We, as Montanans, have a responsibility to try to right some of the appalling history of the treatment of the American bison. During the past 150 years, we have seen the near extinction of massive herds that roamed the West, estimated to number 30 million animals at one time, to the frightening count of only 23 individuals known by 1885.
The Interagency Bison Management Plan instituted in 2000 (after several years of preliminary discussion) presented a founding philosophy that, "Our society's management of wild bison reflects important value judgments about wildlife and our relationship to it."
One of the stated goals that the 2011 Citizens Working Group presented to the IBMP was: "Improved discussion of finding habitat for wild bison inside and outside the Greater Yellowstone Area." This is what we are trying to accomplish.
Another of the Citizens Working Group recommendations was to embrace the rationale that our habitat recommendations be based upon the fact that the current bison population does not have access to enough year-round habitat. Significant habitat, however, exists outside Yellowstone National Park which includes National Forest lands. We'd like to see bison have access to more of this habitat.
Let's not let another excellent study and summary report languish to collect dust on a shelf.