|Yellowstone Bison Slaughter
backs bison slaughter
by Jim Stanford
jhZone, June 23, 2004
The U.S. House of Representatives rejected an amendment
Thursday that would have stripped federal funding for
the slaughter of Yellowstone bison, after Rep. Barbara
Cubin urged colleagues to vote against the measure.
Cubin, R-Wyo., said the proposed amendment put forth by
two Eastern lawmakers would have hampered collaborative
efforts to manage bison in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
Cubin said bison “reduction” is needed because
there are too many of the animals in Yellowstone National
“I do think it is ironic that these Easterners ...
offer amendments about a very serious issue of which they
have very little knowledge,” Cubin said.
But during the floor debate, Cubin was put on the spot
and struggled to answer a question concerning the disease
brucellosis, which she cited as a justification for killing
bison. Bison carry the disease, which causes pregnant
cattle to abort, but there has never been a documented
transmission from bison to cattle.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., asked Cubin why bison and
cattle have commingled in Grand Teton National Park for
decades without any brucellosis outbreaks. “
Does the gentlewoman have evidence that I misspoke, that
there have been problems in the last four decades between
the buffalo and the cattle in the Grand Teton National
Park?” Blumenauer asked.
Cubin responded, “Actually I cannot answer that
specifically for Grand Teton National Park, but I can
say that the fact is there is evidence now that brucellosis
was spread from elk to cattle.”
Because elk can transmit the disease, some representatives
questioned why the Park Service allows more than 30,000
elk to roam freely in Yellowstone.
“Why is there no program to slaughter elk?”
asked Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., who sponsored the
Hinchey’s amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Charlie
Bass, R-N.H., would have placed a one-year moratorium
on funding for National Park Service programs related
to the killing of Yellowstone bison.
In winter, when heavy snow forces bison out of the park
in search of forage, the Park Service hazes the animals
back inside park boundaries, or traps them before leaving,
tests them for brucellosis and ships some that test positive
to slaughter. The park spends $1.2 million annually on
The Park Service and Montana Department of Livestock have
killed 2,786 bison since 1994, according to the activist
group Buffalo Field Campaign. The agencies are protecting
about 450 cattle, which are brought by truck to graze
on lands outside the park each summer, after bison have
left the area.
Hinchey and Bass sought to attach the amendment to a $19.5
billion bill financing the Interior Department and other
programs for 2005. The House voted 215-202 to defeat the
Cubin figured prominently in the debate. The lawmaker
said the bison amendment was “feel-good legislation”
not rooted in science. She said supporters get their information
from “radical environmentalist journals.”