For Immediate Release:
January 18, 2005
Stephany Seay 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - In an article printed in this morning's Billings Gazette, Montana's new Governor Brian Schweitzer disclosed his plan to rid the Yellowstone buffalo herd of brucellosis by emptying the Park of every buffalo, running them through quarantine facilities, and later reintroducing them or their offspring back into the Park. The Yellowstone buffalo comprise the only free-roaming, genetically pure herd in America that have an uninterrupted history of being wild and unfenced.
"This plan will never achieve its stated goal of eliminating brucellosis. If you want to manage for brucellosis, then you have to look at all species that have the disease," said Mike Mease of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "Elk and other wildlife will still have brucellosis and will re-infect the buffalo."
"With his immediate action to stop the hunt and his promising words and willingness to open more habitat for America's last wild herd of buffalo, we really believed he was on the right track and was someone we could work with," said Mike Mease, of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "After reading his ideas in this morning's paper, we feel he has derailed the whole train with his plan to push the buffalo out of Yellowstone National Park."
Before he was elected Governor, Brian Schweitzer said that under his administration buffalo would enjoy more tolerance in Montana. In his statements, Schweitzer said that management of buffalo and the protection of Montana's brucellosis-free status should be determined by "science, not hyperbole," and that the DOL is "ill-equipped" to manage wild buffalo for the State of Montana.
In an article published on May 5, 2004 in the Helena Independent Record, Governor Schweitzer said, "The only potential infection hazard from Yellowstone bison leaving the park is if they come into contact with reproductive cattle. Relatively few reproductive cows graze on land adjacent to Yellowstone, and grazing steers or horses are not at risk."
"Cattle originally spread the disease to America's wildlife, and they are the animals that should be kept in check," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
"Governor Schweitzer and the livestock industry should work to remove reproductive cattle from buffalo habitat and build fences to ensure spatial separation."
"BFC never supported this plan. If it weren't so draconian and outrageous, it would almost be laughable," said Stephany Seay of the BFC. "If he was concerned over protests to the buffalo hunt, wait until he tries this. America is not going to stand by and watch as Montana attempts to eradicate the Yellowstone buffalo herd."
"The Yellowstone buffalo belong to the people of this country, not to Governor Schweitzer or the Montana livestock industry. Over three million people visit Yellowstone every year and seeing buffalo is a big part of that experience. Governor Schweitzer needs to remember that buffalo are an asset and not a detriment to the state."
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.