Bison, large, shaggy haired, mammals, are an important part of the nation’s wildlife heritage. They also play a huge role in the eco system. Grazing on grass and using their hooves through the soil allows other animal and plant species to thrive. Over a century ago, Bison were wiped out across the Great Plains of North America. Only 1,000 remained by 1890 and the majority of these were kept in private ranches, and forced to interbreed with cattle. By 1902, only 25 pure bison were left in the United States. Yellowstone National Park ended up being their refuge. Thanks to the work of committed biologists, the Yellowstone herd grew to 5,000 and over 190 pure Yellowstone bison once again roam their historic home, the Great Plains.
Recently, a few powerful Montana lawmakers have introduced a bill that would wreck bison restoration efforts. And it’s being considered by Montana legislature presently. Within the next few days, this bill will be brought to the House Floor for a vote.
What would happen if the bill passes?
If this bill passed, a great deal of hard work and commitment would be derailed. Politicians would replace wildlife biologists as decision makers for bison restoration management. Instead of experienced biologists who would put the needs of the bison first, politicians would be completely in charge of their now and their future, focusing more on industry interests.
“If passed, as few as two county commissions could vote to bar bison restoration in their counties,” says Jonathan Proctor, Defenders of Wildlife director for the Rockies and plans.
This is not what the people of Montana want. They are proud of their wildlife heritage and their votes in a recent public opinion survey prove it! Seventy six percent of Montanans are pro bison restoration on public lands and seventy eight percent of Montanans support bison restoration on tribal lands.
Biologists should be left in charge of any conservation work. They’ve been doing incredible work for years and are responsible for bringing the bison back from near extinction. If left to politicians and officials, there’s a high chance the bison population could plummet once again and that is not the legacy this nation wants to leave behind.
Why are Montana’s Lawmakers so intent on undermining bison restoration success?
Sadly, a few elected officials do not share the same support as the majority of Montanans. They are trying to block bison restoration efforts, refusing to share land with bison, fearing they’ll compete for grazing lands with livestock.
“Bison are an iconic symbol of the American West, but Montana agency officials continue to block common-sense plans for bison restoration,” explains Jonathan Proctor, Defenders’ director for Rockies and Plains. “They continue to manage bison based on the exaggerated fear that bison will threaten livestock in the state. This outdated strategy is based on flawed data, perpetuates conflict and ignores solutions.”
We need your help urgently! Bison have a long history in the United States and are an essential part of the eco system. We now have the opportunity restore bison populations. But that could change if this bill passes. That’s why your help is needed urgently!
If you are a resident of Montana, contact your local elected official now and urge them not to pass this bill…
If you’re not a Montana resident, you can still help. Please contact the Yellowstone National Park officials, ASAP, and support their plans to restore wild bison elsewhere.