For Immediate Release:
March 9, 2004
Dan Brister (406) 646-0070
Gardiner, Montana - Park rangers captured 7 bull buffalo in Yellowstone National Park on Monday evening. The seven bulls were handed over to the Montana Department of Livestock and shipped to slaughter Tuesday morning without ever being tested for brucellosis. Today's slaughter brings the total killed since November 24, 2003 to 165. The Park Service claims that the bulls were "unhazable" thereby justifying their capture. None of the slaughtered bulls ever left the Park.
There has never been a documented brucellosis transmission from wild buffalo to livestock. Further, because the only potential avenue of transmission is through reproductive tissue such as birthing materials, bulls pose virtually no risk of infecting Montana livestock.
"The Park Service is intent on destroying the buffalo it's supposed to protect," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC). "Bull buffalo, incapable of transmitting brucellosis, are being slaughtered to appease Montana cattlemen who are unwilling to share the range with native wildlife."
According to a press release issued by the park, the current slaughter is designed to keep buffalo "away from cattle grazing adjacent to the park." The closest livestock are located on the Royal Teton Ranch (RTR), whose owners received more than 13 million tax dollars in 1998 for conservation easements and land intended to provide winter range for native buffalo.
Yellowstone is the only place in America continuously inhabited by wild buffalo. The park provided sanctuary to 23 buffalo that survived the mass eradication of the 19th century. The Yellowstone herd comprises the largest remaining population of genetically pure bison. Slaughtering bison is in direct contradiction with the park's mandate to protect park resources unimpaired for future generations.
The Park Service claimed that the bulls were sent directly to slaughter without being tested for brucellosis antibodies because they presented a danger to the 154 bison that are currently being held in the Yellowstone buffalo trap at Stephens Creek.
"It's strange that the Park Service is suddenly concerned with the welfare of buffalo," said Ken Cole of the Buffalo Field Campaign, "just last week I watched park employees injure countless buffalo through inhumane treatment in the Stephens Creek trap. They clamp their heads in hydraulic jaws, yank them around by rings inserted in their noses, and force them to gore one another by packing them in tight spaces. People don't treat cattle this way." he said.
Today's killing brings the total number of Yellowstone buffalo killed this winter to 165. The National Park Service (NPS) is holding another 154 buffalo that tested negative for exposure to brucellosis in the Stephen's Creek buffalo trap. Calf and yearling bison among those being held were vaccinated with RB51 brucellosis vaccine. Peer reviewed scientific studies have concluded that RB51 offers no significant protection for brucellosis to bison.
In the past ten years the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and NPS have slaughtered 2,666 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park. Last March the Park Service sent 231 buffalo to slaughter without testing any for brucellosis.
The recent slaughter has prompted members of Congress to introduce the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act (H.R. 3446), which will place a three year moratorium on the capture and slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo, dismantle the Stephen's Creek trap, and allow buffalo unfettered access to public lands immediately adjacent to the park. The bill has 69 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
The Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their traditional habitat and advocate for their protection. Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on and document every move made against them.