For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2004
Dan Brister (406) 646-0070
Gardiner, Montana – Park rangers captured approximately 74 buffalo in Yellowstone National Park this morning, bringing the total captured since last Saturday to 163. Of the 89 captured in operations last Saturday and Tuesday, 53 were turned over to the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) on Wednesday and Thursday for slaughter. None of the captured buffalo ever stepped foot outside the world’s first national park. Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) volunteers documented the operations.
“Yellowstone used to be a wildlife sanctuary. Under the watch of Superintendent Suzanne Lewis it has been transformed into a buffalo slaughter facility set up to do the bidding of Montana’s livestock industry,” said Dan Brister, Project Coordinator of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
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.
Contrary to claims made by the DOL, the slaughtered buffalo tested positive for exposure to brucellosis, not the disease itself. “Trying to eradicate buffalo by killing exposed buffalo is like trying to eradicate chicken pox by killing everyone who has ever had them,” Brister said. “Just because buffalo are exposed and have developed antibodies doesn’t mean they are infectious.”
There has never been a documented transmission of brucellosis from wild buffalo to livestock.
Today’s capture brings the total number of Yellowstone buffalo trapped this winter to 163. 63 were slaughtered and two were shot in the field. In the past ten years the DOL and NPS have slaughtered 2,566 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park.
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 currently has more than 60 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
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 lands belonging to the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT). Taxpayers paid the Church more than $13 million on conservation easements and acquisition of CUT lands to protect bison and other wildlife in 1998.
According to the unreliable test, just 36 buffalo tested negative for brucellosis antibodies and will be confined in the trap until spring. Twenty-four yearlings and calves are being experimented on with the livestock vaccine RB51, which is known to be ineffective in bison.
The Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, everyday, 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.