Urge Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to free quarantined buffalo

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Originally Posted: 8 October 2011

Urge Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to free quarantined buffalo!

FROM Buffalo Field Campaign

ACTION

Please submit comments on FWP's Bison Relocation Environmental Assessment. Using the sample letter below, in your own words, hold FWP accountable for promises they made, and continue to break, as it concerns bison descended from Yellowstone. Comments are due by October 19, 2011.

Sign an online petition:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2426/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8320

And/Or better yet, make direction contact:

Re: Interim Translocation of Bison
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
phone (406) 444-2535
fax (406) 444-4952
email: fwpgen@mt.gov

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

The buffalo now in quarantine were once part of America’s last wild population to continuously occupy their original range. Over 200 buffalo were captured inside Yellowstone National Park, separated from their family groups who were shipped to slaughterhouses, and rendered as test subjects in an experiment by USDA APHIS and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Quarantine has resulted in 89 buffalo being randomly slaughtered to test for infection, mothers were overfed and died while giving birth, some calves were stillborn, others were euthanized after their mothers died, several buffalo died from trauma suffered as a result of human handling. Having failed to formulate a plan for the long-term fate of the imprisoned buffalo, FWP's current EA is focused solely upon finding yet another temporary place to confine them until they can come up with yet another plan, due in 2015.

By choosing to inflict quarantine upon wild bison without first identifying the final home for bison who pass through it, Fish, Wildlife, and Parks has set itself and the bison up for failure. As a result of this short-sighted approach, the agency has created a piece-meal process whereby it is forced to make a series of emergency decisions deferring the ultimate task of finding a permanent location for the bison.

Rather than subjecting migrating bison calves to capture, redundant testing, confinement, domestication, and transport to landscapes far from their native Yellowstone, the state of Montana should conserve, protect, and restore habitat within the ecosystem and allow wild bison to access that habitat on the hoof.

This was made clear last year when the agency announced that it would go against their own commitment to keep the quarantined bison in the public trust and relocated some of the animals to a private ranch owned by livestock producer Turner Enterprises Incorporated (TEI). In violation of its public trust responsibilities state reached an agreement with TEI whereby the company would be compensated for housing the buffalo through ownership of the majority of their offspring. BFC is adamantly opposed to this commodification and privatization of once wild Yellowstone bison. Any decision on where to house quarantined Yellowstone buffalo must not include privatizing or using buffalo or their offspring to compensate private, for-profit interests.

According to its enacting legislation, Yellowstone was created, in part, to "provide against the wanton destruction of the fish and game found within said park, and against their capture or destruction for the purpose of merchandise or profit." Please re-visit your agreement with Turner Enterprises to re-negotiate compensation other than bison progeny, semen, ova, and zygotes. Buffalo Field Campaign firmly opposes this precedent of native wildlife once belonging to all people being rendered private livestock for a domestic, commercial, for-profit entity.

Rather than identify yet another set of "interim" locations to house the quarantined bison, FWP should immediately initiate a process to identify a permanent home for the bison. Such a location needs to be on public or tribal land where the public may monitor and view the animals. Once such a location is established, the quarantine experiment should be permanently closed.

Wild bison advocates strongly oppose all aspects of quarantine, as many better solutions - including the protection and creation of wild buffalo migration corridors, along with stronger cattle-based brucellosis-risk management - are available for restoring wild buffalo throughout their native range in the U.S. Yellowstone buffalo that have been captive in the Quarantine Feasibility Study are extremely important to me; they are members of America's last continuously wild population and Buffalo Field Campaign and our supporters have a stake in their future. It’s time for Fish, Wildlife & Parks to take responsibility and free the buffalo from quarantine.

A main concern is Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ agreement with Turner Enterprises Inc. to privatize and commercially exploit buffalo progeny in exchange for quarantining the wildlife species on Turner’s Green Ranch. Under Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ “No Action” alternative:

“if the agreement was terminated during years 1-3, TEI would retain all the progeny but returning all the original study bison back to FWP. If termination occurred at the end of the monitoring period, FWP would still receive all the original study bison and 25% of their progeny with the remaining progeny going into TEI’s ownership.”

A potential consequence of taking “No Action” would result in a higher number of buffalo progeny becoming “the property of TEI.” This arrangement is in violation of Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ public trust responsibilities and that the agency, as a trustee of public wildlife held in perpetuity for the benefit of all citizens in Montana, can not give buffalo to a private party for commercial exploitation as livestock. Privatization reclassifies buffalo from a native wildlife species to domestic livestock.

Fish, Wildlife & Parks needs to analyze and disclose cumulative impacts to buffalo that once resided in Yellowstone National Park for the benefit and “enjoyment of future generations.”

Rather than taking a position on specific sites, which is the responsibility of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, FWP must take the above points into consideration and ensure that the buffalo subjected to quarantine be given a permanent home on public or tribal lands where they are managed as wildlife under the public process.


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