Park Intends to Slaughter Without Testing; Calves May Be Sent to Experimental Quarantine Facility

For Immediate Release:
February 8, 2008

Buffalo Field Campaign, Stephany Seay 406-646-0070

Gardiner, Montana - Yellowstone National Park officials captured 53 wild American bison this morning inside the Stephens Creek bison trap located within Yellowstone National Park's borders. The captured bison are members of the last wild, genetically intact population existing in the United States, and number fewer than 4,600. Most, if not all, will be sent to slaughter without being tested for brucellosis antibodies.

"The National Park Service is caving in to the unreasonable demands of Montana's livestock industry at the expense of an American icon, our national heritage," said Stephany Seay, media coordinator for Buffalo Field Campaign.

The bison were captured for following their natural migratory instincts and walking onto habitat that is privately owned by the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT). CUT land hosts fewer than 250 head of cattle. Wild bison are also refused access to publicly owned Gallatin National Forest lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and CUT property. In the winter months, grasslands in the Park are obscured by deep snow and bison and other wild ungulates venture to lower-elevation habitat where they find critical forage necessary for survival.

Yellowstone National Park officials said they will send the adult bison to slaughter without first testing them for exposure to brucellosis.

Bison calves may be tested for brucellosis antibodies. If testing occurs, those testing negative for antibodies will be sent to a state-federal quarantine feasibility study facility, while the rest will be slaughtered. More than half of the calves previously captured and quarantined by the government have been slaughtered, while the rest are being raised in pens like livestock.

Cattle interests claim such actions are necessary to prevent the spread of brucellosis, a livestock disease introduced to native wildlife in the early 20th century, from wild bison to cattle. However, there has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle.

"In one day the National Park Service is sending more than half as many bison to slaughter as have been killed during Montana's entire three-month bison hunt," said Mike Mease, co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign. "When will the Park Service understand that they are in charge of protecting our wildlife, not protecting cattle interests?"

2,120 wild American bison have been killed or otherwise removed from the remaining wild population since 2000 under actions carried out by the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), as well as state and treaty hunts. The IBMP is a joint state-federal plan that prohibits wild bison from migrating to lands outside of Yellowstone's boundaries.

Wild American 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 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 native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection.