RFN Report: Yellowstone Shipping to Slaughter – 2/3/23

The face of a young buffalo is seen through a hole in the trap.
A young buffalo awaits her fate in Yellowstone’s trap.

As we feared would happen soon, Yellowstone National Park began transferring members of the last wild buffalo herds to slaughter! Stock trailers operated by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes left Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek buffalo trap last Friday, and then again on Wednesday. The buffalo will be driven in these metal coffins over 250 miles to the Flathead Indian Reservation. There they will be taken to White’s Meats in the town of Ronan, the absolute end of the road for them. The tribe has put out a notice saying that buffalo meat will soon be available to tribal members for purchase. They are profiting off of wild buffalo slaughter. What kind of sacred relationship is that?

Yellowstone has informed Roam Free Nation that there will be specific numbers available today – Friday the 3rd. Find our updated post with the grim statistics here.

Just last week, Roam Free Nation counted at least 150 buffalo inside the trap. There is no question that Yellowstone will be opportunistic and capture many more than that. After being lured with hay into the outer catch pens, the Park (dis)Service moves the buffalo deeper and deeper into the trap, into pens that are much smaller and very sturdy. Family groups are separated, mothers and children torn apart. The terrified buffalo are run through an industrial strength livestock squeeze chute. Many suffer injuries in the chute — which used to be called “The Silencer” until public exposure forced the Park (dis)Service to spray paint over the gruesome name — horns get broken off when the trap operators slam a door that aims to hold a buffalo’s head still.

In here they are weighed, teeth are examined for age, and blood is drawn to test for brucellosis. These tests are absolutely inaccurate because blood tests can only determine exposure. Nine times out of ten, exposure means a buffalo has developed resistance (antibodies) to the cattle disease. The only way that actual infection can be determined is with a culture test, meaning the buffalo is already dead. More than 95% of buffalo who have been culture tested over the past couple of decades have all be found to hold resistance to brucellosis. But then it’s just too late because they are already dead.

A terrified buffalo is caught with their head in a trap.
The terror of the “Silencer” is the same, even if the name or the year changes.

With these inaccurate blood tests, those buffalo who test negative may be slated for domestication (quarantine). Those who test false-positive are slated for slaughter. It is an absolute travesty befalling our sacred buffalo, the country’s National Mammal.

Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek buffalo trap is located inside the park, barely a mile from the northern boundary, across which are the killing fields of Beattie Gulch. Just trying to survive, following their ancient migratory instincts as Mother Earth intended for them to do, buffalo are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. In the land where the snow is less deep and food more available, in one direction lies the trap, in the other the killing fields. To date, possibly 600 buffalo, certainly no less than 500, have fallen to “hunters” bullets.

National Park Service employees stand around the buffalo trap with big smiles on their faces.
National Park dis-Service – happy to be working for Montana livestock interests.

Yellowstone is acting contrary to their own science-based information. They have publicly stated that the park alone can sustain upwards of 10,000 buffalo! The population is now hovering around 5,000. They have stood up to the Montana Department of Livestock in meetings, yet they are bending over backwards to do their will. The only reason they are operating this trap and allowing wild buffalo to be mistreated and killed as livestock are, is to appease the unfounded fears of Montana’s cattle interests unfounded fears. There has never once been a single documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis back to the cattle they got it from. In fact, there have been over twenty cases of elk transmitting brucellosis to livestock, yet elk are free to roam. Make no mistake: this war against wild buffalo is all about the grass and who gets to eat it.

TAKE ACTION! Please contact Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and urge him to stop this senseless slaughter! He knows it’s wrong. He’s just doing the bidding of Montana’s livestock industry. Tell him to stand up for the buffalo with his actions as he has done with his words. Tell him to represent the people who he works for — which is us. Speak from your heart and hold nothing back!

Cameron (Cam) Sholly, Superintendent
Yellowstone National Park
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168
Phone: (307) 344-2002
Email: Yell_Superintendent@nps.gov