ADVOCATES TO HOLD WEEK OF ACTION AS YELLOWSTONE BISON SLAUGHTER CONTINUES
For Immediate Release: February 14, 2008
Contact: Buffalo Field Campaign, Stephany Seay, 646-0070
GARDINER & WEST YELLOWSTONE, MT: Wild bison advocates, including Buffalo Field Campaign, plan a Week of Action from February 14 through February 21. The Week of Action will draw national attention to the role of Yellowstone National Park and Montana in the harassment, capture, and slaughter of the last wild population of American bison remaining in the United States. There are fewer than 4,500 wild, genetically intact American bison living in the United States. Wild bison are ecologically extinct everywhere outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Since Friday, February 8, 169 American bison (or buffalo) have been captured from within Yellowstone National Park. The National Park Service, under pressure from Montana's livestock industry, has been running the capture operations at the Stephens Creek bison trap located inside Yellowstone's boundaries.
View video of Yellowstone bison in the Stephens Creek Capture Facility: www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/videoaudio/Gardiner2004.mov
"Yellowstone National Park is doing the bidding of Montana's livestock industry at the expense of the bison," said Stephany Seay of Buffalo Field Campaign. "These bison are our national heritage, a keystone species critical to the ecological health of native grasslands and sacred to First Nations. The American people want the slaughter to stop now."
On Friday, the Park Service captured 54 bison; on Sunday, 41 bison; on Tuesday 44 bison; and on Wednesday, they captured 30 bison. All will be shipped to slaughterhouses. According to Yellowstone officials, the 17 calves that were originally going to be sent to the Corwin Springs research facility are now instead being sent to slaughter. 44 bison were shipped to slaughter facilities from Yellowstone this morning.
These actions are being taken to appease Montana's cattle interests, who claim they fear the spread of brucellosis from wild bison to cattle. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the livestock disease brucellosis to cattle.
"Originally the U.S. Calvary was sent here to protect the last remaining bison found in Yellowstone," said Mike Mease, co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign. "How sadly ironic that millions of U.S. tax dollars are now being spent to kill them."
The bison were captured for following their natural migratory instincts and walking onto or near habitat that is privately owned by the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT). CUT land hosts fewer than 250 head of cattle. Wild bison are also denied access to publicly owned Gallatin National Forest lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and CUT property. Gallatin National Forest lands were originally set aside by Congress in the early 20th century as wildlife winter habitat, as legislators realized Yellowstone did not provide the winter forage needed by ungulates such as bison and elk. 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. Wild bison are the only wildlife confined to Yellowstone's boundaries.
"The Park Service needs to realize that they are responsible for protecting wildlife, not cattle," said Mike Mease, co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign.
Federal and State actions serving Montana's cattle interests are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of wild bison this year and the death toll is likely to rise significantly.
This season's harsh winter is starting to take a toll on wild bison, who are finding it more difficult and sometimes impossible to crater through the snow to get to critical forage for survival. Snowbanks from highway plowing in the West Yellowstone area are making the bison's migration extremely difficult. Bison are getting trapped along highway 191 and are being hit and killed by vehicles.
2,299 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 throughout their historic native range, especially on public lands.