For Immediate Release:
October 2, 2002
Contact: Mike Mease (406) 646-0070
Montana - Today the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) captured and sent three bull buffalo to slaughter. The wild buffalo were less than a half mile outside of Yellowstone National Park. There will not be cattle in the area until next summer.
The Department of Livestock is using the guise of brucellosis transmission to kill these American symbols. It is unsure if the bulls were even tested, which would be the case if disease was truly the issue. DOL staff could not answer that question either. None of the State veterinarians will talk to the public and the information officer (non- veterinarian) was on vacation. In a state that is facing fiscal crises daily, last year's Department of Livestock budget to "manage" buffalo was over 1.3 million dollars. No one at the Forest Service had been apprised of the DOLÕs actions today.
The current Buffalo Management Plan proposes to arbitrarily cap the population to 3,000 animals, based solely on political pressures, not on any scientific data or principles. Last month, Yellowstone National Park counted over 4,000 wild buffalo. So, this winter could be as tough as the winter of 1996-97 when 70 percent (1,084) buffalo were gunned down and the national public was shocked & outraged.
At a workshop in April 2002 , Dr. Mary Meagher, who studied Yellowstone's native bison herd for thirty-five years, said the government imposed bison population cap of 3,000 is not a biological umber or an indicator of how bison can use the land to survive. Setting an arbitrary number for wildlife herds can be very dangerous because of large, natural fluctuations in population. The Yellowstone herd is genetically distinct and pure (James Derr, Texas A&M) and the application of livestock management serves only to increase the possibility of these bison losing their long term evolutionary potential.
"In the last five years that the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) has been here, this is the earliest they have killed buffalo", stated Mike Mease. "These were all bulls and even the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recognizes that they do not pose a threat. The fact that cattle left last week and will not return until June next year just goes to show the world this has nothing to do with disease control."
The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) 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 winter habitat and advocate for their protection. Our daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on and document every move made against them.