For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2005
Stephany Seay: 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) sent sixteen more of America's last wild, genetically pure buffalo to slaughter today. The agents never tried to haze them back into Yellowstone, nor did they test them for exposure to brucellosis.
On Sunday, livestock agents captured twelve wild bull buffalo. Another five were trapped on Monday. All were captured and held at the Duck Creek bison trap, located within a critical migration corridor on private land adjacent to Yellowstone National Park's western boundary. One previously captured bull will be released onto public land, where buffalo are currently not tolerated.
All the buffalo sent to slaughter were bulls, which pose no risk of transmitting the European livestock disease. There has never been a documented case of wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis to livestock. Further, there are no cattle present in the area until June.
The Department of Livestock justified today's slaughter by citing provisions within the Interagency Bison Management Plan that allow the killing of untested bison when the Yellowstone population is over 3,000 animals. This figure is politically derived, as there has never been a carrying capacity study conducted for the Yellowstone ecosystem.
"150 years ago there were 30 million wild buffalo in America. Now government agencies claim 3,000 is too many," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "As long as the Montana Department of Livestock calls the shots, the irrational harassment and slaughter of the country's wild buffalo will continue."
The Yellowstone herd is genetically and behaviorally unique, being the only continuously wild and unfenced herd left in the country. It is the last living link to the herds of millions that once thundered across the Great Plains.
Mike Mease of the Buffalo Field Campaign said, "The buffalo are sacred to Native American tribes, they are an integral part of our native grasslands ecosystem and a celebrated icon of the American West, yet Montana stubbornly continues to treat them as vermin." Mease went on to say, " It is a shame and a disgrace that the only place buffalo are allowed to roam the country is as an image on the nickel."
"The livestock agency purposefully misrepresents the wild buffalo in Yellowstone as diseased animals even in the face of overwhelming evidence that most of the buffalo are not infected with brucellosis and the risk of transmission is extremely low. This is nothing more than a policy of deception to mask a centuries-old range war," said Josh Osher of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
Before he was elected Governor, Brian Schweitzer said that under his administration buffalo would enjoy more tolerance in Montana. In his statements, Schweitzer said that management of buffalo and the protection of Montana's brucellosis-free status should be determined by "science, not hyperbole," and that the DOL is "ill-equipped" to manage wild buffalo for the State of Montana.
Today's capture and slaughter operation demonstrates the MDOL's refusal to accept sound science about brucellosis transmission in their management decisions.
The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their traditional winter habitat and advocate for their protection. Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on and document every move made against them.