For Immediate Release:
February 18, 2004:
Dan Brister (406) 646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - Of the 18 buffalo captured here yesterday, the Montana Department of Livestock will send ten (9 cows and a bull) to slaughter tomorrow. Eight buffalo (five yearlings, two bulls, and a cow) were loaded onto a trailer and released on Horse Butte this afternoon.
The buffalo had been peacefully grazing near the Madison River on the Gallatin National Forest, in an ecologically sensitive area where livestock are never present.
After their capture, the buffalo were loaded onto trailers and transported to a different trap at Duck Creek, where they were tested for exposure to brucellosis.
The test, which determines the presence of antibodies and not active infection, is an unreliable indicator. “It’s like trying to eradicate chickenpox by killing everyone who has ever been exposed to them,” stated BFC spokesperson Dan Brister, noting that buffalo are capable of developing natural resistance to brucellosis after being exposed.
There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild bison to livestock.
Buffalo stay in family groups, with calves remaining close to their mothers for up to three years. Such family structure affords protection from predators and easier access to forage. Today’s slaughter left at least four orphaned calves, whose chances of survival are severely threatened by the loss of their mothers.
“Today’s slaughter highlights the DOL’s unwillingness to use common sense and sound science,” stated BFC spokesperson Josh Osher. “Livestock agents have no right harassing and killing an iconic wildlife species like the Yellowstone buffalo.”
Yesterday’s operation marks the first capture since last March, when the Park Service slaughtered 231 buffalo in Yellowstone National Park. Two bulls were shot earlier this season, one on February 5 and one in November. The DOL has spent more than $3.5 million on bison management operations since 1996 that have resulted in the slaughter of more than 2,000 wild buffalo.
The Yellowstone herd is the only herd in America with continuously wild ancestry. It is descended from just 23 individuals who survived the 19th century near-extinction.
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 habitat and advocate for their protection.