DOL Agent Escorts Bison Hunter to His Kill
For Immediate Release:
November 15, 2005
Stephany Seay, 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - A bull bison was shot, killed, and skinned by a Montana bison hunter early this afternoon on land owned by Dale Koelzer and leased to the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL).
Buffalo Field Campaign patrols witnessed local DOL agent Shane Grube escorting the hunter today. Grube, the only DOL agent based full-time in the West Yellowstone area, took the hunter to Koelzer's land where the buffalo was shot.
"The state has said this hunt was going to be different, that they wouldn't be escorting hunters to the buffalo," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign, a wild bison advocacy group, "but the local DOL agent chauffeuring a hunter to a bison on opening day shatters their integrity."
Dale Koelzer's property is located in a major wildlife migration corridor directly adjacent to Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone National Park, along the Duck Creek drainage. Wild bison follow Duck Creek (maps) as they migrate to lower elevations in search of winter and spring forage.
Koelzer was convicted of wasting a game animal in 2000, after he illegally shot and killed a bison in the fall of 1999 because it was "bothering his truck." Koelzer has granted permission for hunters to kill bison on his property. He also allows the DOL and other state and federal agents involved with the Interagency Bison Management Plan to use his home as a base of operations for their West Yellowstone bison slaughter and harassment operations. The Duck Creek bison trap is located on his property.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agents arrived at the property boundary and blocked Buffalo Field Campaign patrols from documenting the scene after the animal was shot.
Montana's controversial bison hunt, authorized by the DOL, is the first to take place in 15 years. The hunt was cancelled in 1990 in response to a national public outcry. An attempt by Montana to reinstate the bison hunt in early 2004 also failed due to public pressure.
"This bison hunt is truly offensive because in Montana, unlike deer and elk, bison are not even respected nor managed as a wildlife species and are not allowed to set foot within the state's borders without being harassed," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
This is the fourth bison bull killed in Montana this fall. A 17 year-old hunter shot another bull this morning near Gardiner, just outside of Yellowstone National Park's northern boundary. In September, agents from the Montana DOL shot two bulls near West Yellowstone.
Montana blames its zero-tolerance policy for wild bison on the fear that bison may transmit brucellosis, a European livestock disease. There has never been a documented case of a wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle. Further, bulls cannot transmit the disease, yet Montana insists on killing them regardless.
The wild bison of the Greater Yellowstone Area are the last wild and genetically pure buffalo left in the country. The Buffalo Field Campaign opposes Montana's bison hunt because the state holds a zero-tolerance policy for wild bison. Bison are not considered a wildlife species by the state, are granted no habitat within Montana's borders, and are managed by the state's Department of Livestock.
The Buffalo Field Campaign also questions the ethics of the bison hunt because buffalo do not give "fair chase" like deer or elk.