Last Bison Herd in US being Exterminated in Yellowstone

3/28/02 Buffalo Field Campaign News from the Field

In this issue:

An Update from the Field
-Press Release 4/3/02
-Buffalo Stampede in DC a success!

An Update from the Field

Greetings friends,

Warm, sunny weather has been melting the snow rapidly and the first green shoots on Horse Butte are calling the buffalo back to their preferred calving grounds. A group of 18 buffalo answered the call on Monday and made the 5 mile journey from the Yellowstone boundary to the butte, following the river bluffs that meander along the north side of the Madison. BFC volunteers were blessed to be in their presence, amidst the eagles and swans, for one idyllic day.

As the sun rose over the Madison River on Wednesday, another day of high drama was unfolding at Horse Butte. The small herd and BFC volunteers put in a great effort to thwart yet another capture operation, but by the end of the day 15 bison had been captured. Three bison joined a female and calf that had been released two weeks ago and escaped the capture. Six of the bison were sent to slaughter this morning. Nine bison that tested negative were released at Horse Butte.

The weekly harassment, torture, and slaughter of these magnificent creatures is difficult to take. It seems it may be even harder to hear the news from afar than it is to witness in person. Volunteers in camp were deeply hurt by yesterday's events, but another beautiful day is here, and we know many more bison are making their way towards the park border.


Press Release 4/3/02

Lockdown Temporarily Halts Bison Capture at Horse Butte

West Yellowstone, MT: Gallatin County resident Joe Strusz locked himself to the Horse Butte bison capture facility this morning, halting an operation to capture twenty bison that migrated to the butte two days ago. Strusz secured his arms to the gate of the facility with chains inside of a steal pipe at 8 AM, just as the capture operation was beginning.

According to Strusz, "This capture facility is a blight on our National Forests. I'll unlock when Gallatin National Forest takes the facility down and allows bison to use public lands. Bison should be accorded all the rights of wildlife and left undisturbed to graze where they see fit."

Later in the morning, MDOL agents removed Strusz from the facility after they disassembled parts of the corral with a crane truck. He was arrested and charged with trespassing and obstruction. When the facility was put back together the capture operation continued with nine agents on snowmobiles hazing the bison into the trap. The bison evaded the snowmobiles for about an hour, at one point being pushed through a barbed wire fence before being captured.

Government agencies including the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL), Gallatin National Forest, National Park Service, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have killed over 3,200 Yellowstone bison since 1985. The slaughter is based on the unsubstantiated fear that bison will transmit brucellosis to cattle. There has never been a documented case of transmission from bison to cattle in a natural setting.

Strusz said of the slaughter, "Bison and livestock have co-mingled in Grand Teton National Park for more than 45 years without a single case of transmission. If the government really believes there is a risk, they should manage the cattle, not slaughter the bison."

In fact, there are no cattle in the area until June 15th, well after Yellowstone bison traditionally return to the park. Brucellosis bacteria have been shown to live for only a matter of days when exposed to the elements. Any risk of transmission could be eliminated by keeping a time and space separation between the cattle and bison.

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) spokesperson Peter Leusch stated, "Instead of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars a year to slaughter bison, managers should focus on the cattle. If there truly is a risk of transmission, the Forest Service should cancel the grazing allotments surrounding Yellowstone."

BFC volunteers documented grizzly bear tracks on Horse Butte this morning. In addition, bald eagles were seen in the air, with a protected nest located about a quarter mile north of the bison capture facility. Gallatin National Forest has failed to consider the impacts that bison management activities have on other wildlife that rely on Horse Butte.

Leusch said, "These operations continue to threaten endangered species like grizzly bears and bald eagles as well as elk, moose, trumpeter swans and a host of other wildlife. Not only are bison being needlessly slaughtered, but the whole west side of the ecosystem is also threatened. This is simply a bureaucratic boondoggle where wildlife, the American people, and the local economy lose out to the unfounded fears of the livestock industry.


Buffalo Stampede in DC a success!

Marchers adorned in buffalo costumes and carrying banners descended on the USDA and Department of Interior offices in Washington, DC today. The stampede called for an end to the buffalo slaughter in Montana and justice for America's last, wild buffalo. The stampede succeeded in bringing the issue to Department of Interior officials who met with BFC representatives following the rally. We are hoping that this event will be a springboard for other effective actions in the nation's capital and elsewhere. Look for an AP article coming out on the Stampede and please contact us if you see it in your local newspaper.


Buffalo Field Campaign, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone,
MT 59758 (406) 646-0070