Property Owners Welcome Bison, Not DOL, on Cattle-Free Horse Butte
For Immediate Release:
May 29, 2008
Janae & Rob Galanis, 406-646-4848
Ed & Vicky Millspaugh, Hebgen Lake Estates, 406-646-9176, (cell) 406-580-0321
Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - With horses, a helicopter, state and federal law enforcement, and U.S tax dollars to spend, Montana Department of Livestock agents have descended upon the cattle-free Horse Butte Peninsula, violating private property rights and upsetting human and wildlife residents in an attempt to chase wild American bison out of Montana and into Yellowstone National Park.
"These actions underscore the arrogance of the Department of Livestock, cattle industry, and agencies carrying out the Interagency Bison Management Plan," said Mike Mease, co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign. "There are no cattle out here and the landowners want the buffalo around, yet the government-funded cowboys act like the only private property rights that matter are those pertaining to cattle."
The Horse Butte peninsula is a 26,000-acre landscape encompassing both public (Gallatin National Forest) and private property. It is 100% cattle-free at all times of the year. Horse Butte provides critical winter range and calving grounds for American bison. The majority of Horse Butte residents welcome bison, but do not welcome the presence of the Montana Department of Livestock. Homeowners have expressed their wishes that the DOL refrain from chasing bison off of their land, but these wishes continue to be ignored.
Buffalo Field Campaign documented Department of Livestock agents harassing wild bison, including newborn calves, chasing them off of the Galanis property using a helicopter, which they flew at about 20 feet above the ground, violating airspace. Fence lines were damaged in the opereation.
The Galanis family, shaken and distraught over today's actions by the DOL, refrained from immediate comment until they are able to assess the damage caused by the operation. As soon as the Galanis family took ownership of the former Munns' Ranch, they immediately placed signs around their 700+-acre property defining it as a "Buffalo Safe Zone," the largest in Montana.
"The Galanis family removed the problem by removing the cattle on Horse Butte," said Stephany Seay, a spokeswoman for Buffalo Field Campaign. "Now we need to remove the Department of Livestock."
Buffalo Field Campaign also documented as DOL agent Shane Grube and another DOL agent, both on horseback, chased one wild bull bison off of other private properties within Yellowstone Village housing area. Residents came from their homes to scorn the DOL's actions and asked them to leave the premises. The residents were ignored.
"The Interagency Bison Management Plan is supposed to be adaptive, so adapt!" said Mease. "The fact that there are no cattle on Horse Butte is a significant change and it means the Department of Livestock has absolutely no reason to be there harassing bison!"
In March of 2008, Horse Butte homeowners, Buffalo Field Campaign, and Earthjustice called on state and federal officials to stop hazing, capturing, and killing bison that migrate onto Horse Butte. View the letter and press release.
There are no cattle currently grazing in the Hebgen Lake region, and they may not be trucked into the region until early July. There is no risk of brucellosis transmission at this time. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle.
More than 1,700 wild American bison have been eliminated from the remaining wild population this winter under actions carried out under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), as well as state and treaty hunts. Bison are a migratory species native to vast expanses of North America and are ecologically extinct everywhere in the United States outside of Yellowstone National Park. Buffalo Field Campaign strongly opposes the Interagency Bison Management Plan and maintains that wild bison should be respected as a valued native wildlife species and allowed to naturally and fully recover themselves throughout their historic native range, especially on public lands.
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 habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.