March 28, 2023

…..Where The Buffalo Roam…..

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How do you keep the masses happy? That’s the million dollar question as the ongoing debate in and around Yellowstone National Park over buffalo rages on. This morning Laura Zuckerman of Reuters News Service has an article about the ongoing debate over how to keep tourists, ranchers, park employees, government officials, animal rights groups, and my pet dog Fido, happy.

History shows us that humans nearly wiped out the buffalo many moons ago but efforts to save the species has worked. There are several ranches that raise domestic buffalo but Yellowstone hosts the remaining pure wild buffalo.

The buffalo carries a disease called brucellosis that if infected into cattle, causes pregnant cows to abort dead fetuses. This can be devastating to ranchers.

In Montana, officials there, in efforts to protect the billion dollar ranching industry, kill any buffalo that range outside of Yellowstone onto Montana land. This angers buffalo advocates and animal rights groups as well as those who want to see buffalo roaming everywhere including downtown Billings.

The Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, once a rancher himself, is trying to broker a deal that would appease as many as possible.

Schweitzer wants to expand the range the herd may roam outside Yellowstone National Park and would pay ranchers not to graze their cattle on the same land. He also has proposed increasing hunting permits for buffalo to up to 500 annually from 50 to help cull a Yellowstone herd that last year numbered 4,900, a record high since it was established in the early 1900s.

“I’m trying to come up with a solution that actually makes sense,” Schweitzer said.

Sounds like a solid socialistic remedy to me!

What is troubling is to listen to the buffalo rights advocates when they say that tourists spend more money and bring greater revenue to the state because they want to come and see wildlife, including the buffalo. Their implication is, to hell with the ranchers. Let’s force the ranchers out in order to save the buffalo at the expense of losing our cattle farms – something this country doesn’t need.

It would seem that the best solution is to find the middle ground somewhere in an effort to control the spread of the deadly brucellosis disease. Let’s not just slaughter the bison because they roam outside the park. If the buffalo are leaving the park, it must be because they are searching for more habitat – meaning there are too many buffalo congregated in too small and area. As always, hunting is the best long term method of control animal populations. Give the hunters the chance to work with state wildlife officials.

Tom Remington