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A suitable home for bison

2012-05-25T00:00:00Z A suitable home for bisonBy Hank Fischer - IR Your Turn Helena Independent Record
May 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Just as surely as a particular hardware chain is the place for your hardware needs, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is the place for bison restoration. And to put it in perspective, the CMR is not only the best place in Montana, it’s the best place in North America to restore a wild, huntable bison population.

Here’s why:

- Immense landscape. The refuge itself covers 1.1 million acres and is surrounded by several million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Scientists tell us that we need at least a thousand bison to have a genetically viable population. That number requires at least several hundred thousand acres of land.

- Incredible habitat. When Lewis and Clark passed through in 1805 they described a wildlife resource that “for variety and abundance exceeded anything the eye of man had ever looked upon.” The centerpiece of that vision was bison. Leading scientists from the American Bison Society and the World Wildlife Fund have concluded that the CMR area ranks highest in North America for potential bison restoration.

- Its primary purpose is wildlife conservation. The CMR is a large block of public land where the American people have decided that wildlife should come first. The refuge provides a critical core area for bison restoration that could be supplanted by adjacent private lands owned by the American Prairie Reserve and by public lands managed by BLM.

- It is Montana’s premier hunting area. A 2008 survey of sportsmen’s groups conducted by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership found that the CMR is the most popular hunting spot in Montana. Adding bison to the current list of big game species (elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn) would elevate the CMR to a special place in the hunting world. Its remote habitat provides an ideal setting for fair-chase hunting.

For those interested in establishing an ecologically significant, genetically viable, wild bison population that could be effectively managed by regulated hunting, the CMR stands head and shoulders above all other Montana locations.

Conversely, those troubled by potential impacts associated with bison restoration might consider this: The CMR is the place where their concerns are most readily addressed.

Hank Fischer is the special projects coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation in Missoula.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. Girlfriend
    Report Abuse
    Girlfriend - December 31, 2013 8:01 pm
    I understand wanting to right a wrong from over a hundred years ago. However, today is different, from then, the environment, climate, and disease everything has changed. And is it re introduction or re location. Research on this subject also tells me that the Bison in the Yellowstone Park have been over populated, over grazed and will break barriers to fend off starvation and go anywhere to graze. So what to Bison eat what Cattle eat? Grass, Hay, Alfalfa, Corn. So it seems to me, if we create a free roaming Bison we may create an over population, over grazing affect. This will essentially not just drive the Bison into cattle country to graze in their pasture, but also to graze in any pasture or farm in a non-discriminating way. Where Cattle generally are able to be contained within boundaries, wild Bison would be much harder to do. So why would we not think that these Bison who will break through any barrier to fend off starvation would not break through to a corn farm, wheat, alfalfa and so on, where cattle would not. Will we re introduce Bison to find that not only will they die off due to over population and over grazing but watch additional wildlife diminish with them?
  2. Girlfriend
    Report Abuse
    Girlfriend - December 31, 2013 8:00 pm
    I understand wanting to right a wrong from over a hundred years ago. However, today is different, from then, the environment, climate, and disease everything has changed. And is it re introduction or re location. Research on this subject also tells me that the Bison in the Yellowstone Park have been over populated, over grazed and will break barriers to fend off starvation and go anywhere to graze. So what to Bison eat what Cattle eat? Grass, Hay, Alfalfa, Corn. So it seems to me, if we create a free roaming Bison we may create an over population, over grazing affect. This will essentially not just drive the Bison into cattle country to graze in their pasture, but also to graze in any pasture or farm in a non-discriminating way. Where Cattle generally are able to be contained within boundaries, wild Bison would be much harder to do. So why would we not think that these Bison who will break through any barrier to fend off starvation would not break through to a corn farm, wheat, alfalfa and so on, where cattle would not. Will we re introduce Bison to find that not only will they die off due to over population and over grazing but watch additional wildlife diminish with them?
  3. GreatWhite
    Report Abuse
    GreatWhite - May 29, 2012 11:17 am
    FlamingLiberal said: "It seems to me there is enough space in Montana to sustain both a robust wild bison population AND a healthy cattle ranching industry. I know, call me a commie greenie."


    I thought there was enough space to support everything! Cattle, bison, predators, people...all creatures great and small. I personally wouldn't classify you as a 'commie greenie'!

    I'm kinda curious with the upstarting bison industry, and the interest in that market from consumers growing, how is that gonna pan out down the road?
  4. FlamingLiberal
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal - May 29, 2012 10:12 am
    It seems to me there is enough space in Montana to sustain both a robust wild bison population AND a healthy cattle ranching industry. I know, call me a commie greenie.
  5. GreatWhite
    Report Abuse
    GreatWhite - May 28, 2012 3:04 pm
    steeline said: "Greatwhite if you have to ask what America I want back you won't understand the answer. We have to restore America, the United States of America."

    I'm pretty sure I'd get it. I'm pretty smart about some stuff. It's just that in the last 236 years, America has undergone many transitions. I'm just curious what stage we need to be.

    We need our values back, we need our morals back. We need a government 'of the people, for the people', we need corporate america to realize it is the employees that support the companies and respect them reflectively, we need 'political correctness' to go away. We've become a country of to many 'special interest groups' that separate this country even further. We need to shut down the 'social security' cash cow. We don't need the healthcare mess we've been stuck with. We don't need to be 'global police'.

    Our forefathers knew they didn't know everything, they built this country around that knowledge. Foundation was on God. Not money.

    I agree, if your perspective of the "America" you want back is mine, I'm in. But I asked what your perspective is because I am NOT a mindreader...I can't know unless I ask. So, your response that I won't understand the answer tells me you may not know for sure what you mean yourself. It was valid. I've asked before, assumed you didn't notice and didn't pursue.
  6. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - May 27, 2012 9:28 am
    Greatwhite if you have to ask what America I want back you won't understand the answer. We have to restore America, the United States of America.
  7. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - May 26, 2012 8:53 am
    I agree that people are the problem. There are too many with their heads in the mud. We have to save America from them.
  8. GreatWhite
    Report Abuse
    GreatWhite - May 26, 2012 5:05 am
    steeline said: "Moving buffalo anywhere in Montana is going to be a flop. Unless and untill they get the bison problem managable in Yellowstone the problem will only move to new locations. We have to get America back."


    Okay, but it's not the 'bison problem' thats THE PROBLEM. It's the 'people problem' thats always been THE PROBLEM.

    steeline, what 'America' do you want 'back'??

    The 'PROBLEM' is that way back in the 1800's it was decided that bison, which happened to free roam the land that was to become the United States and ranged from Alaska to the New Mexico Territory AND all across the great plains, were competition to the cattle that the new settlers brought out west to 'tame the land'.

    There was also that perceived pest known as the 'Native American' that was in the way of progress.

    So a plan was devised, get rid of the American Bison. This first and foremost would alleviate the competition between these two bovids. Secondly, that would remove the primary food source of the 'Native American' and assist in the relocation of said 'Native American' to what would be termed 'Reservations', wherein they could live in peace and harmony with their 'primitive' traditions and beliefs.

    After the MASS, almost COMPLETE extermination of said bison, there were 25 left in the Yellowstone area, maybe as few as 300 (Acceptedly known less than 1000) across the remaining previous range of the said bison, some rich gentlemen from back East USA decided to save the bison. Thus began the long process that got us where we are today.

    TODAY there are approximately 50 ranchers across the U.S. (All states) that raise bison commercially, but only a few wild herds left, one of them being in Alaska, one in Yellowstone, maybe some small bands elsewhere.

    Collateral effectiveness of reintroduction of these animals to the wild; the American bison was the natural prey of choice for the wolf. The reintroduction of said bison would reestablish that chain of the ecosystem and should not only alleviate the pressure on Elk and livestock helping HUMANS and other animals alike, but that would be balanced by better elk populations AND man would get to hunt bison, and not just the ones that wander outside of Yellowstones borders.

    That would stop the hazing of pregnant bison, the ones that are in the middle of giving birth. It would not threaten the grizzlies as the roam about. There would be LOTS of positives to this move.

    The other side to this is the other main facet of the debate, grazing rights! That is what ranchers are mainly fighting to preserve...the brucellosis debate is a smokescreen. But it's the last thread that ranchers have to pull their weight with government.

    You want America back...join the fight to get our Public Lands BACK for the public and NOT for the ranchers!! That is the very core of 'the problem', everything else just becomes the 'grey area' that prevents forward movement.
  9. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - May 25, 2012 8:14 pm
    Moving buffalo anywhere in Montana is going to be a flop. Unless and untill they get the bison problem managable in Yellowstone the problem will only move to new locations. We have to get America back.
  10. GreatWhite
    Report Abuse
    GreatWhite - May 25, 2012 4:52 am
    I agree, that would be a really good spot for the bison to be. For starters. I believe the FWP already devised a plan to do so and managed to move 60 animals into that area before the local ranchers managed to persuade a judge to halt the operation.

    It doesn't matter what the people think, it appears. We have no voice...no opinion. The other big brother, "RANCHING", has issued the prime directive (That being, we can't possibly allow bison either!), and our judicial process has opted to listen to "big brother" once again.

    To the judge that actually listened to "BIG BROTHER", you do realize you just became a pawn in 'big brothers' ongoing game, don't you?

    So, awesome idea, the Native Americans in that area are perfectly okay with the idea, if fact, it sounds like they are very courteous up there, but sadly, the ranchers (Big Brothers) in that area aren't happy with the idea. Hmmmm...sounds like Montana of 1860 doesn't it.

    Historical recap: White man (Of which I am, so this is okay!) doesn't like the bison, so white man will almost exterminate the bison. And rich white man will decide to save the bison, but it will become a conditional thing. Rancher white man shall forever dictate what happens to ALL of Gods creatures, great or small.

    Because it's soooooo obvious that white man knows what is best for this planet and all of it's people.

    Damn it STATE OF MONTANA, start listening to the rest of MONTANA, not just the squeaky wheels, like 'big brother'!

    We'll see if this passes approval and gets posted!

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