The management of the Yellowstone Ecosystem can be a beacon, guiding others on community resilience and rebuilding with wisdom. We must speak now for a holistic, ecosystem-wide solution founded in coexistence.
I hope each of you are able to gather with loved ones and appreciate each other. Qeciyewyew (thank you) for using your voice and standing with Buffalo Field Campaign. The Campaign has stayed true to our mission and values, and our hard work is paying off. We must continue to strive forward together. I am thankful for you all.
For the Buffalo,
James L. Holt Sr., ED
“The Earth and I are of One Mind.”- Chief Joseph, Nimiipuu (Nez Perce)