|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||March 17, 2008|
|Contact:||Tim Stevens, National Parks Conservation Association, 406.222.1567
Amy McNamara, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, 406.586.1593
Craig Sharpe, Montana Wildlife Federation, 406.458.0227
Hank Fischer, National Wildlife Federation, 406.549.0761
Coalition Says Congress Must Act Now to Save Yellowstone Bison from Slaughter
Groups Ask For Funding to Finalize Creation of Bison Migration Corridor
BOZEMAN, Mont. – In the midst of the largest killing of the Yellowstone bison herd on record, with more than 1,040 animals killed to date and 160 waiting in Yellowstone National Park to be shipped to slaughter this week, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Montana Wildlife Federation, and the National Wildlife Federation today called on Montana’s Congressional delegation to provide federal funding to allow some bison to migrate safely onto adjacent lands outside Yellowstone—the first step toward preventing the slaughter of all bison that leave park boundaries.
In a letter sent on March 11 to Montana senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and Congressman Dennis Rehberg, the groups expressed their concern that the locally negotiated and federally and publicly supported agreement to remove cattle during the winter from the Royal Teton Ranch, owned and managed by the Church Universal and Triumphant, adjacent to Yellowstone has apparently stalled. The agreement would allow bison to migrate through RTR lands and onto an additional 7,500 acres of winter habitat on public lands. The letter asks the senators and Rep. Rehberg to take a leadership role in securing the federal funding that would allow the agreement to be finalized and the bison management plan to be implemented.
“Unfortunately, while federal agencies, specifically APHIS, have so far refused to commit resources towards completing the RTR agreement, the hazing, capture, and slaughter of bison has reached record levels this year,” said Tim Stevens, Yellowstone Field Office Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Several organizations have already expressed a willingness to raise private financial support for this agreement, but the federal government must do its part by providing critical funding and completing the deal.”
The National Park Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the U.S. Forest Service, and the Montana Departments of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife and Parks signed the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) in 2000 to “maintain a wild, free-ranging population of bison and address the risk of brucellosis transmission to protect the economic interest and viability of the livestock industry in the state of Montana.” The grazing retirement of the Royal Teton Ranch is part of this plan.
“Nearly eight years after the implementation of the management plan, bison remain largely restricted to within the boundaries of Yellowstone due to the failure of federal agencies to move beyond step one of the plan, which was supposed to happen by 2002,” said Amy McNamara, National Parks Program Director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “We are asking that Congress request the federal agencies to step up and help implement the RTR agreement by allocating the appropriate funding in the next appropriations cycle.”
“This agreement moves us closer to managing bison just like other wildlife species and follows the letter of the law, however it alone is not the sole solution to managing bison outside of Yellowstone,” said Craig Sharpe, Executive Director of Montana Wildlife Federation. “Without a commitment of funds by the federal government, the RTR agreement will not go through and the bison management plan will remain stuck on step one.”
“This opportunity to resolve a significant part of the bison controversy could be lost if federal agencies fail to act,” said Hank Fischer, Special Projects Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. “After long and difficult negotiations with the Church Universal and Triumphant, an agreement has finally been reached to remove the livestock and create the bison corridor, and it would be tragic if the agreement is not acted on.”
Since 1919, the nonpartisan NPCA has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 340,000 members, and many partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.
Founded in 1983, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition works with people and communities to protect the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, now and for future generations. GYC has offices is Bozeman, Mont., Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Cody and Jackson, Wyo.
Montana Wildlife Federation has been advocating for wildlife, wildlife habitat, and Montana’s rich heritage of hunting and angling. Formed in 1936, MWF has been a leading voice for sensible wildlife management, and for hunters and anglers.
Founded in 1936, the mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.