Friday, December 9, 2011

The Buffalo Are Back – Well, Almost

By: Jim Posewitz

While it is a little soon to put your ear to the ground to hear the throb of running buffalo -- they are back. Recent efforts to “manage” the Yellowstone buffalo and their quarantined overflow merely represents a passing checkpoint along the route to restoring wild, free ranging, state managed, and huntable Montana buffalo. The current proposal involved the idea of penning the brucellosis free surplus either on the Spotted Dog or Marias Wildlife Management areas. The idea drew little support from Montana hunters and open hostility from vicinity landowners. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission made the right decision today in allocating the available buffalo to herds managed by Montana Indian Tribes. Given the truth of history, there is a certain moral justice in that decision. Besides, there was no “fair chase” hunting potential in the corralled buffalo.

As the buffalo drama continues to play itself out in our natural and political environments we must sharpen our focus on the CMR Wildlife Refuge and its potential to host wild, free ranging buffalo. Over a million acres of public land, once home to this iconic species, make the refuge ideal for initiating this consummate wildlife conservation aspiration. Add adjacent public lands and the area’s potential triples. For now, an immediate start on the CMR is clearly in order. It is time for the U.S. Department of Interior and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to launch a joint environmental assessment on the restoration of buffalo. That assessment will focus on the natural environment. While the assessment is underway the rest of us need to address the political environment by spreading the message that we are ready to put the final piece of the North American wildlife restoration miracle in place. It will be a treasure our generation can pass to hunters still within the womb of time.

**Photo is of Jake Butt with 2011 Bull in Crow Pasture. Jake submitted this photo in the photo contest. Good luck in winning some more Sitka gear Jake, looks like you already swear by it.

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