For Immediate Release:
May 13, 2004
Ted Fellman (406) 646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) used a helicopter for the second time this month to haze a handful of buffalo, including seven mothers and their newborn calves, from national forest land just outside Yellowstone National Park. The DOL has hazed wild buffalo nearly every day this spring even though there are no cattle present on the public lands where the buffalo migrate. The relentless hazing has disrupted the buffalo's calving season and stressed pregnant buffalo and newborn calves repeatedly. The Yellowstone herd is the last remaining continuously wild, genetically pure herd of buffalo in the United States.
The DOL claims to have successfully hazed over 1,300 wild buffalo back into Yellowstone National Park from the west boundary in nearly 50 separate operations this season. "Is it really successful to waste our tax dollars harassing native wildlife during their spring calving migrations?" asked Ted Fellman of the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC). "How can the DOL claim success when the same buffalo return within days to the same public lands? The DOL continues to harass and torture the same buffalo all season. Why don't they save the taxpayers some money and the wildlife some stress and stop the incessant hazing? There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild buffalo to cattle. There aren't even any cattle nearby to come in contact with wild buffalo."
May 15 is the "zero tolerance" date for wild buffalo outside of Yellowstone National Park, according to the Interagency Buffalo Management Plan. Although the plan is an "adaptive management" plan which allows for discretion to be applied in hazing buffalo back into the Park before May 15, after Saturday the plan calls for buffalo to be "captured or shot to ensure none remain outside the Park in the western boundary area during the applicable temporal separation period." There are no public lands cattle allotments on Horse Butte or along the Madison River where buffalo commonly migrate in spring.
Livestock agents also trespassed on private property during today's haze amidst angry local residents. A lone bull buffalo who had been peacefully grazing in the area for days was hazed through private property on Horse Butte without any warning given to the property owners. "Whether it be on ATV's, horseback or helicopter, the fact that the DOL chooses to force the buffalo through a populated area shows a blatant lack of respect for the safety of myself, my neighbors, friends, visitors and tourists alike," said Karrie Taggart of Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo. "One day someone is going to get hurt because of this costly, ineffective practice of hazing even though there are no cattle in the Horse Butte area."
In the past ten years the Montana Department of Livestock and National Park Service have slaughtered 2,786 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone buffalo slaughter is slated to cost taxpayers nearly $3 million a year until 2015.
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. Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on and document every move made against them.