For Immediate Release:
December 19, 2005
Stephany Seay, Dan Brister: (406) 726-5555
Helena & Gardiner, Montana - In spite of national public outcry calling for Montana to cancel its illegitimate bison hunt, the state's zero-tolerance policy against the country's last wild bison continues and resulted in another bison death on Sunday in Gardiner, Montana, just outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park.
A group of nearly 16 individuals attended a single bison hunter near Gardiner over the weekend on his quest for a "trophy" bull bison. The party conducted extensive reconnaissance of bison in the area and on Sunday killed the biggest bull bison they could find.
Sixteen of seventeen non-Indian permits have been filled during the first phase of Montana's bison hunt, which ends January 15, 2006. The Crow Nation has rejected the two permits offered to them by the state. Other tribes may make similar decisions.
The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), a Montana-based wild bison advocacy group, opposes Montana's bison hunt because wild buffalo have no protected habitat in Montana and are never allowed in the state without being captured, slaughtered, shot, or harassed.
"How can Montana claim to offer a fair chase hunt of a species that is forbidden to exist within its borders, or to be part of the state's living ecology, culture and spiritual essence?" asked Stephany Seay, a coordinator with BFC.
In the past ten years Montana and the federal government have killed 2,476 wild Yellowstone bison, more than half of the existing herd. Nineteen wild bull bison have been killed in Montana this fall; sixteen have been shot by Montana hunters, two by Montana's Department of Livestock (DOL), and another was shot by a Yellowstone National Park ranger inside the Park.
The state justifies its lack of bison tolerance on the unfounded fear that bison may transmit brucellosis, a European livestock disease, to cattle. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to livestock. Bulls pose no risk of transmitting the bacteria.
Bison Advocates, including representatives of BFC, the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute, Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo, and former Montana representative Paul Richards held a press conference in Helena last Thursday to address the government's continued and wasteful bison management.
Paul Richards offered a resolution, while the BFC showed video footage and presented feasible, reality-based solutions.
"The majority of the lower elevation range that the bison need to access is not owned by the livestock industry, but by the citizens of the United States, in the form of Gallatin and Beaverhad-Deerlodge National Forests," said Paul Richards. He called on Montana to "immediately rescind its zero-tolerance policy of wild bison."
The press conference was held in conjunction with a national call-in day to Governor Schweitzer. Press conference attendees visited the Governor's office and were told by Schweitzer's staff that they have consistently received letters, calls, emails and faxes urging Montana to protect and respect the last wild bison. On Thursday Schweitzer's staff commented that on the actual call-in day they had been receiving "hundreds of phone calls."
BFC's solutions document or complete press packets are available upon request. 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.