For Immediate Release:
March 3, 2004
Dan Brister (406) 646-0070
Gardiner, Montana – Park rangers captured 101 buffalo in Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total captured since February 21 to 298. Of 250 buffalo captured between 2/21 and 3/2, 124 were sent to slaughter and 126 remain confined in the Stephens Creek trap. An additional 48 buffalo captured last night await their fate.
Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) spokesperson Mike Mease documented the operations, “It’s time to replace the buffalo with the domestic cow on the Park Service badge,” he said, “since cattlemen seem to be calling the shots in Yellowstone National Park.”
Yellowstone is the only place in America continuously inhabited by wild buffalo. The park provided sanctuary to 23 buffalo that survived the mass eradication of the 19th century. The Yellowstone herd comprises the largest remaining population of genetically pure bison. Slaughtering bison is in direct contradiction with the park’s mandate to protect park resources unimpaired for future generations.
The remaining buffalo captured on Tuesday will being tested for exposure to brucellosis, which is no indicator of present infection. Those testing positive will be shipped to slaughter. There are currently 126 negative testing buffalo being held in the trap until spring and the park has said it can only hold 125. There has never been a documented transmission of brucellosis from wild buffalo to livestock.
Yesterday’s capture brings the total number of Yellowstone buffalo trapped this winter to 316. 136 have been shot or sent to slaughter on the north and west sides of the park. In the past ten years the DOL and NPS have slaughtered 2,635 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park. Last March the Park Service sent 231 buffalo to slaughter without ever testing them for brucellosis.
The recent slaughter has prompted members of Congress to introduce the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act (H.R. 3446), which will place a three year moratorium on the capture and slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo, dismantle the Stephen’s Creek trap, and allow buffalo unfettered access to public lands immediately adjacent to the park. The bill has 63 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
According to a press release issued by the park, the current slaughter is designed to keep buffalo “away from cattle grazing adjacent to the park.” The closest livestock are located on the Royal Teton Ranch (RTR), whose owners received more than 13 million tax dollars in 1998 for conservation easements and land intended to provide winter range for buffalo.
The Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their traditional 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.