Groups Ask Agencies to Use Discretion to Protect Bison

For Immediate Release:

Download the Letter to the Agencies (Word Document, 180kb, 7 pages)

Washington, D.C. - The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) have today asked the agencies implementing the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) to modify cattle stocking dates in the West Yellowstone area to show more tolerance for the bison who remain outside Yellowstone National Park.

In their six-page letter, AWI and BFC also criticize the agencies for their cruel bison hazing strategies, request the implementation of new strategies that are less aggressive, and identify specific actions that each agency must take to improve their role in bison management activities.

With bison remaining outside the park, AWI and BFC are concerned that the agencies will begin capture and slaughter operations. This is unnecessary, since the agencies should exercise their discretion under the IBMP to allow bison to remain outside of Yellowstone beyond May 15, at least temporarily.

The risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to cattle has never been documented, and the bacterium can only survive a few days, at most, in warmer weather. Deferring to stocking cattle on private land until July 1 - when cattle are allowed to return to public grazing allotments - would eliminate any risk of transmission. This would protect the less than 700 cattle grazed in West Yellowstone while allowing greater tolerance of bison outside of Yellowstone.

"It is high time for this so-called adaptive management plan to adapt to manage bison consistent with the scientific evidence," said D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist at AWI. "Politics, not science, and grass, not brucellosis, are what is currently driving the ill-conceived and scientifically corrupt plan."

Though neither AWI nor BFC generally support hazing, these aggressive tactics are particularly unnecessary and cruel. The agencies' industrial-strength hazing strategies have caused enormous cruelty and suffering for many bison, including mothers with newborns who have been being chased for miles from public land and back into Yellowstone. During these operations, BFC volunteers documented bison who were clearly exhausted, the temporary orphaning of newborn bison, and several near-misses between automobiles and bison being hazed across highways and back into the park.

"If the agencies intend to haze bison, they must do so gently and in a manner that minimizes stress and cruelty," says the BFC's Dan Brister. "Unfortunately, as long as the Department of Livestock is the lead agency on bison management, we fear that the cruel treatment of these animals will continue."

One of the nation's oldest animal protection organizations, AWI is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and is dedicated to reducing the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals.

BFC is based in West Yellowstone, Mont. and is the only organization that works 365 days a year to advocate for increased protection for Yellowstone's bison.

A copy of the letter to the agencies is available by contacting D.J. Schubert or Stephany Seay using the telephone numbers listed above or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or bfc-media"at"

Download the Letter to the Agencies (Word Document, 180kb, 7 pages)