Since fall of 2007, a total of more than 1,500 Yellowstone National Park bison have been killed while emigrating near or beyond park boundaries-almost all of them over a period of only eight weeks. These animals are the most recent victims of a controversial management plan implemented in 2000 that has since caused the deaths of over 3,500 bison. Officials claim the bison must be killed to prevent the transmission of the disease brucellosis to cattle, even though there has never been a confirmed case of transmission from bison to cattle under natural conditions.
The majority of bison killed this winter were captured by the National Park Service (NPS) inside the park's northern boundary, in an effort to prevent them from accessing lands owned by the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT). CUT received $13 million in tax dollars in 1999 as part of a land deal to remove cattle, while providing park wildlife, including bison, increased access to its lands. However, cattle still graze on church lands and bison continue to be killed. Now, under a new controversial deal, CUT may be given additional millions of dollars to remove cattle and allow a small number of bison to traverse its land in fenced corridors to access public lands while in the crosshairs of hunters.
Meanwhile, population numbers are plummeting. This year's cull has already removed more than a third of Yellowstone's bison. Hoping for immediate action, AWI has joined with several animal protection, conservation and tribal organizations to demand that the NPS and the state of Montana stop the killing-and instead permanently protect enough bison to ensure the genetic health of their populations in the park. On April 10, we submitted an emergency rulemaking petition to the Department of the Interior asking that federal officials halt the slaughter of the migrating bison. In a separate action, Buffalo Field Campaign and other groups asked Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and state and federal agency officials to discontinue bison captures on Horse Butte, an area west of the park.
In early April, the Government Accountability Office issued a report strongly criticizing the current bison management plan. Though the plan was enacted eight years ago with the intent of increasing tolerance for bison outside the park, it is currently stalled. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) have criticized the bison plan as "plagued by deficiencies" and "severely limited" in its ability to protect these animals.
You can make a difference:
Please write or call the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park to encourage the responsible, humane management of bison. Tell her that the NPS has a mandate to protect bison, and that it must withdraw from the current bison management plan and work with other agencies to provide bison access to protected habitat outside of Yellowstone.
Ms. Suzanne Lewis, Superintendent
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 167, Mammoth, WY 82190
Telephone: (307) 344-2002;