|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||April 17, 2008|
|Contact:||Hank Fischer, National Wildlife Federation, 406-549-0761
Tim Stevens, National Parks Conservation Association, 406-223-3137
Michael Scott, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, 406-586-1593
Craig Sharpe, Montana Wildlife Federation, 406-458-0227
Groups Hail Agreement, Affirm Million Dollar Pledge To Help Yellowstone Bison
BOZEMAN, Mont. -- A coalition of state and national wildlife and conservation organizations today announced their commitment to raising the remaining one million dollars necessary to complete an agreement that retires livestock grazing and creates a bison corridor through the Royal Teton Ranch north of Yellowstone Park. This agreement will provide a limited number of bison access to key winter range on public lands outside of Yellowstone National Park.
According to the National Wildlife Federation’s Hank Fischer, who represented groups in the negotiations with the Royal Teton Ranch, “This agreement is a major step forward for bison. We agree that the practical way to resolve the bison controversy is to provide winter and spring habitat outside the park. Grazing retirements, negotiated with willing sellers, facilitate change without economic hardship.”
“This is a landmark agreement, but we still have work to do. Today we affirm our commitment to raising the final one million dollars needed to complete the $2.8 million agreement,” said Michael Scott of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “We invite all Americans who care about Yellowstone bison to be a part of this solution.”
“The National Park Service deserves an immense amount of credit for securing $1.5 million to fulfill a key commitment of the Interagency Bison Management Plan.” said Tim Stevens of the National Parks Conservation Association. “We applaud Superintendent Suzanne Lewis for her leadership in helping to find positive solutions for bison.”
Said Craig Sharpe of the Montana Wildlife Federation; “This agreement moves us closer to managing bison like other wildlife species. It creates additional winter range for bison and an expanded opportunity for fair chase hunting on the Gallatin National Forest.”
While a huge step forward, this agreement does not alone solve all challenges of bison management outside of Yellowstone. The organizations all recognize that this is a historic step forward for bison and that there are many other significant and meaningful steps necessary to achieve the goal of a free-ranging Yellowstone bison population.
This agreement between the Royal Teton Ranch and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks involves an unusually wide spectrum of interests, including state and federal agencies, private landowners, and numerous wildlife and conservation organizations. Removal of cattle from the RTR supports the objective of separating bison and livestock and providing winter habitat for some Yellowstone bison outside the park.