Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interagency Bison Management Plan

November 17 & 18 were the IBMP meetings to decide the fate of the last remaining genetically pure, continuously wild buffalo in this country. Below are the notes from these meetings written by Stephany Seay.


Three tribal representatives were at the table:
* ITBC - Christina Krocher
* Nez Perce - Brooklyn Baptise
* Confederated Salish & Kootenai - Tom McDonald

Good News First:
~AMP changes reflect there will be additional tolerance for bulls North of Duck Creek; expand suitable habitat for bull bison west of Cutler Lake and Cutler Meadow; expand suitable habitat for bull bison in the Maiden Baisen area off Little Trail Creek on east side of Yellowstone River (as outlined in IBMP Annual Report for 2008-2009 - see press release pasted below)
~ APHIS & Idaho Fish & Game want to study bull bison semen more closely to ensure the zero risk, and if that's what they find, bulls may be tolerated in Idaho.

*Adaptive Management / '09-'10 Operations:
~ DOL opened with expressing frustrating at "repeated breaches" of bison moving into Zone 3 via the South Side of the Madison River
~ Zaluski said that 250 on the Butte and 25 on the South Side ("flats" they called it) triggers breeches
~ DOL claims there's "no habitat" on the South Side (they forgot about the burn)
~ Zaluski proposed a change to the Adaptive Management Plan: NO BUFFALO ALLOWED on the South Side, or LIMIT the number of buffalo on Horse Butte
~ DOL wants to take immediate management actions if buffalo are on the south side: 1. Capture; 2. Haze back into Park; 3. Haze to Horse Butte
~ DOL claimed 13 "breaches" on the South Side last spring
"The bison did not behave like we hoped they would" ~ Mary Zaluski

~ Cattle arrived at Povah's on 6/17. Apparenty, he runs some cow/calf pairs, and also 200 steers (brucellosis proof livestock). He leases the land, so DOL says they "never know" what he'll have, since he's a private property owner and can pretty much do what he wants
~ Tierny and Zaluski claimed there were "a lot" of other producers affected by buffalo "breaching" into Zone 3, but they couldn't name any of the ranchers or places.

They proposed a change to the Adaptive Mangement Plan under 1.1 and 1.1A. to allow NO buffalo on the South Side. This was met with some resistance by Yellowstone and Gallatin.
~ "The triggers we've established are much too tolerant" ~ Marty Zaluski
~ Tierny kept expressing how difficult it is to haze bison from the south side and how much time, people and money it takes to continue to do it.
~ Suzanne Lewis and Mary Erickson were not in agreement with changing the plan to reflect zero buffalo on south side.
~ Lewis actually said that more habitat needs to be established outside the Park. Echoed, strongly, by P.J. White who really raised his voice for the buffalo this time.
~ Mary Erickson said that one year's worth of data is not enough to make such a significant change to AMP, and that if they don't allow buffalo on South Side, then that removes 1/2 of Zone 2
~ Everyone agreed they were in disagreement, and hence at a stalemate and would take it up again on Day 2 of the meetings.
~ Lewis and Erickson said that even though the agents may have had to work hard, there was NO THREAT OF TRANSMISSION with having buffalo on the South Side.
~ Erickson & Lwewis told the DOL that they already had the tools and authority in the AMP to deal with these "breaches" yet they chose not to use them. DOL response was very confusing, but they disagreed.
~ Both Nez Perce and Salish-Kootenai reps said that 1) one year of data is insigificant and should not be the catalyst for such suggested changes; 2) The DOL should be aware of the producers and what they are bringing on to the landscape if they want to make good decisions

Royal Teton Ranch:
~ Fencing will now only be around RTR office; County will not let them put fencing along county access road.
~ Cattle guards have been eliminated
~ There will be a fence along Cinnibar Road to West end of RTR
~ Fence built on north side, south side fence under construction
~ Fencing should be complete 1st week of December
~ Hazing would take place where fencing will now be absent

~ DOL: No new action on Stockgrowers' lawsuit
~ NPS: Being sued. It's with Dept. of Justice. 60 days to respond. Likely NPS and GNF will not be able to speak so freely while suit is in progress.

U.S. Animal Health Association ~ 5 Resolutions
* can be found at
1. I missed that one
2. Wildlife agencies in GYA are standardizing elk protocall
3. Suport creating of research facilities
4. Ask USDA to commit resources to swine brucellosis (brucella suis)
5. Removal of brucella abortus from (bio-terror) select agent list (a long shot)

Public Comments:
* A rancher from Paradise Valley
* Jim Bailey, GWA
* Glenn Hockett, GWA
* Stephany Seay, BFC
* Matt Skokland, NRDC
* County Commissioner, Paradise Valley
* Rancher, Paradise Valley

11/18/09 ~ ROUND TWO:

'09-'10 Operating Procedures Continued
~ Compromise on AMP changes: DOL wants 15 buffalo only, and only 2 "breaches" are allowed, after which management actions will be triggered.
~ Erickson and Lewis saw no difference then in keeping the number at the current 30, if dates remain same and DOL has authority to take management actions
~ DOL would like agencies to consider a population reduction/cap on Horse Butte (250 too many)
~ Dates bison would be allowed to be on South Side would remain the same as in 2008 AMP
~ DOL wants access to GNF lands that are closed to snowmobiles for management and monitoring.
~ Erickson said that they already have access for management. DOL said they want it for monitoring.
(Randy, GNF biologist feels very strongly that this is a BAD idea as he knows tourists will follow those tracks and he said he would recommend against it)
~ Erickson said that this would be a modification of their travel plan restrictions (the only good thing they've done)
~ Tierny, DOL said that if they can't use snowmobiles, they'll "have no choice" but to bring out the helicopter
~ Lewis agreed that it may be possible that allowing "unlimited" bison on Horse Butte is creating a "spillover" to the South Side
~ DOL wants to monitor and define population CAP on Horse Butte
** By the end of this discussion it appears (but was not clear) that they would continue to allow 30 buffalo on the Southside, dates would stay the same, but after two "breaches" management action would be taken. I asked them to clairify during my comment time, but the agencies will not answer questions from "the audience" as they call us.

DOL Contacting GNF for Authorization in Operations:
~ Erickson wanted to strike language in the AMP that said the DOL will "make a reasonable attempt to contact a rep from USFS to" and make it read: "the DOL will obtain authorization for the use of motorized vehicles on NF roads."
~ DOL moaned that they need to be able to do what they want, when they need to, especially at Duck Creek.
~ Tierny reminded Mary Erickson more than once that DOL "is a law enforcement agency" (IS THAT TRUE??)
~ Randy, GNF biologist said that there is always someone available for them to call and there's never been a problem in the past.
~ DOL (Shane Grube and Tierny) continued to complain and moan
~ Language will be reworked to satisfy both GNF & DOL

~ Brucellosis prevalance study was dropped from the agenda
~ Brief mention of Brucellosis Concept Paper (comments through 12/04)
~ Montana's Brucellosis Action Plan "sunsets" in January 11
~ National Brucellosis Zone being discussed/developed
~ There is a Comment Period Open for the Brucellosis Survelience Area through 12/16 (I have no info on this currently)

~ Very brief report about agencies considering placement of bison. NO MENTION was made that they were recommending they go to Turner!!

Public Comments:
~ Rancher from Paradise Valley
~ Another Rancher from Paradise Valley (Ranchers complained that they had no representation at the table!!!)
~ Glen Hockett, GWA
~ Matt Skokland, NRDC
~ Mike Pearson, GYC
~ Stephany Seay, BFC
~ MIKE MEASE!!!! Had the last and most beautiful-to-the-point words. :)

*NEXT MEETING: April 18 & 19 @ FWP in Bozeman


Bison get more tolerance in Montana, but fix elusive (B.S.)

Wind Cave NP bison arrive in Mexico
Rapid City Journal

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