Governor Brian Schweitzer
Office of the Governor
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
Helena MT 59620-0801
Thank you for your message regarding Yellowstone National Park bison management.
I would like to direct your attention to the recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) report on the Interagency Bison Management Plan, its shortcomings, and the inability to move to Step 2 of the Plan (expected to occur during the winter of '02-'03).
The GAO conclusions track very closely changes that I have been advocating, including consummation of a grazing agreement with the Royal Teton Ranch, allowing for removal of that cattle herd, and passage through the ranch for hungry bison.
The State of Montana will continue to work with the land owners, livestock interests, wildlife and conservation groups, and the federal agencies that bear responsibility for bison management. At this point, negotiations have been completed with the Royal Teton Ranch, site of the largest cattle herd near the park. As directed by the Interagency Bison Management Plan, this agreement will better secure Montana's disease-free status while providing more tolerance for bison. Half of the funding for this agreement has been committed by the National Park Service. Montana will now be working to secure the remainder of the funding with the National Wildlife Foundation, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the National Parks Conservation Association, and others.
As is urged by the GAO report ( http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08291.pdf), we will continue to seek and support vaccine research that provides protections against brucellosis, work with other willing landowners on creative grazing and management agreements, and utilize fair-chase hunting to manage bison in a manner similar to other large game species.
I appreciate hearing from you. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Governor of Montana