Montana DOL conducts massive hazing of bison contrary to new regulations.
Law, private and public property, human safety, and the welfare of Yellowstone area animals mean nothing to these lawless brutes.
Here is the news release from the Buffalo Field Campaign.
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Buffalo Field Campaign
P. O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
MASSIVE BISON HAZING OPERATION TAKES PLACE ON PUBLIC LAND
Department Of Livestock Ignores IBMP Adaptive Change Agreement
Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request
For Immediate Release: April 10, 2007
Contact: Stephany Seay (406) 646-0070
WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) conducted a massive hazing operation today of approximately 250 wild Yellowstone bison along public lands just outside the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone bison herd is the last continuously wild herd in the United States. Genetically and behaviorally unique, the Yellowstone herd currently numbers fewer than 3,600 individuals.
The hazing operation runs counter to adaptations made to the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) in November 2006, which were supposed to adjust bison management operations. According to the Adjustments to 2006-2007 IBMP Operating Procedures memorandum, the agencies agreed that “based upon collective evaluation of prevailing management activities and consideration of the IBMP objectives, the partner agencies have agreed to incorporate the following into the 2006-2007 IBMP Operating Procedures:
1. Strategic Hazing – Bison outside the park between November 1 and May 15 that are subject to hazing under the IBMP could be hazed away from higher risk areas towards area(s) of lower risk outside the park. The Montana State Veterinarian will retain jurisdiction and discretion to implement strategic hazing outside the park.”
2. Tolerance of Bull Bison – In recognition of guidelines to implement the Montana bison hunt, bull bison (single to small groups) outside the park between November 1 to May 15 that are otherwise subject to hazing or removal under the IBMP, could be tolerated if deemed of low risk to disease transmission and public property safety. The Montana State Veterinarian will retain jurisdiction and discretion to implement such tolerance of bull bison outside the park.”
The adaptations were agreed upon, signed, and publicized by the following agencies: Becki Heath, Forest Supervisor, USFS, Gallatin National Forest; Jerry Diemer, Associate Regional Director, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Pat Flowers, Regional Supervisor, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; Tom Linfield, [former] State Veterinarian, Montana Department of Livestock; Suzanne Lewis, Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park.
“According to the adaptive changes, these buffalo should have been left alone,” said Stephany Seay, spokesperson for Buffalo Field Campaign. “The vast majority of the buffalo harassed today were on Gallatin National Forest land, there are no cattle within 40 miles of here, and bulls were purposefully sought out and hazed by DOL agents.”
The Department of Livestock’s agent in charge of field operations, Rob Tierney, made it clear that he was not familiar with the specifics of the agreement or its timelines. When asked why DOL was not implementing the changes he said that the agreement only applied to bull bison. Today’s hazing operation took place a full month and five days earlier than specified in the IBMP agreement, which allows for the adaptive changes until May 15.
“They’re hazing bison off of and across National Forest land where cattle never graze. What could be more ‘low risk’ than that?” asked BFC Project Director Dan Brister. “What is the point of having an agreement if Montana’s State Veterinarian refuses to apply that agreement and is given full discretion to do so?”
There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the European livestock disease brucellosis to livestock, even prior to implementation of Interagency Bison Management Plan.
The hazing operation interrupts the bison’s annual spring migration, when bison must cross Highway 191 to reach their calving grounds on the Horse Butte Peninsula. Buffalo Field Campaign facilitates safe highway crossings for bison and warns motorists of their presence on the road.
“The bison know where they need to be, and as soon as the agents leave they will turn around and cross highway 191 on their way back to Horse Butte,” said BFC Campaign Coordinator Mike Mease. “By repeatedly hazing the buffalo before they are ready to return to the Park on their own, the DOL is putting both motorists and bison in unnecessary danger.”
American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are genetically unique and are America’s only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 3,600 animals, .01 percent of the bison’s former population.
1,912 bison have been killed since 2000 under the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Last winter Federal and State agencies killed or authorized the killing of more than 1,010 bison. So far this winter two bison were captured and sent to slaughter by Montana Department of Livestock agents and hunters have killed 58.
Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild Yellowstone buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection. BFC has proposed real alternatives to the current mismanagement of Yellowstone bison that can be viewed at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/solutions05.html. For more information, video clips and photos visit: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.
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Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
10 Responses to Montana DOL conducts massive hazing of bison contrary to new regulations.
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Montana’s DOL is clearly running amok. A lawless mob in too many respects.
I agree with Alan! Montana’s DOL is clearly running amok!
I was just reading an article in Yellowstone Today Spring 2007. Issues in Yellowstone Managing Bison. Montana’s DOL is clearly not following the plan!
Forgive my ignorance, but I’m a bit shaky on the details of the new plan. Is this action by the DOL blatantly illegal, or, since it came with the blessing of the State Veterinarian, is it “technically legal”(though completely contrary to the purpose of the revised bison management plan)? Either way, it would seem that any attempt at compromise or engaging in “acting in good faith” measures with the Montana DOL over bison is completely futile.
On occasion the Buffalo Field Campaign is not been completely accurate. I trust them, but I’m angry too. So you are right to question if this is blatantly illegal or whether DOL’s action could be plausibly seen as not violating the plan.
A few people who know in detail post here, and I hope they will clarify things. I haven’t read the new plan. Ralph Maughan
Greetings. Just want to clarify that BFC did not state that the operation was “illegal” (though it certainly should be), but that the DOL’s actions, as the lead agency on the Park’s western boundary, ran contraray to an agreement they and all IBMP agencies signed. As BFC asked in the press release, What’s the point of an agreement if it’s terms aren’t applied?
DOL agenent Rob Tierney – the head honcho on buffalo harassment operations here – was asked by us multiple times why the conditions of the agreement were being blatantly ignored; he claimed they didn’t apply. He acted as if he’d never heard of this document.
Clearly, the IBMP agreement says it’s up to the MT State Vet. The DOL’s actions demonstrate – again – that the DOL is unwilling to budge an inch, regardless of terms they’ve claimed to agree to. They are a rouge agency. It also shows that the other agencies, like the NPS in particular, are too spineless to speak up.
As to accuracy, BFC is telling the story as witness it in the field. We are with the buffalo and the truth is on the buffalo’s side.
Note that the adaption language uses the word “could,” not “will” or “must.” “Could be hazed away…” “Could be tolerated…” And why should they tolerate bulls outside the park now that the “hunt” is over? Seems to me like #2 is all about tolerating them in MT so the daring bison shooters can have at ’em.
As for that pathetic piece of whitewash in Yellowstone Today, where to begin. The whole thing is based on the faulty assumption that when bison leave the park, they can and will transmit brucellosis to cattle, which has never happened in the wild. So let’s just play along with the farce…try this example: “A group of cooperating agencies have (note: should be HAS, can’t the Park Svc. even hire someone who understands subject/verb agreement?) agreed to intensively manage bison that leave the park….” No mention of the fact that Yellowstone Park itself rounded up 850 INSIDE the park boundary last year and shipped them to slaughter, a move that must make Yellowstone the only park (one hopes) that kills its own wildlife to prevent it from leaving! In fact, the word “slaughter” is no where in this article–wouldn’t want to bother the tourists with the truth, now would we?!? More bs about vaccinating native wild bison instead of exotic cattle, more bs about quarantine and what a fine experiment THAT is…what absolute crap.
The Yellowstone Assoc. is equally as bad–I see that in the current issue of their quarterly (Discovery) they’ve ignored the bison issue all together, which is what I told them they should do if they couldn’t provide an honest assessment. This was after they offered up some piece of DOL propaganda, going so far as to suggest a link between brucellosis in bison and illness in humans!
Gosh, where’s the bio-terror threat? I guess that’s Dennis Rehberg’s card to play.
I should also ask where is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition on this?
I live in Australia, so all I know about buffalo is there’s not many of them. I can’t believe that government agencies are quite happy to decrease their numbers even more. But then governments are never very good at caring for wildlife. Australia’s wildlife doesn’t have a chance against our government.
We let them (GYC) know that we were allowing our membership to lapse when they supported the bison shoot increased number over the previous year (the first increase, not the second FWP “value-added” increase). Their take was, get the hunters onboard and then they (the hunters) will exert pressure for change. Sounded like putting the cart before the horse to us, so we no longer support them. Seems to me like maybe they’ve taken a more pro-bison stance since then; I haven’t checked their website lately, so maybe that’s true, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. But their Nat’l Parks person was very nice and spent a good deal of time discussing the issue with us and explaining their position.
This week’s hazing activity, which continued yesterday, shows the so-called adaptive changes agreement to be nothing but hollow words. It’s not surprising that the DOL, who was given the latitude to disregard the spirit of the agreement, has chosen to do so. Given the chance, the DOL will always take a hard-line, zero tolerance for bison in Montana stance.
The real shame is that other agencies like the Park Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who reaped positive press from the “increased tolerance” spelled out in the agreement, remain spineless in the face of DOL’s bully position.
For anyone interested in reading the agreement, I’ve posted it to our website as a pdf so you can take a look for yourselves:
And Ralph, when you infer that Buffalo Field Campaign is not always accurate, are you referring to a specific incident or incidents? If you ever question or take issue with the veracity of a BFC report or press release, please let us know. We are easy to reach and we are committed to providing accurate and timely information.
Thanks for all the great work of everyone who posts here.
The link on the referred page is incorrect. Use this one instead: