Yellowstone bison herd is unique, and is descended from 23
individuals who survived the 19th century near-extinction by taking refuge in the Park's
Unfortunately, America's only truly wild, genetically pure
buffalo find themselves at the center of a violent conflict
that can result in the yearly slaughter of hundreds or thousands
Yellowstone does not provide sufficient winter range for the
resident herds of wildlife due to the deep snows of its high elevation plateaus. Animals
leave the Park to forage on lower elevation grasses necessary
for winter survival. When buffalo follow their instinctual
migration routes to lower elevations, as they traditionally
have done, they unwittingly enter a conflict zone where their
survival is undermined by Montana politics.
Montana's powerful livestock industry demands that buffalo
exiting the Park must be slaughtered to prevent the spread of brucellosis, a European
livestock disease introduced by cows and first detected in Yellowstone buffalo in 1917. The
livestock industry continuously complains about the threat of brucellosis, but the facts tell
There has never been a single documented case of wild buffalo
transmitting brucellosis to livestock. Even if such a transmission
were biologically possible, the absence of cattle from lands
where buffalo forage in winter months make it physically impossible.
Yellowstone elk and other wildlife, also known to carry brucellosis,
are allowed to freely exit the park without coming under fire
as the buffalo do, belying the DOL's assertions that brucellosis
poses such a grave threat.
During the winter of 1996-'97, nearly 1100 buffalo were slaughtered
when they crossed the arbitrary Park boundary and entered Montana. These
killings, combined with deaths from the unusually severe winter, resulted in a loss
of more than half of the Yellowstone herd in a matter of months.
Since that wicked winter, Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers
have been patrolling the Yellowstone boundary, monitoring buffalo movements, and documenting
the MT Department of Livestock (DOL) and National Park Service (NPS) actions
against the buffalo.
While buffalo continue to be killed every year, the presence of our volunteers and the success of our campaigns have kept the bison issue in the national spotlight, and given us considerable success. We will continue to work for the day when Yellowstone's buffalo, and their habitat, are protected. Until that time, we invite people of all nations to work with us in honoring the sacredness of the wild buffalo.
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