FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Countering the Buffalo-Killing Agenda

Each year, Yellowstone National Park announces that they “need” to kill hundreds of buffalo to placate rancher’s unfounded fears and prejudices. With the assistance of the media, they manipulate facts and language in an attempt to persuade the public to believe their lies. For example, see the recent AP article, “Yellowstone Park Looks at Large Bison Cull to Trim Herds.” This brief but damaging propaganda is loaded with false premises supporting their buffalo-killing agenda.

 Premise 1:  hundreds of bison need to be killed to reduce herd size. Why do the herds of ecologically extinct wild bison need to be reduced? Scientists acknowledge that Yellowstone can support more than 6,500 individuals, and wild, migratory buffalo also create their own habitat.  Gallatin National Forest, surrounding the north and west boundaries of Yellowstone, encompasses an additional 3 million acres which could support thousands more buffalo, while the whole of the Greater Yellowstone Bio-Community is around 20 million acres.  The continent can support tens of millions of bison, yet, today, a few thousand is deemed “too many.”  Compared to what?  The 23 who saved themselves from extinction in Yellowstone’s remote Pelican Valley? The politics of competition is using declining baselines to define populations; instead we should compare them to those before European invasion and exploitation.

Premise 2: bison are spilling into neighboring Montana. When did seasonal migration become an accident?  Do elk and deer “spill” over park boundaries? This is just more livestock rhetoric. Wild buffalo aren’t “park animals” who should stay put within artificial, ecologically meaningless boundaries for the “benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Migration is not some error that humans should correct.

Premise 3: 5,500 bison is a high number.  Declining baselines again (see Premise 1).  Interestingly, Yellowstone now claims they “underestimated” the population last year. How did these professionals miss counting over 1,000 of America’s largest land mammals? Who’s to say they aren’t overestimating now to serve livestock agendas? Yellowstone’s Central Herd, which migrates north and west is doubly impacted by management actions; they haven’t recovered from the 2008 slaughter.  In spring, our field patrols typically see 400-600 buffalo in the Hebgen Basin, but last spring we saw fewer than 250 total.  Recons into the park, to places suggested by Yellowstone’s bison biologist, also failed to reveal where these buffalo were.  In what corner of Yellowstone were a thousand buffalo hiding?  How convenient that this “mistake” is revealed when it’s time for them to kill again.

Premise 4:  bison population growth needs to be stabilized.  Revisit Premise 1.

Premise 5: bison pose a brucellosis threat to cattle.  What threat? There has never been a single documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis back to cattle, even where they co-exist, even decades prior to the Interagency Bison Management Plan.  Cattle brought brucellosis here when they were imported. Brucellosis entered the bison population by human error.  Meanwhile elk, who have been implicated dozens of times (and as recently as last week) in transmitting brucellosis to cattle are free to “spill into neighboring Montana” without consequence.

Premise 6:  Yellowstone’s neighboring communities are concerned about property damage and threats to human safety. Who?  Not communities who actually live with wild buffalo.  In the Hebgen Basin, where year-round habitat for wild bison finally exists, residents are celebrating.  These communities are teeming with “Buffalo Safe Zone” signs and the residents fiercely defend their shaggy neighbors. For many years Horse Butte residents have demonstrated a living classroom of co-existence with wild buffalo. Gardiner residents are waiting for the same chance.  As to safety, an average of two Yellowstone tourists per summer are charged by bull bison during the rut. Compare that to the hundreds of buffalo who are killed by humans each year. Who’s dangerous?

Montanans and citizens throughout the country and around the world are tired of the political games being played with the country’s treasured buffalo.  We are through being bullied by cattle ranchers and lied to by the governments who serve them. Current management schemes threaten the evolutionary potential of wild bison, violate treaties with and autonomy of Indigenous sovereign nations, and undermine the will of Montana’s citizen majority.

You can help wild buffalo right now.  Please take a moment to make two very important phone calls:  1) Call Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk (307-344-2002) and demand that he stop bending over backwards to appease cattle interests at the expense of the sacred buffalo; 2) Call Montana Governor Steve Bullock (406-444-3111) and urge him to help repeal or amend MCA 81-2-120, the law that gives authority over wild buffalo in Montana to the Montana Department of Livestock, and urge him to support a new plan that respects wild buffalo like wild elk in Montana.  Tell them both to stop sacrificing our treasured national mammal on the altar of the cattle industry.  When you call, expect that each of them will place the blame on the other, but know that they are both directly responsible for this war against the country’s last wild buffalo.  Montanans, contact your state legislators and Montana Governor Steve Bullock and urge them to defend America’s national mammal.  Urge them to repeal or amend MCA 81-2-120 to remove Department of Livestock authority over wild bison, and to support a new plan that respects wild buffalo like wild elk in Montana.

Stephany Seay is media coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign.

More articles by:

March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
Dean Baker
In Praise of Budget Deficits
Howard Lisnoff
Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence
John W. Whitehead
Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America
Priti Gulati Cox
“Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story
Missy Comley Beattie
On Our Knees
Mike Garrity – Carole King
A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat
Robert Fantina
The Media-Created Front Runners
Tom Clifford
Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F
Ron Jacobs
All the Livelong Day      
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail