Park County Commission chairman Randy Taylor said hundreds of bison were running amuck in the Gardiner Basin, terrorizing the local citizenry and destroying property. (We’re not really exaggerating.) He and the two other commissioners directed county staff to determine whether a lawsuit was possible and under what circumstances.
“It’s a total mess here and we’re looking at our options to protect the county’s public health and safety,” Taylor told AP. “Haze them back into the park and feed them and take care of them there. If they have to come down here to eat food, they’ll form that habit and come down here every year.”
Which, of course, is exactly the point of the deal opening the 75,000 acres of the Gardiner Basin to winter grazing: the bison are going to try to leave Yellowstone once food sources there are depleted anyway, so the solution is to let them leave under manageable circumstances. The plan would allow Yellowstone bison to graze in 75,000 acres 13 miles past the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, encompassing most of the Gardiner Basin and ending at Yankee Jim Canyon. Fencing will be erected at that point to keep bison from heading further north into the Paradise Valley.
Hazing back into Yellowstone and regrouping has proven to be an untenable long-term management solution; hence the IBMP solution. IBMP encompasses those entrusted with bison management in the region — the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks — as well as three other stakeholders: the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes and the Nez Perce Tribe.
Taylor’s criticisms of the deal were echoed by reps of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, who want to see the deal scrapped.