Remainder to be Confined until Spring

For Immediate Release: 
February 26, 2004

Dan Brister (406) 646-0070

Gardiner, Montana – Yellowstone Park rangers handed 53 buffalo over to the Montana Department of Livestock for slaughter in two separate shipments yesterday and today. 89 buffalo were captured in tree separate operations taking place on Saturday and Tuesday.

Yellowstone is the only place in America continuously inhabited by wild buffalo. The park provided sanctuary to 23 wild buffalo that survived the mass eradication of the 19th century.

The Yellowstone herd comprises the largest remaining population of genetically pure bison.

“The Park Service is mandated to protect the buffalo unimpaired for future generations,” said BFC spokesperson Dan Brister, “instead they are doing the dirty work of the Montana livestock industry and eroding the wildness of this national treasure. Yellowstone should be a sanctuary for wildlife, not a slaughterhouse.”

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 closest livestock are located on lands belonging to the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT). Taxpayers spent more than $13 million on conservation easements and acquisition of CUT lands to protect bison and other wildlife in 1998.

Of the 36 animals who tested negative for brucellosis antibodies and will be held in the trap until spring, 24 yearlings and calves were vaccinated with the livestock vaccine RB51, which has been shown to be ineffective in bison.

A recent peer reviewed study (Davis, D.S. and Elzer, P.H., 2002, Brucella Vaccines in Wildlife, Veterinary Microbioligy (90): 533-544.) concluded that “RB51 did not confer significant protection in the vaccinated animals. In terms of abortions and infections, the RB51 bison vaccinated with three injections did not differ significantly from the non-vaccinated bison.”

While RB51 is known to be more effective in livestock, vaccination didn’t prevent the infection of Wyoming cattle, who last month contracted brucellosis from feedground elk. There has never been a documented transmission of brucellosis from wild bison to livestock.

The current bison management plan will cost taxpayers nearly $50 million. State and Federal agencies have slaughtered 2, 523 buffalo in the past ten years.

The Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their traditional habitat and advocate for their protection. Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on and document every move made against them.