Millions Spent But Slaughter Will Continue

For Immediate Release:
April 17, 2008

Mike Mease, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-531-9284, mease"at"
Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0070, bfc-media"at"

Gardiner, Montana - Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis are expected to make an "historic announcement" today regarding the Interagency Bison Management Plan, which this year alone has been responsible for the deaths of over 1,600 wild American bison, the last continuously wild population in the United States.

"The only historic announcement that Schweitzer and Lewis could possibly make is that they've killed more wild American buffalo than anyone since the 1800s," said Buffalo Field Campaign co-founder Mike Mease.

The decision-makers are expected to reveal information regarding an agreement that has been reached between the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT), the state of Montana, the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and National Parks Conservation Association surrounding issues concerning wild American bison (or buffalo) and cattle owned by the CUT.

According to information made public in recent months, CUT will be given more than $2.5 million in private and taxpayer money, in exchange for removing their cattle for 30 years and allowing twenty-five bison to temporary access to some Gallatin National Forest and CUT lands. These twenty-five bison will first have to be trapped, tested for brucellosis exposure, tagged, and the females fitted with vaginal telemetry devices.

Today's announcement comes in the midst of the largest wild buffalo slaughter since the 1800s. So far this season, over 1,600 bison have been killed through state and federal actions. Nearly 1,300 of the bison killed were trapped and sent to slaughter for migrating towards CUT land from Yellowstone National Park's northern boundary near Gardiner, Montana.

"This deal will not stop the slaughter," said BFC habitat coordinator Darrell Geist. "CUT already received $13 million tax dollars in 1998, and yet more than 3,000 bison have since died for merely attempting to access this portion of their habitat. Why should we give them millions more to do what they should have done years ago?"

Announcement of the land deal coincides with the recent release of a Government Accountability Office report that strongly criticized the Interagency Bison Management Plan participants for failing to move forward in allowing wild bison room to roam in Montana.

More than 1,600 wild American bison have been eliminated from the remaining wild population this winter under actions carried out under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), as well as state and treaty hunts. Buffalo Field Campaign strongly opposes the Interagency Bison Management Plan and maintains that wild bison should be allowed to naturally and fully recover themselves throughout their historic native range, especially on public lands. Bison are a migratory species native to vast expanses of North America and are ecologically extinct everywhere in the United States outside of Yellowstone National Park.

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