Wild Bison Advocates Challenge Current Tactics, Offer Solutions

For Immediate Release:
January 30, 2006

Dan Brister 406-646-0070
Mike Mease 406-848-9161

Bozeman, Montana - The Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee (GYIBC) will hold its tri-annual meeting on January 31 at the Gran Tree Inn Best Western in Bozeman, Montana. The GYIBC constitutes representatives from federal and state land use, livestock and wildlife management agencies in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), including the National Park Service, an agency that just sent over 500 wild bison to their deaths. GYIBC represents only one non-voting tribal interest, a member of the Intertribal Bison Cooperative (ITBC).

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) will be protesting outside of the meeting.

"GYIBC representatives are the architects and executioners of the current buffalo slaughter and the ongoing threat to the viability of wildlife in the GYA. These bureaucrats operate as if the public voice were only nuisance to be ignored as they carry out their draconian plans," says Josh Osher, BFC's research and public policy coordinator.

The agencies will be discussing management actions and strategies for the eradication and control of brucellosis in the region, including the current slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo, the upcoming capture, test and slaughter of elk on Wyoming feed-grounds and the loss of Idaho's brucellosis free status. The GYIBC meeting will allow for questioning the agencies about their activities and will include a public comment section at the end of the day.

Most of the agencies represented by GYIBC are signed on to the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). The IBMP is supposed to be an adaptive plan whereby new science and changes in land use circumstances would lead to changes that could provide more tolerance for wild buffalo outside of Yellowstone National Park. However, the agencies have refused to adapt the plan except to allow a buffalo hunt for three months in the fall and winter and to allow for the quarantine of buffalo calves at a facility near the Park's northern border.

"We will take the opportunity to present workable solutions to the current bison management scheme," said BFC's Stephany Seay. "Clearly, with the Park Service's recent and unnecessary slaughter of over one-tenth of the last wild bison herd left in America, the Interagency Bison Management Plan is failing wild bison."

Brucellosis is an introduced European livestock disease that came to North America with cattle. Human carelessness infected Yellowstone bison in 1917. Nearly ninety years prior to the inception of the Interagency Bison Management Plan, no documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis back to cattle has ever taken place, even where wild bison and cattle have commingled for over forty years (Grand Teton National Park).

"The IBMP is truly nothing more than a plan to ensure that wild buffalo do not establish themselves as a valued population outside of Park borders," said Josh Osher. "The original Yellowstone buffalo herd is being be sacrificed to the livestock industry under the heavy hands of USDA's APHIS with full cooperation from NPS."

The bison that inhabit the Yellowstone region are the last wild, genetically pure, unfenced bison left in the country. They are the only bison to have continuously occupied their native range and they are the last bison to follow their natural instinct to migrate. Like other wild ungulates, the region's harsh winters forces necessary migration into lower elevation lands where available forage is found. Yet, unlike other wild ungulates, wild bison are not allowed to leave the confines of Yellowstone National Park and face a zero-tolerance policy when they enter Montana and consequently it's killing fields.

Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of the wild Yellowstone buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their native habitat and advocate for their protection.