Bison Slaughter Violates Government Plan

WASHINGTON D.C. (January 12, 2006)  In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, National Park Service (NPS) Director Fran Mainella, and Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) condemned Yellowstone’s reported plan to kill over 200 captured bison in direct violation of the National Park Service’s own bison management plan. 

As explained in the attached letter, the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) requires the NPS to test all captured bison for exposure to Brucella abortus until its late-winter/early spring bison count shows that there are more than 3,000 bison in the park.  Only when that criterion is met can the NPS choose to send all captured bison to slaughter. 

“Despite its mandate to protect the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service has resorted to violating the terms of its own plan to send Yellowstone’s bison to their death,” said AWI Wildlife Biologist D.J. Schubert.  “The National Park Service can’t simply change the rules of bison management regardless of the circumstances.” 

The IBMP is a controversial document with no support from conservation and animal protection organizations.   The plan, however, clearly specifies that the NPS cannot send bison captured in early winter to slaughter without testing them for evidence of exposure to Brucella abortus.  The plan allows bison who test positive for exposure to be sent to slaughter -- even though the vast majority are not infected and pose no risk of bacteria transmission to domestic cattle.  There has never been a confirmed case of Brucella abortus transmission from bison to cattle under natural conditions. 

“The IBMP is a joke, but until a more reasonable and scientifically sensible plan is developed, the National Park Service cannot choose to ignore its provisions,” said BFC Coordinator Josh Osher.

“The Park Service’s proposal to kill bison in violation of its own management plan confirms what we have always suspected – that this agency’s actions with regard to bison have nothing to do with science and planning, and everything to do with emotion and politics,” said David Pauli, Northern Rockies Regional Director for The HSUS.

The Animal Welfare Institute, founded in 1951, is one of America’s oldest animal protection organizations dedicated to reducing the pain and fear inflicted on animals.  The Buffalo Field Campaign, based in West Yellowstone, Montana, is the only group in the field 365 days a year dedicated to the protection of Yellowstone’s bison.  The Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington, D.C., is the nation’s largest animal protection organization with active programs in companion animals and equine protection, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, animals in research and farm animal welfare.

Contact:         D.J. Schubert, AWI, (609) 601-2875
                        Josh Osher, BFC, (406) 646-0070
                        Tracey McIntire, HSUS, (301) 548-7793

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