Department of Livestock to Capture and Slaughter Yellowstone Bison

WEST YELLOWSTONE - Montana Department of Livestock agents are currently erecting a bison trap near the West Yellowstone Airport, located just outside the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. According to statements made by the agents and the Montana governor's office, the state plans to capture and slaughter any bison in Montana starting as soon as tomorrow.
calendar icon 31 May 2007
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Bison led by a patrol car

According to Bill Queen of the Hebgen Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest, Forest Service lands and airport lands near the trap site will be closed to the public. However, members of the media and the public will be allowed to view operations from a nearby hillside.

There are approximately 250 bison grazing on National Forest lands in the area near the Madison River and Hebgen Reservoir. While the purported reason for the bison slaughter is to protect Montana's livestock industry from the European livestock disease brucellosis, at no time of the year do cattle occupy these public lands. There has never been a documented brucellosis transmission from wild bison to livestock.

"Governor Schweitzer campaigned on promises of providing greater tolerance for bison in Montana," said Dan Brister of the wild bison advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign, "yet he bends to the irrational will of the Stockgrowers whenever they demand more dead bison. Since Governor Schweitzer has been in office, 1,177 Yellowstone bison have been killed."

Brucellosis has been receiving great attention in the state since last week when seven members of a Bridger, MT cattle herd tested positive for antibodies to the disease. Because Yellowstone bison never came anywhere near these cattle, it is certain that they are not the source of infection and likely that cattle are responsible for the transmission.

Wild bison are native to Montana yet ecologically extinct everywhere outside of Yellowstone National Park. Bison management currently falls under authority of the Montana Department of Livestock, an agency which manages them as a nuisance animal. Wild bison are never allowed in the state without being subject to harassment, slaughter, or shooting.

Buffalo Field Campaign calls on the state to provide year-round habitat for wild bison and allow bison to restore a viable population on public lands in Montana.

American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are America's only continuously wild, genetically unique herd, numbering fewer than 4,000 animals, less than .01 percent of their former population.

1,912 bison have been killed since 2000 under the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Last winter Federal and State agencies killed or authorized the killing of more than 1,010 bison. Since September of 2006 two bison have been captured and sent to slaughter by Montana Department of Livestock agents and hunters killed 58.

For more information on Brucellosis, click here.

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