Something very ugly has been happening in Montana near the Yellowstone National Park boundary. Over the past few years the Montana Division of Livestock, US Park Service and the Department of Agriculture (APHIS) have been capturing, hazing, killing and experimenting on the last wild bison in the US. The bison in Yellowstone National Park are the descendents of the few survivors of the attempted extirpation of the bison in the late 1800s.
Under the guise of “The Interagency Bison Management Plan” bison are forcibly removed from federal lands (primarily National Forest) in Montana that the bison have used for millennia and still use as winter range and calving grounds. Helicopters, riders on horseback and ATVs harass, haze and run bison from these federal lands up to 7 miles into the national park, without regard for pregnant cows, cows giving birth and very young calves. All for the wrong assumption that domestic cattle can be infected with brucellosis from wild bison, no transmission of this disease has ever been recorded from wild bison to domestic cattle (the brucellosis that bison carry originally came from the introduction of domestic cattle). Elk also carry brucellosis but no such actions are carried out against elk. The people involved with these actions in the state of Montana are not wildlife biologists, they are brand inspectors and others concerned with domestic livestock issues. Bison are not cattle, they are part of our wildlife legacy.
There has been an ongoing campaign to stop this abuse. The Buffalo Field Campaign (www.buffalofieldcampaign.org) has been active in the field, documenting what’s been happening in Montana, working to stop bad legislation in the state of Montana and alerting the public (as well as a very small nonprofit can) to this very sad chapter in our treatment of wild bison. More people need to be made aware of this travesty and give their support to our wild heritage. Please go to the BFC website to educate yourself about these issues and take action to save our wild bison.