Did you know?

buffalo nickelAmerican taxpayers pay nearly all of the expenses for both Yellowstone National Park and the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) as they molest and slaughter wild buffalo in Montana under the auspices of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP Background - PDF)!

Due to separate budgeting processes, complex and non-transparent reporting, and the lack of detailed expenditures—it would be difficult for you to keep a tally of American taxpayer spending on DOL/IBMP activities in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. However, you are in luck! Your splendid BFC muckrakers have done it for you! Now we can proudly offer you the embarrassing truth about this politically influenced, profit-driven financial irresponsibility.

The Numbers: A revealing look at how U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for government-led slaughter of the last wild buffalo.

It is the U.S. Congress that (often inappropriately) “appropriates” your tax money to agencies during each federal budgeting process, and the Montana legislature that approves State spending allocations and budgets.

tax blocksAt present, federal and state agencies fund the Interagency Bison Management Plan’s (IBMP) cruel and unnecessary practices. By doing this, you as a taxpayer are forced to invest in the reduction and destruction of America's last wild buffalo herds each time they migrate into Montana. How do you feel about that?

Note: The figures here (and elsewhere on our website) were obtained by BFC and others through requests made via Montana's constitutional right to know; court filings; Freedom of Information Act requests; estimates in Congressional research; and from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Viewed together, the documents clearly show us a variety of inter-related facts:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is a funding conduit for American taxpayer dollars, backs Montana's statute outlawing migratory buffalo in the state, and places this wild, indigenous species under the jurisdiction of the DOL.

  • Millions of your taxpayer dollars are spent each year through the IBMP with little or no oversight. These public monies are used to molest and destroy thousands of wild buffalo for the “crime” of walking into public lands. Meanwhile, buffalo are scapegoated (and killed) for transmitting a disease to cattle despite the fact that science has proven transmission from species other than wild buffalo, but never a single instance from buffalo!

  • American taxpayer subsidies are outlawing migratory bison in Montana. The IBMP is estimated to cost American taxpayers over $3,000,000 annually, based on U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates. The GAO reports the bison management plan is almost completely paid for with American taxpayer dollars. For example: Total (related) U.S. Treasury expenditures in 2006 were $3,304,817. How long will “we the people” stand by while our money is used to kill the few remaining wild buffalo?

  • APHIS and DOL cooperative funding agreements, work plans, and Memorandums of Agreement from 2001 to 2010 placed nearly $6,000,000 of American taxpayer money into DOL’s hands to enforce regulation number MCA 81-2-120 (“Management of wild buffalo or wild bison for disease control”). Thus fully funding the livestock agency's role in the IBMP.

  • Additional millions of American taxpayers' dollars are funneled to state and federal agencies via APHIS, as they spends millions of dollars subsidizing “brucellosis disease risk management” to protect the cattle industry in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. This does not include additional taxpayer-funded appropriations to cattle ranchers by the Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming legislatures. For example, Wyoming appropriated $3,000,000 for brucellosis management of wildlife and cattle in 2006, and Governor Brian Schweitzer's 2011 budget included $135,531 in federal funds for the bison management plan and $705,274 in state special funds to pay for Montana ranchers’ brucellosis herd plans. Your tax dollars hard at work?


U.S. Government Accountability Office Estimated Bison Management Expenditures (Not Adjusted for Inflation) Fiscal Years 2002-2007*

general accounting officeNational Park Service: $7,258,013.
Forest Service: $639,428.
*Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: $7,526,576.
Montana Department of Livestock: $128,977.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks: $379,295.
Total: $15,932,288.

We don’t have more recent information yet, but at an average cost of $2,655,381 per year: if the costs have not changed, American taxpayers have spent an additional $23,898,431 dollars through fiscal year 2016.

That means that since 2002, Americans have paid nearly $40,000,000 to reduce and destroy a living national treasure.

*Figures for APHIS "include the agency's expenditures for operating costs as well as the funds it provides to the Montana Department of Livestock for bison operations and research activities. The Montana Department of Livestock uses these funds to pay personnel and purchase equipment used for bison management activities outside the park and to contract with Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks to conduct research on elk, pregnant bison, and the quarantine feasibility study." ~ Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, YELLOWSTONE BISON Interagency Plan and Agencies' Management Need Improvement to Better Address Bison-Cattle Brucellosis Controversy (2008).

GAO Estimated Annual Bison Management Expenditures


U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Brucellosis budget

APHIS is involved in a multitude of brucellosis projects, including quarantine feasibility, testing of captured or slaughtered buffalo, fetal disappearance, brucellosis persistence, and the chemical drugging of Yellowstone bull buffalo to test semen. While APHIS has no jurisdiction over wildlife, the agricultural agency uses their funding influence to funnel tax dollars that affect how states manage wildlife.

FY 2002 - $10,000,000
usda aphisFY 2003 - $9,000,000
FY 2004 - $10,242,000
FY 2005 - $10,356,000
FY 2006 - $10,348,000
FY 2007 - $10,506,000
FY 2008 - $9,465,000
FY 2009 - $9,584,000
FY 2010 - $9,707,000

Total expenditures equal: $89,208,000.


What will we do about it?

Remember: It is your elected officials who determine where your tax money goes.

For our part, BFC will continue educating those in public office about the expensive atrocities perpetrated under the IBMP—and keep pushing them to do the right thing for buffalo and buffalo habitat. We will also continue searching for updated financial information related to buffalo and share it with you as we get it.

The best way you can help in this particular instance is to please contact your members of Congress and ask them to redirect wasteful and costly taxpayer funding away from the IBMP. Urge them to instead use these funds to study and confirm the ESA petition we filed. [To learn more, visit our ESA advocacy page]

Will you help conserve, defend, and restore habitat? Will you be a part of this historic effort to allow America's wild buffalo to roam freely into the future?

Yes! I’m ready to make an “economic impact” of my own, and help protect the last wild buffalo with my donation today!