& WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. Without cooperation
from Montana, Yellowstone National Park sent twenty-four
of America's last wild buffalo to slaughter today, including
twelve bulls which pose no risk of transmitting brucellosis.
Another forty buffalo may be sent to slaughter facilities
tomorrow with the assistance of USDA Animal & Plant
Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Yesterday, National
Park Service (NPS) Rangers captured 208 wild buffalo
inside the Stephens Creek Capture Facility. Another
100 buffalo have been captured today. The Stephens Creek
trap's capacity is 200 buffalo, yet the Park Service
is currently holding around 280.
"Yellowstone used to be a wildlife sanctuary. Under
the watch of Superintendent Suzanne Lewis it has been
transformed into a buffalo slaughter facility set up
to do the bidding of the livestock industry," said
Mike Mease, Campaign Coordinator and cofounder of the
Buffalo Field Campaign.
The NPS is in violation of the Interagency Bison Management
Plan because it intends to send all the captured bison
to slaughter without testing for brucellosis antibodies,
prior to conducting their mandatory late-winter/early-spring
"Sending these bison to slaughter without testing
before the late-winter/early-spring bison counts are
conducted clearly violates the Interagency Bison Management
Plan," said Josh Osher of BFC. "These safeguards
were put in place so the government's actions would
not compound potential natural winter kill. By sending
these bison to slaughter without testing in order to
free up the capture facility for more of the same, the
National Park Service could be responsible for a devastating
population crash in America's last wild herd of bison."
IN WEST YELLOWSTONE, along the Park's
western boundary, Montana's bison hunt has been suspended
and the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) conducted
a hazing operation today of approximately 30 wild buffalo
that had never left the state's tolerance zone, or hunt
area. DOL agents on snowmobiles hazed the mixed group
of buffalo across the ice of Hebgen Lake towards the
northern peninsula of Horse Butte. Twelve buffalo -
yearlings, young bulls and females - fell through the
ice of the lake. Two buffalo died in the water and others
showed signs of hypothermia after being pulled onto
the ice. BFC volunteers documented the event.
BFC's Project Director, Dan Brister, who witnessed the
event, said, "It was horrible, the twelve bison
were swimming around a small opening in the ice, pawing
at the edges and stepping on one another as they frantically
tried to pull themselves from the water. Two drowned
before our eyes before the agents made any effort to
pull them from the water."
There are no cattle within 40 miles of today's
attempted hazing operation.
(See FAQ- But there
are no cattle in the West Yellowstone area, right?)
"Governor Schweitzer stated that the DOL is "ill-equipped"
to manage wild buffalo and today's actions compounded
with years of aggressive abuse and harassment underscore
the truth of his words," said BFC's Mike Mease.
"We call on the state to act immediately and strip
the DOL of any and all wild bison management authority."
Buffalo Field Campaign patrols have been monitoring
this herd's movements for weeks. They arrived on Horse
Butte over three weeks ago and stayed for a while before
returning to the Park again on their own. "This
was an utterly needless action on the part of the DOL,"
said Josh Osher, BFC's policy coordinator. "These
bison had never left the tolerance zone and they were
starting to head back east again on their own."
State and Federal agencies participating in the Interagency
Bison Management Plan justify Montana's lack of bison
tolerance on the unfounded fear that bison may transmit
brucellosis, a European livestock disease, to cattle.
Bulls, yearlings and non-pregnant females pose no risk
of transmitting the bacteria. There has never been a
documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis
In the past ten years Montana and the U.S. Government
have killed 2,505 wild Yellowstone bison, more than
half of the existing herd.
The bison that inhabit the Yellowstone region are the
last wild, genetically pure, unfenced bison left in
the country. They are the only bison to have continuously
occupied their native range and they are the last bison
to follow their natural instinct to migrate. Like other
wild ungulates, bison move to lower elevations outside
the park in response to the region's harsh winters.
Yet, unlike other wild ungulates, wild bison are not
allowed to leave Yellowstone National Park and are subject
to hazing, capture, and slaughter when they do.
"This is the last wild herd of buffalo and they
are being treated like a nuisance instead of being respected
as the sacred beings they are," Said BFC's Stephany
Seay. "They deserve our protection and respect,
not this senseless persecution of misguided government
Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in
the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of the wild
Yellowstone buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on
their native habitat and advocate for their protection.
BFC video footage and photos are available upon request
and may be viewed at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.