Statement by Bart Melton, Northern Rockies Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association
Background: The National Park Service, State of Montana, and other federal and tribal collaborating agencies today published notice that the formal 90-day scoping period will begin on March 16, to guide the development of a new Bison Conservation Plan to replace the outdated Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). Finalized in 2000, the IBMP currently guides how Yellowstone bison are managed when the species seasonally migrates beyond park boundaries into Montana.
For more than a decade, the intensive management of this herd under the current plan has generated public outcry and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. In response to the start of the scoping period, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) along with other regional and national organizations sent a letter to Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, outlining important areas of consideration for the development of the new plan.
“It’s been 15 years since the current plan guiding Yellowstone bison management was finalized and much has changed since that time. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is hopeful that the new Bison Conservation plan will create a stronger, better legacy for Yellowstone Bison – icons of our National Park System – that will benefit the animals and all stakeholders.”
“This winter, the outdated plan currently guiding bison management led agencies to attempt to kill roughly 600 Yellowstone bison when they left the park through the ‘ship to slaughter’ process. It’s time to study new opportunities available for bison when they migrate into Montana. There are management approaches, ranging from expanded year round habitat, to translocation to other appropriate lands that NPCA believe can limit the necessity of shipping Yellowstone bison to slaughter. While this issue won’t be solved overnight, the timely development of a new bison Conservation Plan, utilizing the latest science and capitalizing on available conflict free habitat adjacent to Yellowstone, offers great opportunity on the horizon.”
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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