WEST YELLOWSTONE & GARDINER, MONTANA:
Yellowstone National Park officials shipped 57 wild
bison to slaughter this morning, bringing to 1,098 the
number of wild bison killed this winter. This year's
death toll surpasses that of 1996-1997, when 1,084 bison
were killed, constituting the largest wild bison slaughter
since the 19th century.
"More wild bison have been killed this year than
at any time since the 19th century," said Dan Brister,
Buffalo Field Campaign Project Director. "With
the Spring migration just beginning and the government
showing no sign of relief, this year's slaughter could
easily surpass 2,000 bison."
Between February 8 and March 17, Yellowstone National
Park and the Montana Department of Livestock have captured
1,040 wild bison and slaughtered 929. At least three
have died from injuries sustained in confinement in
the Stephens Creek trap inside Yellowstone National
Park, where 108 bison currently await shipment to the
slaughterhouse. State and treaty right hunts, which
have ended, took a total of 166 wild bison.
"It would seem as though history was not learned
the first time, for here we are today, watching these
same government entities enacting the same policy,"
said Nez Perce tribal member James Holt.
While the government's official reason for the slaughter
is to prevent the spread of brucellosis from wild bison
to cattle, no such transmission has ever been documented
and the bison being sent to slaughter are not being
tested for the disease. Outside Yellowstone's western
boundary there are no cattle on any part of Gallatin
National Forest's Horse Butte Peninsula at any time
of the year, making a brucellosis transmission impossible
and Montana's intolerance for bison in the area unjustifiable.
Along the northern boundary of Yellowstone, fewer than
200 head of cattle graze Church Universal & Triumphant
Thousands of people nation-wide have written, called,
emailed, attended public meetings and otherwise contacted
decision-makers involved in the Interagency Bison Management
Plan, urging them to stop the slaughter and provide
habitat outside of Park boundaries where wild buffalo
can survive and freely roam. Thus far, their voices
have been ignored.
"The government is ignoring the will of the people
in its haste to cater to the demands of the livestock
industry," said Stephany Seay, a spokesperson for
Buffalo Field Campaign. "The people are insisting
that the buffalo slaughter stop, but we are being ignored
by a Park Service intent on killing buffalo by the thousands."
American bison of the Yellowstone region are the last
truly wild bison left in the United States and currently
number fewer than 3,500 individuals. They are behaviorally
and genetically unique, still following their natural
migratory instincts and are free from cattle-gene contamination.
Less than 1.5% of bison in the U.S. are genetically
Bison bison (Freese et al. 2007). Current genetic studies
identified only 3 genetically pure bison populations:
Yellowstone, Wind Cave and Grand Teton (Halbert 2003),
with current studies on the latter two populations questioning
their genetic integrity. In the United States, only
one wild bison population has continuously occupied
its native range since prehistoric time: the Yellowstone
bison (Gates et al. 2005). Loss of genetic diversity
stemming from the near extinction of the species (Boyd
and Gates 2006) coupled with extreme loss of historic
bison range (Hornaday 1889; Boyd 2003), raises the risk
of ecological extinction for wild bison (Freese et al.
"The systematic destruction of these herds is decimating
genetic diversity and destroying instinctual behavioral
patters, wiping out family groups, paralyzing their
evolutionary potential," said Seay. "All of
these actions are being done under the guise of protecting
Montana's brucellosis-free status, yet it is clear that
brucellosis is a smokescreen being used to control public
lands and prevent native wild bison from restoring themselves
on their native habitat."
More than 3,000 wild American bison have been killed
or otherwise removed from the remaining wild population
since 2000 under actions carried out under the Interagency
Bison Management Plan (IBMP), as well as state and treaty
hunts. Wild American bison are a migratory species native
to vast expanses of North America and are ecologically
extinct everywhere in the United States outside of Yellowstone
Buffalo Field Campaign strongly opposes the Interagency
Bison Management Plan and maintains that wild bison
should be allowed to naturally and fully recover themselves
throughout their historic native range, especially on
Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in
the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild
American buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and
their native habitat and advocate for their lasting
protection. Buffalo Field Campaign has proposed real
alternatives to the current mismanagement of American
bison that can be viewed at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/solutions.html.
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