Yellowstone's Shame Now Hidden from the Public
For Immediate Release:
February 5, 2015
Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0071
Mike Mease, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0071
Yellowstone National Park, Montana - From Buffalo Field Campaign patrol's best observations, Yellowstone National Park has captured another two hundred or more wild bison by baiting them with hay into the Park's Stephens Creek bison trap. The best BFC can provide now are only estimates as the seven-mile closure around the Stephens Creek bison trap impairs our ability to be accurate. The trap is located about a mile and a half within Yellowstone's north boundary in Montana's Gardiner Basin. Nearly 400 of the world's most beloved and important bison have been killed through slaughter and hunting.
Buffalo Field Campaign and other media outlets have repeatedly asked for information about the capture and slaughter operations, as well as media tours of the trap to witness what is taking place when wild bison are captured, sorted, and tested. Yellowstone's response has been muted, with no media tours granted. Information is only being provided to the public on a bi-weekly basis Download the Yellowstone Bison Management Field Operations Summary (PDF).
"In years past, Yellowstone allowed the public to bear witness and document the actions taking place through media tours," said BFC co-founder Mike Mease. "In the past decade, however, that access has been diminished to the point of being nearly extinguished, but when you see the older footage from inside the trap, you can understand why Yellowstone would want to keep this from the public."
Shame on Yellowstone National Park
In 2003 the National Park Service lived up to its obligation to provide access, information, and images from bison capture-for-slaughter operations taking place in Yellowstone National Park. This winter the Park Service is shielding these tax-funded bison management operations from the public. A government agency accountable to the American people, the Park Service should operate with transparency. Instead the agency seeks to hide the truth as it inflicts abuse, suffering, and slaughter upon the buffalo, a national treasure worthy of honor, celebration, and protection. The things you see in this video are happening now in Yellowstone, and already three buffalo have died inside the trap, while 255 have been eliminated from America's last wild population.
This is video documentation from inside Yellowstone's Stephens Creek bison trap taken in 2003 by Buffalo Field Campaign and National Park Service videographers. In 2003 the National Park Service lived up to its obligation to provide access, information, and images from bison capture-for-slaughter operations taking place in Yellowstone National Park. This winter the Park Service is shielding these tax-funded bison management operations from the public.
"A government agency accountable to the American people, the Park Service should operate with transparency," said BFC executive director Dan Brister. "Instead the agency seeks to hide the truth as it inflicts abuse, suffering, and slaughter upon the buffalo, a national treasure worthy of honor, celebration, and protection."
Yellowstone's report issued Wednesday stated that in January 248 bison had been transferred to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and the InterTribal Buffalo Council for slaughter. Seven buffalo were transferred to USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to be used in experiments with the controversial chemical pesticide GonaCon. Additionally, three bison died inside the Stephens Creek trap: one from a broken leg incurred during handling, one from handling-induced capture myopathy (myopathy: definition), and one in holding prior to handling.
"Bison are extremely family-oriented and are very respectful of each other in the wild," said BFC's media coordinator Stephany Seay. "But in captivity, as the Shame on Yellowstone video shows, they are absolutely confused and terrorized and will gore each other, slam one another around, and do whatever they think they can to free themselves. These are some of the things that Yellowstone doesn't want the public to see."
The National Park Service and other IBMP agencies, excluding the Nez Perce tribe who hunts but opposes shipping bison to slaughter, intend to kill at least 900 wild buffalo this year through hunting and slaughter. IBMP affiliates are no longer using the weak excuse of brucellosis to commit unjustifiable actions, but have now shifted their argument to "population control." They aim to reduce the most important bison population in the world to a mere 3,000 animals, due to the intolerance of Montana's livestock industry, intolerance that is codified in the statute: MCA 81-2-120, a law crafted by the livestock industry. The 3,000 population cap is an arbitrary number based on politics, not science or carrying capacity. Yellowstone's own bison carrying capacity study indicates that the Park alone can sustain upwards of 6,200 buffalo, while there are tens of millions of acres of public lands surrounding the Park.
"The Park Service operates on the basis of 'do as we say, not as we do,'" said Buffalo Field Campaign co-founder Mike Mease. "They consistently break their own rules by harassing, baiting and killing wildlife."
Buffalo Field Campaign and Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program have filed an emergency rule making petition and lawsuit (Press Release 01-15-15) in an attempt to stop the slaughter.
"Bison should have the same rights as other species, but instead they are treated as second class wildlife," said Kim Acheson, social media coordinator with Buffalo Field Campaign. "This needs to end and it's a shame for our entire nation that one of our crown jewel national parks is leading the destruction of America's last wild buffalo."
Yellowstone buffalo are America's last wild, migratory herds and the most important bison population that exists. They are the last to identify as a wildlife species and ecologically extinct throughout their native range. They've been added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List for being "threatened with near extinction," and even Montana designates the species "in greatest conservation need" with conditions "making [bison] vulnerable to global extinction."
Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project filed a petition to list the Yellowstone bison under the Endangered Species Act (Download the Petition, PDF) in November 2014.
West Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana-based Buffalo Field Campaign is a non-profit public interest organization founded in 1997 to protect the natural habitat of wild migratory buffalo and native wildlife, stop the slaughter of America's last wild buffalo and advocate for their lasting protection, and work with people of all nations to honor the sacredness of wild bison.