For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2004
Ted Fellman (406) 646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - A Yellowstone National Park Ranger entered a bald eagle closure area on Horse Butte while hazing wild buffalo this morning. Despite clear markings that the area is closed to all human activity to protect bald eagle nesting sites, the ranger pursued wild buffalo across the boundary. Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) volunteers caught the incident on video and will be making a formal complaint to the US Forest Service. A representative of the Forest Service who was present during the haze confirmed the incident.
"Once again, the people entrusted with protecting our native wildlife have proven themselves incapable of fulfilling their duties while in the service of livestock interests," noted Ted Fellman of the BFC. "Our government is wasting tax dollars to harass native buffalo on public lands during their calving season and disturb bald eagles in the process."
The bald eagle closure area is within 100 feet of the Horse Butte buffalo trap. The DOL and cooperating agencies have spent more than ten thousand dollars on construction and maintenance of the Horse Butte trap and bald eagle monitoring required under the Special Use Permit authorizing the trap's presence on the Gallatin National Forest. The trap is located on the Gallatin National Forest in an area that provides crucial habitat for the Yellowstone buffalo and myriad other species.
The Buffalo Field Campaign offered to dismantle the Horse Butte buffalo trap in separate letters sent to the Montana Department of Livestock and the Gallatin National Forest earlier this week. The offer was made in response to a statement made by the DOL on Friday April 9, in which the agency said it has no plans to capture buffalo at Horse Butte for the remainder of the season. There has been no response to the offer.
The supposed reason for the hazing and slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo is the fear that buffalo will transmit brucellosis to domestic cattle. There has never been a documented case of wild buffalo transmitting the disease to livestock. Since the Horse Butte grazing allotment was closed in 2002, there have been no cattle grazing on National Forest lands on the Butte, making any transmission of brucellosis impossible.
In the past ten years the Montana Department of Livestock and National Park Service have slaughtered 2,786 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone buffalo slaughter is slated to cost taxpayers nearly $3 million a year until 2015.
The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their traditional winter habitat and advocate for their protection. Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on and document every move made against them.