Church Universal and Triumphant paid about $
285 $314 per AUM under the $3 million deal
Articles about how the perennial saga of hazing, capturing, slaughtering, and hunting bison is starting once again in and around Yellowstone National Park. There is one change this year though that has left me scratching my head. This is the first year where bison leaving Yellowstone from the northern entrance of the Park near Gardiner, Montana are going to be allowed to use the Church Universal and Triumphant’s (CUT) Royal Teton Ranch (RTR) under an agreement with the National Park Service, Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association, and National Wildlife Federation.
$3 million $3.3 million deal would initially allow 25 bison to use the RTR but only after they have been captured in the Stephens Creek capture facility just inside the Park boundary. They then would be subjected to squeeze chutes where they would have blood samples, fecal samples, taken from them and pregnant females would have vaginal transmitters placed in them so that biologists would be informed of the location where they give birth. Over time the deal might eventually allow up to 100 untested bison each year.
The RTR has constructed high electric fencing to keep the bison out of many areas of the ranch but this eliminates movement of other species as well such as the isolated and imperiled population of pronghorn which inhabit the area, bighorn sheep, elk and deer. Essentially it is a corridor to nowhere for bison.
On top of this the bison will only be allowed to stay on the RTR until April 15th of each year and, just like a big arena concert, there is no re-entry if the bison decide to do what bison are famed for doing and “roam” out of the RTR back to the Park. In addition April 15th is right in the midst of calving season so every year the pregnant, calving mothers and their calves will still be subjected to hazing.
While many of the groups tout this deal as a “hugely critical first step that creates an important template for resolving the Yellowstone bison controversy” I strongly doubt that it is and hope that it is not.
Why do I and others say that? Well, lets look at the simple economics of the deal.
First, let’s figure that the buffalo are going to tend to come out of the Park at this time of year each year and be allowed to stay out until April 15. That’s 3 1/2 months. So, if 100 are allowed each year for that period of time that would be 350 Animal Unit Months (AUMs) per year. For 30 years that comes out to be a total of 10,500 AUMs. Divide
$3,000,000 $3,300,000 by 10,500 and you get about $285 $314 per AUM. That’s a hell of a deal for the Church Universal and Triumphant when you consider that the going rate per AUM for a calf/cow pair on private lands in Montana during 2009 was $20.20 and only $1.35 for public lands. Of course the actual number of AUMs that these groups will be paying for are probably much less since the bison don’t leave the Park every year in those numbers and if they leave they don’t get to come back.
Another issue that arises is the risk that capturing these buffalo might increase the risk that brucellosis might further be spread to bison inside the capture facility. When asked by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign’s media coordinator, Rick Wallen, Yellowstone National Park’s bison biologist, about this he concurred that it was the case.
Dare I say that this whole thing is one big boondoggle at the expense of taxpayers and a bunch of gullible “conservationists”?
The article that appeared today explains more about the issue.
Groups split on bison project
Jackson Hole Daily.