Stop Bison Slaughter


The Louvre Museum in France houses some of the most famous art works in the world, including paintings by such well-known artists as Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

What would you think if you heard the famous Louvre Museum began to throw out and burn in the streets these priceless masterpieces saying they needed to make room for the remaining art work?

How do you think the art world would respond if they suggested that a way to save the art was for the museum to build another wing to house the paintings or even give the paintings to other museums who would gladly accept them?

But instead of following such sensible advice, the French government prohibited expansion of the museum or even the transport of the world’s heritage to other museums and argued the only solution they would considered was to burn paintings? I’m certain it would be an international scandal.

But this is exactly what the Montana government is doing by the senseless slaughter of our national mammal–Yellowstone’s genetically unique and wild bison. These bison are a global heritage that the state of Montana is treating as if they are expendable and valueless asset.  The Department of Livestock proposes to capture and kill more than a 1000 bison this winter.

Even the paintings by art masters are not as priceless as the genetically pure Yellowstone bison that are a consequence of a long line of evolution, yet Montana is treating these magnificent beasts as if they were vermin.

Worse, the justification for this butchery is flawed. One excuse is that the livestock industry is threatened by brucellosis, a disease that can cause abortions in livestock. The other major reason given for rounding up bison and slaughtering them is some assert there are too many animals for the park.

Both are questionable assertions, but even if they were valid arguments, there are viable solutions that do not require the destruction of these animals.

Fact: there is no documented transmission of brucellosis from wild bison to livestock. The only examples of wildlife transmission to cattle is the result of elk, not bison.

Fact: Yellowstone’s bison are genetically unique. Most bison herds in the United States have cattle genes mixed into their genome, but Yellowstone’s bison are one of the few genetically pure populations.

Fact: There is an abundance of public land on the Custer-Gallatin National Forest and other state and federal lands outside of Yellowstone National Park where bison could winter or even live year-round.

Fact: There are other large blocks of public land within the historic range of bison that could support herds such as Montana’s Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Wyoming’s Red Desert, and the Vermillion Basin of Colorado.

Fact: There are numerous Indian tribes that wish to start or augment their own bison herds if only Montana would allow them to be transported.

Fact: Montana’s livestock industry will not lose its brucellosis free status simply because one or two herds are infected.

Fact: There are brucellosis vaccines that are available free of charge to ranchers that can reduce the chances of infection.

Fact: The only way that cattle can become infected with brucellosis is if they consume or lick an aborted bison fetus. This must occur before the bacteria dies or the fetus is consumed by scavengers like ravens, coyotes, and magpies.

Fact: Even if in theory bison cows could abort and transmit the disease to livestock, bison bulls and calves cannot transmit the disease, yet they make up a high percentage of the animals being slaughtered.

Fact: Removal of bison harms endangered species like grizzly bears and wolves. A female grizzly with cubs finding a dead bison is like winning the lottery. By slaughtering bison, the winter kill and other sources of mortally are reduced and vulnerable animals that wolves and grizzlies can capture.

Fact: There is simply no scientific or even legitimate rationale for the continued slaughter of this priceless wildlife legacy.  The real reason our collective patrimony is being destroyed due to the intransigence of the livestock industry.

We need a solution that treats Yellowstone’s wild bison as the priceless and precious global inheritance they represent.




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  1. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    “Fact: There are brucellosis vaccines that are available free of charge to ranchers that can reduce the chances of infection.”

    I had wondered about this. And free of charge to boot. Good grief! Why must they kill them then?

  2. Craig Avatar

    I have identified 3 bison harvest strategies. 1 human mass slaughter, 2 North American big game hunting model, and 3 modified wolf/bear predation. Currently Yellowstone bison are subjected to human mass slaughter. The wolf/bear predation model allows all adult female bison to live their full normal life. This would result in 200 to 300 bison dieing of old age each year. Presumably most of these would be killed by wolves and bears as they decline in physical condition. This would also maximize the number of calves born and tested by predation. Yearling females could be field slaughtered as needed to manage the population.

    The current management is absolutely the worst strategy. Plus capturing wild bison, putting them on trailers and taking them to slaughter houses is extreme animal abuse. 70 percent of the bison at time of slaughter will have significant bruising, broken bones, broken horns, gouged out eyes, and gaping wounds from gorings. All the bison will have been subjected to extreme trauma.

  3. Isabel Cohen, Artist/Activist Avatar

    just one more outrage that should not be allowed to happen!

  4. Kyle Avatar

    Thanks for keeping this story out there George. This remains one of the most shameful and unethical wildlife policies in the US.

    The facts are correct as you’ve described them George, but unfortunately “alternative facts” have been used as a blunt instrument against wild bison by the beef industry and hobby ranchers for decades. The IBMP is a complete disaster and has done nothing to actually help bison prosper. This is a case where science has been completely perverted and the hapless victims continue to suffer, needlessly.

    And the bison “hunting”? I’ve never seen more cowardly acts.

    As bad as it it, we simply cannot let them down!

  5. Melanie Avatar

    My heart breaks… I’ve always loved to see these beautiful lives at the mammoth webcam. Sometimes at oldfaithful, too. Unimaginable what humans do in their un-consciousness :’-O
    When will it cease..?
    (sad) greetings from germany


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George Wuerthner