Editor’s Note: The following is a press release by Roam Free Nation. It describes how the population of wild bison is being targeted and reduced in favor for the livestock industry. Once again, the needs of the natural world is being held secondary to the profit motive of businesses.
GARDINER, MT: On Friday, Yellowstone National Park submitted a report to IBMP.info (the website of the Interagency Bison Management Plan) revealing shocking numbers of Yellowstone’s bison – the country’s last wild migratory buffalo — who have been killed during the so-called hunt, slaughter, and removal for quarantine (domestication). At the time the report was issued, the number of buffalo eliminated from Yellowstone’s population stood at 1,024. That number increases daily, and it’s only early February. This is already the most deadly year for wild buffalo since 2017, and if the killing and capturing continues at this rate, these mis-management actions could remove a third to half of the population.
“This is a global travesty,” said Stephany Seay, co-founder of Roam Free Nation, a Montana-based wildlife and wild lands advocacy group. “This is the last wild, migratory population of American bison left in this country, beloved the world over, who once numbered nearly 70 million strong, and at the beginning of this winter there were barely 6,000. There are nearly 50,000 African elephants left in the world, and they are considered endangered and fiercely protected. Why is our country’s National Mammal not given the same concerns and protections?”
Yellowstone’s report to the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) can be reviewed here.
At the November Interagency Bison Management Plan meeting, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly and lead bison biologist Chris Geremia spoke strongly for the small but growing bison population, stating that the park alone could sustain upwards of 10,000. They stood up to the Montana Department of Livestock that wants to drive the population down to 3,000 for the sake of convenience.
“So much for Yellowstone’s good words,” said Cindy Rosin, Board Secretary for Roam Free Nation. “They have shown that it’s just business as usual in Yellowstone, which means doing the dirty work for Montana’s livestock industry.”
“It is so disheartening to see a failed policy continue to be pursued, a policy that was abandoned decades ago for one species, but revived for other species today,” said Lee Fulton, Treasurer for Roam Free Nation. “Bison, elk, and wolves have all been subjected to a firing line mentality once they dare to cross Yellowstone Park’s boundary as they pursue their natural migration.”
Excessive hunting, which is essentially an extension of government slaughter, has claimed the lives of more than 500 wild buffalo in less than two months, with more dying every day. The infamous killing fields of Beattie Gulch in Montana’s Gardiner Basin have seen the worst of the killing spree, when large family groups migrate across Yellowstone’s northern boundary and are gunned down by state and tribal hunters. In the frenzy, many buffalo have been severely wounded and run for the shelter of the park, only to be euthanized by park rangers.
“I don’t know how anyone partnered with the IBMP could say they want more buffalo,” said Jaedin Medicine Elk, a Northern Cheyenne tribal member and co-founder of Roam Free Nation. “That sounds great at the IBMP meetings but looks way different in the field where actions are speaking louder than words. Beattie Gulch hunting field? More like Beattie Guts slaughter field. It’s different when you actually see buffalo you have a relationship with getting killed off. Family groups getting wiped out, pregnant moms young and old getting killed with their babies in gut piles.”
“The hunters are blind to the fact that they are being used as tools by the Montana Department of Livestock to do the bidding of the cattle industry, that opposes wild bison restoring themselves in their native Montana lands,” Seay said. “Anyone who has witnessed even a single day at Beattie Gulch understands this to be a slaughter, a massacre, and not a hunt at all. Just because you have a right, does not make it right.”
As the so-called hunt blasts on, Yellowstone National Park began capturing wild buffalo at their Stephens Creek capture facility, barely a mile from Beattie Gulch. To date, Yellowstone has captured and consigned to slaughter 88 buffalo, with another nearly 400 captured for possible quarantine (domestication).
“People are fooled by the government into thinking that quarantine will eliminate slaughter, which it doesn’t,” said Seay. “Quarantine is a domestication program based on a livestock paradigm, removing wild bison from their wild homelands, tearing apart their families, and ensuring they will never roam free again. It’s another false-positive the government is selling to the public and to tribes.”
At least 340 of the wild buffalo eliminated are adult females, most of them pregnant. Every conservationist knows that if you want to drive a population down, you kill the females. Much like elephants, buffalo are a matriarchal society, so the adult females are the teachers, the wisdom-keepers, the ones who teach even the bulls how to be a successful buffalo. Every hunter or government worker who takes an adult female puts the herds in deeper jeopardy.
The Yellowstone buffalo (bison) populations are the last continuously wild, migratory buffalo who have existed on the landscape since prehistoric times.
Roam Free Nation is a Montana-based, Native led wild buffalo, wildlife, and wild lands advocacy group who speaks from and represents the perspective of wild nature. Their representatives have over 50 years of combined experience in the field monitoring wild bison migration, documenting actions against them, and advocating on their behalf.
Stephany Seay, Co-founder, Roam Free Nation
Featured Image by Stephany Seay