Yellowstone National Park Sends 30 More Bison to Slaughterhouse; Captures 44 More

For Immediate Release:
February 12, 2008

Buffalo Field Campaign, Stephany Seay 406-646-0070  

Gardiner, Montana - Yellowstone National Park officials sent 30 more wild American bison to slaughter this morning, without testing them for exposure to brucellosis, the supposed reason for these actions. This brings the week's wild bison slaughter count to 67.

This morning Yellowstone Park Rangers captured an additional 44 wild American bison. Buffalo Field Campaign witnessed Yellowstone Park Rangers hazing this group of buffalo from deeper in the Park, towards the boundary, and they were subsequently captured. Most, if not all, will be sent to slaughter facilities without being tested for exposure to the livestock disease brucellosis.

Video of Yellowstone bison in the Stephens Creek Capture Facility:

Yellowstone National Park says they expect to send another 16 captured bison to slaughter facilities tomorrow.

Cattle interests claim bison capture and slaughter is necessary to prevent the spread of brucellosis from wild bison to cattle. Brucellosis is a livestock disease introduced to native wildlife in the early 20th century. However, there has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle.

"The Park Service needs to realize that they are responsible for protecting wildlife, not cattle interests," said Mike Mease, co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign.

Some bison calves have been tested for exposure to brucellosis. Those testing negative - currently 17 - will be transported to the Corwin Springs bison quarantine research facility, where they will be raised in pens and treated like livestock.

Video of Yellowstone bison in the Corwin Springs Quarantine Facility:

On Friday, the Park Service captured 54 bison; on Sunday, 41 bison; and on Tuesday 44. Since Friday, February, 8, 139 American bison (or buffalo) have been removed from the last wild population in the United States by Yellowstone National Park. All will be shipped to slaughterhouses or a quarantine research facility.

"Originally the U.S. Calvary was sent here to protect the last remaining bison found in Yellowstone," said Mike Mease, co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign. "How sadly ironic that millions of U.S. tax dollars are now being spent to kill them for the sake of the unfounded fears of Montana's cattle industry."

The bison were captured for following their natural migratory instincts and walking onto or near habitat that is privately owned by the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT). CUT land hosts fewer than 250 head of cattle. Wild bison are also refused access to publicly owned Gallatin National Forest lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and CUT property. Gallatin National Forest lands were originally set aside by Congress in the early 20th century as wildlife winter range, as they realized Yellowstone did not provide the winter forage needed by ungulates such as bison and elk. In the winter months, grasslands in the Park are obscured by deep snow and bison and other wild ungulates venture to lower-elevation habitat where they find critical forage necessary for survival. Wild bison are the only wildlife confined to Yellowstone's boundaries.
These bison are members of the last wild, genetically intact population living in the United States, and number fewer than 4,500.

"The National Park Service is buckling to the unreasonable demands of Montana's livestock industry at the expense of an American icon," said Seay, "These bison are our national heritage, a keystone species critical to the ecological health of native grasslands."

Federal and State actions serving Montana's cattle interests are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of wild bison this year and the death toll is likely to rise significantly. Tribal treaty hunts are also underway.

Bison killed or otherwise removed from the last wild population during the winter of 2007-2008:
Montana and Treaty Bison Hunts: 112
NPS Captured (to be slaughtered/quarantined): 139
NPS Sent to Slaughter (Yellowstone North Boundary): 67
Highway mortalities (West Yellowstone): 5

This season's harsh winter is also starting to take a toll on wild bison, who are finding it more difficult and sometimes impossible to crater through the snow to get to critical forage for survival. Snow banks from highway snowplowing around the West Yellowstone area are making the bison's migration extremely difficult. Bison are getting trapped along highway 191 and motor-collision mortalities are resulting.

2,188 wild American bison have been killed or otherwise removed from the remaining wild population since 2000 under actions carried out by the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), as well as state and treaty hunts. The IBMP is a joint state-federal plan that prohibits wild bison from migrating to lands outside of Yellowstone's boundaries. Wild American bison are a migratory species native to vast expanses of North America and are ecologically extinct everywhere in the United States outside of Yellowstone National Park.

Buffalo Field Campaign strongly opposes the Interagency Bison Management Plan and maintains that wild bison should be allowed to naturally and fully recover themselves throughout their historic native range, especially on public lands.
Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild American buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.