For Immediate Release:
December 12, 2005
Stephany Seay, Dan Brister: (406) 726-5555
West Yellowstone & Gardiner, Montana - Montana's zero-tolerance policy against the country's last wild bison resulted in another bison death and increased bison harassment activities over the weekend by hunters and government agents.
On Friday in West Yellowstone, a 14-year-old girl killed a wild buffalo less than half a mile from Yellowstone National Park. The buffalo was shot just yards from the Duck Creek Bison Trap, on the private property of Dale Koelzer, a landowner who hosts the Department of Livestock (DOL)-run bison trap. On Thursday, Buffalo Field Campaign representatives witnessed DOL agents off-loading a semi trailer full of hay at the property where no cows or horses live.
"Are DOL agents using this enormous amount of hay to lure hungry buffalo into unwelcome territory so that they can invite so-called hunters to shoot them like fish in a barrel? " questioned Stephany Seay, a coordinator with the wild bison advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign. "Or are the livestock inspectors gearing up for a heavy season of capturing the country's last wild bison just as soon as their canned hunt is over?"
The Buffalo Field Campaign 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.
Regardless of Montana's so-called fair chase bison hunt being in full swing, on Saturday in Gardiner, National Park Service (NPS) employees forced an estimated 70 wild buffalo back into Yellowstone National Park (NPS). Today the NPS conducted another hazing operation, staunching the natural migration of about 15 more wild bison. These operations are taking place simultaneously with the State's hunt, just miles away from where hunters are "stalking" their prey.
"The National Park Service is mandated to protect our national treasures," said BFC's Mike Mease, "Yet they are buckling to livestock interests and lending a hand in the destruction of the last wild buffalo in America."
The wild buffalo harassed by the NPS were underway with their annual migration, which is blocked by private land owned by the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT). In 1998 the federal government spent 13 million U.S. taxpayer dollars specifically to purchase conservation easements that would allow wild bison and other migratory species to access these and other areas of critical habitat near Gardiner. Wild bison are singled out, harassed and slaughtered for using this critical migration corridor.
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. All fifteen bison hunted this year have been bulls, which pose no risk of transmitting the bacteria.
A total of eighteen wild bull bison have been killed in Montana this fall. Fifteen have been shot by Montana hunters, two by Montana's DOL, and another was shot by a Yellowstone National Park ranger inside the Park. In the past ten years Montana and the federal government have killed 2,475 wild Yellowstone bison, more than half of the existing herd.
The Buffalo Field Campaign and other wild bison advocates will hold a press conference in Helena, Montana on Thursday, December 15, 2005, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. A detailed advisory will be sent out prior to the event.
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.