As if hazing, killing, and other “management” practices are not already bad enough, in 2016 Yellowstone National Park announced plans to create a permanent “operational” quarantine program for America’s only continuously wild population of bison, the Yellowstone herds. This announcement followed the (failed) quarantine feasibility study that began in 2005 and resulted in the removal of more than 200 wild bison from their native Yellowstone habitat; the majority of these animals were killed. All of the rest were domesticated—a life sentence for our national mammal.
Some of the quarantined bison endured years of “feasibility study” only to die from traumatic injuries suffered during transport or on their new pastures. Ten bison, including two calves, burned to death after their enclosure prevented them from escaping a grass fire in 2012. Another 19 died of thirst in 2015 after a water pump stopped functioning. This program represents not only poor management practices and a waste of your tax dollars; it is also inhumane and cruel.
This quarantine is based on the false premise that bison pose a risk of transmitting brucellosis to livestock. Objective science tells us that wild bison have never transmitted the livestock disease to cattle, while elk--far more prevalent in the ecosystem than bison--have transmitted the disease on numerous occasions. To accept this quarantine program as valid is to accept the brucellosis myth and to buy into the livestock industry’s insistence that wild bison should be slaughtered when they approach Yellowstone’s boundaries.
Yellowstone claims that quarantine saves wild bison from slaughter. Under this logic, which falsely presupposes that slaughtering wild bison is necessary, Yellowstone serves as both executioner and savior, deciding to slaughter wild buffalo on one hand while saving them from slaughter (through quarantine) on the other. All reasonable assessments of this situation prove the absurdity of current methods, yet the mindless slaughter continues.
Highly invasive and completely unnecessary, the buffalo quarantine removes bison calves from their family groups, confines them in fenced pastures where they are fed hay, and subjects them to invasive “livestock management practices” for two to four years. We know that approximately half of all quarantined buffalo are slaughtered during the process, and any survivors are loaded into livestock trailers and transported to fenced pastures where they live out the remainder of their lives like domestic cows.
This is no life for a living national treasure and our national mammal.
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