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Location: Bozeman, MT, United States

Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Buffalo was topic of discussion at Northern Rockies Bioneers in Bozeman: Presentations available for download

    Buffalo Allies of Bozeman, Buffalo Field Campaign, and the InterTribal Bison Cooperative sponsored a two-day workshop at the Northern Rockies Bioneers Conference in Bozeman.

    We want to thank everyone who helped us, presented, and sat in on our presentations about the buffalo, about the history of buffalo and native peoples, and what's being now about Yellowstone's buffalo both in the park region and with native tribes.

    We now have three of the five slide presentations available for download (see below).

    Below also is a brief synopsis of the speakers and what they talked about.

    Jim Macdonald - Buffalo Allies of Bozeman - (download PowerPoint presentation): Jim spoke about the history of buffalo and indigenous population declines and the reason for the decline. He argued that indigenous population decline was due to genocide and that the buffalo slaughter was a chapter in that genocide. He further argued that Bozeman has a place in that story and a continuing place in that story, near Yellowstone National Park where the same rationale is at work keeping buffalo confined within Yellowstone National Park. Jim's presentation is in large part based on a previous presentation that can be downloaded here, where you can find the sources for much of the information used in Saturday's presentation.

    Mike Mease - Buffalo Field Campaign: Mike spoke to the issues related to bison in the Yellowstone area, especially to the common sense solutions that could be implemented that would protect bison and the property claims of landowners outside of the park. There was discussion on who was responsible and what could be done to take action for Yellowstone's buffalo, as well as Buffalo Field Campaign's role in documenting the struggle of the bison. Mike also spoke to the quarantine of bison to the north of the park, what those buffalo go through, and how unfortunate it was that it was the only choice that the tribes had to restore their relationship with the buffalo.

    Kristine Reed - InterTribal Bison Cooperative: Kristine spoke about her role as a wildlife biologist with the InterTribal Bison Cooperative (ITBC) and the efforts to restore wild bison, especially from Yellowstone, onto the reservations of the various tribes who are members of the ITBC. Christine spoke about the efforts of some of the tribes to get quarantined bison from Yellowstone that are currently being held at Corwin Springs, MT, just north of the park. She reported that despite all the red tape and the process involved with getting bison, the ITBC had their initial proposal for the bison accepted, making it likely that quarantined bison will ultimately end up on the reservation. She described the process the bison would then need to go through after reaching the tribes.

    Jason Baldes - Eastern Shoshone, Montana State University - (download PowerPoint presentation): Jason is working with the Shoshone tribe on the Wind River Reservation to get wild bison onto the reservation. He described the history of the reservation, split between Western Shoshones and Northern Arapahos, the geography of the reservation, and the challenges of restoring bison to the reservation. Unlike the ITBC, the Shoshones are not planning on using Yellowstone buffalo that are in quarantine because of the red tape and rules involved with keeping the buffalo. The Shoshone plan calls for placing wild buffalo from Utah's Henry Mountains onto 800,000 unfenced acres on the northern section of the reservation. They are actively working with Wyoming on a management plan if and when bison cross the reservation boundaries.

    Chris Klatt - Buffalo Allies of Bozeman - (download PowerPoint presentation): Chris wrapped up speaking about the issue of science as it relates to the Yellowstone buffalo issue. A lot of conversation throughout the workshop focused on the science of the buffalo; however, Chris pointed out that we need to be careful how we consider that issue. Science not only can be politicized but the scope of the scientific inquiry can be misused depending on the value assumptions that the scientist brings to the subject. So, for instance, 19th century scientists misapplied Darwin's theories on evolution to study the physiological differences between different human races. Likewise, scientists can do the same with Yellowstone's buffalo if they don't understand the values driving the science. Chris talked about population genetics and how the policy that a certain number of buffalo be in the park drives the scientific question that looks at the population required to maintain minimum genetic diversity of a herd. However, that question often ignores the way buffalo are killed, upsetting buffalo sub-populations, and therefore genetic diversity. Therefore, the science in the service of a policy value can be misused.

    Please feel free to download and distribute these presentations. The ultimate feeling from the talks was that people could be doing more. One way to do more is to join Buffalo Allies of Bozeman as we plan to take actions here locally in support of the buffalo. We meet every Wednesday at Montana State University's Strand Union Building, 7 PM, in the 2nd floor cafeteria in the NW corner. Join us.