The Secretary of the Interior Ordered Yellowstone National Park to Manage Buffalo Like Cattle on a Ranch

2020 09 03 01 001 FOIA 1 BFC Stephany Seay photo 

Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign

Under court order, Yellowstone National Park recently released records to BFC the park had fought to withhold from the public on how the park manages buffalo under their protection.

The park’s release of records stems from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit decided earlier this summer by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy who sided with BFC and ordered Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly’s office to make them public.

The newly released records can be found on BFC's Freedom of Information Act web page.

Attorneys Daniel Snyder of the Law Offices of Charles M. Tebbutt, P.C., and Tim Bechtold of the Bechtold Law Firm, successfully argued the case on BFC’s behalf.

Much was revealed in the release of these documents the park sought to keep from public eyes.

An unpublished manuscript higher ups in the park appear not to have wanted to see the light of day, blew the whistle on the “myths and misperceptions” perpetuated by the livestock industry to gain control over buffalo as a betrayal of the common good, and the public and tribal trust.

Another briefing memo recounted how: “Yellowstone’s Superintendent was informed that the Secretary of the Interior wanted . . . Yellowstone bison managed more actively like cattle on a ranch, and . . . the Bureau of Land Management to conduct an assessment of the number of bison the park could support using the animal unit month (AUM) concept . . . used to manage forage use by grazing livestock.”

Former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s marching orders to turn Yellowstone National Park into a domesticated buffalo ranch may shock some, but it is a blunt comment on the pervasive use of livestock management practices, and livestock control of wildlife management, threatening the country’s remnant population of indigenous American buffalo.

No wonder Yellowstone National Park fought to keep his statement from the public, and quashed publication of the scientist’s manuscript.

Managing buffalo roaming Yellowstone National Park like cattle on a ranch describes policy put in place with the State of Montana decades ago.

The business of government trapping buffalo for slaughter and quarantine, harassing buffalo from National Forest habitat, deploying fencing and vaccination schemes, enclosing their range, stopping migrations, has been in place for a quarter of a century.
Tens of millions of dollars have been appropriated from your purse to keep the lucrative business of managing wild buffalo like cattle in place.

2020 09 03 01 002 FOIA 2 BFC Stephany Seay photo

Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign

What will the future be?

Must we pay the $1.35 a month livestock allotment fee for a wild female buffalo and her calf to roam National Forest habitat?

Will Yellowstone National Park set up a stand to sell “pure-bred” buffalo heads, hides, and meat to make the ranch more profitable?

Will American buffalo be reduced to a human conditioned domestic animal behind electrified fences?

Will the Montana Dept. of Livestock round up or shoot the ones who got away?

Will buffalo be allowed to naturally migrate and adapt as a wildlife species?

Managing for domestication of a revered wildlife species endangers the ancient migratory knowledge embodied in the native American buffalo roaming Yellowstone.

This is why Buffalo Field Campaign was founded and why we remain steadfast in the home of the buffalo.

We must multiply our number into a persistence, unbending force for the right to buffalo to live as a wildlife species on the land of their birth right.

The state and federal policy directing the demise and endangering what is wild and true about American buffalo must be restored to the common good held in trust for the American people and American Indian Tribes.

We, the people, must gather our forces and re-double our efforts in securing a future for the migratory giants. Thank you for standing with us for the last wild buffalo!

Darrell Geist, BFC Habitat Coordinator