For Immediate Release:
February 21, 2003
Dan Brister (406) 646-0070; Mike Mease (208) 630-4511
Gardiner, Montana - Park rangers captured 33 wild buffalo in the Stephens Creek trap near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park this morning. None of the buffalo ever left the park. The Park's public affairs office was unavailable for comment on the operation.
Buffalo Field Campaign spokesperson Mike Mease, who witnessed the capture, noted the irony of Park employees capturing buffalo inside the park, "These Park Rangers have no right wearing buffalo on their badges as they haze and capture the buffalo they're entrusted with protecting. If buffalo are not safe in Yellowstone, then where are they safe?"
The Yellowstone herd is the only continuously wild herd in the United States. It is descended from just 23 wild bison that survived the mass eradication of the 19th century and is the largest remaining single population of genetically pure bison.
This is the first time the Stephens Creek trap has been used since March 2003, when Park Rangers captured 231 buffalo in Yellowstone and handed them over to the Montana Department of Livestock without ever testing them for brucellosis, the supposed justification for the slaughter. The DOL shipped all 231 to slaughter.
The Park Service is one of five federal and state agencies participating in the Interagency Bison Management Plan. The plan will cost taxpayers $50 million over the next 14 years. State and Federal agencies have killed 2,513 buffalo in the past ten years.
During this morning's capture operation a pronghorn antelope was caught in the haze. The area between Gardiner and Stephens Creek, where the capture operation occurred, provides the only winter range for Yellowstone antelope, a Species of Special Concern. Human activities, like buffalo capture operations, negatively impact the pronghorn, whose numbers have plummeted from more than 600 to less than 200 in recent years.
On Tuesday the Montana Department of livestock captured 18 buffalo near West Yellowstone and sent ten to slaughter. Of the eight that were shaved, tagged, dyed, and released Wednesday on the Horse Butte Peninsula, five were yearling calves. Several showed signs of injuries suffered in captivity, such as falling down upon release and leaving a trail of hair and blood. At least four of the released calves are now orphans with little chance of survival, as their mothers were sent to slaughter.
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.