For Immediate Release:
April 6, 2005
Stephany Seay, 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents captured twenty-four of America's last wild, genetically pure buffalo on Tuesday. Eight more wild buffalo are being sent to slaughter, three calves will be sent to a quarantine facility, and thirteen will be released at Horse Butte, where wild buffalo are currently not tolerated. The livestock agents never made any effort to haze the buffalo back into Yellowstone National Park.
Since October 2004, the Department of Livestock has captured 46 Yellowstone buffalo, slaughtered 21, sent six to quarantine, and released 19 on Horse Butte.
"While the state touts quarantine as an alternative to slaughter, it is merely an attempt to domesticate and imprison the Yellowstone herd," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
The DOL hazed an additional 259 wild buffalo off of Horse Butte and the Madison River back to Yellowstone National Park today. By this afternoon the buffalo had already turned around and headed back toward Horse Butte.
Inaccurate Brucellosis Testing
The test the government uses to determine which buffalo are slaughtered and which are released is not inaccurate because it merely determines exposure to brucellosis. Buffalo develop immunities to the European livestock disease and retain long-term antibodies. Only 2 to 20 percent of Yellowstone buffalo actually carry any brucellosis bacteria.
There has never been a documented case of wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis to domestic cattle.
"The DOL purposefully misrepresents the wild buffalo in Yellowstone as diseased animals even in the face of overwhelming evidence that most of the buffalo are not infected with brucellosis and the risk of transmission is extremely low. This is nothing more than a policy of deception to mask a centuries-old range war," said Josh Osher of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
Dr. Paul Nicoletti, DVM from the University of Florida, and a leading expert on brucellosis stated, "Bison bulls, calves, yearlings, and non-pregnant cows pose no measurable risk of bacteria transmission. The risk is further reduced by spatial and temporal separation of cattle and bison; for example, cows are not present on the west side of the park between October and June."
Hundreds of America's last wild and genetically pure buffalo are underway with their spring migration and heading to Horse Butte on the Gallatin National Forest. Horse Butte is public land surrounded by water. There are no active cattle grazing allotments there and there are no cattle present anywhere in the area until June, by which time the buffalo will have already migrated back into the high country of Yellowstone National Park.
The DOL's hazing operations not only disrupt the buffalo migration and the ecosystem, they endanger motorists by causing the buffalo to cross the highway 191 numerous times, causing traffic accidents. Highway 191 dissects the buffalo's migratory corridors - the Madison River, Duck Creek, and Cougar Creek - and buffalo that make safe passage across the highway to Horse Butte are pushed back across again and again by DOL agents. Buffalo following their migratory instincts turn around to resume their journey, only to be harassed again by the DOL. So far this spring, seven buffalo have been struck by motorists and have died as a result.
"The annual buffalo migration is an amazing phenomenon that Montana should welcome and celebrate," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "Instead the state stubbornly insists upon harassing and slaughtering every buffalo that steps out of the park to appease the livestock industry."
"There is no other state that can boast of such an awesome ecological event, and Montana should rescind the authority given to the livestock industry that cripples and crushes what should be celebrated. Montana's zero-tolerance policy of wild buffalo on national public lands must end, and a good place to start is by allowing the wild buffalo to access their traditional calving grounds on Horse Butte," said Seay.
Dr. Nicoletti added, "Potential solutions that should be considered include the mandatory vaccination of domestic livestock, closure of specific cattle grazing allotments, removal of cattle from private land through acquisition or easement, spatial and temporal separation of cattle and bison, phasing out elk feed grounds, and the restoration of more natural winter conditions in Yellowstone National Park."
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.