Anger Over Culling of Yellowstone’s Bison

Anger Over Culling of Yellowstone’s Bison. By Jim Robbins. New York Times.

Finally, coverage of the bison slaughter by the national media — the New York Times.

Governor Schweitzer says Republican Montana US Representative went out of his way to kill the congressional appropriation to buy up cattle grazing on CUT’s Royal Teton Ranch. So the lone Montana US House race could be near term outlet for people’s energy and resources, but it would be unwise to let the Democrats (the rest of Montana’s major politicians) off the hook.



, , ,




  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    “Mr. Schweitzer blamed Representative Denny Rehberg, Republican of Montana, for leading the opposition last summer to a $1.5-million Congressional appropriation that would have fulfilled the federal obligation. “He killed it,” Mr. Schweitzer said.

    A spokesman for Mr. Rehberg, Bridger Pierce, said Mr. Rehberg wanted the spread of brucellosis dealt with inside the park before any bison were allowed to migrate outside.”

    Yes, let’s set impossible goals before we then try something realistic. What an incredibly obtuse way of thinking Rehberg and Pierce have.

    I’m calling one or more of Rehberg’s offices and letting them know my opinion…

    Washington: 202-225-3211

    Billings: 406-256-1019

    Missoula: 406-543-9550

    Helena: 406-443-7878

    Great Falls: 406-454 1066

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  2. bozemanactivist Avatar

    One more reminder for those in Bozeman and this region who are unhappy about the situation. We are beginning to organize in Bozeman in solidarity with Buffalo Field Campaign.

    Here is a media advisory that just went out last night.

    Contact: Chris Klatt
    March 23, 2008

    “Fighting for the Buffalo” – Film and Discussion on the Bison Slaughter in Yellowstone
    Local Bozeman residents organizing for the buffalo and other local environmental, economic and social justice concerns

    (Bozeman, MT – March 23, 2008) A record number of buffalo – 1100 and growing – have been killed in and around Yellowstone National Park this winter. Mike Mease of Buffalo Field Campaign will join concerned Bozeman residents in presenting a film and discussion on the buffalo slaughter. The discussion will be focused on what local residents can do toward ending the slaughter and supporting a wild and free roaming buffalo population. The film, which looks at the on-the-ground realities of the buffalo hunt, hazing and slaughter, is Wednesday, March 26, 7 PM, at Montana State University’s Procrastinator Theater.

    WHO: Mike Mease, co-founder Buffalo Field Campaign

    WHAT: Organized in partnership with local Bozeman residents (see, short films documenting the hazing and killing of buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park, with a discussion on what local residents can do to help stop the slaughter of bison and promote a free-ranging population. Admission is open to the public and is free of charge.

    WHERE: Procrastinator Theater
    Linfield Hall, Room 125
    Montana State University
    S. 11th Avenue, Bozeman, MT

    WHEN: 7PM, Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    WHY: Because the slaughter of buffalo has gone on for so long and because we in the Gallatin Valley live so close to what is happening, the need to organize at the local level on this and other inter-related issues is important. The film and discussion to follow is meant to be an education for those unfamiliar with the situation, an update on the current slaughter from the point of view of those working to stop it, and a tool toward organizing a local grassroots group. The new consensus-based group will focus on issues related to the buffalo, as well as other local environmental, economic and social justice concerns.

    For more information about the event, please see, or contact Chris Klatt by phone at 406-599-3629 or by email at

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Go get em. This is great.

  4. bozemanactivist Avatar

    We’re very excited about this and hope to come up with some very good ideas. One thing we have in mind is actually to have break out sessions so that smaller groups can actually talk about this – so it’s more than just a film and a large room discussion. We really aim to take next steps on this and other issues of concern here.

  5. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Awesome Chris!
    Any chance of a showing in Missoula? Lots of support here.

  6. kim kaiser Avatar

    finallly a bit of exposure, and none to soon imo,,

    but if they used the same passion and writing skiills they use attacking the bush administration this would have been really good. Did i read it right in it basically saying,, we the state of montana have been doing all this work and are stymied by the fed stopping this horrible thing, but its the federal governments fault,,,, or have I been reading all these prior post wrong,, and it really ISNT the state DOL policy that is the major culprit and block,( refering to the letter email that was sent b the DVM of the state by one of the posters here last week that bison were not gonna be tolerated) ,there was not one mention of that (DOL) and,, from prior readings, the GYC has been just mouthpiece and yet they are the quoted voice of dissention here and they arent about to step on toes or relay the same passion as the bfc who is the active group..i bet the gyc donations will increase.

    please enlighten me if i have read all the post here related to the issue in the wrong light,,,

    Kim, I think this is a good sign that the governor is trying to shift the blame. If he felt good about what they are doing, and if Montana politicians not taking some heat, he wouldn’t bother.

    Ralph Maughan

  7. bozemanactivist Avatar

    Not Chris here – but can pass it along to him. Don’t know about Missoula. Probably you all should talk to BFC about it. One thing Missoula has that Bozeman doesn’t is a pretty solid activist community. So, the presentation would perhaps serve a different purpose than it does here. However, there’s no doubt that we all have to link up across Montana on these and so many other issues. A strong regional network of purely grassroots organizing would be an amazing and ambitious dream.

  8. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I would say that your reading of the story is correct. Jim Robbins studiously avoids the controversial issues in western conservation politics, so with bison he talks to Amy McNamara at GYC instead of Stephany Seay or the other folks at BFC. He makes Schweitzer out to be the good guy as he complains about Rehberg, who truly is a bad guy, but not much better than Schweitzer in fact. All Gov Brian is doing is trying to attract some publicity for his so-called pro-bison work, which we all know is a crock. He isn’t spending any political capital on this one.

    Also, after spending $13 million for access to the CUT ranch years ago, bison should be there now. The so-called “problem” of buying this 30 year lease is a red herring. Just part of the spin to cover up the fact that Montana and the agencies have no intent of allowing bison year round access to Montana.


  9. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Robert’s absolutely right, as usual.

    We should call and raise hell.

    Last week I called Schweitzer’s office (asked for the governor, of course) @ 406-444-3111 and spoke with mealy-mouthed Bob Schleicher, “citizen’s advocate” – yeah, right.

    Today I’m trying to reach:

    Bridger Pierce, Rehberg’s communication director in Washington: 202-225-3211

    Seth Broesder, Rehberg’s field rep in Montana: (c) 406-788-4967

  10. Catbestland Avatar

    I take it as a good sign that, when under public scrutiny, the buck gets passed. It’s a good indication that the passer is beginning to feel his feet being held to the fire. I can’t see the Feds accepting responsibility for this. It’s likely to backfire on Schweitzer.

  11. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Seems like the governor could solve this himself if he really wanted to. 3 million is a tiny amount for a state to come up with on its own. I am sure even defenders of wildlife could raise that in a matter of minutes for this buyout to happen.

  12. Pronghorn Avatar

    My letter to the NY Times, an exercise in brevity if ever there was:

    Thanks for alerting Americans to the largest bison slaughter since the 19th century. Jim Robbins, please come back to Montana to get the rest of the story. In the 90 years since wild bison contracted brucellosis from cattle, no bison-to-cattle transmission has ever occurred in the wild. The brucellosis hysteria is a charade at taxpayer expense. Contrary to Gov. Schweitzer’s misstatement, bison are not starving. They’re migratory–big difference. The best solution is not a wildlife vaccine when one already exists for domestic cattle; Mr. Robbins should ask the livestock industry bullies why they don’t use it. The land deal touted by politicians and agencies is not a silver bullet and no deal for wild bison–they’ll become surrogate cattle, enduring handling and invasive procedures. Finally, park employees who betray these animals don’t “do the job they have to do” (as asserted by the park’s spokesman); they do the job they choose to do.

    The real solution lies in designating wild bison habitat on public land surrounding Yellowstone. Americans already own this land. First, however, we’ll have to wrest it away from Montana’s corrupt livestock oligarchy.

  13. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Great letter, Pronghorn. Keep up the good work.

  14. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Well done! Please let us know if your letter makes it into the Times, so we can comment on it there. There are of course a lot thing to add that you can’t get in 150 words, which is the Times word limit for letters.

    You’re right; Jim Robbins has done his usual half-assed job of western reporting.


  15. Catbestland Avatar

    Was there any way to comment on this article in the NYT. I didn’t see that option with the article.

  16. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    Click on the comment icon at the end of the article, lower right.

  17. bozemanactivist Avatar

    I’ve read somewhere that Jim Robbins is based out of Helena. I’ve tried to get an email address for him (in part to invite him directly to the event so he could see the fuller point of view he doesn’t report on). Anyone happen to have it?

  18. kim kaiser Avatar

    i googled him, and it seems to be the right one,,,

  19. Catbestland Avatar

    Thanks Don

  20. bozemanactivist Avatar

    Thanks, but I don’t think that’s the same guy. Or, am I misreading something?

  21. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think Robbins lives in Helena.

  22. kim kaiser Avatar

    Sorry about that, I googled him and the NYT came up,

    i did some addl searching trying to find him and came up with this letter that was written to NYT in 1996,, can anyone guess who wrote it, see if it doesnt sound EXACTLY like the governers assessement of the situation,

    ” Montana’s Quarrel Over Yellowstone Bison Is With Washington”

    Published: April 7, 1996

    To the Editor:

    Re the March 28 letters on the killing of bison wandering out of Yellowstone National Park: Montana yields to no one in distaste for the killing of these bison. That’s why it sued the National Park Service and the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.

    There were about 400 bison in Yellowstone when the park instituted its policy of hands-off, natural regulation in the 1960’s. Today there are 3,000 to 4,000 bison in the park, more than twice what the land can support.

    Most of these bison are infected with brucellosis, a disease that causes severe illness in humans and is a livestock disease regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. The park has refused to do anything about this disease.

    The department’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service warned Montana that its livestock industry could lose its brucellosis-free status, which had required $30 million to achieve, if diseased bison were allowed to leave the park as they sought winter feed. Montana sued the Federal Government. Last year we reached a settlement that will require the park to manage its bison population, monitor bison movements and impound wandering creatures for disease testing.

    We are innocent neighbors of a park service that has not taken responsibility for its wildlife. We try to herd the magnficent creatures back into the park. Many go. Those that do not are shot and their carcasses are processed by native Americans.

    Montanans love wild animals. Thankfully, they are our everyday neighbors, not zoo or museum pieces. It was Montana’s defense of grizzly bears that saved those creatures in the 1930’s when the Federal policy was extinction.

    MARC RACICOT Helena, Mont., April 4, 1996


  23. kim kaiser Avatar

    oops. i for got to erase the author,,!!!!!! sorry, i was hoping to get some fodder up on the origin of the letter,,

  24. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Don’t worry. It just demonstrates that Schweitzer isn’t much different from Rocicot. Something for Montanans to think about next election.


  25. sal Avatar

    I heard a report on the topic on NPR this morning or yesterday. I was disappointed that they didn’t really go into the real crux of the issue, instead they interviewed Ann Stovall, they obviously didn’t use much of her comments ~ they’ve always been valid points as long as I have known her. They also had a rancher, I think it was Povah-not sure-but they didn’t really represent the points that there is more to this than a cursory, ho-hum coverage would present. Too bad, they could have had an impact, instead it turned out to sound like we’ve got issues everywhere and here’s another one… next!

  26. kim kaiser Avatar

    It seems that the nyt article, the pbs show that was on last week, and apparently the article you reference all seem to lack conviction and intensity. THe old NYT article from almost 1996 is almost a word for word reading from what the current governer said in the most recent article.

  27. Izabelam Avatar

    Maybe it is bit of topic but I think most of the country has no idea how big is the problem of delisting wolves or slaughtering buffalo.
    My friend in Florida never heard or read anything in Florida papers about the wolves management or buffalo slaughter.
    Another friend in Washington talked to the rangers in one of the parks and they were not aware about issues happening here in our tri-state corner.

    I have tried to make people aware of issues and they just dont’ want to hear .
    Do we have a problem with informations management?