The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park have issued their "Summary of the Final Bison and Elk Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement." It outlines the desired future conditions, management goals, objectives and strategies for managing the Jackson bison and elk herds on the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway for 15 years. The summary compares six alternatives that address bison and elk numbers, habitat restoration, forage production and disease issues.

"Final," one presumes, means just that. No more discussion. The alternative chosen emphasizes broadly improving the range in the park and on the refuge, decreasing the need for supplemental feeding on the refuge, and ending up with approximately 5,000 elk venturing on the refuge and a genetically viable population of about 500 bison.

There are now more than 1,000 bison. So ... presumably that will mean the killing of a bunch of bison. Now, bison aren't that difficult to locate and to approach, shall we say. A "hunt" will be a "shoot."

Here's my suggestion: All bison hunters will be required to be on foot or bareback on horses. Weapons are to be limited to spears, bows and arrows, and knives.

The "hunt" will be, I guess, mostly on the refuge, perhaps on national forest lands. I'm not sure how many potential bison/buffalo jump sites there are. ... not many, I suspect, although zooarcheologists Kenneth Cannon et al have in fact been excavating a suspected jump site on the National Elk Refuge for some years.

Importantly, the book  Zooarcheology and Conservation Biology, edited by R. Lee Lyman and Kenneth P. Cannon, the point is strongly made that zooarcheological findings can, and should, be used to assist wildlife management and conservation biology and play a major role in the resolution of these problems. I couldn't follow all the issues raised in coming to the conclusion specified in this summary, but I'm not aware that Ken Cannon was in fact consulted. He is quite approachable: Midwest Archeologist Center, Lincoln, NE 68508.

Switching to another, but related, subject. One is aware that should the average citizen try to comprehend all of the issues, nuances and even the lingo involved in many, if not all, causes in addition to his work and other challenges of everyday life, he's overwhelmed. Moreover, he's usually opposed by individuals and organizations who are paid to work full time on their point of view. It's difficult for Average Joe and Betty even to be heard. Or to be up to date on the discussion.

This, of course, is where a nonprofit can help. It can have, if properly organized and run, people whose task it is to spend lots of time, full time perhaps, in being informed on the same issue or issues.

A current example: In 2000 the Pinedale Anticline natural gas field was approved for a maximum of 900 wells, down there just to our south. With about half of those wells drilled, oil and gas interests are now proposing a drilling surge of up to 4,400 new wells, despite recent studies that show that wildlife populations are in serious decline (deer populations halved already) and air quality has deteriorated. Coupled with the recently approved infill project calling for 3,100 new wells on the neighboring Jonah Field, permanent damage to the region's ability to support wildlife will likely occur. Not to mention qualify of life for human residents and visitors.

Well, you can study all the pertinent issues for yourself and, until April 6, write to express your opinion and desires to Matt Anderson, BLM Pinedale Field Office, P.O. Box 768, Pinedale, WY 82941, or e-mail WYMail_PAPA_YRA@blm.gov.

You can take advantage, if you wish, of the information assembled by the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance concerning the impacts on wildlife and people of Wyoming. Individuals in the Alliance have been following those efforts with persistence and can provide information you might not have the spare time to get yourself. Spare time being what it is. The Conservation Alliance's phone number is (307) 733-9417. Check it out.

Field Notes: March came in. ... well, as if February had only a few days in it, for Pete's sake. Oh, and with weather, as always.

And with a few returning or migrant birds. Rosy finches are building up numbers (Jeanette Gillette, Jen Hoffman, Ron Gessler, many other observers). Cassin's finches and evening grosbeaks coming in by the handful each. Still only one starling remarked upon. _Pine grosbeaks showing up (John Kerr, Bette and Bob Caesar). Red crossbills and a "yellow race" house finch; near Moran, Cynthia Wolf. A Townsend's solitaire in Jackson on Feb. 25; Bob Greenspan.

The Jackson Hole Bird Club will meet on Sunday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Jackson Town Hall. Regular meeting plus guests speaker Debra Patla, research associate, Herpetology Laboratory, Idaho State University. Her topic: "Lifestyles of the Jackson Hole Amphibians."

Everyone is welcome to attend.

© Bert Raynes 2007

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Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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