For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2005
Stephany Seay 406-726-5555
Mike Mease 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - On Monday, February 28, the United States Mint will release the new 2005 nickel, depicting Thomas Jefferson on the front, and an American bison (commonly known as "buffalo") on the back. The bison image is being used to commemorate the vast herds of nearly 60 million buffalo encountered by explorers Lewis and Clark, their near extinction by European settlers, and the supposed success of their recovery.
Although today there are nearly 500,000 buffalo in America, the vast majority are heavily managed, live on ranches, are sold for meat, and carry cattle genes.
"Less than 1% (.008) of the buffalo remaining in America are truly wild," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "Numbering a meager 4,200 and living within the confines of Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone buffalo are the last living link to the once-great herds encountered by Lewis and Clark. They are genetically unique, truly wild, and due to the greed and unfounded fears of Montana's livestock industry, are the only wildlife species not allowed to leave Yellowstone National Park. Given the buffalo's present situation, this nickel is a gross misrepresentation of a conservation success story."
"The wild Yellowstone buffalo still know how to migrate, yet they pay a high price for doing so," said Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) co-founder Mike Mease. "Their annual migration results in a slaughter and harassment reminiscent of the 19th near-extirpation. It is darkly ironic that the U.S. Mint would call this a success story and commemorate it with a nickel."
Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign called the celebration premature, "With wild buffalo unwelcome on their native range, with the National Park Service participating in the annual slaughter of hundreds of buffalo, and with the interests of livestock producers taking precedence over the needs of America's last free-roaming buffalo, there is little reason for celebration," he said.
"The celebration surrounding this buffalo nickel is a great lie. This is just another example of the U.S. Government glossing over the real truth, and lulling the public into thinking all is well," said Buffalo Field Campaign's Stephany Seay. "America's last wild buffalo continue to be slaughtered out of greed and ignorance, and that is nothing to celebrate."
Said BFC's Mike Mease, "When Montana's livestock industry stops the battle against the country's last wild buffalo, and when they are again respected, celebrated and welcomed on their native range, then we will have a reason to celebrate worth more than all the buffalo nickels ever made."
Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is a volunteer-based group, working in the field 365 days a year to help protect the last wild buffalo and their native habitat. BFC patrols document actions taken against the buffalo and advocate for their protection, and defend the buffalo's use of their native range.