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The Killing Fields Await Yellowstone Bison Once Again In Montana

More Than 10,000 Of The American Icons Have Been Slaughtered Based On A Now Debunked Premise, and there is a connection to Wyoming's controversial feedgrounds.

Bison group on the move at sunrise in Lamar Valley.  NPS / Jacob W. Frank
Bison group on the move at sunrise in Lamar Valley. NPS / Jacob W. Frank
In the coming months, Yellowstone National Park, as part of the Interagency Bison Management Plan adopted with the state of Montana in 2000, intends to reduce the current size of the park's bison herd from around 4,800 to between 3,900 and 4,200. 

Last winter 1,200 bison were removed—the largest reduction in a decade—with more than half sent to slaughter and nearly 500 killed by hunters. Nine of every ten Yellowstone bison that died were killed beyond the park's northern border in the Upper Yellowstone River Valley. The goal, park officials say, is to eventually reduce the number of bison to between 3,000 and 3,500.

Since the mid 1980s, more than 10,400 of the Yellowstone icons have been killed for wandering into Montana based on the now-debunked premise that they represent imminent threats of passing the disease brucellosis to domestic cattle. Critics say the "hunting" of park bison is anything but a sporting proposition; most animals are accustomed to people and do not flee.

The question is not only why more bison continue to be slaughtered or placed in quarantine, but also what are the consequences of removing animals that are merely acting upon ancient biological instincts to escape deep snow at higher elevations and move to lower-lying grasslands outside the park?

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To be clear, the following parallel drawn between bison and elk is not intended to be a blanket anti-hunting statement. However, it has been asserted by government wildlife officials I’ve spoken with that when hunters opened fire on elk migrating out of Yellowstone across its northern border into Montana this fall, and for those who formed a firing line shooting at elk sprinting for their lives across Grand Teton National Park, there was no sophisticated selection or discrimination going on related to which animals were being felled. 

Quite the opposite.

During those years in the late 1980s and 1990s when the state of Montana conducted its elk reduction near Gardiner, Montana to dramatically reduce the number of wapiti on Yellowstone's northern range, late season elk hunts were held in which pregnant cow elk were killed. Thousands of elk were eliminated and veteran sportsmen I knew called the scene the antithesis of ethical hunting.

People forget—especially those who hate wolves—that before wolves were restored in the mid 1990s, many of those same individuals lobbed a fusillade of criticisms at Yellowstone, claiming the park was mismanaged and the northern range grossly overgrazed by 19,000 elk.

Moreover, they either forget or deny that wolves, in reducing elk numbers, have produced a number of ecological dividends. Though there is widespread dispute over whether there has been a full-blown “trophic cascade effect”, having fewer elk has dramatically changed the way the landscape is being used. 

The number of wapiti on Yellowstone's northern range today is closer to 6,000 which move seamless in and out of the park, and there are actually far fewer wolves in the park now than a decade ago. In recent years, bison have become more numerous. Some now claim, including Yellowstone, that the park’s northern rangelands hold too many bison.

While wolves have received much of the blame for fewer elk, no intense analysis has ever been done on the ripple effects caused by humans, poised along the park border in Montana, killing so many female elk of prime reproductive age; no analysis has been done on what the removal of big elk bulls has meant to the gene pool or even what effect those factors had on leaving elk in a better position—or worse—in being able to fend off predation by wolves.
Bison herd with calves in Lamar Valley; NPS / Neal Herbert
Bison herd with calves in Lamar Valley; NPS / Neal Herbert

Similarly, it's reasonable to ask, what effect has the indiscriminate, non-selective slaughter of more than 10,000 Yellowstone bison wandering into Montana, killed under the dubious premise that they represent an ominous risk of brucellosis transmission to private cattle herds, had on the health of the park’s bison herd? As many wonder aloud, how have the killing fields in Montana, along both the park's northern and western boundaries, affected the social dynamics of Yellowstone’s bison?

Bison moving out of the park carry with them an age-old, deeply-engrained instinct—to migrate. What does it mean to continuously remove those animals which are only following their evolutionary drive to leave higher elevation areas inundated by heavy snows in winter, seeking instead better places to feed on grass at lower elevations? How has snuffing out this instinct, by slaughtering bison in mass, contributed to the current problem of so many bison now congregated on Yellowstone’s northern range and causing some perceived overgrazing problems?

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Yellowstone today finds itself boxed-in by the state of Montana. Yellowstone officials have said that in order to preserve the ecological and genetic integrity of park bison a minimum of between 3,000 and 3,500 needs to be maintained across decades. Yellowstone and its mountain setting, however, is actually not a place where bison would naturally choose of their own accord to congregate.

Many of Yellowstone's bison are descended from just 26 wild survivors that found refuge in the park during the late 19th century when a species that once numbered between 30 million and 60 million was reduced to mere hundreds. Yellowstone became a safe harbor because of its geographic remoteness. Survivors of near extinction—the equivalent of a biological holocaust perpetuated on them—conservationists and indigenous people argue that Yellowstone's bison herds deserve to therefore be treated with special, almost sacred, status. 

Yellowstone northern range has been compared to a mini-American Serengeti for the diversity of large wild mammals that move across it. One partial antidote, a way to address to some of those bison grazing concerns instead of keeping the animals bottled up in the park, would be opening up more space outside Yellowstone. But the state of Montana has historically refused and only recently, owed to growing public pressure, has it been willing to consider offering bison greater flexibility to be bison.

Expecting any wild animal to remain contained behind an invisible human line drawn on a map that does not conform to the biological need of the species defies not only logic but the laws of nature. It may be what ranchers do with non-native livestock, by stringing barbed wire and pasturing animals bred to be docile, but wildlife biologists say it has no grounding in sound 21st-century ecology, ethical treatment or respect for a beloved national symbol that is on the seal of the U.S. Interior Department.

Notably, bison are the only species in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that are not allowed to naturally migrate or roam. Elk and mule deer can, so too pronghorn and moose, trumpeter swans and fish. Montana’s intolerance of bison cannot, with any semblance of truth, be based upon the threat of brucellosis so what is the real reason?.

Brucellosis is a serious, highly-contagious zoonotic disease and in bovine animals involves a bacteria Brucella abortus. In the past, it was considered more a health threat to humans who drank unpasteurized milk. In wildlife and livestock, B. abortus does not cause animals to die nor is it population limiting. It is more of a trade issue with barriers put up against states that have brucellosis in their livestock herds. In female animals, be they bison, elk or cattle, it causes pregnant mothers to abort their first calves but generally does not affect reproduction afterwards. For 40 years, it was thought that bison represented the greatest threat of transmission.

“During my time in Yellowstone, I have watched with great interest — and some amazement — that bison are vilified as the primary threat or vector for brucellosis transition in the ecosystem,” Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk wrote in the peer-reviewed book Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society. “There is an illusory belief that if brucellosis were eliminated in bison it would be eliminated from the ecosystem. The authors [in this book] clearly state that this scenario is unlikely and that bison make up a small portion of the overall risk for brucellosis transmission to cattle.”

Edited by P.J. White, Rick Wallen, and David Hallac, this is a probing, exhaustive analysis of the bison controversy and one that should be required reading for every state legislator in Montana, every member of the state departments of Agriculture, Livestock and Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and, if you care about bison, every nature-loving citizen. Mountain Journal readers can download a free copy by clicking here.

The book’s conclusions are even backed by the most prestigious and respected scientific body on earth, the National Academies of Sciences. As the NAS noted in its blue-ribbon report, Revisiting Brucellosis In the Greater Yellowstone Area released last summer (you can read it online), there has never been a documented case of a wild Yellowstone bison transmitting brucellosis to domestic livestock. Not a single case.  All the instances involving brucellosis transmission from wildlife to cattle have involved wild elk.

The National Academies acknowledged in writing that Yellowstone, through the Interagency Bison Management Plan, is forced to violate its own management philosophy. "Bison numbers and distribution are already controlled at the boundaries of Yellowstone, which is inconsistent with the natural regulation policy of the National Park Service," it concluded and added, "Reducing the elk population is an option for reducing the risk of transmission among elk, cattle, and bison."
Another noteworthy take-home finding from the National Academies report is this: "Ecological changes within the Greater Yellowstone Area since 1998 have shifted the dynamics of wildlife populations. The reintroduction of wolves and increases in grizzly bear numbers have impacted the density and distribution of elk. Elk populations have expanded on the periphery of the Greater Yellowstone Area  but have decreased inside Yellowstone. The rising number of private landowners has changed how land is used around national parks, with private lands increasingly serving as refugia for elk from hunting."

It also shines light on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole and Wyoming's 22 state-run elk feedgrounds, noting that they are troublesome reservoirs of disease.  "Any gains in reducing seroprevalence [of brucellosis] in Yellowstone bison [by killing them] could be negated by exposure of remaining bison to infected elk within Yellowstone and in elk feedgrounds if concurrent efforts to reduce seroprevalence in elk does not occur. This is particularly important for the Jackson bison herd, for which exposure to elk on the National Elk Refuge continues to be a significant risk, and will need to be considered in bison control plans." 

The Academies added this glaring reference: "Molecular genetic characterization of B. abortus isolates from elk, bison, and cattle indicate that Wyoming feedgrounds have the greatest diversity of B. abortus lineages, and strongly suggest that they are the initial source of infection for other elk populations in the Greater Yellowstone Area." 

How might the Wyoming feedgrounds, which have been a reservoir for brucellosis and other diseases, accelerate the dispersal of Chronic Wasting Disease once it arrives there and at the National Elk Refuge?

Scientists writing in the book Yellowstone Bison observe"The estimated risk of brucellosis exposure to cattle from Yellowstone bison is insignificant (less than 1 percent) compared to elk (more than 99 percent of total risk) because elk have a larger overlap with cattle and are more tolerated by managers and livestock producers,” they noted. 

“Many of the approximately 450,000 cattle in the Greater Yellowstone Area are fed on private land holdings during winter and released on public grazing allotments during summer—but throughout the year they are allowed to mingle with wild elk. Thus, the risks of brucellosis transmission to cattle are primarily from wild elk, and management to suppress brucellosis in bison will not substantially reduce the far greater transmission risk from elk. Therefore, numerous independent evaluations have recommended that management actions for brucellosis focus on maintaining separation between bison and cattle, while attempting to decrease elk density and group sizes in areas where mingling with cattle occurs”
"The estimated risk of brucellosis exposure to cattle from Yellowstone bison is insignificant (less than 1 percent) compared to elk (more than 99 percent of total risk) because elk have a larger overlap with cattle and are more tolerated by managers and livestock producers.” 
Yet Montana’s lethal intolerance toward bison—not elk— persists. It is based only on the possibility that brucellosis transmission could possibly happen between bison and cattle. And it has led to 10,000 bison—a number equal to twice the living population of Yellowstone’s bison today—being destroyed.

The lack of a case of bison to cattle brucellosis transmission neither means an absence of risk, nor that beef cows will never get the disease if they intermingle with cattle. Experts say that temporal and spatial separation (keeping bison and cattle away from each other on the landscape) and shooting lots of bison helped insure it could never happen. But given the genetic revelations that have been made, that elk have been responsible, those choreographing the controversial policy aimed at bison have been accused of overkill. 

The notion that Yellowstone bison should be managed like livestock and confined to the park like a zoo is rooted in misperception and archaic thinking.

“For most of the 20th century, as Yellowstone bison recovered from near extirpation, they did not regularly and extensively venture outside Yellowstone National Park. This led to the beliefs bison should remain in the park, and they only leave when large numbers overgraze the grasslands. These beliefs have been reflected in the treatment of bison as livestock in many areas outside the park," the authors in Yellowstone Bison point out.

They add, "Intensive management actions near the boundary of Yellowstone National Park to reduce the risk of brucellosis transmission to cattle could potentially result in a substantial loss of genetic diversity in Yellowstone bison and affect population substructure Sporadic culls of more than 1,000 bison in some winters differentially affected bison from the central region by removing more females and dampening productivity.”
 Cow and calf run through the sage in Lamar Valley.  NPS / Jacob W. Frank
Cow and calf run through the sage in Lamar Valley. NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Dr. James Derr, the widely-respected veterinarian researcher and expert in pathobiology at Texas A & M University, has noted that those who have advocated for the slaughter of Yellowstone bison—namely the Montana Department of Livestock—have no real idea what the impacts are to bison, the Yellowstone bison gene pool or its social structure.

Some find it strange that bison, a wild native animal—in fact America’s official national mammal—are still treated as exotic creatures by the Montana legislature. They also say it’s strange that the Department of Livestock and singularly its chief veterinarian Dr. Martin Zaluski have so much say in determining whether Yellowstone bison should be allowed to leave the park.  They say it's strange that the Department of Livestock has legal authority over wildlife.

In fairness to Zaluski, who is an intelligent, thoughtful and amiable person, he is in a tough spot. If he acted any way differently, he would likely be fired, which shows just how negatively perverse and toxic the environment is when agricultural interests stubbornly refuse to accept the truth.

Zaluski has never made a compelling case—nor presented any argument supported by peer-reviewed science— for why bison, as opposed to elk, are the eminent alleged disease threats they are portrayed to be. If the Department of Livestock and cattle ranchers are really concerned about disease, why aren’t the 10,000 to 20,000 elk that leave Yellowstone every fall, a significant number of which carry brucellosis, not similarly mowed down or sent to slaughter once they enter Montana and Wyoming?

The old Interagency Bison Management Plan, implemented almost 18 years ago, was based on the now officially debunked argument that bison were the predominant threat of brucellosis transmission. Critics say the disease issue is a smokescreen. The Montana Department of Livestock’s opposition to giving bison more latitude is really based on its refusal to let bison inhabit more public land where cattle can potentially graze outside the national park.
Twenty winters ago, when several thousand more bison had yet to be killed or sent to slaughter, then Yellowstone Supt. Mike Finley told a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, "It's the toughest Gordian knot I've ever known. We are witnessing the second persecution of the American bison, and it is almost as violent and prejudicial as the first."
These are points that have constantly been raised by a wide variety of people, from Glenn Hockett, Joe Gutkoski and retired college professor Jim Bailey of the Gallatin Wildlife Association to the Buffalo Field Campaign, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Humane Society of the United States, citizen activist Kathryn Qanna Yahu, the National Wildlife Federation, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, EarthJustice, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, Western Watersheds Project, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, native American tribes, and former Yellowstone superintendents Mike Finley and the late Bob Barbee. A number of prominent scientists and public policy experts have also corroborated them. 

The Sierra Club, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, Gallatin Wildlife Advocates and Western Watersheds sent a letter Dec. 15, 2017 to the governors of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, referencing the National Academies report.

Twenty winters ago, when several thousand more bison had yet to be killed or sent to slaughter, then Supt. Finley told a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, "It's the toughest Gordian knot I've ever known. We are witnessing the second persecution of the American bison, and it is almost as violent and prejudicial as the first."

Below is one video, among dozens created by the Buffalo Field Campaign, that documents how the Montana Department of Livestock has treated Yellowstone bison, driving them back into the park through hazing. Watch it through to the end; it's less than five minutes long and offers a revealing glimpse. Judge for yourself:
I have been writing about bison and brucellosis for three decades. Here is what I know based on the science:

Since the 1980s, Yellowstone bison have been hazed roughshod back into the park by Department of Livestock personnel on horseback, snowmobiles, ATVs and helicopters. They have run some animals to death in ways they never would have treated cattle. They have driven some animals onto the frozen ice of waterways where they have broken through and drowned.
Map created by National Wildlife Federation for its report, The Future of Yellowstone Bison Management based on National Park Service data.
Map created by National Wildlife Federation for its report, The Future of Yellowstone Bison Management based on National Park Service data.
They have caused injuries to mother and calf bison. DOL representatives have trespassed on private property and without permission moved bison away even though the property owners welcomed the animals. They have ordered that bison bulls be shot even though bison bulls represent almost a zero threat to passing along disease. They have ordered thousands of bison cows and young bison be shot or shipped to slaughter; meanwhile, the odds of elk passing on the disease are orders of magnitude higher.

They have toyed with the idea of completely replacing existing Yellowstone bison with a disease-free herd. They have promoted the use and experimented with bison birth control. They have proposed the idea of trying to vaccinate bison in Yellowstone using bio-bullets even though scientists have told them it would fail since a wide range of species carry brucellosis, including thousands of elk. They have tacitly been in favor of allowing hunters to go into Yellowstone and shoot park bison. They have resisted efforts to allow bison to roam on public lands outside the park even where there are no cattle present

Development of an effective brucellosis vaccine administered to cattle would make any threat posed by bison and elk disappear. 

In the book Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society, the authors note,“[Disease regula­tors and livestock interests have certainly perpetuated misperceptions regarding the risks posed by bison for decades. These misperceptions have strongly influenced the management of bison and severely limited their conservation and distribution across the landscape. The reluctance to allow Yellowstone bison onto more public lands in the Greater Yellowstone Area can no longer be justified solely based on brucellosis risk to the cattle industry. There is recognition by disease regulators and wildlife managers that the risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to cattle is minute compared to elk which are generally free to roam.”
There has never been a documented case of a wild Yellowstone bison transmitting brucellosis to domestic livestock. Not a single case.
Montana knows well that a very vocal constituency exists for elk and the kind of militant, zero-tolerance rhetoric directed toward bison in the past is notably missing as the state ponders options for keeping elk and cattle separated.  Wyoming's feeding of wildlife, and the problems it has caused with regard to brucellosis prevalence and the potential of its facilities accelerating CWD, was mentioned in a letter sent from the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission Dec. 7, 2017.

Read Mountain Journal's series on CWD by clicking on parts One (Greater Yellowstone's Coming Plague); Two (focused on the National Elk Refuge);  Three (on CWD arriving in Montana); and Four (on the role predators play in helping to curb disease).

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Bob Jackson, after raising herds of bison himself and becoming familiar with family dynamics, says the ongoing slaughter of Yellowstone bison is akin more to an annual “massacre” and “atrocity” than anything approaching ethical wildlife management. And he says it violates one of the key pillars of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation—that of science driving the way species are managed.

“Yellowstone is a park that helped save the species from extinction; its heritage is about bringing them back and this is how we are treating them in the 21st century,” he said. “The way they’ve been made scapegoats for disease is something that those who have gone along with it should be ashamed.”
Millions of dollars have been spent carrying out a policy of carnage against bison, that experts say did not need to happen. If instead those millions of public tax dollars had been spent acquiring more habitat from willing private sellers, opening up public land and creating safe zones outside the park, Yellowstone bison would join the list of other species allowed to migrate.
In Yellowstone’s defense, there is not a single biologist who agrees or is happy with the current bison management plan, forced upon the park, by court order courtesy of the state of Montana. Millions of dollars have been spent carrying out a policy of carnage against bison, that experts say did not need to happen. If instead those millions of public tax dollars had been spent acquiring more habitat from willing private sellers, opening up public land and creating safe zones outside the park, Yellowstone bison would join the list of other species allowed to migrate.

Also in Yellowstone’s defense, Supt. Wenk and his staff have promoted the quarantine concept as a stop gap to try and keep more animals alive, so that they can be used as seed stock for starting or growing bison herds on the plains, including on Indian reservations. But these good intentions, too, have been met with nonsensical red tape and resistance from the Montana Department of Livestock.

Where is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Martha Williams, director of the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department?  Yellowstone and the state are currently working to draft a new bison management plan.

Bullock has been roundly criticized for not aggressively implementing a deal crafted by citizens and stakeholders that would allow huntable bison subherds to sprout in places like the Taylor Fork, on Forest Service lands like Horse Butte around Hebgen Lake and even on state/federal lands north of Yellowstone.

As for Williams, people have plenty of good things to say about her. The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department is an agency that, over the years, was hailed as one of the best fish and game agencies in America, but today many on its staff feel demoralized by former directors who capitulated to anti-wildlife legislators.

The National Academies stated that while adaptive management strategies were supposed to be identified and pursued to benefit wildlife as well as livestock interests, often times they were not acted upon or done in ways in which results could be scientifically measured. 

Will Montana give bison room to roam?

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Finally, what is another negative consequence of killing Yellowstone bison, when elk are really the prime suspects for passing along disease to cattle—and when elk suffer higher infection rates of brucellosis traceable in part to operation of Wyoming's controversial elk feedgrounds and artificial feeding at the National Elk Refuge? 

A different kind of cost, no less profound, is being exacted, claims Robert "Bob" Jackson. "There's been an atrocity that no one wants to talk about or take responsibility for; it's the severe trauma that's been inflicted upon the most famous public bison herd in the world."
"There's been an atrocity that no one wants to talk about or take responsibility for; it's the severe trauma that's been inflicted upon the most famous public bison herd in the world." -Bob Jackson
In his heyday, some considered Jackson a local folk hero in government uniform.  Others were not so smitten. The moniker "Action Jackson" still summons mixed reactions across the Greater Yellowstone region.

A retired backcountry ranger, Jackson spent more than 30 years in Yellowstone and he became best known—notorious even— for fighting wildlife poachers in the Thorofare district.  The Thorofare, located in the Yellowstone's southeastern corner, is one of the most remote places left in the Lower 48 states because of its distance from a paved road.

It turns out that for most of the time Jackson served as a part-time ranger in America's oldest national park, he was also, less triumphantly, spending his time off growing a bison herd on the tallgrass prairie of his native Iowa.

While many will quickly point out that he's not a scientist,  Jackson possesses what he calls "a farmer's knowledge", and the
 philosophy he espouses is gaining traction among those who steward both public and private bison herds.

“When state and government agencies say they only manage bison ‘at the population level’, that’s not good enough,” Jackson told me. “All populations of wildlife are comprised of individuals doing important things that help sustain the population. And if you are not considering that, you are completely missing the big picture."

Those who see bison as merely simplistic stolid behemoths, holdovers from the Pleistocene, have got it all wrong, he says.  Paying attention to how bison organize themselves on the landscape, first in Yellowstone then at his farm in Iowa where he has several hundred bison, Jackson started recognizing patterns of order. Like many who spend a lot of time around bison, he noticed subherds within herds, satellite groups spinning off from the main mass of animals, and distinctive family structure. 

Bison have a sophisticated language, distinctive ways they use and move across habitat, and emotional bonds that form between mothers and offspring. Jackson says clanship serves as a nucleus for holding herds together and shaping bison behavior.  

Individual animals matter; some perform teaching functions; some carry the essential genes; some are the catalysts which ensure populations are resilient, healthy and ultimately better able to survive he says.

As numerous scientific studies note, such social behavior is not only present with bison, but it exists overtly within elephants, wolf and coyote packs, elk herds and bird communities and he suspects that if humans were able to actually detect it, they would find it with bears. While hunting may involve the selection of a male or female of a species, killing animals willy-nilly in order to meet numeric herd reduction quotas can cause unintended chaos.

While bull bison tend to be solitary creatures, Jackson notes the extended  matriarchal family structure that exists among bison mothers and offspring is impressive. Such insights were divined decades ago by the eminent Yellowstone bison researcher Dr. Mary Meagher, highlighted by writer/zoologist Tom McHugh and explored by Jim Bailey in his book American Plains Bison: Rewinding An Icon

Mr. Jackson does not steward "free-ranging" bison the way the wild herds in Yellowstone and Jackson Hole are—meaning there is no fence to contain them. When he sells bison to consumers wanting to buy bison meat, he removes entire family units at a time—the newer ones that have emerged— and leaves older, more deeply-established ones intact.  Random removal of animals, he's learned, brings instability and stress to his entire herd. In Yellowstone, he says, that's happened on a massive scale.

"We've obliterated family structure in Yellowstone bison coming out of the park. No one with a straight face can claim that this has been responsible, ethical, or ecologically-sound wildlife management," he says. "It's been a fiasco and I don't blame the people in Yellowstone. I blame the state of Montana for forcing this upon the park."

The scene that is about to play out again this winter on the borders of Yellowstone doesn’t come close to connoting respect that is fitting for America’s national mammal.

“Bison are smart, sensing, inspiring animals but we treat them as if those that leave the park belong in refugee camps or executed just because they are being bison," he said. "If elk and cattle were treated the way bison are, there would be outrage like you wouldn't believe. These are wild Yellowstone bison, members of the most famous public herd in the world. They survived extinction. Montana's abusive mindset has got to stop. The way the state is treating them, in my mind, is a national disgrace." 
Todd Wilkinson
About Todd Wilkinson

Todd Wilkinson, founder of Mountain Journal,  is author of the  book Ripple Effects: How to Save Yellowstone and American's Most Iconic Wildlife Ecosystem.  Wilkinson has been writing about Greater Yellowstone for 35 years and is a correspondent to publications ranging from National Geographic to The Guardian. He is author of several books on topics as diverse as scientific whistleblowers and Ted Turner, and a book about the harrowing story of Jackson Hole grizzly mother 399, the most famous bear in the world which features photographs by Thomas Mangelsen. For more information on Wilkinson, click here. (Photo by David J Swift).
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