USDA APHIS Plans to Use them in Controversial Birth Control Experiment

For Immediate Release:
May 8, 2012

Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0070
Darrell Geist, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-531-9284

West Yellowstone, Montana - Ten wild American bull buffalo (bison), members of America’s last wild buffalo population, were captured by the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) on May 7 at the MDOL’s Duck Creek bison trap, located on private land adjacent to the western edge of Yellowstone National Park.

Buffalo testing negative for exposure to the livestock disease brucellosis will be handed over to the federal livestock overseer, USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) and transported to Corwin Springs, Montana for use in a highly controversial birth control experiment studying the effects of GonaCon. GonaCon is a chemical pesticide regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Buffalo Field Campaign, a Montana-based wild bison advocacy group, has voiced strong opposition to APHIS’s GonaCon study. Wild American bison are ecologically extinct. The last continuously wild population lives in and around Yellowstone National Park and currently numbers fewer than 3,700 animals.

Get more information about USDA-APHIS’s Bison GonaCon Study.

“The capture of these bulls is a heartbreaking shock and an outrage,” said Stephany Seay, a Buffalo Field Campaign spokesperson. “Birth control is the last thing ecologically extinct wild bison need, and APHIS’s study is a very serious threat to the buffalo’s long-term viability.”

In spring of 2011, USDA-APHIS sequestered fifty-three wild bison from Yellowstone National Park, without any public notice or opportunity for public comment. USDA-APHIS did not release an Environmental Assessment until late January of 2012, nearly seven months after they had already begun experimenting with GonaCon on wild bison.

There has still been no decision made on their Environmental Assessment, yet USDA-APHIS is proceeding with the capture of additional wild bison.

“The whole public process has been corrupted by APHIS and their actions are totally unnecessary, highly questionable, and illegal,” Seay said. “APHIS sequestered wild buffalo and began experimenting on them with GonaCon last spring, prior to any public notification or opportunity for public comment.”

Under the Interagency Bison Management Plan’s Record of Decision in 2000, contraception was rejected as an alternative due to the numerous negative impacts associated with it. USDA-APHIS is a signatory to the IBMP, yet is moving forward with the birth control study under the guise of “research.”

“APHIS is trying to hide the true intentions of their GonaCon birth control study behind the label of “research,” in a similar manner to the way Japan slaughters whales for meat in the name of “scientific research,” said BFC co-founder Mike Mease. “The bottom line is that these are endangered wildlife in need of protection, not birth control or other forms of manipulation by livestock interests.”

Buffalo Field Campaign is a non-profit public interest organization founded in 1997 to stop the harassment and slaughter of America’s last wild bison populations that inhabit the Yellowstone region, protect the natural habitat of wild free-roaming bison and other native wildlife, and to work with people of all Nations to honor the sacredness of wild bison.