This is the most important action you can take right now! But after that, you can find the rest of our current action alerts here.
Yellowstone is Seeking Comments on a New Bison Management Plan!
We, supporters of wild buffalo, participated in the initial phase of Yellowstone coming up with a new Bison Management Plan, and now they have finally released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement – which is open for public comments! This is a great opportunity to raise our voices for Yellowstone’s wild buffalo, and in particular, the imperiled Central herd – the last truly wild, migratory buffalo left in the country. We have a real opportunity here to END capture-for-slaughter operations! After much pressure, the Park has extended the deadline to submit comments until October 10th, 2023.
Comments can be made here right now, or you can review our talking points and build from there. We just ask that you speak from your heart, considering the buffalo’s perspective. It’s best to personalize your comments, as Yellowstone is going to listen more closely to a variety of individualized comments.
Additionally, there will be two webinars where you can hear from Yellowstone and ask questions.
August 28 at 10:30 a.m. MST
August 29 at 4 p.m. MST
Yellowstone National Park is proposing three options – we present them here in the Park’s own words:
Alternative 1: The NPS would continue management of bison pursuant to the existing Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), approved in 2000. This would maintain a population range of bison similar to the last two decades (3,500 to 5,000 bison after calving), continue hunt-trap coordination to balance population regulation in the park by using culling and hunting opportunities outside the park, increase the number of brucellosis-free bison relocated to Tribal lands via the Bison Conservation Transfer Program (BCTP), and work with the State of Montana to manage the already low risk of brucellosis spreading from bison to cattle.
Alternative 2: Bison would be managed within a population range of about 3,500 to 6,000 animals after calving with an emphasis on using the BCTP to restore bison to Tribal lands and Tribal treaty hunting outside the park to regulate numbers.
Alternative 3: The NPS would rely on natural selection, bison dispersal, and public and Tribal harvests in Montana as the primary tools to regulate numbers, which would likely range from 3,500 to 7,000 or more animals after calving.
It is worthy to note that in both Alternatives 2 and 3 of the current EIS, Yellowstone decreased the number of buffalo from the Alternatives that were presented during the 2022 Scoping phase. They are caving to threats made by Montana’s Governor, Greg Gianforte, who said he would sue Yellowstone if they didn’t reduce the population to 3,000 buffalo. Just this year Yellowstone’s Superintendent Cam Sholly and bison biologist Chris Geremia publicly stated that the Park alone could sustain upwards of 10,000-11,000 buffalo. Caving to threats instead of listening to their own science is a show of cowardice.
What we see from these options is that Alternative 3 provides a very real chance to stop Yellowstone’s capture-for-slaughter program! The park NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU! As good as it sounds, alternative 3 does not go far enough. Alternative 3, while the preferred of the options offered, places emphasis on excessive hunting to keep the last wild herds at low numbers. Alternative 3 still does not respect buffalo as a wild migratory species, and does not address the firing line at Beattie Gulch or the risks posed to the endangered Central Herd by hunting every animal that exits the north or west sides of the park.
Their language is more vague this time, although stating that they would “rely on natural selection” will mean an end to capture-for-slaughter. But “rely on bison dispersal” means a continuation of the quarantine program and its domestication and commodification of wild buffalo. Alternative 3 still presents the best option for the buffalo and is a move in the right direction. The end to capture-for-slaughter would be a huge victory, and we need to press for it now.
TAKE ACTION! Support Alternative 3! Please, in your own words, elaborate from your heart, considering the buffalo’s perspective and tell and ask Yellowstone National Park some of the following:
- Alternative 3, by proposing to rely on natural selection, is a tremendously important step forward. Relying on natural selection is the first time this agency has considered the buffalo’s perspective, which is commendable. But the excessive hunting that occurs at both sides of the park is the opposite of relying on natural selection. Alternative 3 does not go far enough.
- Lethal management, including hunting, must cease until the population rebounds.
- When Alternative 3 says “rely on bison dispersal” this means the quarantine, or the greenwash-titled Bison Conservation Transfer Program, will continue. This is just another way to remove buffalo from the wild population through domestication and relocation, and it needs to stop.
- Does Yellowstone define “bison dispersal” as also meaning the positive and natural restoration through migration?
- Wild buffalo need to be free to roam, like deer, elk, and all other wildlife species. Yellowstone and other federal, state, and tribal governments involved should be managing for a sustainable population size for each genetically distinct sub-population and for the Yellowstone buffalo as a whole.
- The current EIS decreases the population of buffalo by thousands, as opposed to what was presented in the 2022 Scoping phase. Why has Yellowstone done this? Just this winter, Yellowstone’s Superintendent and their bison biologist both publicly stated that the Park alone could sustain upwards of 10,000-11,000 buffalo. Is Yellowstone caving to threats made by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, who said he would sue the Park if the population wasn’t driven down to the cattle industry’s politically derived 3,000? Listen to your own science instead of caving to political threats.
- Human barriers and behavior must change. The burden has been placed on wild buffalo for far too long and it is time for the humans to change behavior and learn to coexist. That includes removing fencing that chokes migration corridors, implementing safe passage infrastructure along roads and highways, restoring native vegetation, and removing harmful domesticated species (i.e. cattle) who are blocking wild bison restoration.
- If the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determines a positive finding and lists these last wild herds as protected under the Endangered Species Act, how would this alter Alternatives 1, 2, and 3?
The questions presented in these suggested talking points could also be asked, if you are able attend either of the webinars mentioned above. Roam Free Nation will be in attendance at both!
Comment here by October 10, 2023:
For more detailed information and to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement visit: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=94496
You can also mail your comments to:
Attn: Bison Management Plan
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
But they must be received by October 10th!
THANK YOU for helping to influence and shape a positive future for the last wild herds! Be sure to share this alert through all communication outlets (i.e. in your community, social media, emails, etc.)
WILD IS THE WAY! ROAM FREE!