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Going The Way Of The Buffalo

newsletter 11 15 buffalo way

Bison have never been a species that have made me lose sleep over draw results. 200-inch mule deer and mature bull elk tend to be the species that I spend most of my time day-dreaming about. Mike harvested a freezer full of bison last year and that has me thinking a little bit more about these animals that live just up the road from our home in the Cowboy State.

I might get more excited about hunting bison if 1000 tags were suddenly added to the migration hunt pool. Unfortunately, only 300 tags of a possible 1000 will be available to hunters and resident Indian tribes who qualify to hunt the animals as they leave the park for Montana. The remaining 700 will be slaughtered for research purposes. Yup, you read that right, 700 bison will go to slaughter for research purposes.

Yellowstone National Park can only support approximately 4000 buffalo and with 5000 animals living there in the summer they are well over objective. I will not get into the fact that they put wolves in Jellystone to help control the bison, which seems not to have worked. More about that in a later rant. Because the vast majority of the bison migrate out of the park every winter there is only a short window of time to hunt them.

Bison are big creatures and they require very large tracts of land. When they leave the safety of Yellowstone and enter large sections of land occupied by cattle, brucellosis travels with the bison on their migratory route north, creating broader issues. In the minds of landowners, wintering bison signal broken fences and aborted calves.

On the other side of the issue is a quagmire of policy change that would be needed to open Yellowstone up to a hunting season in the fall to realistically reach population objectives. There is very little chance that even with issuance of 1000 tags for the animals that there would be a high enough success rate to bring the herd numbers down.

However, it would be better to let hunters harvest them. The most humane solution would be to open up more opportunity for hunters to appreciate these creatures and feed their families with the resource or donate the meat to needy families in their hometowns.
GuySig-1 (1)

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About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. This is a great idea….. I just hope that Wyoming doesn’t go down the same path as Colorado, and allow the state to hire sharp shooters to enter the park to reduce the herd. This is the approach that was taken at Rocky Mountain National Park to reduce the elk herd. Allow the outdoorsmen / sportsmen who invest so much into the system resulting in improved habitat, etc., to be the beneficiaries of this type of an opportunity / program!

    • It was a couple years ago I spoke with the WCO for the RMNP area,He said that the herd was at objective and the sharpshooter program did not bring the herd to objective numbers.He was at a loss to explain why the elk numbers were where they are .The number of tags for area 20 seem to be lower.My theory is that the elk left the park when pressured and moved to nearby West Loveland where they are in increased numbers.Standing in peoples front yards (at lower altitude) and eating their flowers beats trying to make a living in the park.

  2. Time to start a BAN hunting in Wyoming program. Less dollars for them to waste If we donot hunt. They go broke. Spend elewhere

  3. Who made the decision to slaughter the 700, don’t we have elected officials that can go to bat for the sportsman… if we let the know how we feel??

  4. I know I would love for a sportsmen to take one down for me. I have 6 people to feed. love to have a bison. We love wild game.

  5. I live in Montana and have put in for tags for the last three years. No draw. I was very surprised to see this nothing on the local papers or news abou this. So I am curious what is the source for your info Guy? Would love to know what Federal Agencies think they need with 700 carcasses!

  6. Hard to believe what ends the Federal Parks system will go to in order to promote “preservation” in the National Parks. I can not remember what the cost per elk shot by hired sharp shooters was that the Parks service estimated in RMNP, but it was very high – like thousands of dollars each. I am sure that it will be similar for the buffalo in Yellowstone.

    Hard to believe how many thousands of dollars I put up every year in Wyoming, Arizona and Utah for a chance to shoot one of these critters and the Feds would rather pay someone to shoot them. Heck, I have been putting in for Utah for 18 years and still have not drawn a tag! Makes no sense what-so-ever.

    If the Federal Government has “ownership” of the animals within the National Parks, they could make money off of sportsman by setting up drawings on National Parks like the States do. Pretty sure they could charge at least as much as the States do for the species they want reduced and it would help their budgets rather than hurting them.

  7. Will prolly be processed an stored in underground warehouses for Gov use.or a Mar missions.

  8. This is another shining example of this incompetent Wyoming DNR, letting income from hunting being wasted. Why does the DNR director not contact the Governor , and get a court order to stop this wastage, just like the anti’s do. When are we going to wake up??
    The DNR of every state must be vigilant in protecting them selves, and us hunters. That is what we pay them for, to be our managers of resources.
    700 tags at $500 a piece is $350000 in the bank, why is this not the drive behind Wyoming’s cash strapped DNR???
    And, to my Wyoming friends, the incompetence is nation wide, not just there in WY. But, the western states do set an example for other DNR agencies, and are even modeled by some states. Kentucky now has a robust elk herd thanks to western elk, and RMEF.
    Wyoming residents, call your govenor, call the DNR director, do not sit still over this wastage. We need the $$ to badly to let this happen.

  9. I’ve heard the Brucellosis story and I wonder how true it really is. As the son of a big-animal veterinary, I know what the disease looks like in cattle, but I’ve never heard of it in Bison. I don’t doubt that they carry the bacteria, but to what degree? and how dangerous is it to the Montana cattle population? It is also true that humans can contact the disease [it acts like the flu] but not often.

    Doesn’t it make much more sense to allow us hunters to cull the Bison herds? I agree that the Native Americans should have their go at the creatures also [seeings how we decimated the herds and effectively wiped out whole tribes]. But the rest of the hunt should go to hunters who draw for the privilege of harvesting the American Bison.

    Finally, does it take 700 Bison to do research? How bout 7 instead?

  10. Wasn’t it just a few years ago California hired outside contractors to kill mountain lions and coyotes (Sierra district) because the deer herds were reduced. They chose to spend money rather than offering tag producing income. It is quite evident our government decision makers have never spent time as true business owners.

  11. All of the tribes that have Treaty hunting rights oppose the harvest solely for biological purposes. The herd is in good natural health. We don’t want veterinary pharmaceuticals introduced in to the herd. The bison are considered to be a “first food” and “medicine” to our bodies. Native American physiology is not conducive to unnatural processed foods. There are many medical studies that confirm this. All of the additional harvest should be distributed in equal shares to the Tribes for ceremonial uses or subsistence distribution to tribal citizens. I am a Shoshone-Bannock citizen and have taken two bison in the Yellowstone migration hunt and assisted in the taking of 24 others. It is a very difficult physical endeavor. The elders are not able to endure it. Yellowstone is our homeland and was included in the Fort Bridger Treaty. Yet the Park Service stole it. All we get is free admission. Jenny Lake in Teton National Park is named after my 4th great aunt who was married to the famous Jackson Hole trapper Beaver Dick. Her mother was a cousin to Sacajawea and witnessed the reunion with the Lemhi people. Her brother, and my uncle, was on the Fort Bridger Treaty Council. Non-tribal hunters can hunt on Ted Turner’s place.

  12. Where can we apply for a tag at?

  13. Does anyone think we might have liberals or non-hunters infiltrating our fish and game dept.s?

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