Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer Boasts about Buffalo Slaughter

2808 bison killed under the Schweitzer Administration

Bison calf being processed at the Stephens Creek Facility YNP
Bison calf being processed at the Stephens Creek Facility YNP

In an address to the Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer boasted that “No governor in Montana history has sent more bison to slaughter than this governor.” During Schweitzer’s administration he has the dubious distinction of presiding over the deaths of 2808 wild bison, 1,616 of which were killed in a single year. This from a Governor who campaigned on the promise that he would work for more tolerance towards buffalo in Montana.

Schweitzer tells livestock group that lobbyists have stalled help
Matthew Brown – Associated Press



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  1. kt Avatar

    Schweitzer (like Minnick in Idaho) epitomizes what is wrong with the candidates that Democrats field.

    Got a notch in yer big belt or yer hat on yer big head fer all them bison killed, eh Schweitzer?

  2. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native

    Isn’t Schweitzer a huge Obama supporter who spoke at the Democratic National Convention last year in support of Obama?

    No wonder the concept of “Change” was pure political rhetoric. I am glad I never fell it!

  3. Mike Avatar

    Wow, not something to be proud of. Dude has serious issues.

  4. mikarooni Avatar

    Schweitzer, Baucus, and Tester have all become poster boys for raising the question of whether electing a Democrat at all costs, even a “blue dog” if that’s what it takes, is always worth it. I doubt that it is. A big tent is a good idea in general; but, if the tent gets too big, you end up with it just flapping in the wind.

  5. Mike Avatar

    While I despise their actions on this, they have been there for health care which is a huge deal.

  6. mikarooni Avatar

    I can agree to a certain extent, which is why the answer isn’t always obvious and usually a judgement call; but, I would point out that it sure isn’t clear whether Baucus actually hurt us or helped us on healthcare.

  7. Mike Avatar

    I think it just comes down to people who like killing rare native wildlife and people who don’t. It’s not just a western thing unfortunately.

  8. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Schweitzer’s actions concerning bison have attracted some formidable adversaries, namely WWP and Earthjustice. I see justice for bison in the near future. As for Scheitzer he can be a paid whore for the stockgrowers much in the same way Conrad burns is for the horse slaughter industry.

  9. Dawn Avatar

    I am so over the ranchers, you want to ranch in this enviroment then adapt to the surroundings , very simple and also over the politics that is involved . Damn I mean it is always something with these people . over it !

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Everyone will be sad to learn Burns just had a stroke.

  11. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I am sad for his family, I actively campaigned against his election bid a couple of years ago, but I don’t wish this on any family..

  12. Elk275 Avatar

    ++As for Scheitzer he can be a paid whore for the stockgrowers much in the same way Conrad burns is for the horse slaughter industry.++

    Scheitzer is not like by the stockgrowers and after several years of animosity he was invited to the annual stockgrower association to give the key note address. There were a number of stockgrowers who turned their chair backs to him.

    Scheitzer was elected the governor of Montana and that is the way it is for both the greenies and stockgrowers.

  13. gline Avatar

    Schweitzer is a good ole boy .. who else would we have a Palin?

    Horrible pic of the bison being “processed”. Such fear in the eyes.

  14. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    To take pleasure in death makes Schweitzer a sociopath, plain and simple.

  15. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Addendum: It seems so obvious that a healthy bison herd — even a facsimile of its historical presence — would solve the wolf depredation “problem”. Has there ever been any in-depth discourse about this at stakeholder meetings?

  16. gline Avatar

    that would be work val.

  17. jerryB Avatar

    Valerie….The people to talk to would be the Missoula office of WWP. They would have info on any such plan

  18. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Definitely not something to be proud of. The only politicians who seem to be more interesting in killing animals are Palin, Otter, and Rammell.

  19. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Greetings gline,

    Did you mean to say that would work instead of that would be work?

    By the way, I always like reading your astute and informed commentary. Hope we have a chance to meet in person sometime.

  20. Petticoat Rebellion Avatar
    Petticoat Rebellion

    In spite of the thousands of bison this governor has sent slaughter during his tenure, elk have transmitted brucellosis to cattle and Montana lost its brucellosis-free status. This winter will be no better for the bison…Montana Department of Livestock is pushing for absolute zero tolerance of bison outside the borders of YNP. Man up Schweitzer! Stop giving in to the livestock oligarchy!

  21. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    The picture of the calf shows nose tongs forcing this animals head straight up. If tongs are ever used …something not needed in 99% of the cases… is to pull an animals head to the side. To crank an animals head straight up, especially on a buffalo where the neck bones are formed with a hump behind, is the cruelest of all pain induced measures possible.

    YNP corral operations does this tonging to all animals put through the squeeze chute, something I have told them many times is not something that should be done. They continue to use this method because they are very scared of these animals and the tongs incapacitation alleviates this fear.

    I think of the prison warden using his clamp “tongs” on unruly inmates in the movie “Natural Born Killers” to see the reason and effect on those it is applied to at Yellowstone bison corrals.

    The fear Yellowstone rangers and horse corral operations guys have for bison behavior is their own fault. They designed and never corrected the most injury designed corrals of all govt. corrals out there. Plus they hold and force way too many animals through this facility.

    The animal pictured was terrorized continually before being forced into this chute and having to bear the pain of tongs wrenching and compressing vertebra together. that is why one sees the whites of his eyes bulging out in this picture.

    After these animals come out of this squeeze they are the most beaten and forlorn of all animals one can imagine. There is no spirit left. The post working holding corral holds these animals and they do not want to be close to any comrades. They just stand there as multiples of lonely bison…hour after hour not moving….with their heads down.

    Ya Yellowstone’s is one cruel, hypocritical puppy when it comes to protecting its animals.

  22. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Petticoat Rebellion
    It has not been officially established that “elk have transmitted brucellosis to cattle and Montana lost its brucellosis-free status.” Robert Hoskins had an excellent article on this topic a year or so ago. Seems he was positing that rodeo livestock may have been the source. He recently pointed out that the authorities in Montana have not released any results of their official investigation; even so, they keep putting the blame on elk.

  23. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    And if in fact the Department of Livestock has evidence that it is transmitted by elk, why do they not treat them the same as they do bison? Perhaps they fear a hunter backlash?

  24. Salle Avatar

    “Perhaps they fear a hunter backlash?”

    That is precisely it. the elk have lobbyists with big $$s and lots of sway. Pretty much says it all.

    With that in mind, elk range far and wide over the landscape while bison have a relatively limited range, at least for the NP herds which don’t really go far from the YNP boundary and also return of their own accord at rather predictable times ~ makes them easier to exploit for the purpose of blaming them for disease transmission that is nonexistent. As Robert Hoskins and many others have explained, the bison/brucelosis claims are a fraud at the very least. It’s those public land-robber-barons crying over their uselessness and lack of viability on the landscape. Victimhood has worked for them for so long that they have no other argument, mainly because there is none.

  25. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Barb Rupers

    You beat me in responding to Petticoat Rebellion. Thanks. She of all people should know that it hasn’t been proven elk caused the two brucellosis incidents that recently cost Montana its brucellosis free status. A preliminary report issued by APHIS and DOL last year had a number of holes in it, mostly failing to account for all the movements of cattle in these two herds; some of these cattle were Corrientes, favored as roping cattle in the rodeo circuit. Interestingly, no final report has been issued. Even more interesting, some cattle ranchers in Montana thought the Corriente connection, particularly their popularity the rodeo circuit throughout the West, was also suspicious.

    A scientific paper was recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases that tested the DNA of brucellosis samples (isolates) from elk and cattle in the Greater Yellowstone, and found a great similarity between DNA of elk and cattle, as well as a great difference between bison and elk/cattle. However, the researchers cut off their data set at the year 2003, well before the Montana incidents.

    (The cite for this paper is Beja-Pereira, A. et al. 2009. DNA genotyping suggests that recent brucellosis outbreaks in the Greater Yellowstone Area originated from elk. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 45(4): 1174-1177).

    No one questions that elk were responsible for the Wyoming brucellosis/cattle incidents in 2003 because, aside from similarities in DNA genotypes, the affected cattle herds were very close to elk feedgrounds in Sublette and Teton Counties and at least in one case, elk and cattle were negligently being fed close together. Here in Wyoming, it’s a no-brainer that elk feedgrounds are brucellosis hazards to cattle.

    However, that’s not the case in Montana. I still think there’s good reason to continue asking about a cattle source for the Montana incidents until a match is shown in brucella isolates from elk of the Northern Yellowstone Elk herd and the specific cattle found seropositive in Montana.

    This doesn’t mean that BS’s comment about sending more bison to slaughter isn’t as despicable as it sounds. When are bison conservationists going to realize that Brian Schweitzer is the key log of bison mismanagement in Montana and go after him in the press?


  26. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Petticoat, I think no matter how much you try to show proof that elk can and do transmit burcellosis people will not believe it. Elk are too much of a sacred cow (a sacred cow for people to shoot) that people will not admit there are any problems with them.

  27. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    ProWolf in Wyo

    I think your understanding of elk/brucellosis politics is not complete.

    There is no question that elk can and have passed brucellosis to cattle in both Wyoming and Idaho. You need to understand that. It’s simply not been proven in Montana.

    The issue is that it’s the livestock industry that demands that elk feedgrounds, which are the continuing source of brucellosis in the elk of western Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, remain open. Ranchers have chosen control of grass over the risk of disease as their priority. Feedgrounds keep elk off ranchers’ haystacks and off their grass on public and private lands. Plus, they sell hay to G&F for use on the feedgrounds. Feedgrounds are both an indirect and a direct subsidy to ranchers. What a deal, eh?

    Yet, for propaganda purposes, Wyo G&F now tells us we need to keep elk on the feedgrounds to protect nearby cattle herds from contacting diseased elk as well as to carry out various experiments (vaccination, test & slaughter) to reduce brucellosis in elk, experiments that are destined to fail. Obviously, there’s a contradiction between claiming to be concerned about brucellosis in elk but continuing the managment regime that keeps brucellosis in elk.

    At the same time, we know that brucellosis is a density dependent disease and that if we reduced elk densities by closing the high density feedgrounds and spreading elk across the landscape, brucellosis would fall to very low levels and possibly disappear from the elk of western Wyoming. However, to get elk on the landscape, we have to reduce or remove cattle. Elk and cattle are in competition for the same range.

    That doesn’t mean that somehow elk are being pampered as sacred cows. They’re being kept in ghetto-like conditions on the feedgrounds for half the year and being treated like livestock through what I call tech-vet management regimes–vaccination, test & slaughter, etc.

    There are a lot of problems with elk. These problems aren’t the fault of elk, but of oligarchical livestock politics that keep elk boxed up on feedgrounds, spreading diseases among themselves, not to mention of the ignorance or stupidy of most hunters who buy the pro-feedground propaganda.


  28. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Robert, you said that elk had not transmitted brucellosis to cattle in Montana. Didn’t that happen just last year in Paradise Valley? I know that buffalo certainly couldn’t have gotten to them there.

    As far as elk on feed grounds, I agree that is a bad system. I did not know that ranchers had that much of an interest in it but it makes perfect sense.

  29. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Actually, I said an elk source hasn’t been proven for either the Bridger or Paradise Valley incidents. Despite lack of proof, that’s all we hear from Montana DOL and the livestock industry–that elk are responsible. Even some bison conservationists like Petticoat Rebellion believe it, relieved it wasn’t bison. We do know it couldn’t have been bison, since bison are hardly allowed out of YNP at any time, certainly not anywhere near Pray or Bridger, MT.

    If you look at the phylogenetic tree of brucella isolates in the DOL/APHIS preliminary report, you’ll find something interesting–that the isolate from the Corriente cow that tested positive in Pray MT–this was the second Montana incident that cost Montana its b-free status, was fairly closely related to brucella isolates from bison held in the quarantine feasibility study. Not anywhere near a good match, but close enough to be interesting. Now how could that be? The QFS bison certainly aren’t wandering around, are they?

    I hope that clears things up


  30. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Yes, it does.


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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