Monday, May 21, 2018

Deep into Yellowstone Wins a Gold Medal!

The Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) aim to identify thought-provoking books that touch lives and stretch imaginations. They showcase the best books throughout North America. IPPY was the first unaffiliated awards program open exclusively to independent, university, and self-published titles. Self-published Deep into Yellowstone won a gold medal as the best non-fiction in the West-Mountain region. I’m honored.

It took a family to produce this book. My wife Mary—in addition to sharing all the mountains, miles, meetings, and moments—helped every step of this book’s way. My daughter Allison Lamplugh, a journalist, read every chapter and provided valuable feedback, edits, and support. My stepson Zack Prucha and daughter-in-law Tara Hana Prucha, both talented designers, created the lovely cover that invites readers in.

During the two years of this project, my friend and fellow meanderthal Leo Leckie reviewed numerous chapters and answered unending questions.

Two editors improved this book. Lill Ahrens, my story editor, has a seemingly innate ability to know how a story should be told. Every story in this book flows better because of her. Kathleen Marusak's skilled line editing made each chapter more readable.

A number of chapters first appeared as feature articles on Yellowstone Reports, a website operated by Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston. I thank them for trusting me to write for their excellent publication.

I sent certain chapters to certain people to make sure that I had the facts and story straight. These helpful readers include: Karen Withrow, Fred Engel, Brenda Papera, Ilona Popper, Bill Ripple, Lisa Morgan, Linda Thurston, Bob Beschta, Kira Cassidy, Dave Chambers, Steve Koehler, and Liz Purdy. Shauna Baron read the entire book, caught a number of errors, and added excellent insights.

I sent pre-publication copies to a number of people who know and love Yellowstone. I thank these talented folks for taking the time to read, comment, and write a blurb: Cristina Eisenberg, Beckie Elgin, Barbara J. Nichols, Jim Halfpenny, MacNeil Lyons, Jenny Golding, John Gillespie, Julianne Baker, Lisa Baril, Nathan Varley, and Michelle Uberuaga.

Thanks, too, to all my friends on social media. Your comments, questions, and encouragement help me see the benefits of advocating and inspire me to write to protect wildlife and preserve wildlands.

Indie author Rick Lamplugh writes to protect wildlife and preserve wild lands. His new bestseller, Deep into Yellowstone, is available signed from Rick, or unsigned on Amazon. 

His other bestseller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed, or unsigned.

signed set of both is available with free shipping.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Bison Babies Signify Survival

Yellowstone’s bison babies mark spring’s arrival and something more. These beauties with their curly red-orange hair, their long legs, and their big black eyes that see the world anew are living proof that the park’s bison population will recover from another winter of the brutal capture and hunt.

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When born, each calf weighs between thirty-three and sixty-six pounds. Once a calf slides out of mom and onto Yellowstone’s soil, things happen quickly. Within thirty minutes, the calf can stand and nurse. Within one week, it can eat grass, drink water, and start identifying other plants to eat by watching its mother. Within seven to twelve months, it will be weaned and have developed the large digestive tract with multiple stomachs that make bison superior to cattle, deer, or elk at wresting sustenance from winter’s dried grasses.

When a calf stands beside its mother, it’s easy to see how they differ. The calves don’t yet have the prominent shoulder hump. That crane of muscle and bone will come later, enabling them to swing their big adult heads and plow up to eighteen inches of snow from life-sustaining dried grasses. The calves don’t yet have the bouffant hairdo some adults sport. The calves are not the same color; they won’t begin turning brown until July.

It’s hard to imagine this tiny and helpless animal growing to 2,000 pounds if a male and 1,100 pounds if a female. It’s also hard to imagine that one day they will be able to sprint at thirty-five miles an hour, turn on a dime, and hurdle a five-foot-high fence. 

As spring progresses, these calves will play, running and jumping and kicking up their small hooves. That play develops physical strength and teaches them the rules of the herd. One rule they should learn quickly is to not stray far from the group. Hungry grizzly bears and wolves may pick off stragglers. Though a mother will fight to defend her calf, she has limits. Under the commonsense rules of nature, it’s better for the herd if the mother withdraws, loses the calf, and saves her own life, so she can produce more offspring later. 

As the calves mature, some will die from the trauma of a hard winter, from falling through thin ice of a lake, colliding with a vehicle, or giving birth. But adult bison, with their large size, sharp horns, incredible speed and agility, and willingness to defend one another, lose few members to predators. As their capture inside Yellowstone and shooters just outside the park prove, man is the only predator bison need to fear.

But spring's bison babies give hope that the park's bison have again survived the senseless killing orchestrated by those who have the nerve to call themselves bison managers.

This post based on a chapter from the award-winning Deep into Yellowstone, available signed from Rick, or unsigned on Amazon. 

His other bestseller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed, or unsigned.

signed set of both is available with free shipping.

Photo by Rick Lamplugh

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Speaking for Yellowstone's Bison

Speaking for Yellowstone’s Bison
by Rick Lamplugh, author and wildlife advocate

Since 1985, almost 11,000 genetically pure bison have been killed in the controversial bison hunt outside the park and the ship-to-slaughter from within the park. These deplorable actions are required by the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), supposedly to reduce the risk of brucellosis transmission to cattle. Other goals of the IBMP include confining bison within Yellowstone and reducing the park’s herd from 5,000 to 3,000.

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This plan was written in 2000 by a court-ordered coalition of federal and state agencies including the National Park Service, US Forest Service, USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Montana Department of Livestock, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Three Native American groups, the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, and the Nez Perce Tribe, joined the coalition a few years later.

Every year, representatives from these organizations decide how many bison will be killed by the hunt and ship-to-slaughter. The IBMP holds three meetings a year at which the public can comment. I—along with many others—attend these meetings to speak for bison. Here’s the comment I made at the last meeting.


I’m a member of the Bear Creek Council and a resident of Gardiner, Montana.

I have two points to make:

First, I—and many other stakeholders—want more input into bison management than a two- to four-minute public comment allows. We want input into management strategies as they develop.

To that end, I request that the IBMP appoint two new partners to sit at the table. One would represent the conservation community. The other would be an unbiased scientist.

Currently, once bison leave Yellowstone, all IBMP partners have a voice in how those bison die. What’s missing are partners asserting how those bison should live, how the range and population of our national mammal should be expanded.

My second point: The resistance to allowing Yellowstone bison onto more public lands in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem can no longer be justified based on the risk of possibly transmitting brucellosis to cattle. Disease regulators and wildlife managers know that the risk of transmission from bison to cattle is minuscule compared to the actual transmission from elk to cattle. While there has never been a transmission from wild bison to cattle, elk have transmitted brucellosis to cattle more than 27 times since the year 2000.

Experience has also shown that the economic hardship that Montana’s livestock industry claims brucellosis causes is really questionable. The infrequent outbreaks of brucellosis in cattle due to elk have been quickly isolated and eradicated. Furthermore, despite those transmissions of brucellosis from elk to cattle, annual cattle sales in Montana surpassed $1 billion six times during the 2005-2013 period. And cattle prices have hit record highs.

Let’s be honest. Brucellosis is not the real issue; sharing grassland is. Continuing to claim that brucellosis is the issue just makes the IBMP look either dishonest or uninformed. Neither adds to your credibility.

Thank you.


That’s the comment I made. Others spoke in support of bison as well. I urge you to attend an IBMP meeting. See how decisions are made to manage Yellowstone’s bison. Make your opinion known on how you want bison treated. The next IBMP meeting is April 25 in West Yellowstone, Montana. To learn more about the IBMP

You can find other ways to help by regularly checking out the Buffalo Field Campaign

Indie author Rick Lamplugh writes to protect wildlife and preserve wild lands. His new bestseller, Deep into Yellowstone, is available signed from Rick, or unsigned on Amazon. 

His other bestseller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed, or unsigned.

signed set of both is available with free shipping.

Photo by Rick Lamplugh