More Buffalo Shipped to Slaughter Leaving Stephens Creek Bison Trap Empty.
Death Count Passes 400-

News Release

Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0071,
Mike Mease, Buffalo Field Campaign, 406-646-0071,

Yellowstone National Park, Gardiner Basin, Montana. Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) patrols reported this morning that they witnessed three tribal stock trailers leaving Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek bison trap containing wild bison. Another stock trailer full of wild buffalo left the Stephens Creek trap Monday afternoon. In the past two days roughly fifty-five wild buffalo were taken from the trap to slaughter facilities by two tribal entities — the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the federally chartered InterTribal Buffalo Council — who are participants in the highly controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP).

“It’s awful to see such a wild and majestic animal get shipped off like cattle to a slaughter house,” said BFC volunteer Andy Jozwiak, who witnessed this morning’s events.

An estimated 250 wild bison have so far been captured inside Yellowstone’s trap since January 15. All have been shipped to slaughter, except for five bison who were consigned to the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service for birth control experiments with the chemical pesticide GonaCon.

“You think to yourself that this couldn’t possibly be happening, that Yellowstone and some Native Americans could do this, but the shocking reality is that those who should be the fiercest champions and strongest allies for the buffalo are instead betraying them by taking the lead in the livestock industry’s culture of death,” said Stephany Seay, spokeswoman with BFC.

Additionally, Montana and treaty hunters have killed over 150 buffalo along Yellowstone’s boundary, raising the buffalo death count to over 400.

This morning, after the trap was emptied, BFC patrols witnessed Park Service and Montana Department of Livestock horsemen hazing (chasing) a group of forty-seven buffalo that were migrating towards Gallatin National Forest where Montana and treaty hunters are waiting to harvest bison. The agents attempted to capture the buffalo.

“The fiduciary responsibility of the National Park Service, and their obligation to protect the treaty-reserved hunting rights of the Nez Perce, are being subjugated by the ill-conceived herd management philosophy of a maximum population number based on politics,” said BFC board and Nez Perce tribal member James Holt, whose tribe is currently hunting buffalo under treaty right. “The tribal hunters should be outraged at bearing the conservation burden of misguided management under the IBMP. In no way does a ship to slaughter program trump treaty hunting in the Greater Yellowstone Area. This useless, costly practice must stop at once.”

BFC patrols witnessed as the horsemen hazed (chased) the buffalo away from the hunting zone and into the trap. A tractor with a round bale of hay was luring the buffalo while the horsemen pushed them. The buffalo, however, had other plans and made an about-face, escaping capture. The horsemen soon retreated.

“Baiting buffalo into a trap and away from the very small harvest area effectively negates the opportunity for treaty hunters,” said Holt.  “It is a slap in the face of honoring treaties with the federal government, and the spirit of the buffalo.”

The National Park Service and other IBMP agencies, excluding the Nez Perce tribe who oppose shipping bison to slaughter, intend to kill at least 900 wild buffalo this year through hunting and slaughter. IBMP affiliates are no longer using the weak excuse of brucellosis to commit unjustifiable actions, but have now shifted their argument to “population control.” They aim to reduce the most important bison population in the world to a mere 3,000 animals, due to the intolerance of Montana’s livestock industry, intolerance that is codified in the statute: MCA 81-2-120, a law crafted by the livestock industry. The 3,000 population cap is an arbitrary number based on politics, not science or carrying capacity. Yellowstone’s own bison carrying capacity study indicates that the Park alone can sustain upwards of 6,200 buffalo, while there are tens of millions of acres of public lands surrounding the Park.

“The Park Service operates on the basis of ‘do as we say, not as we do,'” said Buffalo Field Campaign co-founder Mike Mease. “They consistently break their own rules by harassing, baiting and killing wildlife.”

Buffalo Field Campaign and Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program have filed an emergency rule making petition and lawsuit in an attempt to stop the slaughter. Exact capture and slaughter numbers are unknown because, for the second year in a row, Yellowstone officials refuse to be open with the public about their bison operations, stating they will only give out reports every two weeks.  Buffalo Field Campaignhas requested media tours of the Stephens Creek trap numerous times but those requests have not been granted.

“Bison should have the same rights as other species, but instead they are treated as second class wildlife,” said Kim Acheson, social media coordinator with Buffalo Field Campaign. “This needs to end and it’s a shame for our entire nation that one of our crown jewel national parks is leading the destruction of America’s last wild buffalo.”

Yellowstone buffalo are America’s last wild, migratory herds and the most important bison population that exists. They are the last to identify as a wildlife species and ecologically extinct throughout their native range. They’ve been added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List for being “threatened with near extinction,” and even Montana designates the species “in greatest conservation need” with conditions “making [bison] vulnerable to global extinction.”

Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project filed a petition to list the Yellowstone bison under the Endangered Species Act in November 2014.

West Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana-based Buffalo Field Campaign is a non-profit public interest organization founded in 1997 to protect the natural habitat of wild migratory buffalo and native wildlife, stop the slaughter of America’s last wild buffalo and advocate for their lasting protection, and work with people of all nations to honor the sacredness of wild bison.


About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

24 Responses to Slaughter of bison in Yellowstone continues apace

  1. Today’s Yellowstone Bison herd is descended from 23 native bison that hid out in the Pelican valley and another 21 plains bison imported from the Charles Goodnight Ranch in the panhandle of Texas in 1902.
    The Texas bison were herded to the Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley where they were treated like cattle. The Lamar valley out in front of the Buffalo Ranch was irrigated and grass hay was cut and stored to feed the bison during the winter. You can still find some of the irrigation ditches there if you do a little hiking out in the valley.
    The Texas bison were allowed to revert to being wild in the 1960s about the same time the Park service quit shooting elk in the park and let them reproduce to the 20,000 that were in the park when the wolves were reintroduced in 1995.
    Since most of the bison that show up below Gardiner, Montana during harsh winters come from the Lamar Valley, you could argue that the Park Service is simply killing Texas bison that are trying to migrate back to the Texas panhandle.

    • Mark L says:

      I’d be curious if anyone has studied how genetically distinct the Texas bison were from the Pelican valley ones…interesting story line how they got there though. Thx, Larry.

  2. Ed Loosli says:

    From the Buffalo Field Campaign website:

    “”How many cattle graze within the range of the Yellowstone buffalo?

    In winter, very few cattle graze on the north side of Yellowstone National Park in the Gardiner basin. Because of the harsh winter climate no cattle graze on the west side of Yellowstone National Park in the Hebgen basin.

    In summer, cattle are trucked in to seasonally graze public and private lands.
    * On the west side of the Park, 686 cattle graze from June – October.
    * On the north side of the Park, 677 cattle graze from May – October.
    Sources: Kilpatrick et al, Wildlife-livestock conflict: the risk of pathogen transmission from bison to cattle outside Yellowstone National Park (2009). M. Daley, Gallatin National Forest, IBMP Changes 2000-2008 (September 2008).””

    All this blood and death for Yellowstone’s bison because of a few hundred privately owned cattle and their selfish owners and political stooges. Tragic.

  3. H.Lobb says:

    Just another example of uncaring greed for the almighty $!

  4. Gary Humbard says:

    Of all the conflicts between wildlife and livestock in the US, this seems to be the biggest travesty of them all. The quarantine method is a successful method to allow at least a few hundred bison each year to be re-located to some of their former habitat (tribes, the Nature Conservancy and other owners).

    I wonder if nearby private ranchers were paid for all of the costs (i.e. fencing, feed, vet bills etc.) to quarantine bison, if they would be willing. They would also need to be compensated for perpetually not raising livestock. Ted Turner can afford these type of costs but most ranchers could never afford them so conservation organizations would need to pay for them.

    Terminating grazing permits on nearby US Forest Service and BLM managed land when they come up for renewal (every 10 years) would help. The land management agencies (not the ranchers) are just as responsible as ranchers for reducing the conflicts between bison and livestock on public lands. When known conflicts arise they can deny the renewal of the permit, but do they have the political will is another question.

    I believe bison are one of the most desirable wildlife species people want to see when they come to Yellowstone NP and there are a few popular parks in Montana and Canada where people pay to drive through and view them in their native habitat. Saving more of them would certainly increase the likelihood of more places throughout the US to come to view them and we all know wildlife viewing is big business.

  5. Jon Way says:

    I feel like we don’t live in a democracy anymore. I continue to write to Yellowstone NP, the governor and MTFWP. Nothing. No response,no modification to any suggestion that is different than their ideology esp that of the livestock industry. No wonder why government is viewed so negatively these days.

    • timz says:

      Unless you have $$$ and are a donor you have nothing to say the powers that be would be interested in.

    • Nancy says:

      Agree Jon, writing, emailing seems to accomplish little, although Senator Tester (Montana) will squeeze out a personal response occasionally (depending on if the issue is near and dear to his heart $$ – like public lands grazing & drilling etc.) that I as a voter, need to understand, is for the good of the country.

      And how the heck are you Jon, since the “gee, I thought it was a deer” incident?

      • Gary Humbard says:

        I don’t waste my time writing or e-mailing politicians, but working for the feds for 37 years it was my experience that agencies are very reluctant to change policies and practices. The “status quo” is “safe” and “stable” so why would they need to make changes.

        Being a “non-status individual” what I did find was that agencies did change when the change would benefit the agency. If costs can be reduced and efficiency improved, resulting in additional accomplishments, they were open to change.

        When providing comments, instead of focusing on the negative aspects of their actions, I give them better alternatives and slowly they are beginning to implement some of them. Its a sale job and it takes perseverance, but it took 20 years for wolves to return to Yellowstone so isn’t it worth it?

    • Ida Lupines says:

      Jon, hope you are doing much better. I was sorry to hear of your ordeal.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Watch this. Your heart will race, your hands will tremble. You’ll feel sick. If only the millions of tourists who visit Yellowstone and marvel at the wild bison herds could see what goes on in another, remote corner of the park.The park no longer allows access to the capture facility, and here’s why: …

    To read the latest report from the field: … EY=1315487

    • skyrim says:

      The video appears to have been pulled or for some other reason is not available.
      Any speculations?

  7. Kathleen says:

    Try this?

  8. Ed Loosli says:

    “The Buffalo People” is a webzine dedicated to wild bison and the people who want them free to migrate. It is published by James Horsley. This very informative site is an almost “everything you want to know about bison in general and Yellowstone bison in particular” fountain of information:

  9. Craig says:

    I have been trying for many years to establish standards for humane treatment of YNP bison. The agency people and politicians don’t want to deal with it. I have tried to get the Humane Society Montana rep. interested, but it is just silence. We have raised bison for 20 years and what goes on at YNP is a worse case scenario, and a nightmare for the bison. The people do not know or understand bison. It is clear that they have no concerns about their actions. Our ranch is Animal Welfare Approved certified and we have experts visit our ranch each year to verify that our handling and slaughter of bison is humane. The Federal government should be held to the same standards. Our standards for transporting bison to a slaughter house are: 1) bison are lured onto the trailer, 2)only one bison per compartment 3)bison at the slaughter house are released individually, and 4) bison are killed immediately upon leaving the trailer. However, most of our slaughter is conducted in the field and all bison die while peacefully eating grass. I have repeatedly offered to train NPS/ITBC/CSKT staff on humane and sanitary field slaughter, but all I get are polite refusals. The disrespectful treatment of YNP bison is just so wrong.

  10. monty says:

    Thanks Craig. You are dealing with knot heads whose heart and souls are devoid of poetry.

  11. Nancy says:

    What’s that,about 10% of their population? Cattlemen are happy, hunters are happy, native American tribes participating, are happy, but what about the bison left to pick up the pieces of their fractured families?

    Some thoughtful words on the west:


January 2015


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey