Agencies Capture and Kill Using U.S. Tax Dollars

For Immediate Release:
March 15, 2006

Stephany Seay or Dan Brister, 406-646-0070

West Yellowstone, Montana - The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) captured thirty-three of America's last wild bison yesterday afternoon and sent them all to slaughter this morning without testing them for brucellosis antibodies.

The bison had been grazing along the north shore of Hebgen Lake since early January, and showed no sign of moving further away from the Park. They are the same group that the DOL chased onto the thin ice of Hebgen Lake on January 11, when 14 broke through and two drowned.

Yesterday the DOL set up a make-shift capture facility on private land, and after aggressively hazing more than forty bison, captured thirty-three, loaded them onto three livestock trailers and trucked them to the Duck Creek capture facility located just a mile from Yellowstone National Park. The DOL transported all the bison to slaughter this morning.

During the capture, BFC patrols documented DOL agents recklessly jumping in front of running buffalo, stressed from being harassed. "It's amazing that no one was gored or injured," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "The agents showed no regard for the bison's wild nature. One of these days someone is going to get hurt."

In February, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer ordered the DOL to release nine bison that were captured by the agency. In recent weeks, Schweitzer has been quoted in the media saying capture and slaughter along the Park's western boundary (where Montana is the lead agency) is "not the direction we want to go."

"We've been hearing so much about Governor Schweitzer's increased tolerance for bison," said Brister. "Today we learned just what the governor's words are worth." Brister went on to ask "Why did the DOL bother pulling ten bison from the icy water in January if their intention was to send them to slaughter anyway?"

The DOL, the lead agency along Yellowstone's western boundary, has been extremely secretive in regards to bison management activities. The DOL hasn't had a public relations officer since October and hasn't updated its web site since then. A spokeswoman with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), a participating agency involved with yesterdays capture operation, refused to share her knowledge of events, saying that it was the DOL's place to do so.

"The level of secrecy is appalling," said BFC's Stephany Seay. "This bison management scheme is 100% taxpayer funded and each agency is accountable, yet the public is kept in the dark on the details surrounding the harassment and slaughter of America's last wild bison."
Since fall, bison management activities have caused the unnecessary deaths of 931 wild bison, while 87 wild bison calves have been removed from the population and placed into a quarantine facility. The Yellowstone bison herd, America's only continuously wild herd, now numbers fewer than 3,500. Wild bison are a migratory species native to North America and once spanned the continent, numbering an estimated 30 to 50 million.

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.