41 Members Of America's Last Wild Bison Population Killed So Far

For Immediate Release:
January 3, 2008

Buffalo Field Campaign, Stephany Seay 406-646-0070     

West Yellowstone & Gardiner, Montana - Wild bison migrating out of Yellowstone National Park are being hunted in Montana along the Park's north and west boundaries from November 15, 2007 through February 15, 2008.  The state hunt entered phase 2 on January 1, 2008 and runs through Jan. 22.  The final period of the hunt runs from Jan. 23 through Feb. 15, 2008.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Nez Perce Tribe are hunting under treaty right.  The Salish-Kootenai have so far reportedly harvested 20 wild bison, while the Nez Perce have not yet begun their hunt.

Since opening day, a total of forty-one wild bison have been killed, shot under both state and treaty hunts, with the breakdown to date as follows:
West Yellowstone State Kills = 12
West Yellowstone Treaty Kills = 19
West Yellowstone Unknown Kills = 2
Gardiner State Kills = 7*
Gardiner Treaty Kills = 1
*including one special "super tag"

Montana's bison hunt is not authorized by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), the state's wildlife agency, but by the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), an agency that exclusively promotes cattle interests.

"I don't think most people understand that only the Department of Livestock can authorize the hunting of wild bison in Montana, and their goal is no bison left standing in Montana," said Glenn Hockett, president of the Gallatin Wildlife Association, a hunting organization opposed to the current bison hunt and working to help restore wild bison in Montana.

"It's being called a hunt, but in reality it's just another way for Montana livestock interests to kill bison that migrate into the state," said Buffalo Field Campaign spokeswoman Stephany Seay.

FWP is managing the hunt, and has estimated enough bison moving in and out of Yellowstone's western boundary to initiate their trigger to issue extra tags for the first two hunt phases.  During phase one, 10 extra cow/calf tags were issued, with another 10 being split between both treaty hunt tribes.  Already during phase two, an additional 14 cow/calf tags have been issued, with another 14 being split between both treaty hunt tribes.

Wild American bison are a migratory species native to vast expanses of North America, with the last wild population in the U.S. living in and around Yellowstone National Park.  Wild bison are granted no year-round habitat in Montana. There is never a time when wild bison are allowed to be in the state without being subjected to harassment, capture, slaughter, quarantine, or shooting. Wild bison are ecologically extinct everywhere outside of Yellowstone National Park.

"The only reason bison are being allowed on public land in Montana is so they can be shot.  Once the hunt ends, the Department of Livestock will be out in force to chase any remaining buffalo back into Yellowstone National Park, and they've threatened to be very aggressive against wild bison this year," said Seay.

Buffalo Field Campaign strongly opposes Montana's bison hunt as well as the Interagency Bison Management Plan.  BFC maintains that wild bison should be allowed to naturally and fully recover, restoring themselves throughout their native range, especially on public lands.  BFC advocates for wild bison being respectfully managed as a valued native wildlife species by wildlife professionals, not cattle interests.
Buffalo Field Campaign is in the field with the buffalo every day, from sunrise to sunset, documenting every action taken against the buffalo. Buffalo Field Campaign field patrol members are communicating with hunters, educating them on the current status of wild bison, and attempting to build support among hunters for restoring bison to Montana.

"This is a very controversial hunt and we are helping to educate hunters and build a constituency for wild bison," said Mike Mease, subsistence hunter and co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign. "Bison hunters are being mislead by state and federal agencies to believe that this is a legitimate hunt, but no other big game species suffers such a disrespectful fate and when hunters finally see what's really going on, our hope is they will take a stand for restoration and conservation."

Fewer than 4,700 continuously wild American bison exist in the United States; all reside in Yellowstone National Park. A joint state-federal agreement signed in 2000, the Interagency Bison Management Plan, prohibits wild bison from migrating to lands outside of the Park, except during the hunt, in an effort to benefit cattle interests who claim they fear the spread of the livestock disease brucellosis from wild bison to cattle.  There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle.

2,059 wild American bison have been killed or otherwise removed from the remaining wild population since 2000 under actions carried out by the Interagency Bison Management Plan, as well as state and treaty hunts.

Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild American buffalo.  Volunteers defend the buffalo and their native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.