For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2004
Ted Fellman (406) 646-0070; Dan Brister (406) 726-5555
West Yellowstone, Montana - The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) began construction of the Horse Butte buffalo trap on the Gallatin National Forest this morning. The trap will be used to capture and slaughter Yellowstone buffalo, members of the only herd in America with continuously wild ancestry. The State of Montana has slaughtered more than 3,500 Yellowstone buffalo since 1985.
The last time the Horse Butte trap was used, on April 29, 2002, the DOL captured 69 buffalo and sent them all to slaughter without testing a single one for brucellosis, the supposed reason for the slaughter. There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild buffalo to livestock and since the grazing allotment was retired in 2003 there have been no cattle on the Horse Butte Peninsula.
Horse Butte is an ecologically rich area on the Gallatin National Forest comprised of approximately 15 square miles or 10,000 acres of world-class wildlife habitat. Much of the land is owned by the public (Gallatin National Forest) and provides crucial habitat for Yellowstone's wild bison herds and a number of sensitive species including the bald eagle, gray wolf, trumpeter swan, peregrine falcon, grizzly bear, wolverine, lynx, and boreal owl. All species are negatively impacted by buffalo hazing and capture operations.
Despite language in the Forest Service's Operating Plan stating that the "USFS strongly recommends the capture facility be installed before Feb. 1," to protect bald eagles, the DOL didn't initiate installation until February 4.
The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) has documented violations of the Endangered Species Act associated with the buffalo trap, located within a Bald Eagle Management Zone. The BFC, Cold Mountain Cold Rivers, and The Ecology Center have brought suit against the federal agencies permitting the trap and an appeal in the case will be heard in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on 3/ 1.
"It is very unfortunate that the state would put the facility up with this case pending," said Jim Coefield of The Ecology Center. "Today's actions reveal the agencies' disdain for the legal process."
"The two symbols of America--the bald eagle and buffalo-and the entire Yellowstone ecosystem are being abused by our government, and we will not stand by and watch as they destroy our public lands in the name of cattle that haven't even been here in over two years," stated Mike Mease of the BFC.
"The trap is located on public land belonging to all Americans," said the BFC's Dan Brister. "The majority of residents on Horse Butte enjoy the presence of free-roaming buffalo and are opposed to this trap."
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.