Buffalo Field Campaign to Testify Tuesday Before House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands

For immediate release:
Monday, March 19, 2007

Mike Mease 406-646-0070 or Stephany Seay 406-848-2130

Washington, D.C. - On Tuesday, at the request of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) representatives will testify before Congress on the status of Yellowstone's wild bison.

BFC will demonstrate that the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) is failing the United State's last population of wild bison, which currently numbers fewer than 3,600 animals. The IBMP, signed in 2000, is a state-federal agency plan responsible for the harassment, capture, slaughter and quarantine of wild Yellowstone bison.

"Congress needs to provide clear direction to our National Forests and Parks that wild bison belong, and are our top priority on public lands," said BFC's Darrell Geist. "Congress also holds the purse strings and significant funding is needed to help purchase wildlife conservation easements including winter range and corridors for bison to migrate through private lands in the Yellowstone area."

Bison are killed for attempting to access native habitat outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park because livestock interests assert that bison may transmit brucellosis, a European livestock disease, to cattle. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to domestic cattle.

"Brucellosis is being used as a smokescreen to maintain the livestock industry's dominance over our public lands, enabling cattle producers to hoard grassland habitat critical to native wild bison," said BFC spokesperson Stephany Seay. "Montana's cattle producers are the sole beneficiaries of the IBMP."

Last year government actions killed 1,010 wild bison, with Yellowstone National Park being responsible for sending over 900 to slaughter. Since the IBMP's inception, 1,912 Yellowstone bison have been killed by Yellowstone and Montana. The cattle industry has not put in place any livestock-based risk management practices.

"The IBMP is clearly failing as it is supposed to maintain a viable population of wild, free-roaming bison," said Josh Osher, a coordinator with BFC who will be presenting testimony. "Actions carried out under the IBMP have repeatedly revealed that invasive cattle are being valued over native flora and fauna."

The hearing coincides with an ongoing Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of the IBMP and a 1999 land deal in which American taxpayers spent $13 million to acquire and conserve habitat for one of the largest migrations of native ungulates in North America. So far, wild bison have not benefited from this land deal and continue to be hazed, captured and slaughtered for merely approaching these lands owned by the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT).

American Bison once spanned the North American continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are genetically and behaviorally unique and are America's only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 4,000 animals, .01 percent of the bison's former population.

"The Yellowstone buffalo are national treasures, symbols of America's wild and untamed spirit," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "Rather than spending time and resources slaughtering them, the government should be safeguarding habitat and protecting the buffalo under their care."

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild Yellowstone buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.