For Immediate Release:
October 20, 2004
Mike Mease, 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - Yesterday afternoon, Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) agents along with Yellowstone National Park Rangers captured one bull buffalo at the Duck Creek buffalo trap located less than 200 yards from the western border of Yellowstone National Park. The buffalo was chased across Highway 191 to the trap using horses and an ATV. The buffalo had been grazing peacefully near the Lower Bear Trap housing development less than two miles from the Park border for the past several days.
The buffalo was not tested for brucellosis before being shipped to a Montana slaughterhouse. Montana State Veterinarian Tom Linfield said that the buffalo was killed because of "private property concerns" and because the current population is over the 3,000 cap set in the Interagency Bison Management Plan. The 3,000 population cap in the Plan is an arbitrarily derived number that was reached as a political compromise. However, the Plan still requires testing for brucellosis and the release of negative animals until after the late-winter/early spring count. Only then, if the population exceeds 3,000 can the MDOL legally kill buffalo without testing between October 15 and May 15. The test that determines which buffalo are sent to slaughter only detects the presence of long-term antibodies to the bacteria. It does not indicate whether the buffalo is actually infected with brucellosis bacteria or capable of transmitting the disease.
There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission between wild bison and domestic cattle. It is a widely know fact that bull buffalo present no risk of brucellosis transmission to cattle, especially if cattle are not even present in the area. Ironically, MDOL agents assisted in removing the last domestic cattle still grazing near the Park's western boundary yesterday. Cattle will not be present near the western boundary again until the middle of June, 2005.
Today's capture and slaughter operation demonstrates the MDOL's refusal to accept sound science about brucellosis transmission in their management decisions and comes on the heels of Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Brian Schweitzer's announcement that if elected, 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 MDOL is "ill equipped" to manage wild buffalo for the State of Montana. "Once again, the Department of Livestock has shown why we need a change of leadership in Montana. Hopefully, come January, this madness will come to an end," Josh Osher, Buffalo Field Campaign.
In the nine years that the MDOL has had authority over wild buffalo that migrate into Montana from Yellowstone National Park, 2,782 buffalo have been killed. Countless others have been hazed and captured by the MDOL with significant consequences to the health of the herd and those individual buffalo. MDOL's hazing and capture operations also inflict terrible damage on the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem impacting all of the areas wildlife including elk, moose, trumpeter swans, threatened grizzly bears, and bald eagles.
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.