Livestock Interests Spin Lies to Public, Media; IBMP Agencies Again Break "Tolerance" Agreement

For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2007

Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request

Stephany Seay (406) 646-0070

West Yellowstone, Montana - Today, the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service abandoned their short lived adherence to the adaptive changes to the Interagency Bison Management Plan by hazing nearly all of the buffalo that are currently in Montana back into Yellowstone National Park, including very pregnant females and many newborn calves.

According to a DOL press release issued by the Montana Dept. of Fish Wildlife and Parks, the DOL's new public relations agency, the purpose of the hazing operations is to "limit the risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to cattle".  However there are no cattle currently present in the West Yellowstone nor will any cattle arrive for well over a month.

The press release further states that, " Research indicates that brucellosis can persist in the environment for some time under varying temperature and light conditions."  However, the very same research also indicates that bacterium from aborted fetuses placed in the environment was gone by mid-May regardless of the date the fetuses were placed.  An additional study also concluded that the average time for fetuses to disappear due to the activity of scavengers was 14 days.  At the very least, this information leads to the conclusion that DOL/FWP are only telling a portion of the story to sugarcoat the agencies arbitrary actions and justify the mistreatment of the wild buffalo.

The release also falsely stated that wild bison would be hazed off of private land only, yet bison are being chased off of public land where they are supposed to be tolerated.  This is the second time in a month that the IBMP agencies have ignored their agreement.

"Montana livestock interests are lying to the public trying to make people believe that brucellosis in wild bison is a serious threat to human health and cattle," said Mike Mease of BFC.  "The truth is, brucellosis is off the CDC radar.  It's a cattle-borne disease, and that's where management controls should be focused."

The only cases of any wildlife transmitting brucellosis to cattle have occurred as the result of the gross mismanagement of elk on game farms and feedgrounds.  The fact is that there is no significant risk of brucellosis transmission from naturally occurring wildlife populations to domestic cattle.  The agencies are all well aware of this fact, as it has been widely documented by years of scientific research.

"Brucellosis is a fraud," said Robert Hoskins, a Wyoming naturalist who's working on natural history and local ecological knowledge. "No one associated with the livestock industry or government has ever presented a legitimate argument that wildlife brucellosis is a threat to the livestock industry or even public health, for that matter, nor that brucellosis is even legitimately a bio-terrorism hazard.  It's all politics; It's all about denying habitat to wildlife, whether bison, bears, wolves, or elk."

On the scene of today's hazing operations were Mike Volesky of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's office, Becky Weed and George Harris of the Montana Board of Livestock, and Mel Frost spokeswoman of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

"As they always do, the agents ran the buffalo hard," said BFC spokesperson Stephany Seay.  "Buffalo moms with newborns, pregnant buffalo and yearlings were panting and frantic, but once the state spectators arrived on the scene, the agents curbed their aggression to make it look like hazing is just a gentle picnic, which it is anything but."

There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the European livestock disease brucellosis to livestock, even prior to implementation of Interagency Bison Management Plan.

American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are genetically unique and are America's only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 3,600 animals, .01 percent of the bison's former population.

1,912 bison have been killed since 2000 under the Interagency Bison Management Plan.  Last winter Federal and State agencies killed or authorized the killing of more than 1,010 bison.  So far this winter two bison were captured and sent to slaughter by Montana Department of Livestock agents and hunters have killed 58.

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