Management Runs Amok: National Park Service Sends 24 Buffalo to
Slaughter, Captures 100 More; DOL Hazes Buffalo through
Lake Ice, Killing Two.
Release, January 12, 2006
Contact Stephany Seay or Dan Brister: (406) 646-0070
—GARDINER AND WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. Without cooperation from
Montana, Yellowstone National Park sent twenty-four of America's
last wild buffalo to slaughter today, including twelve bulls
which pose no risk of transmitting brucellosis.
Another forty buffalo may be sent to slaughter facilities
tomorrow with the assistance of USDA Animal & Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS). Yesterday, National Park
Service (NPS) Rangers captured 208 wild buffalo inside the
Stephens Creek Capture Facility. Another 100 buffalo have
been captured today. The Stephens Creek trap's capacity is 200
buffalo, yet the Park Service is currently holding around 280.
"Yellowstone used to be a wildlife sanctuary. Under the
watch of Superintendent Suzanne Lewis it has been transformed
into a buffalo slaughter facility set up to do the bidding of
the livestock industry," said Mike Mease, Campaign Coordinator
and cofounder of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
The NPS is in violation of the Interagency Bison Management
Plan because it intends to send all the captured bison to
slaughter without testing for brucellosis antibodies, prior to
conducting their mandatory late-winter/early-spring count.
"Sending these bison to slaughter without testing before the
late-winter/early-spring bison counts are conducted clearly
violates the Interagency Bison Management Plan," said Josh
Osher of BFC. "These safeguards were put in place so the
government's actions would not compound potential natural
winter kill. By sending these bison to slaughter without
testing in order to free up the capture facility for more of
the same, the National Park Service could be responsible for a
devastating population crash in America's last wild herd of
—IN WEST YELLOWSTONE, along the Park's western boundary,
Montana's bison hunt has been suspended and the Montana
Department of Livestock (DOL) conducted a hazing operation
today of approximately 30 wild buffalo that had never left the
state's tolerance zone, or hunt area. DOL agents on
snowmobiles hazed the mixed group of buffalo across the ice of
Hebgen Lake towards the northern peninsula of Horse Butte.
Twelve buffalo yearlings, young bulls and females - fell
through the ice of the lake. Two buffalo died in the
water and others showed signs of hypothermia after being pulled
onto the ice. BFC volunteers documented the event.
BFC's Project Director, Dan Brister, who witnessed the event,
said, "It was horrible, the twelve bison were swimming around a
small opening in the ice, pawing at the edges and stepping on
one another as they frantically tried to pull themselves from
the water. Two drowned before our eyes before the agents
made any effort to pull them from the water."
There are no cattle within 40 miles of today's attempted hazing
"Governor Schweitzer stated that the DOL is "ill-equipped" to
manage wild buffalo and today's actions compounded with years
of aggressive abuse and harassment underscore the truth of his
words," said BFC's Mike Mease. "We call on the state to
act immediately and strip the DOL of any and all wild bison
Buffalo Field Campaign patrols have been monitoring this herd's
movements for weeks. They arrived on Horse Butte over
three weeks ago and stayed for a while before returning to the
Park again on their own. "This was an utterly needless
action on the part of the DOL," said Josh Osher, BFC's policy
coordinator. "These bison had never left the tolerance zone and
they were starting to head back east again on their own."
State and Federal agencies participating in the Interagency
Bison Management Plan justify Montana's lack of bison tolerance
on the unfounded fear that bison may transmit brucellosis, a
European livestock disease, to cattle. Bulls, yearlings and
non-pregnant females pose no risk of transmitting the bacteria.
There has never been a documented case of wild bison
transmitting brucellosis to livestock.
In the past ten years Montana and the U.S. Government have
killed 2,505 wild Yellowstone bison, more than half of the
The bison that inhabit the Yellowstone region are the last
wild, genetically pure, unfenced bison left in the country.
They are the only bison to have continuously occupied their
native range and they are the last bison to follow their
natural instinct to migrate. Like other wild ungulates,
bison move to lower elevations outside the park in response to
the region's harsh winters. Yet, unlike other wild
ungulates, wild bison are not allowed to leave Yellowstone
National Park and are subject to hazing, capture, and slaughter
when they do.
"This is the last wild herd of buffalo and they are being
treated like a nuisance instead of being respected as the
sacred beings they are," Said BFC's Stephany Seay. "They
deserve our protection and respect, not this senseless
persecution of misguided government agencies."
Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field,
everyday, to stop the slaughter of the wild Yellowstone
buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their native
habitat and advocate for their protection. BFC video footage
and photos are available upon request and may be viewed at