Time To Contact Our Public Servants

Cameron (Cam) Sholly, Superintendent
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168
Phone: (307) 344-2002
Fax: (307) 344-2014
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"First, we lure them into an open penned area with hay purchased with your tax dollars. Then, after there are about 500 in there, we close the gate on them, separating them from their families. Next, we segregate them into those who are eligible for 'conservation transfers' to Tribes, and all the rest. And then we start forcing them into trucks, these wild animals who've never been enclosed in anything before in their lives, and we ship them off to a slaughterhouse. There, they are transferred once more, using cattle prods, into chutes and holding areas, and then, one-by-one, we 'plug' them just like we do cows."

2023 02 02 yellowstone national park bison trap

Holocaust survivor Josefin Dolsten likens treatment of farm animals to modern-day Shoah. One definition of "holocaust" is "any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life." Here is what typically happens to cows in a slaughterhouse:

As the slaughter process begins, livestock are restrained in a chute that limits physical movement of the animal. Once restrained, the animal is stunned... The three most common methods of stunning are mechanical, electrical, and carbon dioxide (CO2) gas.

Mechanical stunning involves firing a bolt through the skull of the animal using a pneumatic device or pistol. Electrical stunning passes a current of electricity through the brain of the animal. CO2 stunning exposes the animal to deadly gas.

(No word from the Park Service which method they favor for buffalo)

After stunning, the animals are hung by their legs on a pulley that moves them through the rest of the slaughter process. Their throats are cut and the major blood vessels in their neck are severed, and they die from blood loss — a method of killing called exsanguination.

How ironic, if not actually obscene, that our national wildlife stewards are so capable of treating our National Mammal -- the American Buffalo, whose numbers we settlers ruthlessly reduced from 60 Million to 23 -- like factory farm animals!

Wild bison have always been hunted. They are the aboriginal food source for Indigenous Tribes who we Americans also ruthlessly tried to wipe off the face of the Earth. When historic traumas like this are not resolved, then the perpetrators tend to act them out in other ways that are like echoes, or reverberations, of that historic wrong. Sending wild bison from Yellowstone, where they are still less than 1 ten-thousandth of their original population, to slaughterhouses is inhumane, and has the effect of re-traumatizing survivors of the Native American Holocaust who, as the perpetrators' descendants well-know, view buffalo as family, as relations, as sacred kin. It requires a certain emotional numbness to consign wild Yellowstone Bison to a slaughterhouse, to be a human cog in that factory-like killing machine. But Superintendents of Yellowstone National Park have been willing to be good soldiers for Montana's livestock industry now for decades.

“This is no way to treat America’s National Mammal, which is sacred to so many tribes” said Nez Perce scientist James Holt, the executive Director of Buffalo Field Campaign, when he learned that the Park Service - contrary to previous public representations - had resumed the inhumane practice of trapping, torturing, and shipping wild bison off to livestock slaughterhouses. The first un-announced shipment, detected by a BFC field crew, stole off with approximately 20 bison last Friday. Every inquiry from BFC media to the Park Service has been ignored since. That's 7 days and counting that they have refused press inquiries. Then today, Wednesday, another shipment was witnessed. We think another 20. Still no statement from the Park Superintendent's office.

What Are You Ashamed Of National Park Service?

Since they won't talk to us, we're asking all of you to use the contact information above for Superintendent Cam Sholly to contact him in whichever way you are comfortable with and let him know how you feel about resuming this practice of shipping American Buffalo off to slaughterhouses. You might ask him for us if he has ever accompanied such a shipment, and borne witness to what happens to the wild bison he stewards after the trailers filled with them drive off from the Stephens Creek Trap he oversees. Isn't that a fair question? After all, thanks to the onerous conditions placed on the hunt near Gardiner by the Montana Department of Livestock, the people of Gardiner and BFC's own field crews regularly bear witness to bison being shot. At least those bison die on the landscape they are part of, pursuant to a predator/prey ecological relationship that has existed since time immemorial.

But treating wild bison like factory farm animals? REALLY, Superintendent Sholly? Do you fully accept what you are putting those buffalo through? Let's try an experiment: follow one shipment, film the treatment from trap-to-slaughterhouse, and then set up a kiosk at one of your Park's interpretive centers to educate the 5 Million tourists who travel there every year about how much the Park Service values our National Mammal. Those bison belong to all of us. You work for all of us. This is a "trust relationship." So you have no reason to hide how you discharge your wildlife stewardship, trust responsibilities. Right?

Go ahead - give Cam a call. He's a public servant, after all. We're the public he serves. He actually does care about buffalo - that's pretty clear from the way he talks about them - and he's the one person who can actually stop these shipments.
But I guess he needs to hear from all of us first. He just needs to be reminded of the importance of honoring and respecting our National Mammal - 365 days a year, not just during the tourist season.

That's our update for the week. Except to thank all you who signed our petition asking our federal wildlife stewards to build a wildlife bridge across Hwy 191 to allow Yellowstone bison to safely migrate to and from their year-round habitat on Horse Butte. Thus far, over 44,000 have signed!

You can learn much more about the lack of public notice on shipping bison to slaughter, and the lack of public accountability, from our Press Release: Park Service Begins Shipping Yellowstone’s Wild Bison Off to Slaughterhouse