Montana Department of Livestock Captures and Slaughters Three Wild Bull Bison

Buffalo Bull © Ken Cole
Buffalo Bull © Ken Cole

Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758

Montana Department of Livestock Captures and Slaughters Three Wild Bull Bison


For Immediate Release: June 17, 2009
Press Contact: Mike Mease, 406-646-0070

West Yellowstone, MT: Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents captured three bull bison this morning in the Duck Creek bison trap located on private land less than 200 yards from the western border of Yellowstone National Park. The bison were loaded onto a livestock trailer and shipped to a slaughterhouse. They had been grazing peacefully near the Park border for the past several weeks on and around National Forest lands purchased for wildlife habitat.
The bison bulls were killed today despite ‘adaptive management’ changes to a plan agreed to by Montana State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski, Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson, and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis in December 2008. According to the document and to statements made by agency representatives, bull bison were to enjoy year-round tolerance on certain lands within Montana “to manage their lower risk of transmission of brucellosis to cattle.”

“This so-called adaptive plan is set up to kill all bison bulls who have taken up residence north of Duck Creek in Montana in the Hebgen Lake basin,” said Darrell Geist, Habitat Coordinator with Buffalo Field Campaign. “The agencies say ‘no bison bulls north of Duck Creek’ at any time of year but this is where these bulls live year round. The bulls move west along Duck Creek through Lower Bear Trap to Horse Butte Peninsula and back again. If this taxpayer paid plan doesn’t change, these resident bulls will be wiped out.”

Today’s slaughter operation demonstrates the DOL’s refusal to accept sound science about brucellosis transmission in their management decisions. The buffalo were not tested for brucellosis before being shipped to a Montana slaughterhouse. There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission between wild bison and domestic cattle and bull bison pose virtually no risk of transmitting the bacteria. Wild buffalo inhabit Hebgen Lake basin year-round.

According to Buffalo Field Campaign Executive Director Dan Brister, “In the eyes of the agencies, ‘adaptive management’ merely means delaying the inevitable slaughter of America’s last wild buffalo.”

Fewer than 3,000 wild bison exist in the United States, all inhabiting areas in and around Yellowstone National Park. Since 2000, under the Interagency Bison Management Plan, thousands of wild American bison have been harassed and killed; with millions of federal tax dollars wasted each year. Wild bison have never transmitted brucellosis to cattle.

Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild American buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their habitat and advocate for their lasting protection. For more information, video footage of today’s operation, and photos visit: Buffalo Field Campaign (

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  1. Laura Avatar

    This is outrageous. Thank you to BFC for getting this information out, despite how distressing it is. I spoke with a couple of BFC workers at Tower last week and they said the group of bison with calves that were being held outside of Gardiner were going to be slaughtered within 10 days (the date I spoke with them was June 11). Does anyone know if that was carried out or if there is anything in the works to try and get those animals returned to the park?

  2. Ken Cole Avatar

    This is from last week’s BFC update:

    * Quarantined Buffalo Rejected by Northern Arapaho

    The Northern Arapaho tribe was ready to welcome to the Wind River reservation forty-one captured Yellowstone buffalo who had suffered years of confinement and testing within a state-federal quarantine feasibility study, just north of Yellowstone in Corwin Springs, Montana. After years of testing, forty-one buffalo were deemed “disease free” and the Northern Arapaho tribe was ready to bring them home, honor them as wildlife, and provide them with 30,000 acres on which to roam. Buffalo advocates were pleased to know that these buffalo would finally be set free from their government tormentors, returning to a people who have co-evolved with these sacred beings for thousands of years. On the heels of the tribe’s announcement, however, the livestock industry of Wyoming and Montana raised a ruckus about allowing even disease-free buffalo to return to their native lands; by their objection they underscored the obvious issue that the war against bison is not about disease, but a prejudice against bison and control of grasslands. A bill was introduced in the Montana legislature which would have prevented the disease-free buffalo from going to the Wind River reservation, or anywhere else save the fenced in National Bison Range or the slaughterhouse. Luckily, that bill failed. The Northern Arapaho were free to proceed and the buffalo were ready to travel to their new home. Ironically, close upon the heels of the bill’s failure, the Northern Arapaho suddenly announced that they no longer wanted the quarantined buffalo. It was stated they feared the emergence of latent brucellosis infection; the exact echo of the livestock industry’s message. The Northern Arapaho had been so excited about the return of the buffalo. What could have changed their minds so suddenly? We can only imagine the disappointment and heartache of the people who were ready to welcome the return of the buffalo. What will happen to these buffalo now, and to the rest who remain in the government’s scientific experiment? The slaughterhouse will likely be their final destination after all, just like the families they were stolen from. In the end, as we knew it would, the quarantine feasibility study has failed the buffalo. This series of events has shown again that the issue is not disease; otherwise all disease-free public bison herds would not be fenced in. It’s all about the grass, and with the livestock industry in control, only cattle are free to enjoy it. And while the government attempted to disguise their quarantine project as a “restoration” program, it’s very essence is a de-wilding program. Real bison restoration happens on the buffalo’s terms, with one foot in front of the other, via migration corridors, not quarantines locked doors.

  3. william huard Avatar

    I don’t know how you people can stand it. After reading today about these 3 buffalo I called everyone from the Governor’s office to Yellowstone National Park’s Suzanne Lewis’s office. Her assistant said that if it wasn’t for them the Dept of Livestock would be killing bison inside of Yellowstone Park. Who the F do these DOL people think they are? She said the best hope is a brucellosis vaccine to save the bison- I think you are right it’s about the grass. This is outrageous!!!

  4. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Again, until we have popular outrage that we can locally call on in some force and numbers (beyond the dozens that do it now), we won’t get anywhere on this issue in Montana.

    As long as the cowboy myth holds over the politicians, they won’t change. As long as Montanans remain passive supporters of buffalo and not active supporters, this will continue forever.

  5. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    According to BFC, a fourth bison was killed that was on Pat Povah’s ranch.

  6. Dan Brister Avatar

    Yes, Jim. A fourth bull was shot this afternoon.

  7. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    What a horrific series of events. Ironically, this month’s issue of Backpacker magazine (p. 28) features a tourism ad for Montana, which has a picture of a magnificent bull bison, with the caption “There’s nothing here…but grizzlies and wolves and bison and trout.”

    I found this ad to be disingenous at best, since Montana seems to be doing everything possible to eliminate bison. Maybe that’s the real meaning of “There’s nothing here,” i.e. that the state wants to kill off all the aforesaid wildlife.

  8. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Debra, the state does want to kill of those animals. The wildlife allowed in Montana are elk, deer, antelope, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats because you can shoot them. Strange thing is, if buffalo were allowed to be released in certain areas where the actual competition for grass is non-existent, they too could be hunted. It is funny how they ignore the brucellosis threat from elk, which points out that this is far from a disease fear. I wonder if Buffalo Field Campaign has ever thought of being more public with their work. You have shows like “Whale Wars” on animal planet that certainly is getting nationwide if not worldwide attention on that issue. Something needs to be much more public. This blog only goes so far and it doesn’t seem like major news networks are reporting the story.

  9. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    I’ve asked this question before, but no one seems to want to address it …WHERE IN THE HELL ARE THE “DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE” with all their $$ and half million supporters?
    I’ve heard for over 2 years now….”we’re working on the bison issue” BS!!!

  10. Ken Cole Avatar

    As per usual, their website is a year and a half out of date.

  11. Brian Ertz Avatar

    don’t be criticizing the web-guy ~ everyone likes to whip the webguy … 🙁

  12. Ken Cole Avatar

    Uh….. sorry webguy, but I don’t think it is so much the webguy but rather that they aren’t doing anything except raising money on the issue.

  13. JB Avatar

    What is the status of the petition?

  14. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    NO the state does not want to kill them, the cattle ranchers, IE DOL wants to kill them ti continue their assertion of control over the lands of Montana. The cattle ranchers of Montana formed their lobby many moons ago, and continue to do what they want, This is a far bigger issue than just Bison, it is the same group that have killed humans for the same cause, land is money, and you know greed…we need to break the strangle hold that the cattle rancher has in Montana and then we will see some forward and positive movement on the Bison issue…if your outraged, pick the god damn phone up and call your congressman, let him or her know what you feel about it, and I don’t care what state you live in, start talking and start talking real loud, make threats that you will mount a run to get them out of office if they don’t listen, don’t take no for an answer, don’t settle for form letters..if they send you a form letter, then call them back and bitch..don’t get mad just a few days out of the year, stay mad every single day of the year!

  15. Indamani Avatar

    Seems to me like the cattle ranchers of Montana are a ruthless, non-tolerant bunch of thugs akin to the Taliban and Al-Queda of the middle East. The US government is waging an all out war to quash the radical islamic groups abroad, but condones and actually assists in the actions of our home-bred thugs (ranchers) as they wage a ruthless war against our defenseless native wildlife. Yep, it’s all about money and greed.

  16. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Save Bears…..I know people that ARE outraged, pick up the phone, write letters and emails….can’t even fathom the # of calls and letters that I know are written(often I’m sent copies) and not a fuc–ng response of any kind from Schweitzer and form letters from our congressional clowns.
    I’m all ears for any tactic that may possibly work.

  17. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Save Bears, maybe you are right. If your personality is like you write you must be a good motivator. I have done things like sign petitions, I guess I haven’t thought of calling my congressman.

    Jerry b, Defenders of Wildlife does have a petition on their web site but wolves seem to be more their poster children than anything. I think they could have a lot of influence on this issue as they have with wolves.

    Indamani, while I do not agree with all the powers ranchers have and don’t necessarily like all that they do, I do have to say that comparing them to thugs like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda is going a bit too far.

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I have been working on the Bison issue for close to 20 years now, I worked for the FWP in Montana as a Bison Biologist and did the studies that didn’t result in the findings they wanted to hear, hence I am no longer with the agency…Yes, my personality is like what I write, us bitching here will do nothing but fire each other up, you need to call your congressmen and demand answers to the questions you are asking, this is not a regional issue, it is a National Issue. Bitching about what has happened does nothing, bitching about what is going to continue happening will do something. We need to continue letting them know that we are not happy with what is going on, and continue to ask why it is going on, and remind them, there is NO scientific reason to continue policies that have proven time and time again that they are not working…

    Now as soon as everybody gets off the killing aspect of this issue and gets on the land control issue, that has been going on for over 100 years and has killed humans, wildlife and stagnated management, we will get something done!

    Right now, forget the killing and focus on the science, and there is no science to back the actions up, there is NO reason to continue this management policy, it has proven to be ineffective, demand things change.. and when they so no, ask why and continue to ask why, there is no scientific reason to kill bulls, they can’t transmit the brucellosis illness

  19. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Ken Cole, apology accepted.

    JB, I think you can sign a petition on Defenders of Wildlife’s site as mentioned ~ even donate to help line the pockets of inaction 😉

    Indamani, right on.

    Jerry B, let me take this opportunity to invite you to a workshop Ken & I will be hosting in Montana concerning enfranchising citizen activists to learn how to identify & follow through on actionable environmental degradation on a livestock allotment on Forest or BLM such as to mount pressure on the livestock public land use where it can’t be ignored. Organized around bison habitat, this could send a powerful message. Livestock grazing on public lands is the root of so many wildlife issues – yet, awareness of this achilles heel seems to be over-looked (or, if you’re DoW – ignored & undermined). If you’re interested, shoot me an email.

    ProWolf, I disagree – i think Indamani’s analogy is quite apt. The hold Livestock maintains on local, state, & federal power is hyper-disproportionate ~ oligarchical, feudal in its reliance on maintenance of control over the landscape, and frequently it galvanizes on a cultural expression of death (wolves, bison, prairie dogs, coyotes, etc.) and the premise of a projected inherent subservience of landscape, wildlife ~ even people – environmentalists & foreign laborers who are paid slave wages, “city folk” when Livestock politicians attempt to disenfranchise Americans’ voice over land management issues (wilderness, etc.) . some might argue that it is more prudent to be diplomatic in delivery of these ideas – to a large degree i disagree, the Cowboy Myth is so thick that I believe that it requires stark confrontation with this large reality to jar through the fairy-tale.

  20. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    If your not getting responses, then continue to write letters, continue to make calls, emails will not do it, it needs to be hard copy letters, it needs to be phone calls, once they receive a letter that is hard copy, they can’t get rid of it, it becomes public record and you have the right to ask why it is not in the public record, email is great, but it is not the way to demand answers, it needs to be hard copy.

    You need to continue to send hard copy letters to the capital, if they destroy them and they can’t be found when you file a Freedom of Information Request, then you can request the AG to investigate why…it is not in the record..

  21. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    If you could light up the streets of Helena or Bozeman or West Yellowstone or Gardiner or all of the above the way that Tehran is, and you could sustain it, you would have something.

    But, there’s two things in that … getting people out the first time, getting them to come out again and again. Organizing energy (as opposed to just random people acting out) and sustaining that organizing are the phantoms that many groups chase. It’s easy to say that you’ll stay angry … stay on the phones day after day … if you can, that’s great; it is good. If you can’t, a group could – if people can sustain participation in the group.

    Brian has had some interesting things to say about effectiveness. I hope I’ve had an interesting thing or two to say. I don’t have a big belief in any one tactic, but I believe strongly in organizing and committing behind the tactics you choose – mutual aid, concepts like that. Officials get more panicky and strangely more serious about what you are doing when you are part of an organized effort than when you simply are a one-person-show or simply reacting to the news d’jour.

    If you want to do something for the buffalo, I suggest that you hold a meeting in your town, see who’s with you, and get started on whatever tactics you decide. If you are outside of Montana, I’d connect it to an issue that is local to you, and do the same thing. And, if you fail, if you have setbacks (because you will – over and over again), you have to stick with it. Only organized resistance ever has even a hope of winning. The person who beats the system on their own, who beats an injustice on their own, or with a random consortium of others is extremely rare. It’s hard enough to win with your friends beside you; you can’t simply win with a random telephone strategy (even to the right set of officials). Perhaps, you could, if you could figure out how to organize that tactic around an organized strategy. If someone wants to organize the “phone officials for buffalo” group, or the “write letters to editors for wild buffalo” group, they are much needed niches, and you will do us all and the buffalo a service. However, simply issuing the call to action just won’t do anything but give us an avenue to vent.

  22. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Brian….Sign me up!!!

  23. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Save Bears…good info. Thanks

  24. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Sorry you lost your job because of that Save Bears.

    Brian, I can see your point to an extant. I think feudal and oligarchical is a good description though.

  25. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    That actual study I was working on, when I left the agency was about predator transmission of brucellosis, which my studies showed, can happen, but has not happened in the wild and has very little chance of happening in the wild, but the powers that be, wanted it to be true. I don’t play games, I am gruff at times and I don’t like the politics of wildlife management, if your going to justify managing wildlife then you better be sure the science backs you up, current management of Bison in the state of Montana is ruled by the cattle industry and has no scientific basis..

    There is no reason to kill Bulls, and basically no reason to manage cows and calves the way they are currently doing.

    If we continue to hammer on the scientific aspect of bison management, we have a chance to change things, if we let emotion get the best of us, we don’t stand a chance..

  26. Virginia Avatar

    Brian – can you let all of us know about your workshop in Montana and where and when it will be held?

  27. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    My two cents worth. There is a reason to kill these bulls from a social order perspective. They can be the advance “scouts” just like those adventurers who explored the Pacific NW before the wagon trains rolled. These bulls can also be the ones coming after the discoveriers who guard the new “settlements” until the matriarchal components of the families can come. . In Pelican Valley the big bulls of the Mountain Bison stay behind in the winter grazing areas to guard this graze from Hayden Valley bison. This is the role the bulls just shot probably filled.

    Thus by extension of this knowledge Mt. DOL can assure no bison stay outside the Park, ever.

    How does this knowledge apply on the ground and how can this knowledge then be used to alleviate fear and vodoo logic to dictate actions by Montana DOL? Or ranchers fearing bison in Ennis or Bozeman? For one, any bulls that hang out on approved areas of occupation should be allowed to stay there. Then in the next years the matriarchal components of the associated families of these bulls will STAY in the same location…and establish their HOME there…..just like humans did after travelling the country in the wagon trains. It would mean the end of the May 15 deadline but it would give assurances to the cattlemen that their core ranching lands would not be occupied by unstructured wild eyed and paniced buffalo running for miles trying to find a safe place to live.

    And in the end what difference is it that DOL shoots these bulls than hunters (endorsed by non profits as the lesser of evils) being allowed to shoot these animals. A couple of years ago the Nez Perce shot the only 2 bulls out of a satellite starter herd with BFC there and interviewing…and the cow-calf component promptly ran back to the security of the Park the next day.

    The intentions were good, the Nez Perce wanted an animal that would be able to feed the most people and BFC thought of protecting the ones that evolution dictated most needed it, the cow calf component. Only thing is, we as humans, can not provide the protection those bulls served. Now if we, as males, could mount and then father offspring from cows wanting us then we could fill this role….but of course we are a different species and buffalo cows do not want us.

    Just a funny thought I had that last sentence …on the surface…but not so much when we transfer are emotions of protection to apllication on the ground in a piecemeal manner. It doesn’t work.

    The ranchers don’t understand and the biologists and the non profits are doing the same evolutionary displaced thinking. Thus no one understands how to solve this thing…and it is so simple a course of action. Yes, the cattlemen want to save all the grass they can for their family and their disfunctional extended family of other ranchers, but show them the results of how nature can work at W. Yellowstone and the compassion for universal family emotions would win out for buffalo herds being allowed to stay in the Valley. Just show them there are ranch borders without fences. T

    here are universal ranches without fences for all animals in fact. Just understand what makes migrations and what makes permanent homes. There would have been none of those huge bison movements with millions of animals if the Native Americans had not had horses. They disrupted bison family homes and started a chain reaction that could not be reversed…as long as there were people around who could travel long distances on horse…distances that crossed bison extended family homes.

    In the end what is the differnce in the govt. using helicopters and hunters using horse when it came to disrupting bison herds?

    I realize I am taking the hard path here but if we can’t understand our emotions and how they are being applied dysfunctionally and in piecemeal manner then how do we expect to provide a home for these “migrating” animals out of Yellowstone? it is not migrating…these animals are wanting to make incremental increase in territories..that is all it is!!

    Yes I hold all of us propenents of wanting to save the bison to a higher standard than all those state and federal biologists, ranchers and APHIS adversaries. They have the easy life when it comes to this issue. In fact they don’t have to understand anything. They have jobs in govt. and on the land that doesn’t force them to THINK, be creative or desperate for answers. On the other hand activists have emotion and desire deep within. We can come up with answers. Just seperate the emotions applying from eons of evolution applicable to our own families and those we want to save. Or apply it universally. Don’t think those bulls are just lieing there chewing their cud and waiting for breeding season to commence. Think of why any male would be staying there…on the wrong side of the imaginary fence.

  28. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    About the quarantined bison, the N. Arapaho endeavor….and PURE bison iniatives.

    I doubt the pursuading logic was there for the tribe to believe PURE bison were worth the emotional attachment of a pure pre whiteman past to carry this project forward. Elements within the tribe but not the masses in the tribe. I think there would have had to be other tribal inhouse reasons for it to hapen.

    The push for this program, came from PURE bison scientist advocates and other elitists not down to earth components. Yes, there were those hoping purity (should I use ARYAN principles?) would elevate the need to allow expansion of Yellowstone’s herd. I say use anything possible but at the same time understand when you are playing checkers to do anything to crown the king might mean you are falling into a trap ..or double jump. In the end all the adversaries would have to point out is there is no way to maintain PURITY outside the Park …. when all any folks against this had to do was place Non Aryan, yes I think I will stick with this analogy, bison on their crosspath lands. Then those MIGRATING UNPURE buffalo would go back to Yellowstone, right, and infect those few remaining vestiges of pre european occupation, right? The same set of deductive logic was used to dismiss the Nazis attempt at Aryan purity. It couldn’t be maintained. CULTURE, on the other hand, can be and this is what Yellowstone’s herd has….ten thousand years of it. It is also a lot more logical a reason for relocation of bison to gain general Native American support.

    But those abused and orphaned bison of Corwin Springs had no culture, no training from adults and very limited language skills. If they were to be allowed free roam staus it was a disaster waiting to happen. Any hay fields and cattle pastures of N. Arapaho’s or White leasee lands would have been fair game without roles within this herd …and time to establish home. Sueing big time!! would the federal govt. have paid for these “crop damages”? No. Thus those govt. elitists pushing the program would not back it when the time came. The Indians knew it. They knew it from all the other programs they started and didn’t follow through with. Govt. programs and govt. grants but no money to follow through with these programs.

    The program was set up for failure. Imagine putting a bunch of juvenile age kids, kids being fed food through their cell bars with no outside contact with the world…from the age of one or two…and one gets an idea of what kind of functioning “herd” this would have been.

    The only tactic workable for keeping bison out of unwanted areasareas would be harassment and cracker rounds. Then we have duplicates of the American West where tribes were forced into marginal grounds. The only thing is hunting seasons proposed would have meant you had a license to go into those maginal homes and kill a certain number of its tribal inhabitants…of course one could only shoot these people from dawn to dusk. Of course there are no rules against setting up camp in these villages of preyed occupants.

    Again, I am saying when one uses purity and an emotional remembrance and need of how life was for justification of bison placement all emotions have to beconsidered and assessed across the board. They would not have held up in a population so abused in recent history.

    If this angers a certain segmment of a population that wants to instill pride and doesn’t want this input from someone “from the outside” then it means the programs ie. bison herds wanted, would have to be all from ‘inside”. This reintroduction, however, is a govt. program and thus open for comment by all its citizens. Success or failure means thoughts on why it would or would not work.

  29. Ken Cole Avatar

    There you go again. You just had to throw in the Aryan analogy.

    Give it a rest Bob.

  30. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Time for one other sinister possibility. Yellowstone depopulation of bison for exchange of PURE bison from Wind Cave. Big bucks already going that way!!!

    I got back last weekend from doing three days of bison herd consulting at Custer State Park. Part of this necessarily got into the NPS “sister” bison herd one fence strand away from Custers “non pure” herd.

    Custer was concerned a switch to managing for families and thus a larger male population might mean more independent herds. Thus mixing with Wind Cave’s herd MORE. I capped “more” because animals and whole herds have crossed between Custer and the supposed Aryan pure herds for over 50 years. In the 50’s (?) Wind Cave and Custer would cooperate with Wind Caves need to reduce their herd. Thus the fence would be taken down and when a wind cave herd crossedon their own or was near the fence they were pushed across and the fence put back up. If Custer herds were near the downed fence they were pushed further away from the fence. The idea was to have those “suplus” animals for hunting and meat sales.
    The only thing was there was no monitoring or herding at night and herds pushed away or towards went over to the Russian side and vis versa.

    This program doesn’t happen anymore but bulls cross cattleguards and they hook there way through woven wire fences. every year. It used to be until recently Wind Cave would sort out branded buffalo (both males and females) when fall corraling happened. With the purity issue comes Wind Cave intolerance for Custer bison. Thus any branded bison are shot. of course any Wind Cave bison crossing to custer are left to do as they please. since it is mostly bulls many cross back and forth freely…as long as there is no brand.

    Thus Custer now sorts out unbranded cows and bulls in its fall round up.

    The point of all this is these two herds are essentially one herd genetically…maybe not in population genetic percentages being equal but in herd occurrance yes. Politically the wind Cave herd is Aryan pure and custers is blemished. It has to be that way, folks, no different than what Americans thought of their immigrant German scientists recruited just after WWII. As stated in the movie The Right Stuff, ” Our Germans our better than their (Soviets) Germans”

    Now for the effect on YNP bison. Wind Cave has been given money to refence the entire boundary between the two common boundaries. This is a VERY big expenditure!! Formerly it was the joint responsibility of the two neighbors. Thus Custer says, “hey, have at it.”

    The fence itself is in good shape. No fence to replace it would be any better. Maybe the cattle guards can be redesigned but that is about it. So why the big bucks? To make those in Washington, APHIS and Mt. DOL feel good about maintaining a PURITY that is not there.

    Thus, just like the WWF American Seringetti in Montana ships to there lands the Park gets “pure” bison from wind Cave. One doesn’t have to depend on Indian herds accountability to maintain PURITY, you see. They can let the N. Arapaho go and not fight to bring this herd into existence for future “restoration projects”. This keeps it all in house. Govt. can take care of govt. Yellowstone is depopulated and replaced with like kind Park service animals.

    The above scenario is the only way the govt. can justify spending big bucks on a border fence of this nature. it doesn’t come out of wind Cave’s budget I can assure you. It comes staight from Washington. They are not even asking Custer to foot one iota of the bill!!!

    In the end if this attempt at racial purity for the wind Cave herd gets past the public it will be one of the biggest snow jobs in history. The genetists are already covering their bases with quotes such as, “there needs to be more testing to follow up preliminary studies”. I am sure they don’t want to have their reputations mudded when the shit hits the fan. Of course the govt. can change criteria post transplant the same as they did to the red wolves where they can now say there can be “some coyote genes in these wolves and still they can be considered pure”.

  31. JimT Avatar

    Until we can find the political backbone in DC to either buy up the grazing leases, or expand the boundaries of the Park through legislative action, this kind of crap will continue. It seems as if the Mindless and Cruel Yahoo mentality is fully in charge in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho…ok…we can include Alaska as well..hate to not give Palin and her cronies their due when it comes to wildlife policies.

  32. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    They can be the advance “scouts”. Maybe I am not reading this correctly, but I don’t think buffalo have that kind of intelligence. The only things that motivate bulls to move are food, sex, and space. Bob, I like buffalo as much as the next person but I think you are giving them a few too many human like characteristic. I think we need to take Save Bears’ advice and look more into the science than emotional aspect of it.

  33. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I will admit that I have been a little guilty of focusing ont he killing aspect myself and not the science as mucha s I should be. 🙂

  34. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Pro Wolf

    Yes, all animals have scouts. If you read about wolves expand in range no different than buffalo do. Call it any name you like but it is the same whether it is humans or other animals. Intelligence has nothing to do with it. And besides what is intelligence anyway? The problem I see with science is the arrogant supreme thinking we are superior to all we “study”.

    What motivates bison bulls is no different than what motivates homo sapiens bulls. Either elevate bison or devalue humans. Your choice.

    There will be no answers in applied science by any who think they are superior.

  35. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    The problem is 99% of the public has no understanding of what you are talking about, and trying to educate them in a timely manner to change the circumstances of what is going on is not going to happen fast, I fully understand what you are talking about, but also know trying to push forward a thought process that people don’t understand will do nothing but create confusion and with confusion, comes no action.

    We need to hammer the fact that bison have not transferred brucellosis and especially bulls can’t transfer brucellosis…hence there is no reason to kill bulls…the stuff your talking about is foreign to most people, pushing the idea of family groups and scout bulls is not a well accepted idea right now and most who work with the FWP consider it to be theory at best and are not willing to accept it as fact.

    What they can accept is the science of the issue, no transmission in all these years, bulls can’t transmit, and the cattle ranchers have no tolerance for competition for what they consider “their” land..

    What would go a long ways to getting your ideas and stuff accepted, would be to consult with a biologist that understands what your talking about and co-publish and get it peer reviewed..then you might get some strong backing to continue your educational program on the life cycles and family groups within bison herds..

    Just my .02, I hope you don’t take it wrong..

  36. JB Avatar

    “The problem I see with science is the arrogant supreme thinking we are superior to all we “study”.”

    Bob, I don’t see how the type of thinking you describe is limited to science? In fact, if anything, scientists have been those most deeply involved in questioning this type of thinking.

    For decades the criteria used to separate humans from “lower” animals was the use of tools; until a scientist/naturalist showed us that chimpanzees use tools, as well.

  37. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think those most inclined to separate humans from “lower animals” are Biblical literalists. For they believe that the world was given to humans to trash as they wish and to dominate every animal because God looks like them (we are in the image of God).

    Probably looks like me — white guy with a beard.

  38. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Ralph, that was a very thought-provoking response. I was not trying to say that I think humans (myself included) are superior to buffalo (or any other animal) I just didn’t think that animals like that really scouted out territory to that extant. I figured it was only basic primal urges that got them where they needed to go. I will also admit that I cannot really define intelligence. You gave me plenty to think about!

    JB, tool use has been documented in various species, including certain types of wasps. Problem solving has also been discovered in various species. I have heard somewhere that crows and ravens have the ability to gauge the speed of cars on a highway. It makes sense considering that you don’t see too many of them dead on the highway.

  39. Brian Ertz Avatar


    there is another way that we are much like animals. we feel pain.

    i think that this is where the moral implications persist (on the trapping thread) even when we are unable to measure the harm.

  40. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Ralph, My comments upon viewing the BFC film didn’t come up on the other posting so here it is:

    just viewed the film of bison bulls being chased. the film was grainy but they sure looked like satellite herd bulls, not those older bulls guarding the lands for matriarchal herd components return. Notice the 2 different sized animals. Neither is an old mature guard type. The younger one just adores his 5 yr. or so hero buddy. He will follow him anywhere and stay 20 yards back during the rut. Only thing is nether is big enough to be competitive during the main rut except with spin off satellite herds.
    Old bulls can’t keep up with the younger matriarchal components of satellite herds…thus only bulls of this age, the ones you see running well, can keep up with and breed spin off herds.

    I would see this combination all the time in Thorofare. They move fast and go back to the main herds 32 miles away, then try to show and bring spin off herds back with them. kind of like wolves, huh?

    If you want to see this phenomenon in Yellowstone (more so in the Hayden herd. the Lamar herd is pretty screwed up) wait till after the rut and look for groups of maybe 30-40 buffalo well away from the other herds. Try the Fishing Bridge area. You will see two bulls just like these two right in the middle of this herd. They will be the only males besides dependents.

    When I visited Custer I told them these bulls are the ones they HAVE to keep around. I only saw one combination like this in their 1000 animal herd. But it was a start. On the path to functionality…in another 10-15 years … if these bulls are allowed to live and stay with the same identified and maintained female component. By the time these bulls are 10 or so they will be the anchors to home territories. They won’t breed much then but their roles go on to other infrastructure needs.

    It was a shame the Mt. DOL or G&F didn’t recognize how important these two bulls were to gain some stability of the overall herd.

    bob jackson Says:
    June 18, 2009 at 7:42 PM
    The cowboys were comical in the film. What they attempted with their horses was not.They were drug store novice’s. Did you hear how they said this wasn’t like a bull elk? They had no idea they couldn’t pull this animal with their horses…and the horsemen and horses weren’t pulling in unison. Notice the guy and his horse on the left. He could have been pulled off that horse. Going sideways is very hard on that horse also. Deep bruises in the withers possible. The Park had harnesses to do this sort of “work’. We use to have one in Thorofare for all pulling whether it was animals (dead horses pulled away from the trails) or snaking in logs. Only a moron pulls more than a calf or fence rail. You saw REAL Western Cowboys at work here. The best thing that could have happened was for them to snag the carcass on some sage brush right off the bat and then that grossly bloated abdomen would have spewed contents all over everyone …including that innocent little girl.

    I know of no one around cattle who would have tried to skid such a bloated animal. They were negligent on waiting so long for this animal to bloat this way also. Any rancher seeing this film would either look away or get angry if this scenario was happening to his cow. Maybe if there was no other way..such as if this animal was come upon and already bloated..but not where there was control of the situation. What did they do, go back to town for a coffee break and a bear claw? Or did they not know how to quickly “quick quarter’ like meat poachers along a road do?

    Which leads me to this subject. The worst thing I saw was a quick quartered animal. It is where hunting slobs take part of the front and hind quarter off. You see they don’t even gut these animals and leave lots of carcass to rot when an animal is “quick quartered”. And this sort of thing IS ILLEGAL IN MOST ALL STATES. It is called waste of meat. Folks, you have G&F wardens doing to this bull what they write up elk and deer hunters for being slobs. It is what was stopped in Thorofare by the state of Wyoming and a law was inacted to emphasis this point. This “procedure” is what was bringing all the g. bears to the boundary and causing all the maulings and bear fatalities.

    What I saw on this film was the worst hypocritical piece of G&F law enforcement I have ever seen. Id suggest BFC make a bunch of copies of this film with narratives in word and print..and take it to all sporting goods stores. Take it to the local sale barns where ranchers can see for themselves.

    Finally, send a copy to the head of Montana G&F…and the rest of the interagency members. Point out the participants names, those doing the riding and quartering…and include their offical positions. Take this to a reporter for the Bozeman chronicle so they can interview the head of the wildlife departments about what their agents did here this day. There is no excuse for what happened. When the governor says there probably were extenuating circumstances have this reporter say there was a pickup parked close at hand. This was no back woods situation.

    If you don’t nail them to the wall on this it is only because “you” don’t know enough about what happened here to press it…or are so tightly inclusive you don’t want to ask others who do to help “you”. have at them, I say.

  41. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    I forgot to say on the previous post to look at what the vested guy pulling on the left does when he finally realizes they aren’t going to be able to pull this animal (after spurring the hell out of his horse). He undallies the rope and throws it down.

    This guy is real jerk!! for one he doesn’t have much faith in the other two guys for not pulling their own. But instead of leaving it at that, because he considers himself the best horseman, he does what he does with his horse because of anger. The anger is because there are others there to film and document they failed.

    What he should have done from the beginning knowing he was more experienced in pulling was wait till the other two got tight ropes and then monitor their speed as all pull away so they all could pull in unison. Instead he charges ahead with his horse…and probably his ego says he is going to show by example.

    What he did with throwing the rope down…and this was right at the side of the horses head, a big no-no, is like a kid having a temper trantrum, only in this case it was even worse because he took it out on his horse.

    After their skidding failed notice who is pulling the head. It is him with the head directly behind. The other guy doesn’t try to do anything in this event seeing what the jerk is doing. He just rides along with a slack rope. what do you think would have happened if the other guys horse took the lead? Would this all knowing guy caught up and then tried to do what should have been done from the beginning …keep the head between the both of them? No he would have rushed ahead even faster or would have gotten angery and pulled his horse up so it made the other guy look out of control.

    I saw cowboys like this guy all the time in Thorofare. they shouldn’t be around horses for the horses sake and they shouldn’t be allowed to do what he did by supervisors.

    This is a guy the press interviewer could have a hay day with. It wouldn’t take much to tap his trigger.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole