For Immediate Release:
February 1, 2006
Stephany Seay (406) 726-5555
D.J. Schubert, Animal Welfare Institute, (609) 601-2875
West Yellowstone, Montana - The Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other wild bison advocates across America will hold a nation-wide call-in day on Thursday, February 2 to protect Yellowstone's bison and ask that bison be given more habitat outside the Park. The targets are Suzanne Lewis, Yellowstone National Park's Superintendent, and Kate Gordon, President of the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT), a Gardiner-based religious organization.
"Americans should be ashamed by the mismanagement of America's largest herd of wild bison at the hands of the National Park Service - the very agency that is supposed to protect these icons of the American West," says D.J. Schubert, AWI's Wildlife Biologist. "We hope people from all walks of life and from every state in the union will make the calls to stop the slaughter and to give bison more room to roam."
In less than three weeks in January Yellowstone National Park sent ten percent (583) of the country's last wild bison to slaughter without justification and in violation of its own management plan. The National Park Service (NPS) also sent nearly 90 wild bison calves to a state-federal quarantine facility where the calves will be used in a government scientific experiment, at the end of which 50 percent will be killed.
Yellowstone defends its actions under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) designed to protect a wild, free-roaming herd of bison in addition to protecting Montana's brucellosis-free status. Wild bison have never transmitted brucellosis to domestic cattle. Brucellosis has been in Yellowstone's bison since at least 1917, and even where wild bison and cattle commingle, there's never been a documented transmission.
"To protect wild bison the NPS must protect their natural instinct to migrate, yet instead they protect only livestock interests," said BFC's Stephany Seay. "These outrageous actions are in direct violation of the National Park Service mandate which states that the Park Service must protect resources unimpaired."
The Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT) owns land just outside Yellowstone's northern boundary, in the middle of North America's largest wildlife migration corridor. In 1999 U.S. taxpayers spent $13 million for conservation easements to benefit wild bison and other wildlife. To date, wild bison have still been refused this critical winter range because CUT continues to graze cattle on its land. CUT has yet to finalize the deal with state and federal agencies, consequently wild bison continue to needlessly die.
In the past ten years the state of Montana and the federal government have killed nearly 3,000 wild Yellowstone bison, more than two-thirds of the existing herd.
The bison that inhabit the Yellowstone region are the last wild, genetically pure, unfenced bison left in the country. They are the only bison to have continuously occupied their native range and they are the last bison to follow their natural instinct to migrate. Like other wild ungulates, the region's harsh winters force necessary migration onto lower elevation lands where available forage is found. Yet, unlike other wild ungulates, wild bison are not allowed to leave the confines of Yellowstone National Park and face a zero-tolerance policy when they enter Montana.
Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of the wild Yellowstone buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their native habitat and advocate for their protection.