Park Officials Send 30 More Buffalo to Slaughter: Trap Empty

For Immediate Release:
February 17, 2006

Seamus Allen, 406-646-0070

Gardiner, Montana - This morning Yellowstone Park officials shipped the last 30 of 266 bison trapped this week to slaughter, bringing to 853 the number of buffalo killed by the Park Service in recent months and to 903 the total number killed by hunters and management actions. None of the bison slaughtered this week were tested for brucellosis. As with the bison captured in January, Montana has refused to transport Yellowstone buffalo to slaughterhouses.

Total Yellowstone Buffalo Killed 2005-2006: 903
Shot by Montana Department of Livestock (DOL): 3
Drowned During DOL Hazing Operation: 2
Shot by Hunters: 45
Slaughtered by Yellowstone National Park: 849
Died in Confinement in Yellowstone National Park: 3
Shot by Yellowstone National Park: 1

"Wild buffalo should be revered and respected, not killed and caged for cattle that roam free on the landscape," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign.

Some of the bison captured by the Park Service migrated onto or near the Royal Teton Ranch, owned by the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT). The ranch dissects the center of North America's largest wildlife migration corridor, just outside Yellowstone's northern boundary. U.S. taxpayers spent $13 million in 1999 on land and conservation easements to allow wild bison access to CUT lands. The government never finalized the deal and the slaughter continues.

None of the adult bison slaughtered by the Park Service this year were first tested for brucellosis. Fear that bison may transmit brucellosis to cattle is the purported justification for the aggressive management of wild buffalo by state and federal agencies. Yet there has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to livestock, even in the years before the current plan was enacted.

"The Yellowstone buffalo are national treasures, symbols of America's wild and untamed spirit," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "Rather than spending time and resources slaughtering them, the Park Service should be safeguarding habitat and protecting the buffalo under their care."

Eighty-six calves were sent to the Corwin Springs quarantine facility earlier this year, joining 14 that have been held there since last year. At least half of these bison will be slaughtered under an experiment being conducted jointly by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) and the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

"The government is misguided in thinking quarantine is the way to restore bison to the American landscape," said BFC's Mike Mease. "The Yellowstone buffalo are restoring themselves and the government is getting in the way."

The Yellowstone bison herd, America's only continuously wild herd, now numbers fewer than 4,000. Wild bison are a migratory species native to North America and once spanned the continent, numbering an estimated 30 to 50 million.