For Immediate Release:
December 15, 2004
Stephany Seay 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - At 9am on Thursday, December 16, buffalo advocates will gather in Helena to protest the so-called buffalo hunt proposed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), at the direction of the Montana Department of Livestock. In addition to hazing, capturing, testing and slaughtering, America's last wild buffalo may soon become victim of a "sport hunt." The FWP Commission will meet from 8:00-5:00, and make a final decision on their plan to allow hunters to shoot buffalo that step foot outside of Yellowstone National Park. Should the plan be approved, regulations will also be set that day. Buffalo advocates will protest the hunt as proposed, and educate people as to why it should not be approved.
If this plan is approved, starting January 15, 2005, buffalo that step foot outside of Yellowstone National Park would be shot in the field in the only area they are currently tolerated within the borders of Montana, the Eagle Creek Special Management Area of the Gallatin National Forest adjacent to Yellowstone National Park's northern boundary.
The Buffalo Field Campaign opposes the buffalo hunt as proposed for the following reasons:
- Buffalo do not have access to habitat in the state, and are not even respected as a native wildlife species in Montana; they are aggressively "managed" by the MT Department of Livestock as a "nuisance animal in need of disease control."
- The appropriate agency to manage Montana's buffalo is Fish, Wildlife and Parks, not the Department of Livestock.
- Tribal consultation has not been sought and should be, while treaty rights must be upheld before a hunt is considered.
- Yellowstone buffalo are used to tens of thousands of Park tourists each year and they will not be afraid of humans with guns. The element of fair chase will be completely absent.
"This will not be like hunting deer or elk, it will be like shooting a couch," said Chris May, BFC volunteer and subsistence hunter, "Buffalo aren't going to give fair chase. You'll be able to walk right up to them and pull the trigger."
The current proposal sets the dangerous precedent of putting the DOL in charge of hunting buffalo. In the nine years that the DOL has had authority over wild buffalo that migrate into Montana from Yellowstone National Park, 2,784 buffalo have been killed. Countless others have been hazed and captured by the DOL with significant consequences to the health of the herd and those individual buffalo.
Montana's incoming Governor Brian Schweitzer has said that buffalo will enjoy more tolerance in Montana. In his statements, Schweitzer said that the DOL is "ill-equipped" to manage wild buffalo for the State of Montana.
This hunt in no way impacts the supposed threat of brucellosis transmission, the issue that drives the Interagency Bison Management Plan. There has never even been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild buffalo to livestock.
"This canned hunt is just one more tool in the DOL's buffalo eradication toolbox," said BFC co-founder and subsistence hunter Mike Mease. "The livestock industry is using hunters to do its dirty work, and is once again ignoring the voice of the Indian people, hunters and the public. We will not support a hunt until buffalo are respected as a wildlife species in Montana, and are allowed to establish a strong, thriving herd within the state. It's simple: No habitat, no hunt."
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.