Yellowstone Park Lures More than 150 wild Buffalo into Trap (Inside Yellowstone) with Hay in Sunday & Monday Operations

For Immediate Release:
March 15, 2004

George Nell/ Mike Mease - 406.848.7521

Gardiner, Montana - Park rangers baited and hazed over 150 of America's last wild buffalo into the Stephens Creek trap inside Yellowstone National Park yesterday & today. In the past three weeks, the National Park Service (NPS) has captured 356 buffalo under pressure from the Montana livestock industry. Since November 24, 2003 the Park Service and the Montana Department of Livestock already killed 165 Yellowstone buffalo prior to Sunday's operation.

"Buffalo harassment is becoming a daily routine in Yellowstone," said Dan Brister of the Montana-based Buffalo Field Campaign. "With rangers luring buffalo into traps with trails of hay, handing them over to livestock inspectors who ship them to slaughter, and inoculating them with cattle vaccines and ear tagging them, we should start calling it Yellowstone National Ranch."

According to a press release issued by the park, the current slaughter is designed to keep buffalo "away from cattle grazing adjacent to the Park." The irony is the closest livestock are located on the Royal Teton Ranch (RTR), whose owners received more than 13 million tax dollars in 1998 for land and conservation easements intended to provide winter range for native buffalo.

Yellowstone is the only place in America continuously occupied by native buffalo. The park provided sanctuary to 23 individuals that survived the 19th century near-extinction. The Yellowstone herd is the largest remaining population of genetically pure bison. Slaughtering bison is in direct contradiction with the Park Service's mandate to protect park resources unimpaired for future generations.

The Park Service is currently domesticating another 154 buffalo that tested negative for exposure to brucellosis in the same crowded buffalo trap. Calf and yearling bison being held were vaccinated with RB51 brucellosis vaccine and ear tagged. Peer reviewed scientific studies have concluded that RB51 offers no significant protection for brucellosis to bison. There has never been a documented case of brucellosis being transmitted from wild buffalo to livestock. In the past ten years the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and NPS have slaughtered 2,666 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park. A year ago the Park Service sent 231 buffalo to slaughter without even testing them for brucellosis. Yellowstone buffalo slaughter is slated to cost tax-payers nearly $3 million a year until 2015.

The slaughter has prompted members of Congress to introduce the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act (H.R. 3446), which will place a three-year ban on the capture and slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo, dismantle the Stephen's Creek trap, and allow buffalo access to historic public lands habitat immediately adjacent to the park. It has more than 70 co-sponsors in the United States House of Representatives. Citizens from around the country are demanding protection for this national treasure and asking Congress to take the politics out of this situation and put science first. "We have no idea how this mismanagement will affect the genetic stability of this unique herd and future generations. This is an outrage!," said concerned citizen, Su Gregerson.