For Immediate Release:
June 15, 2004
Dan Brister (406) 728-0867; Josh Osher (406) 646-0070
Washington, D.C. - Representatives Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Charles Bass (R-NH) will introduce an amendment to the 2005 Interior Appropriations Bill this week to make it illegal for the National Park Service to spend money on the slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo.
A similar amendment, introduced last year by Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV), drew the support of 199 House members and came just twenty votes shy of passage.
A vote on this year's Hinchey-Bass Amendment is expected this week, possibly as early as tomorrow.
In recent years the Park Service has taken a dramatic role in the slaughter, capturing nearly 500 buffalo inside Yellowstone and sending them to slaughter. The park currently spends $1.2 million dollars a year to haze, capture, and slaughter America's last wild buffalo. The Montana and federal agencies that agreed on the current management plan are expected to spend $45 million on its implementation.
Montana livestock interests claim the slaughter is necessary to protect cattle from brucellosis, despite the fact that there has never been a documented case of wild buffalo transmitting the disease to livestock. Further, there are no cattle present at the times of year when buffalo migrate across park boundaries, making transmission impossible.
"America's last wild buffalo are the victims of a range war," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "This amendment is necessary because the park service insists on wasting tax dollars to slaughter Yellowstone buffalo under pressure from Montana's powerful livestock industry. The Department of Interior is mandated to protect, not slaughter, the buffalo. The senseless destruction of American buffalo is a national disgrace and a waste of money."
In a nationwide poll conducted in April by Penn, Schoen, and Berland Associates for the Humane Society of the United States, eight out of ten respondents said they "disapprove of spending federal tax dollars to subsidize killing of buffalo at Yellowstone National Park."
Representatives Hinchey and Bass have emerged as Congressional champions of the buffalo. In November they introduced the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act (H.R. 3446) to prohibit state and federal agency officials from hazing, capturing, or killing Yellowstone buffalo. It currently has 103 cosponsors.
In the past ten years the Montana Department of Livestock and National Park Service have slaughtered 2,786 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park at a cost of nearly $3 million a year.
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 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.