We continue to strive toward our primary objective of enabling Yellowstone National Park (YNP) buffalo to be accepted and managed as legal, free-roaming wildlife in Montana and Wyoming. Year round foraging on public land outside the boundaries of YNP in the Gardiner, Montana basin north of YNP, and in the West Yellowstone, upper Gallatin River, Madison River and the utmost source of the Missouri River basins at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The buffalo can then walk by themselves from YNP to these traditional year-round grazing ranges without any interference by humans.
To obtain these objectives we must further educate state and federal wildlife agencies and private Stockgrowers to accept wild, genetically pure buffalo into Montana and allow them to range as natural wildlife, as we do for bear, elk, deer, big horn and all the plant eaters and carnivores that are managed as wildlife.
In 2008 YNP captured 1,600 buffalo within the Park, loaded them onto large livestock trucks and without testing for brucellosis, moved them to slaughter in Idaho. We then sponsored a court suit against YNP and the National Forest Service for indiscriminately slaughtering buffalo. We lost this case in federal court in 2010.
In 2011 the Governor of Montana and his Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks illegally gave 80 brucellosis-free, genetically pure, quarantined, public trust YNP buffalo to a local private bison rancher. We sued the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks because the State did not have the right or authority to dispose of public trust wildlife. This suit is still in litigation.
The Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation through the years has participated in many meetings, hearings, protests, writings, testifying to many environmental statements and reports, against the slaughter of public trust buffalo. The buffalo have been abused by hazing, driving, capture, testing, poking, prodding, brucella vaccination, trapping and holding in crowded urine-muddy pens, and forcing pregnant buffalo to calve in holding traps. This terrible treatment of native wildlife is an outrage, and it is little recognized in Montana.
Stockgrowers, state and federal agencies and private agricultural organizations think that our public trust buffalo are a liability, instead of a gift from nature. We must continue to educate them on the value of wild, free-roaming buffalo on public land, and on private lands where they are welcomed by the owners. Stockgrowers continue to enjoy low priced, subsidized grazing fees on federal and state public lands. They are unwilling to share the grass with wildlife and they use the brucellosis disease as a heavy club to maintain their power.
After we are successful in re-establishing buffalo in the larger Yellowstone area we will return to focus on eastern Montana’s Big Open, public lands, where we began our efforts to re-establish buffalo in 1986. Unfortunately we were driven out of that area by the Stockgrowers.
Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation