For Immediate Release:
May 9, 2003
Dan Brister: the Buffalo Field Campaign (202) 905-6633
Washington, DC - A two-story buffalo will graze on the west lawn of the Capitol today as a chorus of voices demands protection for the Yellowstone bison. A noon press conference with indigenous activists Winona LaDuke and Rosalie Little Thunder will be followed by a rally and stampede across the National Mall to the Department of Interior.
Bison supporters are in town to submit thousands of citizen letters and to file a formal request to list the Yellowstone herd as a Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act. The effort is being organized by The Fund for Animals, the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers, and the Ecology Center--groups with collective membership of more than 7.5 million.
The bison of Yellowstone National Park are America’s only continuously wild herd. When buffalo were nearly eradicated at the end of the 19th century, Yellowstone’s remote valleys sheltered just 23 individuals, the only wild survivors.
Today their descendants are being killed at a rate unprecedented since the 1880s under a management regime that has resulted in the shooting or slaughter of more than 3,500 bison since 1985. The 21st century killing is based on an unsubstantiated fear of disease transmission from bison to cattle and intolerance for free-ranging bison by the state of Montana. The imposition of a politically-based population cap of 3,000 has led to bison being shot and slaughtered without ever being tested for brucellosis in the field. In the first week of March, the National Park Service slaughtered 231 bison.
"It is obscene that the National Park Service is capturing and slaughtering America’s last wild bison in the world’s oldest national park, using our tax dollars," said Dan Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign.
Anishinaabe activist Winona LaDuke calls it "an irony, that in a new millennium America is still killing buffalo. It is a new time, time to end the killing. Time to think and act for the future. The buffalo deserve it. So do we."
"The Yellowstone herd is unique," according to Mike Mease of the Buffalo Field Campaign, "They are the only genetically pure herd in America to continuously inhabit its native range. The current slaughter threatens the long-term viability of this irreplaceable herd. If we don’t list them today, the Yellowstone bison may well be gone tomorrow."