Montana to capture 260-plus bison for slaughter tomorrow.

They haven’t found any reason why the cattle at Bridger, Montana turned up with brucellosis. They know it wasn’t bison. But, they can’t just let scientific investigation run its course. They have to kill something.

So tomorrow they will be rounding up the approximately 250 bison that keep leaving Yellowstone Park to feast on the lush grass to the west of the Park. Then they will send them off to slaughter.

Isn’t it fascinating how the livestock industry and gratuitous violence and domination are tied together.

A wild bison calf on public land at Horse Butte, west of Yellowstone Park. The photo was taken Sunday. Of course this calf doesn’t know it will be Montana Dept. of Livestock buffaloburger in a couple days.


Here is the news release by the Buffalo Field Campaign

Department of Livestock to Capture and Slaughter Yellowstone Bison

Exclusive Video Footage Available Upon Request
Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Contact: Dan Brister 406-646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. Montana Department of Livestock agents are currently erecting a bison trap near the West Yellowstone Airport, located just outside the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. According to statements made by the agents and the Montana governor’s office, the state plans to capture and slaughter any bison in Montana starting as soon as tomorrow.

According to Bill Queen of the Hebgen Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest, Forest Service lands and airport lands near the trap site will be closed to the public. However, members of the media and the public will be allowed to view operations from a nearby hillside.

There are approximately 250 bison grazing on National Forest lands in the area near the Madison River and Hebgen Reservoir. While the purported reason for the bison slaughter is to protect Montana’s livestock industry from the European livestock disease brucellosis, at no time of the year do cattle occupy these public lands. There has never been a documented brucellosis transmission from wild bison to livestock.

“Governor Schweitzer campaigned on promises of providing greater tolerance for bison in Montana,” said Dan Brister of the wild bison advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign, “yet he bends to the irrational will of the Stockgrowers whenever they demand more dead bison. Since Governor Schweitzer has been in office, 1,177 Yellowstone bison have been killed.”

Brucellosis has been receiving great attention in the state since last week when seven members of a Bridger, MT cattle herd tested positive for antibodies to the disease. Because Yellowstone bison never came anywhere near these cattle, it is certain that they are not the source of infection and likely that cattle are responsible for the transmission.
Wild bison are native to Montana yet ecologically extinct everywhere outside of Yellowstone National Park. Bison management currently falls under authority of the Montana Department of Livestock, an agency which manages them as a nuisance animal. Wild bison are never allowed in the state without being subject to harassment, slaughter, or shooting.

Buffalo Field Campaign calls on the state to provide year-round habitat for wild bison and allow bison to restore a viable population on public lands in Montana.

American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are America’s only continuously wild, genetically unique herd, numbering fewer than 4,000 animals, less than .01 percent of their 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. Since September of 2006 two bison have been captured and sent to slaughter by Montana Department of Livestock agents and hunters 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. For more information, video clips and photos visit:

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  1. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    If I may make a suggestion, please e-mail the Governor of Montana an tell him EXACTLY what you think of the actions perpetuated by him and his administration. I have.

  2. Chris H. Avatar
    Chris H.

    It had appeared to me earlier that Montana Gov. Schweitzer was a decent and intelligent person. I am now glad I did’nt and could’nt vote for him. What a tragic waste of bison.

  3. Buffaloed Avatar

    The Governor left the meeting before the decision was even made. He talked about setting up a buffer zone around the Park where cattle would have 100% testing into and out of the area but the livestock interests thought it wouldn’t be fair to have a subset of ranchers that would have to follow stricter guidlines. It is typical of the livestock industry to hold the entire state hostage so that the few that actually do threaten the brucellosis-free status don’t have to take any of the responsibility for grazing in areas where brucellosis is present in wildlife.

    One of the ranchers said that it would put him out of business if he had to test all of his cattle. Well, it seems to me that he is willing to put the entire state of Montana at risk of losing its brucellosis-free status so that he can maintain his way of life. Nobody is going to put an entire industry at risk so that I can maintain my way of life why should he be an exception?

    This is not going to be the solution to this problem. This is revenge killing just like the wolf killing and coyote killing that persists to this day. It’s sick and wrong. WRONG!

  4. Buffaloed Avatar

    By the way, I took the above photo, thanks Ralph for posting it.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    What I’d like to know is whether Montana DOL is a rouge agency, because in every state there are those kind of agencies? They are agencies where at best the governor can only change them slowly either due to tradition or how they are set up legally.

    Does Schweitzer have direct or indirect control over Montana DOL? It makes a big difference whether he is struggling to change their direction, or whether he will willing to go along with the brucellosis and bison bullshit like his Republican predecessors.

    He has made some new appointments to the DOL, but I haven’t gotten any feedback as to what they are like.

  6. DV8 Avatar

    At some point in time, civil disobediance becomes necessary. Not violence – passive, civil disobediance. Some sort of rally or action may be necessary tomorrow.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This may be true, but these law enforcement people act like a bunch of thugs, and those who get in their way are likely to be beaten, then charged with a felony of resisting arrest.
    Of course, that is the purpose of passive civil disobedience, you put your body on line in the hope of drawing attention to an injustice. Unfortunately, the Montana media seem about as willing to cover this as the media in the Southern United States was during the days of Martin Luther King.
    As I have said a number of times, the true purpose of the harassment and slaughter of the bison is to reinforce the perception that livestock rules, and the rest of the residents are at best second class citizens.

  8. MikeH Avatar


    What’s the point of slaughtering all these bison? So a few ranchers on government dime can ease their paranoia?

    There seems to be a distinct group of meatheads who just enjoy killing things for the sake of killing things. I guess they never really evolved.

  9. kim Avatar

    ISnt sweitzer a democrat,, where is all his green heritage or support that so many feel the democratic “leadership” at state and fed levels seem to possess,,they all seem to fold like a wet paper sack when the time comes,,,,,,what it boils downs to is money talks, and BS walks,, livestock has the money,, sweitzer likes his job,,conservation groups just dont have the pull, money, lobby, and he can talk the talk about change, but when it comes down to getting his ck signed, he is no different than the rest,,

  10. Eric Avatar

    Here’s why I quit eating beef I guess. That seems like a rogue state. I’m all the way over in Illinois, long ago domesticated by John Deere. We’re “civilized” here. I’ll write my senator for what it’s worth.

  11. Eric Avatar

    Does anyone know who else I should write to, as an Illinois resident? There’s no proof that the buffaloes transmitted this brucellosis that I’ve seen, and I don’t like seeing this slaughter of our native animals because the stockgrowers are worried about it.

  12. be Avatar

    from what i gather – civil disobedience is effective in as far as it demonstrates organization – i think that there is a valid justification for non-violent civil disobedience in instances such as these – and the potential for more demonstrated organization.

    conservation folk have succeeded in the courtroom – but from what i am able to gather, this is an injustice that has usurped a blatant legal remedy.

    given the stack of form letters that my children use to color on the back of, i have concluded that the politicians have not been listening – though i will continue to send them letters –

    that being the case, i am going to try writing a letter to my conservation organizations of choice, and ask that they find ways to demonstrate solidarity – in the letter i will include my disgust with this slaughter, what talents of service/time i am willing to contribute, a check for what i am able to afford, and an explanation which illustrates why i believe their involvement, at as many civic levels as possible, is related to their mission and to the interests of the conservation community at large (displays of organized volition are perhaps more worthy of the “A rising tide…” aphorism when applied politically than economically).

  13. Buffaloed Avatar

    Here are some more photo’s of the buffalo on Horse Butte from Sunday:

  14. Pronghorn Avatar

    “Isn’t it fascinating how the livestock industry and gratuitous violence and domination are tied together.”

    Yes it is, and shouldn’t we examine our personal ethics to determine if we can keep using (eating) the product of such misery? We might acknowledge and abhor the violence, but aren’t we party to it if we support it with our appetites and dollars? Just something to think about–for all I know, everyone commenting here is vegetarian!


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.

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Ralph Maughan