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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: 6.19.13
JACKSON HOLE, WYO –
I am writing concerning the article about Ted Turner. There is no doubt that Turner is a controversial figure for a number of reasons. I believe the article inaccurately glorifies the man as an environmentalist who cares about bison.
Back in 2010, eighty Yellowstone bison were captured and quarantined to test for the disease brucellosis – a disease that many wildlife such as elk and coyotes carry. The bison have for years been unfairly targeted as carriers of brucellosis because they graze on public lands where Montana ranchers also choose to graze their cattle in the summer. Every spring these wild bison are hazed away from their birthing and grazing lands by various government agencies back into Yellowstone National Park. When the eighty wild bison were captured three years ago, it was determined that they should be temporarily kept on Ted Turner’s ranch while research could be conducted.
In exchange for caring for these bison for a period of five years, Turner requested that he be allowed to keep 75 percent of their offspring. This request was granted by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. It has been argued that the bison from Yellowstone that Turner now possesses belong to the public. I would argue that they are no one’s property – or they shouldn’t be. They don’t belong to the public, they aren’t the property of Yellowstone or the United States Government. The bison don’t belong to ANYONE. They were here long before us, and they belong to no man.
If Ted Turner really cared about bison and re-wilding the land, he would do something to stop the annual hazing of Yellowstone’s bison. There is no doubt that he has the money and power to do so. And yet he overlooks the plight of the last free-roaming herd of bison in America, of which there are only about 4,000 left. I believe that Turner needs to return the wild bison to their rightful place and relinquish his request to keep their offspring as payment and accept monetary payment instead – but God knows the man doesn’t need any more money. The fact that Turner would rather keep the offspring of the wild bison should be seen as a testament to the value of this native species.
– Lindsay Steinmann