By Joe Gutkoski
The Montana State Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks had requested on February 22 public input, due March 7, for a proposed revision of their bison hunting plan in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
The February 25 bison hunt is nothing more than a Yellowstone Park boundary shoot, restricted to Hunting Zone 2 in the Jardine and Horse Butte park line areas.
Hunting Zone 2 must be expanded to allow our buffalo to move year-round into state and national forest wildlife management areas, purchased by hard-earned sportsmen's money in the Gardiner and West Yellowstone basins.
A hunt can then be planned and managed discreetly with some semblance of fair chase. This would serve to balance the herd population with available forage.
Hunting Zone 2 can then be a brucellosis management area where grazing leases on national and state land could be restricted to brucellosis-proof livestock, such as steers, young or spayed heifers, horses and mules.
With the regionalization of brucellosis limited to the GYA in Hunting Zone 2, the management area would keep 98 percent of Montana land and cattle herds from losing brucellosis-free status. Why should the cattle herds in the Miles City-Forsyth area be affected by a brucellosis infection in a small area in the south part of Gallatin and Park counties? Certainly the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would accept this solution.
The nation looks to Montana to politely make a place for wild buffalo on public lands managed as wildlife and not as diseased livestock in the GYA.
Joe Gutkoski, vice president
Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation
Win-Win Solutions For Bison Management
Guest Opinion, Billings Gazette, Billings, Montana
Published on Saturday, March 01, 2008
By Glenn Hockett
As a hunter I remain optimistic we can and will solve the bison management challenge. Irrational government harassment, hazing, capture and slaughter of bison within and near the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park is neither economically nor ecologically sustainable. This subsidized house of cards will fall eventually.
A growing and diverse constituency has shared economically efficient and ecologically sustainable ideas with policymakers and the five agency members of the interagency bison management planning team. These win-win ideas include:
• Fencing to protect the few cattle along the bison migration corridors in the Upper Yellowstone and Upper Madison valleys.
• If bison must be captured to prevent commingling with a few susceptible cattle in the Yellowstone or Madison basins, transport them to the public land winter ranges in either Teepee or Dailey Creek within the Upper Gallatin watershed where there are never any cattle. This is an excellent alternative to the needless government slaughter the Department of Livestock, the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service and now the Park Service are relentlessly waging on this critically important gene pool of wild bison.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of conflict-free habitat are already owned by the public in the Upper Yellowstone, Gallatin and Madison valleys. Places such as Cedar Creek, the OTO and the Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area in the Upper Yellowstone Valley - public lands all specifically purchased for big-game habitat. Furthermore, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of historic and conflict-free bison habitat both within and outside the park in the Upper Gallatin Basin framed by the magnificent Taylor Fork watershed and the Porcupine or Gallatin Wildlife Management Area.
Let's instruct the policymakers and cooperating agencies to immediately begin fencing projects to protect the few pastures being used by susceptible cattle in the Upper Yellowstone and Madison basins.
Let's encourage or just allow bison movements to conflict-free habitat areas on both public and bison-friendly private property outside the park where sufficient forage is currently available to sustain a spectacular restoration and conservation effort that will be envied by the world.
We can work together to protect a few cattle while respecting and protecting public- and private-property rights on both sides of the issue, thus allowing the bison, like other wildlife in the area, to access the conflict-free habitat that exists today. The current "plan" and its supporters are living in a house of cards that will eventually crumble due to the forces of nature and an increasingly informed public.
Glenn Hockett is volunteer president of the Gallatin Wildlife Association, a regional sportsmen’s group in Bozeman.