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New report focuses on science aspects of National Bison Range management.

MORE THAN BISON: A science perspective on management of the National Bison Range Complex.

Given the flagship name “National Bison Range,” it is easy to overlook the fact that the annual funding agreement (AFA) with the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes went well beyond the role of protection of bison. It is easy to overlook the fact that the agreement included the Pablo and Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuges as well as a set of federally-protected Waterfowl Production Areas.

It is easy to overlook the fact that the lands involved are a mosaic of habitats and topography, from marshy pond to grasslands to mountain forest. It is easy to overlook the fact that the lands, the wildlife and the wildlife science practices of management exist as they do today as an outcome of multi-agency, public and private roles that link local, national and continental resources and standards. It is easy to overlook the fact that the National Bison Range (NBR) does not and cannot stand alone.

It is easy.  But easy is no excuse.

Consider the wildlife and the lessons that they give us. The US Geological Survey (USGS) maintains a Gamebird Database that is a record of bird banding data that links the place where a band is recovered from a bird to the place where it was first banded. On lands involved in the NBR agreement, banding has been a major activity dating back to 1927. Over the decades to 2005, records show that 9,588 NBR Complex-banded waterfowl have been recovered in 32 states, six Canadian provinces and even as far away as Central America and the African migratory flyway.

There can be no doubt that the quality of habitat health and management in these and other Waterfowl Production Areas is a continental conservation issue.

Read the full report - More Than Bison

About the Author: Eileen McLaughlin is Project Director for a Refuge Friends Group, Wildlife Stewards, and is based in the southern San Francisco Bay Area.  Her Refuge roots include volunteer service and a 10-month stint as temporary volunteer coordinator for the San Francisco Bay NWR Complex. At the national-level, her activity has included participation in the NWRS Conservation Summit in May 2005 and in all three National Friends Conferences. Actions on behalf of the National Bison Range began in 2004 via a Wildllife Stewards' letter submitted during the public comment period of the draft annual funding agreement. In 2005 she visited the Bison Range and met with multiple members of staff and the local community. One outcome arising from those activities was research during 2006 for this report and its discussion of relevant wildlife science factors.