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West Yellowstone, Montana
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Take Action | FOIA Documents (opens new window) | Background

CORWIN SPRINGS, MONTANA: Without public notice or input Yellowstone National Park has consigned fifty-three of America's last wild bison captured during 2011 to the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service for population control experiments. This move contradicts numerous public announcements from Yellowstone National Park officials that all wild bison captured during 2011 would be released. To facilitate the population control experiments, Yellowstone National Park intends to capture more bison at Stephens Creek inside the Park during the 2011/2012 winter season.

USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service plans to take up to 108 wild bison to experiment with GonaCon, a chemical sterilant/hormone disrupter under the highly controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan.

USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service is a federal agency that oversees and promotes the livestock industry. Under the guise of research, this federal livestock overseer seeks to control wild bison and wildlife in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

The wild American bison is ecologically extinct throughout their native range inhabiting less than 1% of their historic range. By all measures wild buffalo are endangered and not to be treated like overpopulated 'pests' and chemically neutered.

TAKE ACTION! PLEASE CONTACT USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service

The Yellowstone bison population includes America's last continuously wild herds, and is the last population that still follows its migratory instincts. As unique native herbivores that evolved across the North American continent, scientists believe bison can help restore the native grasslands, sagebrush steppes, and prairie ecosystems that are considered to be some of the most endangered habitats in the world.

Please contact the people in charge, and the news media and tell them

A federal livestock agency has no business controlling America's last wild bison.
Stop manipulating bison's evolutionary potential and natural adaptation.
Stop experimenting on America's last wild bison.
Wild bison are ecologically extinct.
Only one population of the wildlife species remains in Yellowstone country.
Conserve, protect and restore habitat so America's last wild bison can roam free.

Freedom of Information Records (opens new window)
Buffalo Field Campaign filed Freedom of Information Act requests with USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service and Yellowstone National Park to divulge records shedding light on their decision to experiment with population control on America's last wild buffalo.

Click here to view a slideshow of buffalo at Corwin Springs

Buffalo Field Campaign comments and supplemental documentation on the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service's Environmental Assessment on the "Evaluation of GonaCon" for use in wild bison.
RE: Comments on Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services Environmental Assessment for the Evaluation of GonaCon, an Immunocontraceptive Vaccine, as a Means of Decreasing Transmission of Brucella
abortus in Bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area. There is no designated official responsible for this decision. APHIS lists an Agency Contact only. Who is responsible for APHIS’s decision? We would like APHIS to respond to this inquiry. (PDF, 290kb)
John Eisemann, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services , National Wildlife Research Center (PDF, 1.2MB)
Second chance for the plains bison (PDF, 1.2MB)
Evaluation of sterilization by usc of GonaCon TM, an immunocontraceptive vaccine and ovarectomy as means of decreasing potential for transmission of Brucella abortus by bison (PDF, 720, kb)
Jack Rhyan Contraception study (PDF, 44kb)
Gallatin Wildlife Association comments on the USDA-APHIS Environmental Assessment "Evaluation of GonaCon" for use in wild bison (Word document, 137kb)

USDA-APHIS Finding of No Significant Impact for the Prosed Study: Evaluation of GonaCon in Wild Bison (PDF, 944kb)
USDA-APHIS Final Environmental Assessment for Evaluating GonaCon in Wild Bison (PDF, 272kb)

USDA-APHIS Legal Notice Announcing Availability of "Evaluation of GonaCon" Environmental Assessment (PDF, 68kb)
USDA-APHIS Environmental Assessment for the "Evaluation of GonaCon" (PDF, 156kb)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Pesticide Fact Sheet Gonacon
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Restricted Use Pesticide warning for GonaCon. (PDF, 19kb)


USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service received its permit from Yellowstone National Park on May 17, 2011. IBMP agencies were holding working meetings with the public in attendance on May 17-18 yet there was no public announcement until May 26 that a decision had been made.

Bison population control was rejected as an alternative in the Interagency Bison Management Plan Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement signed in 2000 because environmental impacts would be "too significant to be within the reasonable range of alternatives." The agencies clearly rejected population control because of significant harmful impacts to wild buffalo. (IBMP references on bison population control, Word Doc 62kb)

In the Record of Decision and the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Bison Management Plan for the State of Montana and Yellowstone National Park (2000) the agencies considered and rejected population control as an alternative and outlined several "environmental impacts too significant to be within the reasonable range of alternatives":

* "...immunocontraception would affect the immune system of bison and potentially make them more susceptible to disease."

* "Significant behavioral changes can be expected for all major contraceptive agents currently under investigation (Garrott 1995)."

* "Contraceptive agents could disrupt family and social bonds and extend or alter breeding and birthing seasons (Garrott 1995)."

* "Sterilization, if done on a large scale, might have genetic influences on the population by eliminating pre-selected animals from the gene pool."

"The final environmental impact statement (pp. 56-63) sets out several alternatives that the agencies rejected from in-depth analysis. The alternatives include fencing the perimeters of the park to physically prevent bison from leaving Yellowstone National Park, providing feed to bison to keep them within Yellowstone National Park, relocating bison to other public lands, using birth control to control the size of the bison population, sterilizing bison to prevent the transmission of brucellosis, depopulating the entire herd and replacing it with brucellosis-free bison, using native predators to control the bison population, controlling or eradicating brucellosis in elk, requiring cattle producers to change their operations, allowing natural forces to control the size and movements of the bison herd, and restoring bison to the Great Plains. We agree with the judgment of the EIS team to reject a full analysis of these alternatives. Most of them would not have met the goals of the planning process. Others would have had environmental impacts too significant to be within the reasonable range of alternatives." Record of Decision, pages 20-21.

GonaCon was developed by USDA APHIS to "control populations of over-abundant wildlife species" and has been "tested in many pest species including white-tailed deer, domestic and feral pigs, bison, wild horses, cats, dogs and California ground squirrels." GonaCon a Versatile GnRH Contraceptive for a Large Variety of Pest Animal Problems, 2004.

APHIS web site on GonaCon and "overabundant wildlife populations"

The immunocontraceptive agent, GonaCon, is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a chemical sterilant/hormone, (PDF, 106kb)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Restricted Use Pesticide warning for GonaCon. (PDF, 19kb)

The wild bison of the Yellowstone region are the last population to retain their identity as a wildlife species. Wild bison are ecologically extinct throughout their native North American range and efforts are underway to gain Endangered Species Act protection for this last continuously wild population.

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