buffalo field campaign yellowstone bison slaughter Buffalo Field Campaign
West Yellowstone, Montana
Working in the field every day to stop the
slaughter of Yellowstone's wild free roaming buffalo

Total Yellowstone
Buffalo Killed
Since 1985
7,844
(past counts)

Yellowstone Bison Slaughter
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Yellowstone National Park Bison & Brucellosis

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that affects livestock and wildlife, sometimes causing cattle to abort their first calf post-infection. While abortions have been documented in wild buffalo, such incidents are rare, and the impact of the disease on Yellowstone buffalo and elk is insignificant. Brucellosis, which originated in European livestock, was first detected in Yellowstone's buffalo in 1917 after some buffalo were fed milk from infected cows.

FACT: There has never been a documented case of a wild, free-roaming buffalo infecting domestic cattle with brucellosis.

- While some of Yellowstone’s buffalo test positive for antibodies to brucellosis, a positive test indicates only that the animal has been exposed to the disease, which in many cases simply means that the animal has acquired disease resistance. Buffalo who test “positive” are not necessarily infected with the disease or capable of transmitting it to other buffalo or to cattle.

- The already negligible risk of disease transmission is further reduced because (1) virtually all cattle near Yellowstone are already vaccinated against brucellosis, (2) cattle and buffalo generally do not occupy the same area at the same time (buffalo in the winter, cattle in the summer) (See FAQ- But there are no cattle in West Yellowstone, right?), and (3) transmission occurs via fluids and tissues associated with either a live birth or an aborted fetus; bull buffalo, calves, and female buffalo that are not pregnant thus would not pose a disease threat, even if they were to come into contact with domestic cattle.

Capture, Test, and Slaughter. All buffalo that test positive are sent to slaughter, including bulls, even though transmission is thought to occur primarily (or only) when an infected female gives birth or aborts. In spring of 2002, when the Yellowstone buffalo population exceeded an arbitrary population “cap” of 3,000, MDOL sent more than 100 buffalo to slaughter without even testing them first. In 2003, the National Park Service—the agency responsible for protecting the buffalo and other Park wildlife—sent more than 200 buffalo to slaughter before any disease testing was conducted on these individuals.

Please see our
Brucellosis Fact Sheet
for all the answers to your brucellosis questions.

Buffalo Field Campaign West Yellowstone Montana
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