The Conundrum of Montana's Bison Relocation Proposal

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The Conundrum of Montana's Bison Relocation Proposal

From Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)

By capturing and confining wild buffalo without having a plan as to where they would ultimately place them, FWP has created a great and twisted conundrum.


One of the wild buffalo that was stolen from its wild family by the government when only a calf for the ill-fated Quarantine Feasibility Study.
BFC file photo by Kim Acheson.

Earlier this month the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) released a draft Environmental Assessment that will determine the fate, for the next five years, of the buffalo that have so far survived the state's ill-conceived quarantine experiment. The agency is accepting comments on their proposals until October 19 and BFC is currently in the process of preparing our official comments and talking points to help you formulate yours.

We find ourselves in the difficult position of being asked to help FWP solve a problem entirely of their own creation.

BFC has opposed the quarantine and domestication of America's last wild buffalo at every step of the way and we and our supporters have made this clear throughout the public process. But the state has consistently ignored the concerns of the public and began removing bison calves from their family units, holding them in feedlots, experimenting upon them, and otherwise treating them like livestock.

Quarantine has resulted in 89 buffalo randomly slaughtered to test for infection, mothers were overfed and died while giving birth, some calves were stillborn, other calves were euthanized after their mothers died, several buffalo died from trauma, a consequence 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 hold them until they can come up with another plan, due in 2015.

By capturing and confining wild buffalo without having a plan as to where they would ultimately place them, FWP has created a great and twisted conundrum. This was made evident in early 2010, when the agency announced that they would go against their own commitment to keep the quarantined bison in the public trust and placed some of the buffalo on a private ranch owned by livestock producer Turner Enterprises Incorporated (TEI). In a further violation of its public trust responsibilities the 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 and the continuation of their quarantine.

With all this in mind we are carefully reviewing the EA. We will have our official comments ready next week and will be sending a special alert with talking points to help you formulate yours. If you would like to review the EA for yourself you can download a copy from FWP here:
http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/environmentalAssessments/species RemovalAndRelocation/pn_0055.html