For Immediate Release:
November 30, 2004
Josh Osher, 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - Under the cover of darkness last night, Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents transported a bull buffalo captured earlier in the day to a Montana slaughterhouse. The buffalo was not tested for brucellosis before being sent to slaughter, however, the DOL claims that he was tested at the slaughterhouse. The bull was captured at the Duck Creek buffalo trap located less than 200 yards from the western border of Yellowstone National Park. The buffalo was chased across Highway 191 using horses and ATV's. He had been grazing peacefully in the Upper Bear Trap housing development less than a mile from the Park border.
There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild bison to domestic cattle.
Bull buffalo present no risk of brucellosis transmission to cattle, especially if cattle are not present in the area. Ironically, in October, MDOL agents assisted in removing the last domestic cattle still grazing near the Park's western boundary. Cattle will not be present near the western boundary again until the middle of June 2005. As if to prove a need for their jobs, the DOL has been relentlessly hazing bull buffalo back into Yellowstone Park for the past several months. They claim to have "successfully" hazed 110 buffalo so far this year. The truth is that they have continually harassed the same 15 to 20 buffalo who like to wander outside the Park boundaries looking for some good grass to eat.
Although the DOL claims the capture was justified under the Interagency Buffalo Management Plan and to protect private property rights, local landowners have been increasingly critical of bison hazing and capture operations. During the week of November 15 a restaurant owner in the Upper Bear Trap area refused to allow DOL agents access to her property because she enjoyed the presence of the bull.
Jean Koski, owner of Enos restaurant, expressed her displeasure with the bull's capture, "It angers me that they are doing this. There's no reason to be chasing the bison this time of year. I'm not happy about the waste of our tax dollars to needlessly kill this bull. I live here because of the animals. The buffalo are not a problem. The thing we have to remember is that we're in their country."
Last week, area residents held a meeting with agency representatives to let them know that they wanted the buffalo in their neighborhoods and that they thought the harassment and slaughter was an unjustified waste of tax dollars. The agency response to the meeting was to haze five buffalo from the neighborhood the following morning.
"This is an insult to a community whose income is based on the buffalo and other wildlife," said Mike Mease of the Buffalo Field Campaign, "the war against the buffalo is unjustified and not supported by area residents."
Montana's incoming Governor Brian Schweitzer has said that buffalo will enjoy more tolerance in Montana. In his statements, Schweitzer said that management of buffalo and the protection of Montana's brucellosis-free status should be determined by "science, not hyperbole," and that the DOL is "ill-equipped" to manage wild buffalo for the State of Montana.
In the nine years that the DOL has had authority over wild buffalo that migrate into Montana from Yellowstone National Park, 2,785 buffalo have been killed. Countless others have been hazed and captured by the DOL with significant consequences to the health of the herd and those individual buffalo. DOL's hazing and capture operations also inflict terrible damage on the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem impacting all of the areas wildlife including elk, moose, trumpeter swans, threatened grizzly bears, and bald eagles.
The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) 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 winter habitat and advocate for their protection.