Of Wolves, Bison, Elk, Iraq, & Yellowstone


Just because a thing can be done, does not mean it should be done. The pertinence of history and historic example is more poignant today in Yellowstone than it has ever been.

chess.jpgJust because the National Park Service could eliminate predators to save the “good” animals, doesn’t mean that they should have. But they did. They did it, and the unintended result was the proliferation of critters that ate up the park. They had no “EXIT STRATEGY.” They did not plan the end game.

A contemporary parallel is the war in Iraq. We don’t know when we’ve won, because we didn’t plan the end game. The end game defines the winner. Another case in point with a lingering consequence is the sad way the United States has treated the Native Americans. iraq-quit.JPGNeither side has won. Outcomes can include ‘both sides winning,’ but it must be planned for in order for success to be achieved.

Americans and the National Park Service are still dealing with the removal of predators because the consequences have lingered.

It’s time to define the end game! The introduction by the USFWS of wolves has had a fairly well defined end game. It is being played out today. The recalcitrant minds in Wyoming should have started their lawsuits 10 years ago – they knew then the end game and the final move. They refused.

Part of the elk problem in Yellowstone has been solved by the wolf reintroduction. But the end game of this result has not been planned. Will the National Park Service continue to encourage the habituation of elk in the Mammoth Parade Grounds? If so, there will be wolf-human interactions in the slum that the NPS calls headquarters. Have they written this part of the end game? Have they even thought about it? How will the ‘planners’ define an end game that allows elk, wolves, tourists, and, most importantly, Yellowstone, to win? What is the exit strategy?

Bison are on the front burner right now. Come winter it will be snowmobiles again. Why don’t these people learn? There are already “unexpected” consequences from the poor planning with over-the-snow travel. Park fees are increased to $100/day. Diesel fumes are proliferating. Visitors are fed canned information from the “PARK BIBLE.” Buses are getting bigger. Crowds accumulate at the ‘regular’ pull-outs. Yellowstone is spending a fortune retrofitting old Bombardier tanks that should have been scrapped years ago. And many more “unanticipated consequences” loom on the very near horizon. There is no exit strategy. There is no plan for an end game.

newest-logo.jpg What is the end game for bison? Ask any member of the highly vaunted Buffalo Field Campaign what it would take to put them out of business in the Yellowstone region. Is there a strategy that allows Yellowstone to win? The BFC to win? Montana to win? The bison to win? Idaho to win? Wyoming to win? The American People to win? I wager that no one has thought about the end game – save perhaps Governor Schweitzer, who has thought about it and sees a tough road toward resolution.

Unlike the single-minded cheerleaders from other competing perspectives, Montana’s Governor understands that there are no simple answers. Face it now or face the consequences in the future. Reducing snowmobiles in winter has reduced some pollution problems in Yellowstone. It has increased many others.

feed-elk.jpg The Washington D.C. hearings have shown the colors of simple-minded approaches. There is no talk of an exit strategy. There is no talk of an end game. There is no concern for consequences.

Hell, current politicians aren’t going to be around when park fees hit $300/day, and the landscape is denuded by the grazers. They won’t be around when the NPS requests money to feed the gross overpopulation of hoof-footed beasties.



They will have asserted their ego, gotten a few headlines, encouraged some cheerleaders, and retired when the end game and exit strategy has to be addressed. Shame on them.

And, shame on the BFC for not telling us what it will take to put them out of business. Are they concerned with a bison solution? Or, are they concerned with self perpetuation – just like politicians? Time will tell. And, Yellowstone will most probably suffer.


You don’t believe it? Read these:

National Parks Traveler

Clark Fork Chronicle

Charles Kay on Bison in Yellowstone

New West On Wolves

Yellowstone Newspaper – See all entries for the last few days 

More to come, I’ve got to check the pollution with only ‘administrative travel’ going on. There is not a time in Yellowstone without vehicular pollution. Is this an intended consequence?


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