Park Captured 41 More Sunday; 17 Calves to be Sent to Quarantine Research Facility

For Immediate Release:
February 11, 2008

Buffalo Field Campaign, Stephany Seay 406-646-0070

Gardiner, Montana - Yellowstone National Park officials sent 37 wild American bison to slaughter this morning, without testing them for exposure to brucellosis, the supposed reason for these actions.

On Sunday, the Park captured 41 bison; on Friday the Park captured 53, bringing the total capture since Friday to 94 wild American bison.

17 bison calves that tested negative for brucellosis exposure are being held in the Stephens Creek bison trap, and will be sent to the Corwin Springs quarantine feasibility research facility, where they will be raised in pens like livestock.

"The actions of Yellowstone National Park demonstrate that they are unqualified to protect the bison the nation is entrusting them with," said Stephany Seay, Media Coordinator for Buffalo Field Campaign.

These bison are members of the last wild, genetically intact population living in the United States, and number fewer than 4,600. Most of those captured, if not all, will be sent to slaughter without being tested for brucellosis antibodies.

"The National Park Service is caving in to the unreasonable demands of Montana's livestock industry at the expense of an American icon," said Seay, "These bison are our national heritage, a keystone species critical to the ecological health of native grasslands."

The bison were captured for following their natural migratory instincts and walking onto or near habitat that is privately owned by the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT). CUT land hosts fewer than 250 head of cattle. Wild bison are also refused access to publicly owned Gallatin National Forest lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and CUT property. In the winter months, grasslands in the Park are obscured by deep snow and bison and other wild ungulates venture to lower-elevation habitat where they find critical forage necessary for survival.

Cattle interests claim bison capture and slaughter is necessary to prevent the spread of brucellosis from wild bison to cattle. Brucellosis is a livestock disease introduced to native wildlife in the early 20th century. However, there has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle.

Federal and State actions serving Montana's cattle interests are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of wild bison this year and the death toll is likely to rise significantly. Tribal treaty hunts are also underway.

Bison killed or otherwise removed from the last wild population during the winter of 2007-2008:
Montana and Treaty Bison Hunts: 112
NPS Captured (to be slaughtered/quarantined): 94
NPS Sent to Slaughter (Yellowstone North Boundary): 37
Highway mortalities (West Yellowstone): 5

"When will the Park Service understand that they are in charge of protecting our wildlife, not protecting cattle interests?" asked Mike Mease, co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign.

This season's harsh winter is also starting to take a toll on wild bison, who are finding it more difficult and sometimes impossible to crater through the snow to get to critical forage for survival. Snow banks from highway snowplowing around the West Yellowstone area are making the bison's migration extremely difficult. Bison are getting trapped along highway 191 and motor-collision mortalities are resulting.

2,158 wild American bison have been killed or otherwise removed from the remaining wild population since 2000 under actions carried out by the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), as well as state and treaty hunts. The IBMP is a joint state-federal plan that prohibits wild bison from migrating to lands outside of Yellowstone's boundaries. Wild American 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 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.

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 native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.