Wildlife alternative proposed to costly and destructive government plan

For Immediate Release
May 4, 2015

An alternative to manage wild buffalo like wild elk in Montana.
BFC’s wildlife alternative to the IBMP (PDF)

Darrell Geist, Buffalo Field Campaign habitat coordinator, 406-531-9284
James Holt, Nez Perce tribal member, Buffalo Field Campaign board member, 509-592-5485
Daniel Brister, Buffalo Field Campaign Executive Director, 406-726-5555

West Yellowstone, Montana - Advocates for wild, migratory buffalo are requesting the state of Montana and Yellowstone National Park evaluate managing wild buffalo like wild elk on public lands in Montana.

Buffalo Field Campaign says the alternative should be included ina new plan being developed to manage wild buffalo. The public has until June 15, 2015 to comment.

The alternative would ensure wild buffalo are allowed to inhabit public lands and establish a population in Montana. Like wild elk, wild buffalo would be managed by hunting based on sustainable populations in available habitat in Montana.

“The habitat to sustain a wild buffalo population exists on public lands in Montana,” says Darrell Geist, habitat coordinator with Buffalo Field Campaign. “What remains missing is a commitment by Montana's Governor to allow wild buffalo to inhabit National Forests and other public lands beyond Yellowstone National Park.”

The alternative would put an end to government slaughter of buffalo. Yellowstone National Park and the Montana Dept. of Livestock have taken nearly 4,000 wild buffalo in capture for slaughter operations since 2000. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks of 82,832 applicants, 426 state hunters have drawn buffalo tags since 2004.

“These agencies need to evaluate an alternative that is culturally acceptable to the majority of American Indian tribes and is most beneficial for tribes with treaty rights in the Yellowstone ecosystem,” said James Holt, Nez Perce tribal member and board member of Buffalo Field Campaign. “The alternatives that are currently being considered don't work for wild buffalo or American Indians.”
Buffalo Field Campaign says managing cattle in Montana is an effective disease risk management plan that has saved livestock producers millions of dollars.

The alternative proposes continuing the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) management of cattle in place of an Interagency Bison Management Plan. According to the Montana Dept. of Livestock, ranchers statewide have saved $5.5 to $11.5 million annually since the DSA went into effect in 2010. Producers in the DSA are compensated for testing, vaccination, and handling of cattle.

The alternative to manage wild buffalo like wild elk will also save millions of taxpayer dollars because it limits government action. The alternative ends government capture of buffalo for slaughter, quarantine, hazing deadlines, population control experiments, and vaccination. While the agencies do not account for how much taxpayer money is spent, the best estimates indicate the Interagency Bison Management Plan has cost taxpayers $35 to $45 million dollars since its' inception in 2000.

“The alternative to manage wild buffalo like wild elk respects the rights of landowners, protects the pocketbooks of taxpayers, and is the most beneficial for wild buffalo and habitat in Montana,” says Daniel Brister, Executive Director of Buffalo Field Campaign.

West Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana-based Buffalo Field Campaign is a non-profit public interest organization founded in 1997 to protect the natural habitat of wild migratory buffalo and native wildlife, to stop the slaughter and harassment of America's last wild buffalo as well as to advocate for their lasting protection, and to work with people of all Nations to honor the sacredness of the wild buffalo.

An alternative to manage wild buffalo like wild elk in Montana.
BFC’s wildlife alternative to the IBMP (PDF)