Tucson, Ariz.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva yesterday sent a letter to National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis asking him to review and redraft the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) that has led to the slaughter of 3,500 bison since its adoption in 2000. American bison were driven to near extinction by hunters in the 1800s, but have made an impressive recovery thanks in part to the conservation efforts of NPS and others.
Though domesticated buffaloes have become relatively common, the Yellowstone National Park herd – now numbering approximately 3,700 – has remained wild throughout its existence, unique among American buffalo populations. Under the directive of the IMBP, NPS is required to remove from state lands any buffaloes that roam outside Yellowstone and to slaughter any animals “suspected” of being infected with the debilitating brucellosis disease.
The letter urges the adoption of a new policy that focuses less heavily on the slaughter of animals that have not been confirmed as infected, and that places due emphasis on maintaining overall animal and habitat wellness.
“Beginning with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, the United States Congress has had a long history of involvement and concern for this unique and imperiled wildlife species,” the authors write. “We remain fully engaged today and have high hopes that NPS will meet this difficult challenge in the years to come. Please keep us fully informed about your progress in developing a more scientifically sound, comprehensive, humane, and publicly acceptable bison policy that fully embodies the mission and purpose of the National Park Service.”
Grijalva’s letter highlights the ineffectiveness of the existing IMBP and the need for a new policy that prioritizes the conservation of bison and the end of invasive livestock practices, including unnecessary hazing, capture and slaughter. The letter was coauthored by Rep. Grijalva and Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York and signed by 15 other Democratic Members of the House of Representatives.