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March 20, 2007
Ranking Member Rob Bishop's Statement From Today's Hearing On Yellowstone National Park Bison;
"It Is A Bit Unsettling That We Are Devoting Precious Time Today To Readdress An Issue Which Is Driven More By Politics Than Actual Science"
Washington, D.C. - The following is U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop's (R-UT) statement from today's Congressional hearing on Bison management in Yellowstone National Park. Bishop is the Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, which conducted the hearing.
"Mr. Chairman, with myriad troubles besetting our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, it is a bit unsettling that we are devoting precious time today to readdress an issue which is driven more by politics than actual science.
"As it pertains to the management in the past of Bison in Yellowstone National Park, on several occasions Members of the Resources Committee have sought to prohibit the National Parks Service from actively managing the Bison population in Yellowstone by offering limitation amendments (the absolute worst form of legislating policy) on must-pass appropriations bills.
"Even with that being said, I look forward to listening to today's witnesses. I appreciate Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) being here. As a rancher, former Member of this Committee and Representative of the State of Montana, he understands better than anyone this issue and the impact the policies which are being advocated by some of the witnesses here today will have on the agriculture-dependent communities in his district. If this Subcommittee is to give deference to anyone when it comes to public lands issues, it should be Congressman Rehberg.
"It is also my privilege to welcome Dr. Charles Kay from Utah State University. Among other things, his testimony notes the historical records of 20 different expeditions into Yellowstone between 1835 and 1876. These early expeditions report seeing bison only three times - none of which were in the present-day boundaries of park. Dr. Kay is a preeminent and well recognized expert on the management issues impacting Yellowstone National Park and similar park property in Canada. He also happens to live and work in my congressional district - welcome, Dr. Kay.
"It is interesting to note that Yellowstone National Park comprises 2.2 million acres and is larger than the combined land area of the entire States of Delaware and Rhode Island. If that is not enough land area to manage a Bison herd, then we're not going to find a solution. I fear the issue of bison leaving the park is being used by some as a pretext to expand the park, acquire additional federal land for bison habitat or control the already limited private property in the West.
"Further, I can understand why the Bison are leaving the Park. Since the reintroduction of wolves into the Park - an animal which makes a pretty picture on the cover of environmentalists' brochures, but when they take down and devour an animal it is a gruesome and brutal sight - if I was a Bison I would leave the park too.
"Mr. Chairman, I would hope that as part of today's hearing we will look at ways in which we address management issues impacting Yellowstone National Park, such as controlling the Bison herd at a manageable level, protecting the grazing rights of current permittees, and ensuring that multiple use and access are upheld.
"Hopefully we can rediscover what worked historically in controlling the size of the herd and control the disease itself. We should also touch on the issue of Elk, equally problematic in the issue of brucellosis control. We should not use this hearing to advocate the views espoused by fringe groups.
"Further, we must not permit the Bison herds of Yellowstone to jeopardize the livelihoods of local ranchers. These ranchers are reliant on public lands through grazing permits to sustain their livestock. Ranchers are the only true environmentalists and may be the only link to open space preservation in the future."
For more information, access the Committee on Natural Resources' Minority website at:
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