Yellowstone National Park proposes to kill 1,000 bison

Yellowstone National Park proposes to kill roughly 1,000 wild bison this winter – mostly calves and females – as officials seek to curb the animals’ annual migration into Montana.

Park officials will meet Thursday with representatives of American Indian tribes, the state and other federal agencies to decide on the plan. It marks the continuation of a controversial 2000 agreement between Montana and the federal government that calls for killing bison to prevent the spread of disease to livestock.

Almost 5,000 bison roamed the park this summer. A harsh winter could drive thousands into areas of southwestern Montana.

Hunters, including from tribes with treaty rights in the Yellowstone area, are anticipated to kill more than 300 of the animals. Others would be captured for slaughter or research purposes.


Buffalo Escape Farm Only to Be Shot and Killed

The Boston Globe reports that after a herd of buffalo escaped from a farm in upstate New York, they were intentionally shot and killed:
Three men hired by the farm opened fire on the animals Friday afternoon in woods in the town of Coeymans, about 10 miles south of the capital. …
… They escaped Thursday from a farm across the Hudson River in the Rensselaer County town of Schodack. The owner believes they swam across the river to the town of Bethlehem, where they wandered across a busy stretch of Interstate 87 and into neighboring Coeymans.
This heartbreaking incident reminds us that farmed animals, like all sentient beings, have a strong desire to live; in fact, Mercy For Animals has reported on countless animals who have escaped from slaughterhouses or jumped from transport trucks.
Love buffalo and other farmed animals? Don’t eat them! Click here to order your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide.
Photos: Mike Groll / Associated Press 

Stop the killing of 900 Bison in Yellowstone Natl Park!!

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Bison are incredible animals who once roamed the Great Plains in astounding numbers.  According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Bison populations were estimated to be 30 million – 60 million in the 1500s. Today, those numbers are a fraction of their former glory – only 20,000 – 25,000 remain in small herds across the US.  The Yellowstone National Park Respresentives have recommended 900 park bison be removed this winter through hunting and ship-to-slaughter methods.  A better solution would be to relocate these animals to other herds…there is NO reason to kill them.  Join us in making our voice heard for the Bison who shouldn’t have to perish!

FoA, Buffalo Field Campaign file rule-making petition to stop slaughter of buffalo in Yellowstone Park


Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

(West Yellowstone MT)— Did you know that Yellowstone National Park and other government agencies behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) are planning to slaughter 900 buffalo this coming winter under the guise of “disease risk management” even though there has never been a documented case of a wild bison transmitting brucellosis—a bacterial disease that affects livestock and wildlife—to cattle?


In an effort to avert the bloodshed, Friends of Animals (FoA) and the Buffalo Field Campaign filed an emergency rulemaking petition Sept. 15 with the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to protect the genetic diversity and viability of the bison of Yellowstone National Park.  They are requesting that the NPS and USFS undertake a population study and revise the IBMP to correct scientific deficiencies, make the plan consistent with the best available science, and follow the legal mandates the U.S. Congress has set. Until then, the groups are also requesting that the capture, removal or killing of bison at the Stephens Creek area of Yellowstone National Park and the Horse Butte area of the Gallatin National Forest be prohibited.


“Yellowstone National Park and other federal agencies are required to follow the best available science and not the latest political whims of Montana,” said Daniel Brister, executive director of Buffalo Field Campaign.  “Our joint petition seeks redress to ensure the buffalo are protected for future generations. The IBMP currently is heavily weighted in favor of protecting the profits of the livestock industry at the expense and peril of our nation’s only continuously wild bison population.”


Every winter and spring, snow and ice cover the bison’s food and hunger pushes them to lower elevations across the park boundary in Montana. When they cross this arbitrary line, the buffalo enter a zone of violent conflict with ranchers.  Last winter 653 bison were slaughtered, and back in the winter of 2007/2008, the largest scale wild buffalo slaughter, claimed the lives of 1,631 animals. At the turn of the 20th century, similar reckless behavior nearly drove bison to extinction.


“Slaughtering wild bison is the livestock industry’s way of eliminating competition and maintaining control of grazing lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park and across the west,” Brister said. “Montana’s livestock industry continues to use brucellosis to frighten and mislead the public into supporting its discrimination against bison. There has never been a single case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to livestock.”


The IBMP was designed to be an adaptive management plan allowing for greater tolerance for bison as new information becomes available and conditions on the ground change, but no such tolerance has been afforded to the bison. Despite new scientific research showing that the Yellowstone population is comprised of distinct herds with unique genetics and behaviors, the agencies continue to treat Yellowstone bison as though they comprise a single homogeneous herd, Brister said.


“We want to make sure that each herd has a viable population number so that we are not starting to degrade the species,” said Mike Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “Right now they are managing the numbers based largely upon misinformation regarding the genetic viability of the herds. The data they are using is not the best available data right now. They are using data that doesn’t match up with what is the actual status of the herd populations in the park. The petition is asking the federal agencies responsible for protecting these animals make an effort to establish stronger scientific criteria to protect the viability of the remaining Yellowstone herds, and to stop slaughtering the last 4,000 genetically pure bison left in the United States.”

Jardine man shoots bull bison

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Laura Lundquist, Bozeman Chronicle

Gardiner-area resident Bill Hoppe last week killed a bull bison outside his home in Jardine.

Riders with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Department of Livestock had hazed bison away from Hoppe’s residence several times prior to the shooting, said FWP spokeswoman Andrea Jones.

Bison are allowed to wander outside of Yellowstone National Park until May 1, but riders haze the animals away from private property where owners don’t want them.

On Friday, Hoppe’s wife saw three bison in the yard and was worried for the safety of her dog, which was chained to the side of the house.

She called Hoppe, who came home and tried to disperse the bison, Jones said.

Hoppe said one of the bison charged him so he shot it, Jones said.

Hoppe then killed the bison and called FWP wardens, who surveyed the scene. They hazed the other two bison back into the park.

The bison was field-dressed and the meat was sent to be processed for local food banks. The gut pile was left in the yard.

Jones said the bison might have been more on edge because they’ve been repeatedly hazed. Bison aren’t normally aggressive except when protecting young.

FWP encourages landowners to request help when dealing with bison. But bison are not protected as an endangered species, and people can shoot bison to protect themselves.

Last spring, Hoppe shot one of two wolves that were suspected of killing sheep that he placed on a pasture he leased a few weeks before near Corwin Springs.


Nez Perce tribe may seek bison hunting rights in Yellowstone

Message - Yes I am an idiot
REUTERS Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Nez Perce tribe once hunted bison in what is now Yellowstone National Park, and some tribal leaders want to revive the practice, which ended with Western settlement and the near total extermination of the once-vast U.S. bison herds.

Today, remnants of the bison, or buffalo, herds still roam the grasslands and river valleys of Yellowstone, a huge park that covers parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

The park lands, in which hunting is illegal, once made up a key segment of the Idaho tribe’s traditional hunting grounds, and some Nez Perce leaders say they should again be able to hunt buffalo inside the park.

“Before there was a park, there was a tribe,” Nez Perce Chairman Silas Whitman said. [but for 100,000 years before there were tribes, bison roamed free of human hunting.] “Some of our members already feel we have the right to hunt in the park, but it hasn’t been exercised because we feel it would be remiss in going forward that way.”

After asserting hunting rights tied to historic treaties in recent years, the Nez Perce and three other tribes already hunt those bison that follow ancient migration routes outside the park and into Montana in search of winter range.

The Nez Perce have not yet formally requested hunting rights inside the park. Such a request would require extensive federal review, major changes to Yellowstone policies, and congressional action to modify a founding law that banned hunting or killing of buffalo and other wildlife there.

YELLOWSTONE NPS VIA YOUTUBE Yellowstone National Park officials are against any proposal to hunt in the park. However, the bison are allowed to be shot if they wander outside the park. Montana ranchers fear bison will transmit the cattle disease brucellosis.

The prospect of hunting any of the 4,000 buffalo within Yellowstone boundaries is strongly opposed by animal advocates, who decry an existing culling program that allows hundreds of bison to be hunted and shipped to slaughter annually.

“Yellowstone is against any proposal to hunt in the park,” said David Hallac, chief of the Yellowstone Center for Resources, the park’s science and research branch.


Whitman said the tribe would not force the issue by violating any of the park’s regulations but may seek to broach the topic with the U.S. Interior Department, which oversees the national park system, or perhaps lobby Congress “to request those changes be made”.

Management of Yellowstone bison has stirred controversy for decades. Killing of animals that wander into Montana in winter in search of food aims to keep in check a herd population whose size is determined by social tolerance rather than the ecosystem’s carrying capacity, Yellowstone officials said.

The culling is also designed to ease the worries of Montana ranchers who fear bison will transmit the cattle disease brucellosis, which can cause animals to miscarry, to cows that graze near the park.

That could put into jeopardy Montana’s brucellosis-free status, which allows ranchers to ship livestock across state lines without testing.

Marty Zaluski, Montana state veterinarian and member of a state, federal and tribal team that manages bison in and around Yellowstone, is a proponent of hunting in the park and told Reuters in February it needed to be “looked at more seriously as a possible solution”.

He said it would bring the herd closer to a population target of 3,000 to 3,500 and lessen the public outcry tied to slaughter of wayward buffalo.

But Yellowstone’s Hallac contends that hunting in the park, which draws 3 million visitors a year because of tourist attractions such as the Old Faithful geyser and the bison, would further complicate matters.

“Even a proposal to hunt in the park causes more problems than the dilemma it intends to solve,” he said. “These are America’s wildlife and a crucial part of our national heritage. To propose to hunt in a place established specifically to prevent animals from being hunted is bizarre.”

Read more:

Yellowstone plans bison slaughter–Again!!

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Article by Brett French The Billings Gazette

As large numbers of bison begin moving toward Yellowstone National Park’s northern border, park officials are making plans to truck 300 to 600 of the animals to slaughterhouses, with the processed meat, hides and heads being distributed to American Indian tribes.

“We do have some agreements with tribal entities to take those animals this year,” said Al Nash, Yellowstone’s chief of public affairs. “But everything is very dependent on the bison migrating in significant numbers.”

The last count by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks put the number of bison outside the park’s northern boundary near Gardiner at 60 to 70, with most staying close to private property and away from hunters on nearby public land. Hunting is not allowed inside Yellowstone.

Growing herd

This summer, Yellowstone’s bison population was estimated at 4,600, close to the park’s peak bison population of 5,000 that was recorded in 2005. The bison are divided into two herds, with about 3,200 in the northern herd and 1,400 in the central herd, which migrates out of the park near West Yellowstone along the Madison River.

By agreement with the state of Montana, the park is required to keep the bison population at 3,000 to 3,500 animals.

“Our biologists are saying that if we were to look at a removal of about 600 bison each winter for several winters, then we would have a chance to move that population figure down to 3,000 or 3,300,” Nash said. “If we had no other management action, we could see 6,000 bison by the end of the winter 2016.”

The last and largest removal of bison was in 2008, when more than 1,600 bison were killed. Since 1985, more than 7,200 Yellowstone bison have been killed, according to the bison advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign.

The park’s winter carrying capacity for bison has been estimated at 5,500 to 7,500. The cost of shipping bison to slaughter and having the meat processed was estimated at $50,000 to $100,000 a year.

Bison slaughter

Jim Stone, chairman of the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council, based in Rapid City, S.D., said his group is preparing to line up trailers, drivers and nearby slaughterhouses to process any Yellowstone bison that are captured and held at the park’s Stephens Creek corrals. The council is composed of 58 tribes in 19 states, 50 of which have their own tribal bison herds.

Although they’ll benefit from the park’s removal of bison with possibly thousands of pounds of meat being distributed, “the tribes have been opposed to a lot of what the park has done,” Stone said.

He said the group would prefer to see disease-free young bison quarantined —adding that he didn’t like that term — and then shipped to tribes with existing bison herds.

Such a shipment of 60 quarantined bison to the Fort Peck Tribe two years ago caused an uproar among surrounding ranchers and their legislators, despite the animals’ disease-free status.

Ranchers in Eastern Montana are nervous that conservation groups may succeed in their push to restore bison to public lands on the prairie. Stone said tribes should not be lumped in with such groups.

“A couple of things you’ll never hear from us is ‘free-ranging bison,’” he said. “That’s a state issue, not a tribal issue. We’re realists when it comes to managing buffalo.”

Stone said his group supports giving Yellowstone bison more room to roam on public land outside the park where they could be killed by hunters, in keeping with tradition. He said only older bulls and cows should be selected for slaughter.

The current ship-to-slaughter process may be necessary and the meat will be appreciated by tribal members, but Stone said the procedure is not respectful to the animals.

“The problem isn’t with killing buffalo, it’s with indiscriminate killing of buffalo,” he said.


Here’s a couple of appropriate comments from the people who sent me this article:

“Can’t someone stop this senseless killing. Who says the NPS has to agree to Montana’s absurd requirements. This is all driven by the ranchers and livestock department. Doesn’t anyone in Montana have the courage to stand up to these bullies. I think the tribes are enablers. They give the state livestock department cover by accepting these dead bison and prevent the bison from reoccupying its native habitat outside of the park. If they were really respectful of the bison, these tribes would be protesting the slaughter and lining up to keep the Dept of Livestock from killing the animals. They would refuse to cooperate with the state’s slaughter. This is a disgrace.”

“What a freak show… YNP has to be stopped from slaughtering bison! … what will stop these bastards?”

Please call and complain about this nonsense and imminent tragedy:

1. Governor Steve Bullock – (406) 444 –3111

2. Policy Advisor for Natural Resources, Tim Baker – (406) 444 – 7857

Stop the Apocalypse—Now

It all started (or should I say, ended) back in 1998 when the Makah tribe was preparing to hunt a grey whale off the Washington coast. Like many people who grew up during the 1960s and ‘70s, I was taken with the idea of returning to a more primitive lifestyle, in “harmony with Nature” as I believed the American Indians surely were. I even spent a summer in the southeast Oregon desert, studying “Aboriginal life skills” of the Paiute people of the Northern Great Basin. It was the same survival course (taught by the same instructor) that Jean M. Auel later took as research for her “Clan of the Cave Bear” book series.

But I began to think that not all tribal people are cut of the same loincloth as the Makah made preparations to kill their NMFS quota of five whales to use for ceremonial and unspecified “commercial purposes.” You may remember the media frenzy surrounding the issue and the animal activists, including Captain Paul Watson at the helm of a Sea Shepherd ship, as well as devoted land protesters whom my wife and I supported and joined whenever we could. Unfortunately, despite months of protests and pleading, the tribe’s rag-tag whaling crew (aided by the federal government) was successful in killing a young female whale with a bullet from a highly untraditional high-powered 50 caliber rifle.

Sadly, “Yabis” (as a Makah elder and lone whale hunt detractor named the whale) could not be saved. The media, of course, defended the kill to the death, comparing the tribe’s right to shoot a whale with their own right to eat unlimited hamburgers. They did their darnedest to convince readers that the road to political correctness was through backing the tribe’s revival of their cultural tradition of killing whales. And besides, who wants to give up their hamburgers anyway?

Well, I for one. I finally saw the hypocrisy of objecting to hunting while continuing to eat farmed animals. From then on we vowed not to be complicit in the unnecessary taking of lives—150 billion a year, at last count. Up until then I had been a meat eater and an occasional fisherman. But from that moment on, I hung up my rod and reel and swore off meat and dairy, never once looking back.

Yet, I know dyed-in-the-faux-shearling vegans whose solid anti-animal abuse stance melts away like a sno-cone on a hot summer day at the first hint that an animal abuser is of aboriginal decent (not that any human being is really “native” to the America’s—some just arrived sooner than others). I may seem obstinate, but I don’t believe a prayer, a chant or any other song and dance makes an animal suffer less or end up any less dead if they were killed by a Native American.

Yet, some people buy into the notion that the mistreatment of a non-human by a native is some sort of spiritual event. Whether elk or bison, fish or whales, a killing that would normally be frowned upon is a joyous occasion when perpetrated by a tribal member. While anyone who holds to their ideals is somehow considered a “racist,” it’s the animal advocate who looks the other way as certain people do the killing who’s the real discriminator.

Shocking as it sounds, the Yellowstone bison are equally exploited fenced-in on a ranch on reservation land as they would be anywhere else in Montana; a deer or elk ends up every bit as injured or dead when shot by a tribal hunter as by the average American sport hunter; tribal gill nets do as much damage to a struggling salmon as those set out by non-Indian commercial fishermen, and a 50 caliber bullet rips into a whale with the same destructive force, no matter who pulls the trigger.

Yes, I used to be a meat-eating fisherman. I changed my ways after allowing myself to absorb facts like, “humans slaughter 6 million animals per hour!” and “20,000 more will die in the time it takes you to read these sentences!” That’s a Holocaust of farmed animals every 60 minutes! And that’s not counting fish, lobsters, shrimp, oysters, clams, krill or other sea life.

Call me a zealot, but when you realize there’s an apocalypse of animals happening right now, you want it stopped, once and for all, and by all—no exceptions.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Contest Hunts are a New Moral Low Point

I hope you don’t think I go out of my way searching for awful cases of animal exploitation and abuse to blog about. I come across shocking stories of cruelty to animals nearly every time I open the paper or visit the websites of local news stations. Many of the most shocking stories are about brutal activities considered to be perfectly legal, condoned and even institutionalized.

A prime example is the increasingly popular wildlife contest hunt, the kind of backwards barbarity that earned “Buffalo Bill” (the celebrated nineteenth century mass murderer of bison, not the fictional serial killer in Silence of the Lambs) his nickname. Buffalo Bill Cody killed 67 of the gregarious, benign beings during the 12-hour contest. Within a couple of decades, the once-abundant species was all but extinct.

It’s hard to believe that contest hunts were not relegated to the distance past long ago, along with bison hunting, trapping and the vilification of wolves, but all these atrocities are making a comeback and find their way into the news with disturbing regularity.

Just today I stumbled onto the following Associated Press article about a contest coyote hunt slated to take place this weekend in New Mexico (You can’t make this kind of shit up).…


“The terms of the competition are simple: Hunters in New Mexico have two days this weekend to shoot and kill as many coyotes as they can, and the winners get their choice of a free shotgun or a pair of semi-automatic rifles.

But the planned two-day coyote hunting contest has sparked an online petition that has generated tens of thousands of signatures worldwide. The FBI is investigating a death threat to the gun shop owner who is sponsoring the hunt. And one protester has even vowed to dress like a coyote to trick hunters into accidentally killing a human.

But none of these episodes will likely stop the owner of Gunhawk Firearms from holding the scheduled two-day coyote hunting race this weekend, despite the international attention the idea has garnered. “I’m not going to back down,” said Mark Chavez, 50, who has faced two weeks of angry phone calls and protests — and even a threat to his life. ‘This is my right to hunt and we’re not breaking any laws.’

Under the rules of the contest, the winning team will get its choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles…”

A contest to see who can kill the most animals—with two free assault weapons for the winners—but they’re “not breaking any laws”? It appears we’ve reached a new historic low point in regards to wildlife protection laws,…or the lack thereof.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved


A Sentimental Old Lot

Photos Copyright Jim Robertson

Bison are a kind, sympathetic, sentimental old lot. Perhaps it’s because, for most of the year, the herd is run by the fairer sex. Like elephants, bison have a matriarchal society; the adult bulls live off on their own in small groups for most of the year, rejoining the main herd during the summer breeding season. Gregarious, caring and benign, bison of both sexes keep a watchful eye on their fellow herd members and often come to the rescue when animals outside their species are in distress. 

Thanks to observations by naturalists, biologists and cognitive ethologists, people are forced to cling to a shorter and shorter list of characteristics that make them “uniquely human.” Altruism and the practice of mourning over the remains of the dead are just two of the human “hallmarks” actually shared by species like elephants and bison. 

I have witnessed bison put themselves in danger to protect not only other bison, but also animals they share their habitat with like elk and pronghorn. I’ve seen them stop to grieve when they happen upon the bones of their dearly departed—and even get pretty gloomy upon finding the dead of another species. 

In the photos below, a bison herd came across the carcass of an elk cow killed by wolves earlier that day and spent the better part of the afternoon in a funk, solemnly paying their respects to the fallen and guarding her from scavengers.