In January, the National Park Service (NPS) released an Environmental Assessment (EA) with three proposed alternatives establishing additional quarantine facilities for park bison.
Alternative 1 is the 'no action' alternative; meaning nothing about current management practices would change.
Alternative 2 discusses the establishment of an additional quarantine facility inside the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA).
Alternative 3, Yellowstone National Park's 'preferred alternative', is to send non-quarantined bison to the Fort Peck Reservation and allow them to complete the quarantine requirements there.
The public comment period on these alternatives closes on Monday, February 15.
You may submit comments online: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/BisonQuarantine.
Written comments may be submitted to
Quarantine Relocation Program for Yellowstone Bison,
P.O. Box 168,
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.
Montana Farm Bureau Federation is opposed to this EA for several reasons:
We are gravely concerned about bison being quarantined outside of the DSA and the impacts that may pose regarding marketing and increased regulation of Montana cattle.
The State Veterinarian has no jurisdiction within tribal boundaries and there will be no management area surrounding the reservation. Our concern is there are no mitigation strategies in place to provide quick response and accurate testing should quarantined bison come in contact with cattle on or off the reservation.
At two points in the EA, it references the tribe's development of an 'emergency preparedness plan' and a 'foreign animal disease emergency preparedness plan', on pages 33 and 35 respectively. There is no supporting documentation confirming the validity of these statements and what protocols and precautions they contain.
Page 35 states, “Any damage to crops, fencing, or property caused by buffalo that have escaped from their range units would be addressed by the tribes”. Again, there is no supporting documentation outlining what protocols would be in place and how these situations would be handled.
The EA also addresses that no current quarantine program exists for Yellowstone National Park (YNP) bison. The document states the Stephens Creek Facility, near the northern entrance to YNP, is leased to APHIS and the Montana Department of Livestock for brucellosis research. MFBF believes the NPS shouldn't explore additional quarantine facilities anywhere in Montana and should begin utilizing the existing facility.
Lastly, there is strong demand for additional bison hunting opportunities among tribal entities and the general public. In our opinion, YNP has not made sufficient attempts to provide more public hunting opportunities. This is an additional management tool that is not being utilized to its full potential.
Again, the opportunity for comment is open until Monday, February 15. We hope you will take the time to share your thoughts and opinions with the National Park Service regarding this proposal.
CLICK HERE to read the EA
Source: Montana Farm Bureau Federation