Stop vilifying bison

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In the last two years the Inter-agency Bison Management plan (IBMP) has killed almost 1,200 bison in 2018, and 1,300 in 2017. That is about a quarter of the entire Yellowstone herd each year.

All agencies involved in the slaughter know full well how unique and genetically important these bison are to the world. The impact of these killings of a quarter of all the bison in Yellowstone, two years in a row, will only be known by our children. Of the two herds in Yellowstone, the Central herd is now less than 1,000 (down from 3,500 in 2005) and that is a direct result of this management plan.

What would Montanans do if this happened to the elk? All concern is focused on the bison, who have never transmitted the disease brucellosis, yet the elk roam free and continue to be blamed for spreading brucellosis to cattle out of the Yellowstone ecosystem. This disease was brought here and transmitted to our wildlife by cattle.

It is time to do what is right for the bison and treat them like we treat all other wildlife in Montana. Millions of acres of habitat have been opened up for elk in what the IBMP calls the brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area. This land is open to elk, why not bison? Is this a violation of all the treaty tribes’ right to hunt the bison on land that is unclaimed? (Unclaimed land is Forest Service and BLM land.) Is it time for the treaty tribes to sue this management plan as a violation of their treaty rights by not allowing bison to migrate to these unclaimed lands?

It is time Montana wakes up and stop this insane practice towards bison. The world is watching and is fed up with Montana’s use of tax dollars to kill our national mammal and an American icon.

Mike Mease

Co-founder Buffalo Field Campaign

West Yellowstone

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