Travesty of Tribal Slaughter of Yellowstone Bison

UPDATE: Since I wrote this piece, the number of bison killed near Gardiner and elsewhere from all sources has exceeded 1150 animals. You can read the report here.


Yellowstone bison are used to being photographed not shot.   Photo Bonnie Lynn

As I write this essay, sources I trust estimate that at least 700 of America’s magnificent national animal, the bison, have been slaughtered near Gardiner, Montana by tribal members. These people are butchering our national treasure in the name of “cultural” preservation. But let’s not dress it up. What is occurring is a travesty. It harms the evolution of bison and their dignity as an animal. It also does not reflect well on the Indian people or their supporters.

I have always had a connection to and interest in bison as I was born at Buffalo Crossroads where the last wild bison in Pennsylvania was killed in 1790.

Heavy snow and cold in Yellowstone National Park are pushing bison out of the park seeking snow-free forage. I was in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley a few weeks ago. I typically encounter hundreds, if not thousands, of bison in the winter. However, this year I saw just a few small herds. However, thousands of bison were congregating in the lower elevations near Gardiner.

Loading bison heads on pickup. Photo George Wuerthner 

Unfortunately, almost as soon as they step over the invisible line that marks the Park boundary, they run into the lead wall (bullets) of tribal hunters.

These animals are used to tourists “shooting” them with cameras, not people blowing them away with rifles. As a result, entire family groups are being eradicated.

To see videos of this slaughter, go to Yellowstone Voices and watch the annual carnage.

Here’s a link to a video showing the “hunt.” In particular, watch minutes 4 and 7-9. Ask yourself if you believe this butchery represents anything worth supporting.

I hasten to add that many tribal members are uncomfortable with the spectacle of their people shooting bison from trucks or surrounding herds and cutting them down. But they are also unwilling to risk censure within their tribes by openly criticizing the slaughter of Yellowstone bison.

The worse part about this senseless bloodbath is the culpability of so-called “conservation groups.” Some organizations like the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) actively support the tribal killing of bison—indeed, they use the term “harvest” to characterize this bison holocaust.

BFC correctly identifies that the livestock industry as utimately the biggest problem for bison restoration. However, this should not obsure the fact that the unnecessary destruction of Yellowstone animals by Indian shooters harms bison restoration and genetics.

I used to be a big supporter of the BFC, but once they put human desires ahead of the preservation and sanctity of wild bison, I left the group. I encourage others to do the same.

Other groups like the Greater Yellowstone Coalition,  Sierra Club, and National Parks and Conservation Association, among others, implicitly give their approval through their silence in the face of the carnage.

The BFC even uses the term “hunt” and “harvest” when discussing Indian slaughter, as if the tribes are doing nothing more than mowing down some corn. I will not legitimize the massacre using these innocuous-sounding words.

All of these groups now put human desires and tribal interests ahead of the survival of bison, evolutionary processes, and ecosystem health. In the age of the WOKE, these groups have become human-centric instead of bio-centric to the detriment of the bison and the survival of wildness.

Bison heads in pick up truck. Photo George Wuerthner

There is no legitimate reason to kill these animals. If needless killing is not wrong, nothing is wrong.


Bison have been regularly killed near the park border for nearly 30 years, a policy implemented to preclude the transmission of brucellosis, a disease that can cause abortion in cattle. The Park Service has participated in this disgraceful butchery through a capture and slaughter program, which it admits is done to meet the “specific interests of the livestock industry.”

Bison killed at the NPS Stephens Creek capture facility are being transported to the Salish Kootenai Reservation.

To the N.P.S. defense, this has been in response to orders from the very top of the agency to comply with the wishes of Montana politicians. Park rangers and biologists involved in the capture and slaughter express dismay and opposition to the program. Recently Park Superintendent Cam Sholly announced the N.P.S. is preparing an Environment Impact Statement ( E.I.S.) that will cease the capture and slaughter program.

Tribal hunting of bison began in 2012 with the support of state and federal agencies, who viewed it as a “management tool.”

Bison hoisted with a crane to faclitate butchering. Photo George Wuerthner

But the tribal kill is totally a volunteer decision. No one has to shoot bison. There is no gun held to the head of tribal members.

The so-called hunt has never undergone any National Environmental Review Analysis (NEPA), even though it occurs on federal lands. This link to the Yellowstone Voices trailer gives a brief background.

No matter who is removing bison from the Yellowstone ecosystem landscape, as conservationist Phil Knight asserts, “the loss of tens of thousands of pounds of “biomass” is in effect “stripmining” the ecosystem of food” that would support numerous other species from magpie to grizzlies.


There appears to be no end to the slaughter, which discourages the movement of bison from the park. Bottling up bison in the park by systematic slaughter at the park border prevents the migration of these animals to other public and private lands where they can sustain themselves.

Unlike other wildlife, however, when bison leave Yellowstone National Park and migrate into Montana, they are killed. We do not kill wolves, grizzlies, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, or any other wildlife simply because they leave the park sanctuary. Only bison are treated this way, and the cruel fact is that some of them are being exterminated by tribal people who claim that bison are their “brothers.”

I would hate to be a relative of these folks if the way they show fondness for a relative is to kill them.


The origin of this massacre has to do with federal disease policy. Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that is occasionally found in livestock. It causes the abortion of calves and thus is a financial cost to any producer whose herd has the disease. In addition, ranchers selling cattle from “surveillance zones” must test their animals for the presence of the disease before shipment. And though there is a brucellosis vaccine, it is not 100% effective.

However, ranchers oppose the bison movement outside Yellowstone mainly because of forage competition. Bison eat essentially the same plants as cattle. Therefore, if bison herds were to get established on public lands outside of the park, ranchers believe the public would demand that bison get the majority of forage now consumed by their cows. (I think they are correct).

So to nip this in the bud, the livestock industry opposes establishing bison herds on public lands in Montana. Right now, the livestock industry is fighting the American Prairie Reserve, which owns bison and large parcels of land along the Missouri River from grazing public lands adjacent to their private holdings.


The only documented wildlife to livestock transmission has been from elk. Yet elk are not slaughtered when they attempt to leave Yellowstone. Photo George Wuerthner 

Bison can allegedly spread the disease to domestic cattle, but thus far, there is not one documented case of bison-to-cattle transmission. The irony of this policy is that other wildlife can also carry brucellosis bacteria, including wolves, grizzlies, and elk. Every ranch infected by wildlife is the result of elk, not bison. Yet we don’t kill elk just for walking out of Yellowstone Park.

Here is a piece I wrote in 2011 that goes into a bit more detail about the brucellosis and livestock industry subterfuge.

Tribal slaughter is doing the dirty work of the livestock industry keeping bison from moving to other public lands. If tribal bullets weren’t fencing in Yellowstone Park bison, the Dept of Livestock might be shooting the animals.


Brucellosis can also infect humans, termed Undulant fever, due to the rise and fall of fever in infected individuals. In the days before milk pasteurization, many people got the disease from drinking milk from infected cows. People consuming raw milk today also risk contracting the disease. Symptoms of brucellosis can include fever, chills, sweating, headache, low appetite, fatigue, and joint or muscle pain.

To reduce human health risks, the U.S. government began a campaign in the 1930s to eliminate brucellosis from all U.S. cattle herds. As a result, today, only those handling livestock, like veterinarians, get the disease. Nevertheless, it remains U.S. policy to make America brucellosis-free. One of the ways this is done is by killing the members of any infected cattle herds before they can spread the disease to other livestock.

Montana state officials and the Department of Livestock have banned transport of Yellowstone bison in the state. Except for a small area adjacent to the park, bison outside of Yellowstone Park are considered “livestock” and thus under the juridiction of the Department of Livestock management. Indeed, it is illegal even to transport live Yellowstone bison in the state, making it nearly impossible to transplant captured bison to start other herds.

Some private landowners welcome bison on their property–but bison must run a gantlet of bullets to get there. Photo George Wuerthner 

And some private landowners, such as the Church Universal And Triumphant (CUT), have agreed to keep cattle off on their property after receiving a significant payment, thereby avoiding conflicts.

Over the years, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has loosened up the draconian response of total herd elimination. However, most ranchers still support bottling up bison inside Yellowstone Park.

Bald and golden eagles suffer from lead poisoning when they feed on gut piles. As many as 400 gut piles have been allegedly left by tribal hunters. Photo Bonnie Lynn

Bison killers regularly leave gut piles. These remains have brucellosis that can infect other animals, including elk. These gut piles also contain lead bullets. As a result, other wildlife, including golden and bald eagles, ravens, and other scavengers in the ecosystem, suffer from lead poisoning typically obtained from gut piles. The gut piles also draw in grizzlies and wolves, who are also vulnerable to poaching and lead poisoning.


Although there are more than a half million bison in herds in private, tribal, and public herds scattered around the West, most have some intergrade of cattle genes.

But the biggest difference is that all these herds are treated as domesticated animals. They are selectively slaughtered. They are often fed in winter. They are inoculated against the disease. They live without serious predators like grizzly bears and wolves. Then, they are moved and herded by cowboys.

By contrast, the bison in Yellowstone is the country’s longest continuously wild herd. During the early years, when there were no more than 25 bison in the park, they were fed in winter and protected from poachers (not predators). Yellowstone’s bison are the last evolutionary unit of the wild bison that roamed the western U.S.

The Yellowstone bison are also unique in that they are being reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for consideration as a “Distinct Population Segment” worthy of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Petitioners who requested the review “presented credible information to indicate potential threats to the (bison) from reductions of its range due to loss of migration routes, lack of tolerance for bison outside Yellowstone National Park, and habitat loss,” the agency stated in its findings last summer.


Wild bison are not the same as cattle. They have many evolutionary adaptations that should be preserved.

Biologist Jim Bailey has written an entire book American Plains Bison Rewilding An Icon on the importance of preserving the wildness of bison.

Yellowstone bison have gone through numerous genetic bottlenecks. Continued killnig of the bison harms their genetic fitness. Photo George Wuerthner 

The Yellowstone bison are descendants of 25 bison. This founder population means there was already a genetic bottleneck at the origins of the park herd. Since bison are tournament species where dominant bulls do most of the breeding, the genetic diversity is further restricted.

And for the past decades, there has been an annual culling of as much as a quarter to a fifth of the Yellowstone Park herd in some years. This further erodes the genetic diversity of the animals.

With all small populations, genetic drift can be problematic. Any maladaptive genetic trait may soon be eliminated in larger populations, but congenital abnormalities can spread rapidly through the entire population when you have smaller herds.

The Montana Wild Bison Restoration Coalition has a website that details bison wildness and its preservation.


The groups that support the tribal slaughter of bison ignore science. Some WOKE groups like the Buffalo Field Campaign even claim opposition to tribal slaughter by anyone is colonialism.

The Buffalo Field Campaign and other so-called conservation groups ignore the culpability of Indian people in the initial extirpation of bison in the West. Indeed, many of the tribes now slaughtering the Yellowstone bison were originally involved in the overhunting of bison that led to their demise across the West.

There are numerous evolutionary consequences to human-induced mortality.

The annual slaughter of bison attempting to leave Yellowstone Park harms bison evolution and wildness.

First, human bison killers do not select the same individuals that natural predators would take down. It’s a truism of biology that predators like wolves tend to choose the less fit individuals, usually calves and older animals. Human killers make no such distinctions.

Finding a dead bison is like winning the lottery for many species. Photo George Wuerthner 

Second, the Indian removal of bison from park populations harms other wildlife. Under natural conditions, a certain number of bison would die from predation, starvation, or whatever. Many animals, from coyotes to red foxes to ravens, scavenge these carcasses. Finding a dead bison is like winning the lottery for a sow grizzly bear emerging from hibernation with hungry cubs.

Removal of bison from the ecosystem could harm grizzly recovery. Photo George Wuerthner 

I could make a good case that Indian hunting harms the ecosystem’s grizzly recovery. Grizzlies who find carcasses may survive in better health than without bison carcasses. Plus, grizzlies are one of the few animals that can and do occasionally kill a live bison. But even as strong as grizzlies are, a healthy bison is still a problematic prey to bring down. So like all predators, grizzlies (and wolves) look for less than-fit animals like older animals starving to death.

When tribal members kill and remove bison from the herds, they are effectively reducing bison numbers and thus competition for forage and space. All these results make it less likely that a bison will be weakened and available as prey for predators like wolves and grizzlies.

Migratory behavior is the bison main adaptation to variable environmental conditions. Tribal hunting is selecting against migratory behavior.  Photo George Wuerthner 

Migration is one of the leading behavioral traits of bison that has sustained their herds since “time immemorial.”

Mobility is the bison’s primary strategy for survival. Moving frequently to find favorable grazing range and avoid predators, drought, or heavy snow has been the most notable feature of bison behavior for thousands of years.

But the bison most likely killed by tribal bison killers have the most significant migratory tendencies. Indeed, excessive human predation has been shown to alter elk habitat use, so it is reasonable to assume this is the case with bison.

Some scientists suggest lack of migration by Park bison is leading to habitat destruction in the Lamar Valley. Certainly, discouraging bison migration or total elimination of any bison with a migratory tendency by killing migrants is part of the problem.

The position of the front legs at the shoulder creates a fulcrum that allows bison to lope long distances. Photo George Wuerthner 

In response to migratory behavior, the bison has evolved with a hump near the shoulders that acts like a fulcrum that allows the bison to gallop effortfully for long distances.

Wild bison have also developed the ability to survive harsh winters by utilizing forage that has less nutrition than what a cow can survive upon.

Bison can survive harsh winter condition better than domestic cattle. Photo George Wuerthner 

Bison also use their massive heads like snow shovels, swinging them back and forth to expose grass hidden beneath.

Another evolutionary trait is the aggressive nature of bison bulls, which protects the herds. I have watched wolves attacking bison and running away as soon as one of the massive bulls ponderously starts marching in their direction. But the killing of bison bulls by the Indians (in part to get trophy heads) selects against bulls that attempt to protect the herd.

The practice of killing entire family groups is yet another evolutionary problem. Bison are herd animals for a good reason. The herd works together to assist the survival of all herd members. Much of their “cultural knowledge,” like where to migrate or how to defend against wolves, is learned by being part of the herd.

Recently it was reported that the killing of 26 park wolves had led to the social disintegration of the remaining wolf packs. Packs suffering from high human-caused mortality fell apart and were less able to hold on to their territories. And they were less able to take down large, difficult prey like bison.

Such social impacts also affect bison.

Just as the pack is the biological unit of the wolf, the herd is the natural unit of the bison. Human-caused morality can harm social behavior.

A herd works to protect all members. With a herd, you have more eyes to spot predators. And more animals to defend against predators. It takes a larger wolf pack to take down bison, especially bison in large herds, successfully.

I’ve watched bison repeatably drive off wolf attacks, partly because a larger herd presents multiple defenders that would not exist if the animals were alone or in a small group. So breaking up family units increase bison’s vulnerability to predators.

Bison cow leading calves across the Madison River. Photo George Wuerthner 

For instance, I once watched a herd of bison crossing the flooded Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. The lead cow bison chose a place to swim the river and was followed by other cows. Then some newborn calves attempted to cross the flood. They were immediately swept downstream. A few of the female bison swam to their rescue.

An adult bison would swim upstream of the calf to break the current, while another would swim downstream to block it from being carried further downstream. And yet another swam behind the calf; I presumed to reassure it—”come on, you can do it.” The adults would stick with the calf until it scrambled safely up the river bank to dry land.

Then they would swim back across the river and help the next calf get across the stream.

Bison cow assisted calf in crossing flooded Madison River. Photo George Wuerthner 

I watch the herd members assist a half dozen calves to cross the river using this method. Unfortunately, this cultural knowledge is lost when bison or other animals are indiscriminately killed.


View of trucks and horse trailers just outside of a private residences. Photo Bonnie Lynn

Some houses lie right across the road from Beattie Gulch and the location of tribal killing. Nearby residents, some of whom operate vacation rental facilities, fear for their own lives and visitors. At the very least, the road is often blocked with trucks and horse trailers.


The goals of Tribes for reservation bison restoration include nutrition and economic development. Management of tribal bison herds (as well as nearly all other private bison herds) leads to domestication of the animals. The goal of the Gardiner basin bison kill is maintaining and enhancing treaty rights to hunt off of reservation. Unfortunately it also degrades bison genetics. All these goals produce management for production and human values to the detriment of bison wildness.

Indians are not only killing bison; they are killing evolution (as is the capture and slaughter practices of NPS and Dept of Livestock).

The Indians shooting bison suggest they are saving their culture. I might have more respect for their cultural goals if I saw hunters sneaking up on foot with bows and arrows and spears that they had made and later gutted the animal with an obsidian knife.

But, of course, the only part of their culture they are practicing is slaughtering bison.

 Modern weapons, pickup trucks and other cultural acculturation makes a mockery of cultural preservation. Photo Bonnie Lynn

The tribes practice cultural acculturation. They shoot with high-powered rifles, chase bison towards hunters with motorized vehicles, transport the dead animals in pickups and horse trailers, and use binoculars and spotting scopes. I have even seen drones used to spot animals that may be hidden in nooks and crannies.

Supporters of tribal killing say what they are doing is perfectly legal. It may be legal, but so was segregation in the south, the on-going annual wolf slaughter in Montana and Idaho, blowing away prairie dogs to see the “red mist,” running down coyotes in snowmobiles, and many other lawful practices. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

There are other opportunities to kill bison on private ranches, and tribal lands without sacrificing the unique Yellowstone bison. Photo George Wuerthner

Another canard given by tribal supporters is that the bison killers are “feeding” their families. However, anyone who has witnessed the fancy expensive pickup trucks, ATVS, horse trailers, and other equipment used to transport the bison, much less the expense of staying in hotels, eating at restaurants and buying ammunition, etc., for the slaughter would find far more money is spent on hunting equipment than any savings provided by bison meat.

Furthermore, there are other opportunities to kill bison on tribal lands, private ranches, and so forth that do not involve killing one of the last wild bison herds in the country.

The tribes insist that treaty rights give them authority to hunt bison and other wildlife on “ceded lands” which lie outside of their reservations. However, some opponents of the bison slaughter assert that none of these tribes have “ceded lands” that include the Upper Yellowstone by Gardiner. This would mean that they have no authority to hunt the bison. (I leave that for others to argue – but merely note that there is a dispute about “ceded lands”. ) Here is the 1855 and 1863 Treaty with the Nez Perce. Here is the 1855 Treaty with the Umatila tribe as examples of treaty wording.

The map shows the Nez Perce Reservation in dark orange, and the “ceded” lands (light orange) that are off reservation lands, primarily Nez Perce/Clearwater National Forest that is available to off reservation hunting. Obviously this does not include Yellowstone National Park or anyplace near it. 

Tribal members who believe that animals should be valued primarily for their usefulness to humans, may conclude that humans should have a legal right to take the life of an animal for personal religious gratification or in this case treaty rights.

However, human beings who believe that animals have inherent rights such as an interest in continued survival, will conclude that humans have no right to subordinate the animal’s rights to human religious desires.

At one time, human sacrifices were justified for religious purposes. As most societies came to believe that all humans have intrinsic rights, human sacrifice ceased.

With the growing recognition of the intrinsic value of human beings, many relationships based upon utilitarian concepts, such as slavery, were relinquished.

There is a growing perspective that all life has intrinsic worth that must be respected. Photo George Wuerthner 

Today there is a growing philosophy that all life has some intrinsic worth, and perhaps it is time to acknowledge that Yellowstone bison have rights too.

We have had an evolution in our attitude towards killing wildlife for religious reasons. In theory, it is illegal for tribal members to kill migratory birds and Endangered Species—at least without special permits.


First question the organization policies that support the tribal bison slaughter either explicitly like Buffalo Field Campaign or implicitly by their silence like the Greater Yellowstone  Coalition. If you are a member of one of these organizations, please voice your concern. Silence is no option.

Next encourage Secretary of Interior Haaland to terminate all NPS capture and slaughter of animals near the park boundary. Public outrage does work.

In addition, send messages to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and demand that they prohibit tribal hunting of bison on federal lands. I suspect the tribes would object, claiming sovereignty, but ultimately, the tribes are supervenient to the federal government.

Although most of the Forest Service land immediately north of Yellowstone’s north entrance by Gardiner has no active livestock grazing allotments, there are active grazing allotments north of Corwin Springs, Tom Miner Basin, and  the Six Mile Allotments near the Dome Mountain WIldlife Management Area. Supporting the Voluntary Grazing Allotment Retirement passage in Congress could lead to closure of these allotments and the excuse they provide the state of Montana and ranchers use to justify keeping bison bottled up near Yellowstone National Park.

The bison have no alternative but to leave the park to obtain forage in deep snow years; people don’t need to kill bison. All people, including tribal people, have alternatives.

You can also support Roam Free Nation, the only organization working specifically on protecting wild Yellowstone Bison. Yellowstone Voices documents the slaughter and seeks donations to pay for their videos.

The other organizations to support are the Montana Wild Bison Restoration Coalition, which aims to establish a wild bison herd at the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, and the Gallatin Wildlife Association, which protects Yellowstone bison and other wildlife migration opportunities.







  1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
    Jeff Hoffman

    The longer the Native people are colonized, the more they’ll become like the colonizers. Some traditional Natives try to fight this, but it just continues to get worse as more time passes.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      And this is one of the great tragedies, lost traditions and history. 🙁

  2. Glenn Monahan Avatar
    Glenn Monahan

    What a great piece – well researched and heartfelt.

    I recently visited this killing field, and can verify that there is no exaggeration in Wuerthner’s piece … this is a shameful travesty that must be stopped. Indians try to pull on the public’s heartstrings by saying they are just “poor Indians feeding their families” – which is bullshit. Look at Wuerthner’s photos, which verify my observations – to the person, these Indians are driving late model, $60,000+ pickups, some outfitted with high tech cranes. I’ve observed other Indians hauling horses (with trailers, and snowmobiles to facilitate carcass removal. They are using expensive, modern, high powered rifles, and spending the night sleeping in comfortable, warm hotel rooms. There is nothing “traditional” or “cultural” about this slaughter. They are not poor! They are not deserving of any sympathy.

    These bison belong to ALL AMERICANS. These tribal hunters should have no more rights to slaughter these bison than any other American.

    The bleeding heart, white, social justice obsessed, liberal environment groups who support this slaughter – either vocally or with their silence – are complicit, and as Mr. Wuerthner suggests, should be abandoned of support.

    Thanks George, for bringing to the forefront a subject that sorely needs to aired!

  3. Susan Rhem-Westhoff Avatar
    Susan Rhem-Westhoff

    Great information. Deb Haaland is a fraud and responsible for the slaughter of many. Bison, wolves…

  4. Mike sauber Avatar
    Mike sauber

    Pretty gripping video. I grew up hunting, but this is indeed slaughter. Reminds me of this great song:

  5. Joseph Y. Avatar
    Joseph Y.

    Well for countless ages Native Americans have always been portrayed as nature oriented, reverent types that have a spiritual connection and respect for the natural world and its inhabitants, but I never bought into that fantasy and distanced myself from it sadly for the wholesale slaughter of animals under the guise of culture as depicted in this article.
    The current Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is a perfect example. She is a Native American with a horrific record and a viral indifference and ignorance of any real humane management methods when confronted with wildlife issues. She can immediately stop the carnage but stands idly by as the slaughter continues.

    1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      You can’t lump all Natives into one basket and expect to come up with any accurate assessment. As of colonization, there are traditional Natives and “progressive” Natives, the latter not having the traditional political meaning. Of course the progressives think and act just like the colonizers, that’s what they aspire to. Traditional Natives, on the other hand, DO have a spiritual connection to the Earth and all the life here. Maybe there are no traditional Natives left since the last time I worked with them almost 40 years ago, but that’s how it was then.

      1. Glenn Monahan Avatar
        Glenn Monahan

        The traditional ones should be hunting with spears with stone points. Good luck on that!

        1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
          Jeff Hoffman

          As I said, I don’t know whether there are any traditional Natives left in what is now the U.S. When I stayed at a Dine (Navajo) reservation in Arizona in 1986, we stayed with the traditionals. They had no running water, no electricity, and no motor vehicles. They grazed sheep, which was not traditional and which wrecked the land, but they were definitely living pre-industrially.

        2. Adam James Hess Avatar
          Adam James Hess

          ….to make the killing slower and more painful? Makes no sense. A rifle is quick and painless if you’re a good shot.

          1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
            Jeff Hoffman

            If you want traditional hunting rights OR if you claim to have a traditional lifestyle, then you have to hunt traditionally. Otherwise you’re a hypocrite at the very least, quite possibly a liar. Guns totally suck, just more unnaturally human crap that’s environmentally destructive.

            Hunting bison should be on a very small scale regardless. Before the colonizers reintroduced horses, there was very little bison hunting by humans, the large majority of it being chasing bison off cliffs, which, traditional or not, I totally oppose.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Wuerthner writes: “Tribal hunting of bison began in 2012 with the support of state and federal agencies, who viewed it as a ‘management tool.’ ”

    Whenever an agency that deals with our outdoor treasures uses the words “management tools” to describe powers they have, it tells us that concern for natural systems, wilderness, the environment is nothing they care about.

  7. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Speaking of which, when will the West be satisfied with wolf killing? 60% here, then another 60% there, and on and on:

    1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      Modern humans, as a whole, are psychopathic killers. Humans have been a problem ever since we began leaving Africa 60-90,000 years ago and causing extinctions wherever we went, but the killing and extinctions have reached whole new levels. I realize that most people don’t kill the plants and animals directly, but our lifestyles and overpopulation are the root causes of these killings, so we are ultimately responsible. What to do? Consume as little as possible, and don’t have more than one child. Then advocate that others do the same, while leading by example. Those are the changes that are needed.

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        Words to live by!

  8. Rich Avatar

    There is usually some limit imposed on hunters to ensure a population of hunted animals isn’t decimated. In this case it appears that the killing will continue as long as bison step out of the park. I suspect there are also wounded animals that run back into the Park to die. The result could be especially dire for the bison that normally migrate out of the park. I understand bison are also being trapped at the Stephens trapping site in the Park and hauled off to slaughter. Is there any point at which the killing will be stopped to preserve the herd and is anybody keeping track of the numbers being killed?

  9. laurie Avatar

    What a abysmal failure Haaland is, just sitting back, doing nothing at all about all the wildlife carnage! SHE NEEDS TO BE PUBLICLY SHAMED. I wish massive video screens on a semi truck, driving slowly around the Capitol, showing videos of these travesties while shaming her face, would happen.

  10. Linda Horn Avatar
    Linda Horn

    I’m from NM, and a lot of us already knew Haaland was the wrong choice to head Interior. IMO, she needed at least one full term in the House just to understand how things work(same for ALL newbees). But she fit a symbolic demographic (female, indigenous) and she’s GREAT at stealth self-promotion and seeming nice in public. The person who SHOULD be Secretary is former NM Senator Tom Udall — who literally has Interior in his DNA. When he retired I thought something might keep him from public service, but he accepted the ambassadorship to New Zealand. I’m all for righting the Haaland wrong with someone I feel has a proven track record. I’m sure New Zealand is lovely, but we need Tom HERE!!!

    1. Mike Sauber Avatar
      Mike Sauber

      Actually, probably not a chance in hell, But our own New Mexico’s Jim Baca who held the post for a short while would be fantastic, but he was too good and pissed of to many of the powerful people with honest decisions that favored the public’s good.

      1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
        Maggie Frazier

        I remember reading about Jim Baca years ago – and yes too good & decent to be allowed in this post. As I recall, he stood up for the Wild Horses against BLM’s “position”.

    2. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      The problem is that the people who run the extractive, grazing, and development industries don’t want someone like Udall to run Interior, and rich people like that are the ones who the politicians work for. Haaland is fine with them; she won’t protect the land or the life there, but she checks a lot of the identity politics boxes, which they don’t really care about.

  11. Greta Montagne Avatar
    Greta Montagne

    “The Buffalo Field Campaign and other so-called conservation groups ignore the culpability of Indian people in the initial extirpation of bison in the West. Indeed, many of the tribes now slaughtering the Yellowstone bison were originally involved in the overhunting of bison that led to their demise across the West.”
    ^^What an incredibly untrue and extremely racist statement, makes me feel sick. Tribes were not involved in overhuntung of bison that led to their demise and you know that. Colonizing white man is 100% responsible for the mass slaughter that led to only 25 being left, from over 44million. It was a fast campaign to remove a primary food source for plains tribes so they could more easily be subjugated & forced, starving, onto reservations, a fraction of their subsistence hunting territories. At the same time (in late 1850’s)strychnine was deployed across the west to kill off all other animals that might compete with cattle grazing, so there was literally no food, clothing or other survival materials available for tribes.
    I can’t believe some of these racist statements, y’all should be ashamed. You can’t see your white priviledge and implicit biases, they blind you. We must bring back the native human element and Traditional Ecological Knowledge into National Parks, (one example is the very successful partnership so far in Kipahulu on Maui). Federal Treaty Rights trump State Rights legally, and while we can agree the current methods of hunting suck, tribal treaty rights are federal, and MT DOL can’t touch that. I nearly got shot defending bison from being hunted in 1990, and helped bring the hunting issue to national attention. Bison management in YNP has been near to my heart for over 3 decades. It’s hard to read these words of white male biocentrists. Tribes must absolutely have a bigger stake in this issue, we must let them lead, white people have screwed the balance up enough and it’s time more white privileged people support Treaty Rights. It might be uncomfortable and ugly getting there.

    1. kim k Avatar
      kim k

      its not racist to disagree with you.

    2. Tracy Basile Avatar
      Tracy Basile

      Thanks for this comment Greta. People need to hear it. Get educated. You bring up important corrections and biases and point out where many Americans have little knowledge. Thank you.

  12. Kay S Avatar
    Kay S

    The top of our driveway is the parking area at Beattie Gulch. The trucks start lining up before first light. The gun shots follow shortly after. Every day I go into town, I have to drive through the carnage of bison heads in the road, body parts strewn all over the road and fields. And, let’s don’t even talk about the gut piles left. It’s heartbreaking to see our National mammal being treated like “another piece of meat”. I have developed a saying I will share….”the bisons need to survive is greater than its fear of man.” I have seen a line of bison walk by these killers, not 3 feet away from them. They are so habituated they don’t know the guns are eventually gonna kill them. The bison are no longer afraid of man because of their interactions with humans inside the park. Cameras, constant lines of cars, idiots wanting selfies with the bison, etc. And, no one has mentioned the 14-yr old male that was injured a couple weeks ago. (They said it was a ricocheted bullet). It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.

  13. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    “Swedish hunters will be allowed to cull 75 wolves out of an estimated population of 460 until the 15th February. It’s twice the number they were allowed to kill last year. As of Sunday, 54 wolves have already been killed.”

    If you want to know where the anti-wolf attitudes came from in this country, look no further than Europe IMO.

    Other countries are taking a more enlightened outlook these days, but not Sweden. The same script virtually that is used in our country to justify it. r total population of wolves is only something like 200! Norway has wiped out their original population too. Sweden wants to keep the population as close to the edge as possible, just like here. So much for science!:

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      ^^sorry, that should read they want to reduce their country’s wolf population to 200, which is well below what their country’s scientists say is a healthy number of at least 300.

    2. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      Science can be used as a discreet tool, but that’s all it is. The problem here is people’s attitudes toward the Earth and the life here. If people felt oneness and empathy for members of other species, they wouldn’t kill them except to eat them, and people don’t eat wolves.

      As I’ve said all along, we need a major mental and spiritual evolution for humans. That’s the only thing that’s going to fix these problems adequately and permanently.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    We used to come to the northern range of Yellowstone during winter break at the university where we taught. We came to ski, hike in dry winters, make photographs, and watch the wildlife. About twenty years ago the bison slaughter became too much.

    I love Yellowstone Park. It was the first land I felt about that way. I was only 4 or 5 years old.

    I love the land and wildlife, and I didn’t come to watch Whites and Indians pee all over it. So I quit going in the winter and spent the time writing rants and essays about what these people were allowed to do. I didn’t believe in this bloody so-called cultural heritage for even 5 minutes.

    Yes, some call it their cultural way. That is an insult to Native Americans.


George Wuerthner is an ecologist and writer who has published 38 books on various topics related to environmental and natural history. He has visited over 400 designated wilderness areas and over 200 national park units.

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George Wuerthner