Montana Buffalo Slaughter News Chronicle
Compiled by Tom Beno
West Yellowstone News - January 23, 1997
"The scene at the northern border of the Park is tragic. Animals are goring one another as they are crammed into pens and trucks to be shipped to slaughter. Three calves had their horns broken off and were bleeding profusely. An adult female arrived at the slaughterhouse badly gored and with broken ribs. Meanwhile, more bison are stacking up near the pens so another 100 bison could be killed next week at the north entrance alone."
USA Today - February 6, 1997
Advertisement paid for by the "Fund for Animals" which stated in part, "Boycott Buffalo Butchery...The State of Montana has zero tolerance for Buffalo so we need you to have zero tolerance for Montana." The ad asked readers to contact Montana Governor Racicot and "tell him that you won't spend a dime in a state that doesn't give a damn about the one animal, of all animals, everyone should have a conscience about." In response to the ad, Racicot blamed the bison incident on the federal government and accused the Fund for Animals of false advertising.
Rocky Mountain News - April 5, 1998
Large numbers of bison have left the park and damaged private land for several years, but last year's record killing embarrassed Montana and the federal agencies and prompted multiple lawsuits.
Yellowstone Net News - April 7, 1998
Why the double-standard? It appears that brucellosis in elk is ignored simply because the area's elk herds are the key component to the region's hunting industry.
Then again, maybe the battle-cry of "bison and brucellosis" is just a pretension for advocating the killing of free-roaming bison and the ultimate fencing in of Yellowstone National Park.
Greater Yellowstone Coalition - April 13, 1998
If the state honestly explained its position, it would be clear to all that it could not justify more killing...Montana hides behind its own brand of rhetoric to cover up the fact it lacks justification for killing more bison.
The state goes by its own rules. Federal agencies charged with eradicating brucellosis from livestock have provided the state with substantial flexibility to manage bison without having the state's brucellosis-free status threatened. Montana has so far chosen not to use that flexibility.
It doesn't seem to matter to Montana whether there are 60 days (or more) separation between bison and cattle. It doesn't seem to matter that others, including APHIS, accept that bison bulls, calves and yearlings are not a threat to cattle. Montana goes by its own rules, and those rules mean officials are killing bison at their discretion. 1,087 last year, eleven so far this year.
National Parks and Conservation Association - April 17, 1998
Last winter proved especially harsh in Yellowstone. Heavier-than-normal snowfall before Christmas was followed by several days of rain around New Year. The rain saturated the snow, and the subsequent normal subzero temperatures created a layer of ice as much as a foot-and-a-half thick over most of the park. Bison and other grazing animals could not penetrate the ice in their quest for forage.
Exiting the park in unprecedented numbers to seek accessible winter forage, the bison fell prey to the grisly provisions of an Interim Management Plan, designed to protect cattle from the threat of brucellosis.
Bozeman Chronicle - April 22, 1998
Federal animal disease regulators say there should be more room for "low risk" bison to wander in small areas outside of Yellowstone National Park.
No go, says Montana's state veterinarian, Arnold Gertonson.
"The feds are trying to loosen the noose around the neck of bison," (Michael Scott, of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition) said. "DOL is trying to tighten it."
Houston Chronicle - May 8, 1998
Whenever a particularly hard winter makes foraging for food within the park difficult, the bison wander past Yellowstone's boundary lines and are slaughtered by the hundreds by state and federal sharpshooters, as they were last winter when nearly a third of the 3,400 animal herd was cut down.
Washington Post - May 17, 1998
What the plan says after years of wrangling and thousands of bison being shot is that the livestock industry in the form of the Board of Livestock is essentially going to decide what happens to Yellowstone buffalo once they leave the park...it gives the board -- whose seven members are all livestock producers -- a virtual veto over any plan..
Yellowstone Net Newsletter - June 11, 1998
Groups such as the Wyoming Wildlife Federation are questioning the wisdom of allowing the Montana cattle producers to decide the fate of Yellowstone's bison -- and with good reason.
Unfortunately, the Montana Department of Livestock seems to have a vendetta against bison. This is evidenced by the fact that although they are taking a dogmatic stand against the bison, they have no problem with brucellosis-carrying elk mingling with their cattle.
The double-standard is even more marked when one considers that wild elk are known to transmit brucellosis to cattle, whereas there is no documented case of a wild bison doing so. Elk are welcome, while bison are gunned down. Could this be so because elk are valuable to the hunting (and thus ranching) industry, whereas bison have no redeemable value to ranchers?
Idaho Falls Post Register - June 16, 1998
It's being done to preserve a grazing program for about 2,000 cattle located on national forest land surrounding the park. And because of the federal subsidy for grazing on public lands - ranchers pay $1.35 to graze a cow and a calf for one month on federal land when they would pay $15 for private land - it is well to note that those cattle produce only $4,200 annual income to the Forest Service.
That's why the Taxpayers for Common Sense, with good reason, calls this management plan "cowboy welfare."
National Parks and Conservation Association - July 9, 1998
"In an attempt to prevent the infinitesimally small risk to fewer than 1,800 cattle adjacent to the park from becoming infected with brucellosis, the Plan singles out bison from the larger elk population, which also carries the disease," says Mark Peterson, NPCA's Rocky Mountain regional director. "At a cost of over $1.7 million a year, the plan will treat Yellowstone's wild bison like zoo animals and give cattle preference on public lands near the park. This is one of the most absurd public policies ever crafted."
Billings Gazette - July 24, 1998
...the management of bison that wander out of Yellowstone National Park cannot be entrusted to Montana, the state responsible for killing about one-third of the herd during the winter of 1996-97.
"The alternatives proposed by the agencies are based on politics, not science, and would simply continue the misguided policies that have resulted in the shooting and slaughter of more than 3,000 bison in the past decade," said D.J. Schubert, the wildlife biologist who wrote the fund's plan.
Alt.native newsgroup (Usenet News) - July 25, 1998
Last winter, I spent the bulk of my time driving and snowshoeing around Yellowstone National Park following the movements of my favorite wildlife species, the American Bison, my symbol of wilderness, freedom, and wild America. From Evanston Wyoming to Grand Teton National Park, roughly a four hour drive, I see a landscape that has been drastically altered in order to support a growing livestock industry. No longer do I see wild buffalo roaming the lands.
What I do see is hundreds of private cattle and sheep, miles upon miles of fences to contain the livestock and a lack of forage protruding above the snow levels to support wildlife through these hard times. The livestock industry has finally won their game: total control of the American public and their lands. I am now forced into viewing my favorite wildlife species in a National Park while the rest of my public lands are cattle farms.
I am getting the shaft as well as all Americans are getting shafted except for the few fortunate individuals that profit by raising livestock on the millions of acres of public lands that should be home to wildlife species. Why do ranchers get exclusive rights to graze their animals on lands that I support by way of my taxes?
The DOL erected a capture facility right on the other side of the border of Yellowstone approximately 30 yards from Yellowstone's boundary.
To make matters worse, the DOL routinely spread fresh hay throughout the capture facility and stacked hay right by it in a direct attempt to lure the wild buffalo outside of our National Park and into their corral.
Yellowstone Ranger Tom Mazzarisi Yellowstone Net Newsletter - August 21, 1998
The winter of '96-'97 saw 1100 buffalo killed, shot, murdered, and slaughtered as a direct result of the livestock industry's control over the fate of buffalo, one of our nation's wild animals.
Many of the buffalo killed have not even been near cattle and I have seen and heard reports of the nearest head of cattle being more than 20 miles away! An even more disturbing fact there are about 2000 head of cattle, more than half on public lands, that is causing this debate over free roaming buffalo. Since 1994, almost 2000 bison have been killed leaving the park for 2000 or fewer head of cattle.
The only true controlling force is nature itself and it should be nature that decides the fate of the buffalo. Do not allow the livestock industry to have control of our nation's wildlife, because our wildlife will be treated like cattle, as is the case with buffalo right now. It is our duty as American citizens and those who earn their livings providing visitors with Yellowstone memories to support the buffalo. It is unconscionable and hypocritical to hear of those who favor and participate in the slaughter of buffalo and at the same time take millions of dollars from visitors.
BusinessWire - September 23, 1998
The bison controversy has plagued Yellowstone Park for years. During the winter of 1997, a record 1,123 buffalo were gunned down or shipped to slaughter houses by state officials, reducing the Yellowstone herd by nearly one-third.
Minneapolis-St.Paul Star/Tribune - October 22, 1998
Four winters running, the border zones of Yellowstone National Park have produced a sickening spectacle of politics masquerading as wildlife management. Rifle-toting public employees have killed nearly 2,000 buffalo for crossing park boundaries to graze.
Yellowstone Net Newsletter - November 9, 1998
Yellowstone's bison herd is the largest free roaming herd in the world, the remnants of a time when upwards of some 60,000,000 bison roamed throughout the American West. The bison, that great symbol of the American West, is now being sacrificed because of the presence of a mere 2000 nearby cattle. In reality, the bison are not a threat to the cattle, but rather the cattle are a threat to the bison.
What is more important to the American public: Yellowstone's bison herd, or another 2000 head of cattle? Perhaps it is time for the cattle to be removed to accommodate the bison and to preserve the American West.
Bozeman Chronicle Syndicated Column - December 14, 1998
Racicot mocks the public with his position on bison
Yes, outraged citizens, here we go again: The state of Montana is belligerently trying to draw the American public into a barroom brawl and then, when the blood starts to spill, it will blame everyone, except itself, for getting a black eye.
Why is Montana slaughtering bison on U.S. Forest Service land at Horse Butte near West Yellowstone when the nearest cattle are now dozens of miles away?
Why is Montana being allowed to destroy the integrity of the Yellowstone bison herd on behalf of 2,000 head of cattle which inhabit private and public land along the western and northern border of the national park?
Roughly 45 percent of the total cattle number mentioned above - many of them from Idaho - use Forest Service grazing allotments which generate less than $5,000 a year for the U.S. Treasury. Why are taxpayers being expected to spend a hundred times that amount to control bison on the same public lands?
Billings Gazette - December 16, 1998
Opponents of the bison pen say even if there is a scientific risk of transmission, the point is mute because there are no cattle in the West Yellowstone area during the winter months.
"The whole thing's just not logical," said Dave Ritchey, who lives about a half mile from the pen and is one of the locals who opposes the facility. "But there's nothing we can do and there never has been."
Buffalo Nations Field Report - December 21, 1998
DOL'ers on snowmobiles chased a group of buffalo over 12 miles back into the park, only to have them return the next day. It has been really sad to watch the harassment of these animals--they have to jump over fences, run down highways, and totally ignore what their instincts are telling them.
The agencies that are supposed to manage buffalo are deceiving the public at the buffalo's expense. Each continues to insist that they "hate to kill buffalo" when in reality all of their policies are in place and ready to begin the killing again. Our presence and voice is the only thing that will save buffalo from death this winter.
Buffalo Nations Field Report - December 28, 1998
Buffalo Nations (BN) announced today that they are opposed to any further harassment of wildlife by the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL). "We simply are not going to stand by and watch as DOL agents haze these animals to death," said BN spokesperson Dan Brister.
Though the DOL insists that they are protecting buffalo, nothing could be further from the truth. By agitating the buffalo and forcing them to run many miles a day in this weather, hazing can cause death. At this time of year buffalo need to conserve energy as they migrate to traditional wintering grounds where they can access food needed to survive the harsh winter. There are no cows in the area until June 15.
Many local residents are complaining about the DOL chasing animals through their neighborhoods with no advance warning. This jeopardizes public safety and folks are no longer safe in their own back yards. Montana state law prohibits harassment of game animals with motorized vehicles. This also should apply to the Department of Livestock!
Bozeman Chronicle - Jan.8, 1999
"The capture, hazing or shooting of buffalo in the West Yellowstone area is completely ludicrous," Leusch said in the press release. "There are no cattle in the area now, and there will not be until June 15. This operation by the state and cooperating federal agencies is nothing short of a waste of taxpayer money, and a slaughter of one of our national treasures."
Buffalo Nations Field Report - January 12, 1999
We have watched how the buffalo take care of each other when one of their friends is in trouble. One buffalo whose legs were wounded in the hazing process was limping and struggling to walk. The other buffalo circled around him and nudged him into the willows where the DOL could not find him.
The ultimate decision to continue the slaughter rests with Governor Marc Racicot, who oversees the DOL, and it's up to us to let him know that we hold him personally responsible for the needless deaths of wild buffalo
Bozeman Chronicle - January 12, 1999
When the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks ran the bison program, it allowed hundreds of animals to winter in the Hebgen Basin and the state kept its brucellosis free status. Whatever risk, or lack of risk, those animals pose has not changed. The only thing that has changed is the level of rhetoric, much of it originating at DOL headquarters in Helena.
All sides in this long and bitter debate have cried out to let scientists guide the decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats. APHIS has the top brucellosis scientists in the nation. The Board of Livestock should listen to APHIS.
U.S.Newswire - January 12, 1999 Defenders of Wildlife Press Release
"The DOL continues to ignore the Yellowstone bison herd's value to both the region and the nation by adhering to a near zero-tolerance policy for bison migrating outside Yellowstone National Park," says Defenders of Wildlife president Rodger Schlickeisen. "This is an American tragedy."
"The DOL's decision to kill bulls in its first capture of the season sets the stage for the remainder of the winter," says Bob Ferris, director of Species Conservation for Defenders of Wildlife. "Destroying male bison, which pose virtually no disease risk to cattle, defies common sense, ignores sound science, and poignantly shows the need for the Montana legislature to return management authority to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks."
STATE OF MONTANA - DEPARTMENT OF LIVESTOCK PRESS RELEASE - January 13, 1999
Meat from eight bison that were removed from private land near West Yellowstone last week will be donated today to Native American and Charitable organizations, the Montana Department of Livestock announced. All tested positive for brucellosis and thus threatened the state's economically essential brucellosis-free status, reported Marc Bridges, acting executive officer of the Montana Board of Livestock.
"These bison posed serious disease-transmission risks for the state, but when handled properly the meat is entirely safe to eat. We are pleased to be able to donate it to people who really need it and will put it to good use," Bridges said. "It is especially nice when worthy groups like these are ready and able to put the animals, once taken, to their highest and fullest use." ---------
"That's a cruel, cruel attack on our people to give our children murdered animals," said Scott Frazier of Bozeman, a member of the Crow-Santee tribe and a Buffalo Nations advisory board member. He was one of three speakers at a Buffalo Nations press conference Wednesday in the Emerson Cultural Center.
"We are given an animal considered hazardous waste, a weed," Frazier said. "We don't need the DOL using us as a scapegoat for this activity and blaming our children for their need to dispose of their waste. Indians are cleaning up the mess of the state."
Econet - January 14, 1999
The Fund for Animals condemned Montana's recent slaughter of eight bison and asked the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) to stop misleading the public about its bison management policies. Specifically, The Fund blasted the MDOL for engaging in a campaign of lies and deception in attempting to justify its ongoing slaughter of Yellowstone bison, for claiming that it desires to protect Yellowstone bison when its actions suggest otherwise.
"The slaughter of Yellowstone bison by Montana is an unnecessary tragedy promoted by ignorance, arrogance, and politics," states D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist representing The Fund for Animals. "Montana's continued reliance on a bold-faced lie to justify its bison killing program demonstrates the lengths to which the state will go to mislead and deceive the media and the public."
"Despite Montana's attempts to portray a kinder, gentler attitude toward Yellowstone bison, its actions demonstrate that its claims are intended to disguise its insatiable lust for destroying Yellowstone bison," adds Andrea Lococo, Rocky Mountain Coordinator of The Fund for Animals.
Bozeman Chronicle Syndicated Column - January 18, 1999
Recently recorded video footage of DOL hazing provides an eye-opening view of the scene...the tape shows DOL cowboys on horseback and snowmobiles driving bison to exhaustion and scattering them across the landscape by firing cracker shells from shotguns.
It shows the Carhartt-clad wranglers running the animals needlessly up hills. It shows them forcing bison (and elk) to leap barbed-wire fences. It shows an injured young bison, struggling to stand up as adult bison bulls use their heads to nudge the animal from the snow.
It is a sickening, pathetic display of so-called "wildlife management" that is not only unnecessary, but destructive. It's a practice that no self-respecting rancher would employ on his cattle, and it's a tactic that every student of Biology 101 learns is deadly for animals trying to survive the winter. That livestock bureaucrats have been placed in charge of wildlife is a travesty.
Claiming to be advocates of "good science," (Congressman Rick) Hill and (U.S. Sen. Conrad) Burns are...turning the interests of the American people into a farce.
(Federal Official): "We're dealing with six senators from three states, each one with large cattle ranching constituencies, who wield tremendous power and are committed to representing the narrow interests of those groups. From the perspective of most people involved in this issue, what's happening is bull---t."
Associated Press - January 22, 1999
HELENA (AP) - Montana livestock officials say the state will not relax its policy on managing bison that wander from Yellowstone National Park, rejecting a change that would have prevented the killing of some of the animals.
"The department will continue to manage bison through a combination of hazing, capture and slaughter," said Marc Bridges, acting executive officer for the Livestock Board.
U.S.Newswire - January 26, 1999 Defenders of Wildlife Press Release
By applying the tenets of cow-chip science, all of the Yellowstone bison could be killed and the risk of transmission would still exist because of the presence of the bacteria in elk and other wildlife. Are these the next species to be targeted by the DOL?
Governor Racicot should heed public sentiment and credible scientific evidence and return bison management wildlife professionals so that traditional and acceptable management will be employed.
Billings Gazette - January 30, 1999
Joseph Chasing Horse, organizer and a traditional leader of the Lakota nation: "When the U.S. government slaughtered the buffalo as a way to subjugate Indian people, they put into motion an imbalance in the ecosystem that continues today," he said.
"The killing has to stop," he said. "As we reach the millennium, we have all this amazing technology, but we are still killing buffalo. I mean we have put a man on the moon but we're still killing the buffalo."
Buffalo Nations Field Report - February 3, 1999
Buffalo were forced to run for 2 miles down the highway when Thomas and Harnden tried to intercept the hazing operation and divert the buffalo into the willows. The DOL then chased the buffalo another two miles down the road and then scared them into running and circling in a field of snow up to their shoulders.
In January, the West Yellowstone/Hebgen Basin Solid Waste Board voted unanimously to refuse to allow the DOL to butcher bison carcasses that are shot in the field at the West Yellowstone dump. West Yellowstone Mayor Doug Edgerton stated, "We do not need publicity saying the town of West Yellowstone supports the slaughter of bison. The potential for national TV exposure with this mess isn't a good idea anyway."
Spokane.net - February 5, 1999
"Why kill this animal, which is one of the last wild herds in America, when there are no documented cases of brucellosis being passed to cattle from bison?'' asked James Holt of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee."
Billings Gazette - February 6, 1999
"There is no reason for the harassment of these bull buffalo, who are not posing a risk to Montana's livestock industry. Yet the DOL continues a dogmatic commitment to their policy of harassment, capture and death for these buffalo. How long will it take before reason, not propaganda, guides bison management?"
Denver Post - February 7, 1999
Buffaloed by fear
The federal government is wasting your tax money to help slaughter America's last wild bison, in a ridiculous attempt to halt a threat that really doesn't exist.
Congress must deny the U.S. Agriculture Department any funds it intends to squander on the wildlife massacre.
Yet, just west of Yellowstone, the U.S. Forest Service right now is pushing to help Montana build a pen for shipping the bison to slaughter. The state can't afford the project on its own, so federal money is key. The operation will cost $500,000 a year, but the feds get only $5,000 annually from the area's grazing leases - the national government is spending 100 times the revenue it receives, on an effort that's altogether unnecessary.
Wyoming - where bison also sometimes roam - reacted logically by just getting its cattle properly vaccinated. The only reason there's any perception of a brucellosis problem in Montana is because Montana itself has raised such a ruckus. In the process, Montana risks making itself a political pariah in the rest of the country.
What that backlash will mean to Montana's lucrative tourism business should be weighed against its illfounded livestock policies.
Chicago Tribune - February 9, 1999
Old Traditions and New Technology Blend as Hundreds Gather for a (507 mile) Walk Decrying Yellowstone Buffalo Kills.
The Sacred Buffalo Walk--which started Saturday in South Dakota and attracted hundreds of Native Americans and others (wants) to draw attention to the bison killed outside Yellowstone National Park
Indian Country Today - February 9, 1999
The Montana Department of Livestock continues to ignore standards set by the federal animal and plant inspectors, defining low-risk bison as bulls, yearlings, calves, and postparturient cows.
Idaho Falls Post Register - February 9, 1999
You'll have to ask the Montana Department of Livestock why it is killing off more Yellowstone bison. But fear of losing the state's brucellosis-free status isn't the reason. That's the word from the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the agency responsible for deciding whether a state is entitled to market its cattle as brucellosis-free.
There is no such risk from bison calves, yearlings, bulls and females that have already birthed and have calves alongside them. So the federal agency recommends exempting those animals from being tested and possibly killed.
Yet 11 of the 13 bison Montana officials killed were bulls.
If Montana's insistence upon killing Yellowstone bison seems baseless in light of Collins' comment, it becomes baffling when you consider there are no livestock within 50 miles of the bison during the off season.
So the question remains: Why kill Yellowstone's bison? Is Montana just arrogant - or paranoid?
Currently, DOL is conducting eagle surveys for a nesting pair whose habitat is adjacent to one of the proposed capture facilities. "Why is the DOL responsible for wildlife management? It makes no sense for livestock agents to be monitoring the nesting patterns of eagles whose presence might prohibit the construction of the capture facility. This is the same twist of logic that allows the DOL, an agency in charge of livestock, to have control over wildlife through current bison management policy."
Buffalo Rescue/Iowa - February 15, 1999 Bozeman Chronicle
The real question that needs to be asked of Mr. Bridges is why is this a problem only in Montana? There are several other states in which buffalo and cattle co-exist and none of them seem to have any problem with APHIS policy, none of them seem to be asking for USAHA endorsement of APHIS policy, and most importantly, none of them are slaughtering buffalo that pose absolutely no risk to cattle because of one simple fact -- there are no cattle in the vicinity at the same time the buffalo are present.
The bottom line is that this is about keeping control of grazing rights on federally owned land and political control over the Yellowstone buffalo by a handful of greedy cattlemen who control the DOL.
And that is the only fact that matters in this issue.
Chicago Tribune - February 18, 1999
And so, beneath the vast Montana sky, the dispute over killing buffalo to protect cattle plays itself out in a seasonal, serial drama that is as much about control of the American West as it is about control of disease.
In this case, the question is whether to give precedence to ranching, the mainstay of the Old West, or wildlife preservation, the currency of the New West.
``The cattle should go, not the buffalo,'' (Sue Nackoney) said. ``This is not about brucellosis. It's about the Montana Department of Livestock losing control over public lands grazing.''
Voices of the Wintercount - February 20, 1999
In the late 1800's, 60 million or more buffalo were mindlessly slaughtered, in a very deliberate, calculated move to starve and conquer the native people. The buffalo were slaughtered, we were slaughtered, the buffalo are being slaughtered again....
It is happening all over again. Beneath the layers of pathological politics, once that smokescreen of disease is blown away, you will find that same brutal violence that this country was built upon. Mr. President, that violence is not just a faint memory in family history, I've been in Yellowstone, I have seen it.
You have signed an executive order, directing your agencies and departments to consult with tribes in matters that affect them. The buffalo are of historic, cultural, and religious significance and we have not been consulted in a meaningful manner. We have not even been participants on the Environment Impact Study team. As the leader who affixed his name on that Executive Order, you must honor Government to Government Relations and tribal consultation in determining the fate of the sacred buffalo; your national symbol.
We remain in Yellowstone with many friends; peaceful but determined guardians of the buffalo. Ho, hecetu!
Indian Country Today - February 21, 1999
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont.- Low- risk Yellowstone Park bison are still being slaughtered by the Montana Department of Livestock.
The Montana Department of Livestock continues to ignore standards set by the federal animal and plant inspectors, defining low-risk bison as bulls, yearlings, calves, and postparturient cows.
The two-year struggle between the agencies has only one victim, the buffalo. ======================================
Buffalo Field Campaign - February 22, 1999
The DOL has asked the US Department of Agriculture to fund the costs of installing and operating the buffalo trap with taxpayers footing the bill of $500,000 a year for the next 10 years. All of this is justified in order to protect 170 cow-calf pairs that graze on 3 public allotments on Horse Butte and generate a mere $765 a year in grazing fees.
All pregnant females, regardless of whether they test positive for brucellosis, will be slaughtered. All other buffalo testing positive will be slaughtered as well, including bulls and yearling calves, which pose virtually no risk of brucellosis transmission.
Associated Press - February 28, 1999
GARDINER, Montana (AP) -- Witnessing a ritual unseen for a century, a hundred members of American Indian tribes gathered in Gardiner on Saturday on a pilgrimage seeking an end to the killing of bison that wander out of Yellowstone National Park.
The controversy dates back about 15 years. In the mid 1980s, Montana authorized a public hunting season for bison. That led to television news footage of hunters shooting stationary beasts, which then toppled over, spilling their blood onto the snow.
It was a public relations fiasco. By the early 1990s, the state ended civilian bison hunting but said animals that wandered into Montana could be shot by state livestock officials.
Environmental News Service - March 4, 1999
In 1997, the slaughter of over 1,100 buffalo brought the DOL a profit of almost $200,000.
Institute for Global Communications/Econet - March 4, 1999
Montana is now operating a capture facility, and already has sent several bison to slaughter this winter despite knowing that tolerating these animals would have had no economic repercussions for the cattle industry or the state. Many people believe that this ongoing controversy has little to do with brucellosis and has everything to do with control over public land.
Montana needs to understand that such preposterous claims and unconscionable actions will not be accepted by a public who cares deeply about the welfare of Yellowstone bison. If Montana claims that it is concerned about the "potential" financial consequences of allowing bison in Montana, perhaps it will be equally concerned about the "real" financial consequences of not allowing bison in the state.
Please contact the Travel Bureau of Montana and let them know that you will be boycotting Montana until the state stops killing Yellowstone bison -- period. Calls are free at 1-800-847-4868.
Salt Lake Tribune - March 5, 1999
Is Bison Slaughter Senseless?
APHIS spokesman Patrick Collins said the tests should prompt DOL to give more consideration to non-lethal forms of bison management.
Gertonson, however, said the negative culture tests do not prove the animal is not infected.
But the Greater Yellowstone Coalition says the culture tests are more evidence that the slaughter of bison is not based on sound science and must end. "Montana continues to needlessly slaughter one of our great symbols of the West."
There have been no confirmed cases of bison-to-cattle infections, and there are no cattle outside the park until June, long after the bison have returned inside the park.
Bozeman Chronicle - March 6, 1999
Only two of 15 buffalo killed in Montana this winter had brucellosis, lab tissue tests revealed this week, leading the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to accuse the Department of Livestock of slaughtering them needlessly.
"This is tragic news," said Mike Clark, executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in a printed release. "These studies conducted on the dead animals reveal that the state is killing off buffalo that are perfectly healthy; they posed no risk, yet now they are gone from America's first national park forever."
"By failing to be clear about this critical distinction, the Montana Department of Livestock has deluded the public for three months, elevating the public's perception of a disease problem far beyond the facts and justifying its continuing slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo," Clark said.
Billings Gazette - March 10, 1999
Public comment on the draft bison management plan was gathered over five months last year. Not since the reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone National Park has an environmental study generated as much public interest as was expressed, Yellowstone spokeswoman Marsha Karle said.
More than 25,000 objections were registered to the plan supported by state and federal agencies that would limit the number of park bison to 2,500 with continued capture and slaughter. In contrast, more than 47,000 comments voiced
support for the "Citizen's Plan," which had the backing of the National Wildlife Federation, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and others.
"This is unacceptable to the thousands of cattle-ranching families throughout Montana, many of whom ranched just miles outside of Yellowstone's boundaries," the Montana Stockgrowers Association said.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - March 12, 1999
Take your worst fears about Y2K, crash all the personal computers on the planet, wake to find most of the nation's motor vehicles stolen or destroyed, then watch as your daily bread becomes more and more scarce. Turn in despair to your church, only to discover that it, too, has been razed in the name of "progress" by a new world order that deems itself superior to the old. Then stand with your grandchildren in futile protest as the last vestiges of all you hold dear are destroyed, one by one or 17 or a thousand, for reasons hard to understand.
If you think it can't happen, ask the buffalo people
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - March 14, 1999
Restoring common sense to the management of the bison would help restore public confidence in Montana's ability to wisely manage a public treasure.
But if Montana's Gov. Marc Racicot and its Legislature cannot manage the nation's bison herd responsibly, Congress and the Department of Interior must move quickly to reclaim their authority over the animals.
It's intolerable public policy to sacrifice bison that may be healthy to protect a herd of only 1,000 taxpayer-subsidized cattle.
MSNBC/NewsIndex - March 17, 1999
HELENA, Mar. 17 - A federal judge in Montana has rejected a request to limit the slaughter of Yellowstone National Park bison this winter.
During the severe winter of 1996-97, about 1,100 bison were killed. Lovell imposed a 100-bison limit last winter when only 11 were killed.
Defenders of Wildlife Press Release - March 18, 1999
Conservation and Native American groups and all involved federal agencies -- the Department of Interior, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the U.S. Forest Service -- are now speaking in a unified voice. "We are sending a clear and strong message to which the Montana Department of Livestock refuses to listen.," says Caroline Kennedy, program associate at Defenders of Wildlife. "That message is that bison should be accommodated on public lands, low-risk animals should not be shot or captured, and there are flexible alternatives for separating bison and cattle.
"It comes down to the fact that Montana officials are demonstrating a stubborn refusal to consider anything at all that will block the state's attack on Yellowstone's bison," Kennedy concludes. "They seem to regard science, public opinion, and offers of alternatives as nothing more than obstacles in their path," Kennedy concludes.
Bozeman Chronicle - March 21, 1999
If DOL wants to avoid a public relations black eye, it should focus on hazing this spring and delaying the arrival of cattle.
Deciding when, where and how the park's bison die is too big a decision for DOL alone.
Bozeman Chronicle Syndicated Column - March 29, 1999
No issue illustrates Gov. Racicot's federal antipathy better than his management of wandering Yellowstone bison. When the time comes, possibly, for President-elect Bush to name an Interior secretary, he would be wise to look at the blood from dead buffalo now on Mr. Racicot's hands.
Obviously, Racicot's trolling for a federal job. His trip with Bush occurred, coincidentally, the same week that the first Yellowstone bison of the winter were needlessly killed - on federal land - by Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) cowboys under his control.
Most of the 67,000 citizen comments received from every state on proposed bison management condemn Montana's actions. And so do a growing contingent of Native American groups. And a chorus of liberal and conservative newspapers.
* From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Disease control is the official reason for the killing, but it's a weak rationale. What's really being accomplished here is the placation of Montana cattle ranchers and their political allies...
It's clear the rest of the nation sees through the governor's flimsy excuses for continuing to destroy buffalo.
Society for Conservation Biology - March 31, 1999
Over the last 10 years nearly 3000 bison have been killed as they leave Yellowstone and enter Montana. "This is the greatest public slaughter of bison probably since the heyday some 125 years or more ago," says Joel Berger of the University of Nevada in Reno .
Although ranchers are concerned that their cattle might catch brucellosis from bison, this has never happened in the wild. Cattle have caught the disease from bison in experiments--but only at bison densities 1000 times higher than those in Yellowstone.
Bozeman Chronicle - April 1, 1999
Twenty-seven bison have been killed this year. More thorough tests taken after the animals died have shown that 15 of the first 17 bison killed this year were not actively infected.
Montana is ignoring lab results, pleas from citizens, advice from the federal government, and worst of all, on-the-ground changes that are keeping buffalo and cattle separated, which removes any justification for slaughter," Clarke said. "Montana is simply ignoring this progress and continuing its slaughter."
Dismissing federal initiatives and new opportunities for non-lethal management, the State of Montana is expanding its slaughter of buffalo near the western boundary of Americais first national park.
The Interior Department said: "Montana is choosing to expand its capture and slaughter of bison, instead of exercising flexibility, at a time when no threat to public health or safety exists."
"This is a good time to remind ourselves that all this slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo not only this winter and spring, but for the past decade has occurred in areas where fewer than 2,000 cattle graze," said Clark.
"The federal government has taken important steps to keep cattle and buffalo from being in the same place at the same time, and Montana is simply ignoring this progress and continuing its slaughter."
Econet - April 8, 1999
The trap is unnecessary because there are no cattle present on public or private lands near West Yellowstone until June, because the risk of bacteria transmission between bison and cattle is immeasurable, and because the state and federal agencies can haze, as they have in the past, Yellowstone bison back into the Park in late April and early May long before any cattle are returned to the public or private lands.
Montana, given its past actions, has no legitimate justification for using the newly constructed trap except to kill bison unnecessarily. Montana's desire to kill bison is also inconsistent with its frequent public claims that it does not like to kill Yellowstone bison.
MSNBC - April 28, 1999
Four bison, that died during a roundup by Montana livestock officials near West Yellowstone, were all gored or crushed in confined conditions.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle says it obtained copies of the postmortem reports, which referred to "trauma" injuries - ranging from broken ribs to massive bruising to a broken skull.
The Montana Livestock Department says Yellowstone bison must be strictly controlled, to keep them from possibly spreading brucellosis to cattle.
Associated Press - May 7, 1999
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The state of Montana is free to keep killing bison outside Yellowstone National Park to protect cattle from being infected with a livestock disease, a federal appeals court has decided.
In a one-sentence ruling Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision allowing the state and the National Park Service to continue killing bison as they have for the last three winters.
Bozeman Chronicle - June 12, 1999
An ad campaign blasting Montana's killing of Yellowstone National Park bison is shadowing Gov. Marc Racicot's foray into national politics.
Racicot's arrival in Austin, Texas, last weekend to work on Gov. George Bush's likely presidential campaign didn't make the capital city's newspaper. The controversy surrounding Montana's bison policy did.
Posted in the June 6 Austin American-Statesman was an ad showing a horned bison and the words, "Why is Montana killing me?"
"If he's not responsive to the wishes of the sportsmen and the people of Montana, and is more dutifully paying attention to the (state) Department of Livestock, maybe that ought to be a concern at the national level," Crawford said.
Associated Press - June 16, 1999
There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from buffalo to livestock in a natural setting.
In Grand Teton National Park, buffalo and vaccinated cattle have co-mingled for over 40 years without a single cow contracting the disease.
National Wildlife Federation - August 15, 1999
In a dramatic effort to end the slaughter of bison outside Yellowstone National Park, the National Wildlife Federation has offered to reimburse ranchers who graze cattle near Yellowstone for the cost of vaccinating livestock against the disease brucellosis.
Not surprisingly, Montana's state veterinarian also quickly discounted NWF's vaccine offer, which in effect means that the state plans to continue killing bison, says Steve Torbit, NWF's bison project manager.
"It's very apparent that this issue is not about brucellosis," Torbit says. "It's about control of land in the West, which has been dominated by livestock interests for more than a century. Those interests see the bison as competition for grazing land, pure and simple."
Stop-the-Slaughter Buffalo News - October 1, 1999
Buffalo murdered and mutilated by Dale Koelzer, the contractor the Montana D.O.L. pays to help manage buffalo. How can the State of Montana give federal monies to a known poacher?
Buffalo Field Campaign, a group working to protect the last wild buffalo of Yellowstone National Park, found a poached bison on the land of Dale Koelzer. The bison had been skinned with its head and genitalia removed. Koelzer's property adjoins Yellowstone National Park about 8 miles north of West Yellowstone. Dale Koelzer is the same man that the State of Montana contracts with to lease land and locate their Duck Creek bison capture trap. The MT Department of Livestock (D.O.L.) also leases the basement to his house for their employees. Koelzer obviously believed that his cozy relationship with the State gave him the authority to poach bison.
"Koelzer didn't follow the law regarding bison on private lands, and he lied to the State. The D.O.L. should immediately cancel their contracts with Koelzer, remove the Duck Creek capture facility, and prosecute him to the full extent of the law."
The Department of Livestock must cancel their contracts with this admitted poacher. In no way can he receive state monies or have contact with the buffalo after showing such blatant disregard for not only the buffalo but the law. Contact the D.O.L. and request that they discontinue any contracts with this criminal.
Mother Jones News - December 9, 1999
The Yellowstone bison are casualties of one of the most anguished, politicized wildlife disputes in U.S. history.
Over the past decade, some 3,000 bison have been killed in the name of Montana's cattle industry, often on national forest lands.
Mainstream conservation groups have been fighting in the courts and on op-ed pages to stop the slaughter. But only the ragtag volunteers from the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) have been out on the front lines every day. More than 400 volunteers have cycled through the two-year-old campaign: students, Earth First! veterans, hippies, New Age dropouts, radical vegans, and curious wanderers who are willing to live in a cramped log cabin in West Yellowstone - one of the coldest places in the contiguous 48 states - and risk getting trampled, frostbitten, arrested, and thrown in jail to help save the last wild herd of American bison.
"It's much more important to save these last few thousand wild buffalo than it is to preserve the overabundant cattle," says Mike Mease, 38, co-founder of the BFC. "We need to let the American people know that this is their last wild herd of buffalo and it's in their best interest to preserve them for their children's future."
Conservationists say the problem is cattle; ranchers say the problem is bison.
There is a vaccine for cattle, and when it is used with other management techniques -- such as making sure that bison and cattle remain apart on the range -- it satisfies federal regulations. That's how Wyoming deals with brucellosis. But that practice is apparently not good enough for Montana.
"This whole thing has nothing to do with brucellosis," says Steve Torbit, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation. "It has everything to do with who manages wildlife."
Indian Country Today - December 13, 1999
"They're free ranging, only until they get to the Montana line," says LaRose. "That's not what would fit my definition of free ranging . But elk can free range across there (the boundary) because they represent an economic resource to the state of Montana."(LaRose refers to the $11 million generated in elk hunting permits in the state).
So it is that the buffalo of Yellowstone are wild enough to live inside the park, wild enough to die of starvation in the park, if they cannot get to grazing lands, but absolutely dead if they hit the border of the park, if they hit the bullet fence.
The brucellosis bogeyman is basically being used to motivate a policy and process which many believe is rooted in simple economics: access to grazing land.
There is immense irony here. Sitting at the policy-making table for the Yellowstone buffalo impact statement is the state of Montana and federal agencies.
Absent are the people who actually know the buffalo: the Nez Perce, Blackfeet and Crow, and others whose treaties actually encompass part of Yellowstone National Park, or the Winnebago, Ho Chunk, Lakota, Anishinabe, Kiowa, Gros Ventre, Cheyenne, Shoshone Bannock and others, whose spiritual practices, cultural practices, languages and lives are entirely intertwined with buffalo. To us, the buffalo is the Western Doorkeeper, the Elder Brother, the Great One. This is not, at its foundation, a "wildlife management issue" it is a deeper spiritual issue that connects these nations to the very fabric of who they are.
Bozeman Chronicle - December 16, 1999
Federal officials say negotiations with Montana over managing Yellowstone National Park bison have reached an impasse and the state seems committed to unnecessarily slaughtering the animals.
Racicot said he doesn't like the federal plan and while the feds can go ahead and write any plan they want, implementing it will be impossible without state cooperation. He said he will ask a federal judge to force the feds to cooperate with the state.
The spectacle of all those dead bison has ignited criticism directed at Montana and the Racicot administration for years. It also has spurred a number of lawsuits, protests and much bitterness.
Greater Yellowstone Coalition - December 18, 1999
"Montana's Department of Livestock is killing buffalo unnecessarily. These lab results leave no doubt about that fact."
Knowing that people generally are less shocked by an event when it is predicted or "fully expected," (Montana DOL's) Marc Bridges has forecast that a slaughter is likely.
Montanans deserve better from Bridges. So do Americans everywhere.
Just west of Yellowstone National Park, the Department of Livestock shipped 90 bison to slaughter last winter and killed four others accidentally. Bridges' agency carried out the slaughter ostensibly for the purpose of protecting domestic livestock. But no cattle were anywhere close to the area (and never are during the winter because the landscape is under snow).
What we do not need now is a cynical effort aimed at pulling the wool over the public's eyes so that these breakthroughs are not seen and acknowledged. A slick message justifying slaughter and leaving out important facts is not in the public interest, especially when the public has wanted something better for ten long years.
Gallatin Wildlife Association in the Bozeman Chronicle - December 28, 1999
Our governor, Marc Racicot, needs to climb out of the Montana Stockgrower's corral...he has chosen to represent only a few special interests in Montana's livestock industry whose message is shoot 'em at the border. The constituents of Montana deserve better...It seems like there is a half-cocked state livestock agent behind every tree, policing the boundaries of Yellowstone Park, to ensure our national forests stay safe for domestic cows.
Bozeman Chronicle - December 29, 1999
It's open season on bison when they wander out of Yellowstone National Park. Go ahead and shoot. All you need is willpower and a big gun. The state of Montana doesn't have the authority to stop you.
That's the way Bozeman attorney Bill Bartlett sees the situation.
Whether it intended to or not, the 1995 Montana Legislature left a loophole that means its legal to shoot wild bison in Montana, Bartlett maintains.
"It appears that buffalo are unregulated vermin in Montana and have the same status as gophers, which are shot up by the buckets full each spring," Bartlett said in a press release Tuesday.
Buffalo Field Campaign News Release - January 25, 2000
Montana has recently come under fire from federal agencies for its mismanagement of the Yellowstone herd. The state's position is neither supported by science nor endorsed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the federal body responsible for maintaining the state's brucellosis-free status.
The object of the DOL's hazing operation was a lone bull who has been out of the park less than a week, on National Forest land designated as wildlife habitat. Hazing buffalo causes them unnecessary stress and taxes the crucial energy reserves they need to survive the winter. The bull was forced to run through snow deep enough that the DOL's snowmobiles became stuck repeatedly.
Of the ninety buffalo shipped to slaughter last winter, forty-two were bulls. These animals were killed in the name of protecting cattle, who do not even return to the area until June 15.
"The DOL is totally unqualified to be managing the buffalo, as today's events clearly show. We can't afford to entrust our last free herd of buffalo to an agency that doesn't seem to know or care how to protect them."
Environmental News Service - January 26, 2000
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana, January 26, 2000 (ENS) - An environmental activist was knocked down by the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agent Tuesday as the DOL attempted to haze a bull buffalo outside Yellowstone National Park. Buffalo Field Campaign volunteer Andrea Rightsell says she approached the agent to ask a question. She was standing in front of the agent when he ran into her with his snowmobile, knocking her to the ground.
Missoula Independent - January 27, 2000
On Dec. 13, the federal agencies sent a stern 14-page letter to Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, calling the state's position on bison "unreasonable," "unwarranted" and "without scientific foundation."
"We believe the state of Montana had taken the National Park Service hostage," says Tim Wapato, executive director of the Rapid City, S.D.-based InterTribal Bison Cooperative, which represents 48 tribes. "They wouldn't agree to any sort of reasonable solution or proposal. They just wouldn't move. Their solution is to kill the critters."
"This is about a range war, people worrying about their public lands being taken away by increasing herds of buffalo...We let 140,000 elk wander all over the place and get irate about 2,000 buffalo."
Buffalo Field Campaign - January 30, 2000
Thus far, only one buffalo has migrated out of the Park. The Montana Department of Livestock has been harass(ing) him and they also assaulted one of our volunteers with a snowmobile. It is further proof that Montana has only one agenda: zero tolerance of any buffalo leaving Yellowstone, and want complete control of the herd.
* The State of Montana is incompetent in their management of the buffalo and should not be co-lead on management decisions. Wildlife biologists, not cattle ranchers should be making management decisions about the last population of wild buffalo.
* Federal lands should be used for wildlife as intended instead of cows.
Montana Standard - February 5, 2000
Marching to the beat of a different drummer, a dozen protestors arrived at Helena's Federal Building Friday morning to voice their opposition to Montana's policy of killing or hazing buffalo that wander out of Yellowstone National Park.
"This is just another range war...History is just repeating itself -- killing off the wildlife to make room for cattle.''
"Two thousand holy cows will continue to range on public lands at taxpayer expense, while buffalo are denied that range and killed for trying to migrate there.''
Billings Gazette - February 5, 2000
It's tragically inevitable that the State Department of Livestock will continue using brucellosis as an excuse to harass and kill buffalo wandering out of the park. The disease is transmitted through contact with the reproductive tissues of the infected animal - so only FEMALE buffalo COULD transmit the disease - yet bull buffalo AND calves have been put to death because of it.
Why is it that the state of Montana can decide the fate of animals that, as elements of Yellowstone National Park, belong to the entire nation and are to be preserved "for the benefit and enjoyment" of the people? If you're still looking for a legacy, Mr. Governor, there's a place to start....
IGC ENHeadlines - February 9, 2000
"The public lands surrounding Yellowstone should be managed for native species, not cows-as they were intended...Wild buffalo hold a special place in the American public's hearts and heritage. They need room to roam outside Yellowstone Park on Federal lands to survive. Montana's zero-tolerance stance on buffalo is scientifically, politically, and morally unacceptable."
Associated Press - February 10, 2000
The program (on ABC-TV) referred to a Buffalo War and the narrator asked, "Isn't there a better way?" Racicot agreed there is and said it was the federal government, not Montana, that created "this monster." ---------
Jon Catton - Greater Yellowstone Coalition: "The only time that Racicot does step out of the shadow is to blame the federal government for being a multi-headed monster."
High Country News - February 21, 2000
Racicot...has gone to great pains to keep the public from seeing the actual killing of bison. His administration was the first to dispatch the great beasts in private pens away from cameras.
Ranchers still pull the political reins of Racicot, even as the world changes around him. If Racicot had but a half-measure of political fortitude, he could explore other solutions. Enforce an existing policy and keep cows away from bison. Yet it is stubbornly avoided.
Billings Gazette - February 22, 2000
Montana policy allows no buffalo outside the park, not even those that pose no danger to cattle herds. So officials from the Department of Livestock have been attempting to haze the buffalo back into the park. That's haze as in "to persecute or harass with meaningless, difficult, or humiliating tasks," according to Microsoft's dictionary. Persecution, harassment and inflicting meaningless, difficult or humiliating tasks is not the stuff of which heroes are made.
Bozeman Chronicle - March 3, 2000
Gov. Marc Racicot's administration has for too long looked at bison from the point of view of a beef producer. It needs to take the blinders off.
We bought the land for wildlife. Let the wildlife have it.
Buffalo Field Campaign - March 17, 2000
The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) keeps a capture facility on private land owned by Dale Koelzer, who doesn't like bison. His property abuts the park and straddles Duck Creek, the migration corridor for the majority of the herd. Koelzer shot and killed a bull in September because "it was bothering [his] truck."
The buffalo were bedded down on a small rise behind a fence, 15 feet from Koelzer's front door. A mound of hay lay beside the porch.
"That's why they like it here so much," Kristen said. "They're baiting them."
Our volunteers discovered the carcass on his land, its head, hide, and genitals missing. Koelzer initially denied any involvement. He changed his story after the head and hide were recovered from his barn. Because of his cozy relationship with the state (the DOL lives in his basement and keeps their equipment in his barn), it is unlikely he will be found guilty for this crime.
Sitting Bull - circa 1878
After fleeing the United States to escape persecution of His People, Sitting Bull spoke to the Canadian Government.
"We know that on the other side (of the Canadian border) the buffaloes will not last long. Why? Because the country there is poisoned with blood...a poison that kills all the buffaloes or drives them away. It is strange, that the Americans should complain that the Indians kill buffalo. We kill buffaloes, as we kill other animals, for food and clothing and to make our lodges warm. They kill buffaloes...for what?
Go through your country. See the thousands of carcasses rotting on the plains. Your young men shoot for pleasure. All they take from a dead buffalo is his tail or his head, or his horns, perhaps, to show they have killed a buffalo.
What is this? Is it robbery? You call us savages. What are they? The buffaloes have come North. We have come North to find them and to get away from a place where the people tell lies."