Park Service to Slaughter Nearly 500 Yellowstone Bison

For Immediate Release:
January 17, 2006

Stephany Seay or Dan Brister: (406) 646-0070

Gardiner & West Yellowstone, Montana - The National Park Service (NPS) captured 211 Yellowstone bison yesterday, bringing the total number captured since last Wednesday to 524. Park officials sent 122 to slaughter last week and plan to slaughter 100 today. The NPS sent 38 yearlings and calves to Montana's Corwin Springs bison quarantine facility yesterday. One calf died in the Stephens Creek facility after its horns were broken off as it was processed through the trap. US Homeland Security agents have been escorting the bison to slaughter.

"Montana and the federal government are in a taxpayer subsidized killing frenzy," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "How shameful for a country that nearly drove this magnificent animal to extinction to repeat its sordid history."

The slaughter is being justified under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). The Plan was set up to protect and maintain a wild population of Yellowstone bison and protect Montana's livestock industry from the perceived threat of brucellosis transmission from wild buffalo to domestic cattle. Even prior to the inception of the IBMP there has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild buffalo to cattle. In the past ten years, 2,619 buffalo have been killed (not including today's slaughter) by state and federal agents and thousands have been denied access to critical habitat. There are no cattle near the Park's western boundary, and less than 200 on the northern boundary.

"Montana's zero-tolerance policy continues to demonstrate that the Interagency Bison Management Plan is failing the country's last wild buffalo. The Plan values a handful of cattle more than the country's last wild bison," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "Montana's livestock industry is the sole beneficiary of the current slaughter. Wild bison are incessantly harassed, captured, slaughtered, quarantined, and shot anytime they access their Montana habitat, and sometimes before they even leave the Park, and that's totally unacceptable to the American people."

Incidents within just the last week demonstrate how the IBMP is failing wild buffalo:

  • On Thursday the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), authorizing agency of Montana's bison hunt, suspended the hunt to conduct a hazing operation. Riding snowmobiles, agents harassed about 40 buffalo that had never left the "tolerance zone," or hunt area, further west and onto the thin ice covering Hebgen Lake. 14 bison crashed through the ice and two drowned.

  • Between Wednesday, January 11 and Monday January 16th the National Park Service (NPS) captured approximately 524 wild Yellowstone buffalo and will send all but a few yearlings and calves to slaughter without testing them for brucellosis antibodies, a direct violation of the IBMP. 38 yearlings and calves have been sent to Montana's bison quarantine facility where they will be raised in captivity and used in scientific experiments. The majority will be slaughtered.

  • The NPS continues to haze and capture buffalo almost daily along the Park's northern boundary while Montana's bison hunt is underway just a few miles away.

  • As of last night the NPS was holding 364 bison in the Stephens Creek trap. According to Park spokesman Al Nash the trap is designed to hold only 200 bison.

Montana reinstated its first bison hunt in fifteen years in November. Phase I of the hunt ended January 15, and phase II began yesterday and lasts until February 15. Eighteen non-Indian hunters killed bison in the first phase, while only three of eight Indian tribes used their permits. Seven bison were shot near Gardiner yesterday, on opening day of phase II of Montana's bison hunt.

The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) will oppose Montana's hunt until bison are allowed year-round access to Montana habitat without facing harassment, capture, slaughter, quarantine or shooting. BFC strongly opposes the Interagency Bison Management Plan and advocates for more sensible risk management, including fencing and vaccination of domestic cattle in the Montana.

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.