Over a Quarter of the Last Wild Buffalo GONE.

Over 1,600 Yellowstone Bison Have Been Killed or Removed from the Population.


March 6, 2023

circular logo with a buffalo and the text "Roam Free Nation"

Stephany Seay, Cofounder, Roam Free Nation


Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies
406-459-5936, wildrockies@gmail.com

GARDINER, MT: Yellowstone National Park released the latest report of bison management operations on the Interagency Bison Management Plan website (IBMP.info) on Friday, March 3rd. The shocking numbers show that the slaughter and removal of Yellowstone’s bison has gone unchecked, putting the entire population at risk.

As of Friday, March 3rd, 1,675 buffalo have been removed from the population – either killed in the firing line style “hunt” on the park boundary, or trapped inside Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek bison trap for slaughter or domestication through quarantine. That is 28% of the population, which stood at a record 6,000 buffalo in August 2022.

Roam Free Nation and their allies at The Alliance for the Wild Rockies unveiled a billboard in Helena today which states: “There is no hunt. It’s slaughter.” The so-called “hunt” is just another tool to achieve what livestock interests want – to keep wild bison out of Montana.

A billboard against a blue sky has a photo of a single hunter shooting into a herd of buffalo with the test "There is no hunt. It's Slaughter!" and the group names Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Roam Free Nation.
This is a mockup of our new billboard in Helena.

This “hunt” has killed 919 bison, many of them pregnant females – and this includes 247 killed in just the two week period since the last report. This means nearly twice as many have been killed in the “hunt” as the last most deadly year – 2016 when 486 were killed.

The quarantine program, which hides behind the greenwashing name “Bison Conservation Transfer Program”, has removed another 276 bison, sentencing them to a life of captivity and domestication. An additional 32 are being held for quarantine “selection”. This already puts them over the stated capacity of the quarantine facility of 260.

Another 357 buffalo are being held by Yellowstone in the trap for “release or slaughter”. Yellowstone captured 158 bison in the last two weeks – despite the kill tally of the “hunt” being so high, and despite the quarantine facility being over capacity.

The Central Herd, one of two genetically distinct herds inside the park, was at an estimated 1,500 animals before this season. Because the Central Herd feels the fatal effects of mismanagement on both the north and west sides of the park, their population has been in trouble for years. Now the Northern Herd, which was estimated at 4,500 animals, could be facing the same trouble, with the huge capture and slaughter numbers on the north end of the park. While we will not know the toll taken on the distinct herds until the summer count, it is entirely possible that the Northern Herd is now below the 3,000 animal threshold suggested as the minimum for herd viability.

“The slaughter needs to end now,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

Additionally, with a winter as harsh as this one has been, the natural winterkill numbers can be expected to be unusually high. Yellowstone already estimates that 9 out of every 100 adult bison die over the winter naturally. A high winterkill will only compound the dire consequences for the bison population.

“This war has been going on for decades, with no end in sight,” said Stephany Seay, cofounder of Roam Free Nation. “Bison mismanagement is growing out of control. In addition to Yellowstone’s senseless capture-for-slaughter operations, state and especially tribal hunts are creating a killing frenzy whenever wild bison attempt to migrate into Montana, particularly in the Gardiner Basin. We hope a lot of people see our billboard and begin to ask the hard questions.”

With 28% of the population being killed or removed from the wild, this year’s toll on the buffalo has surpassed the cap suggested by every partner of the IBMP. The Park suggested that a 14% reduction would keep the population stable. The Nez Perce Tribe suggested that no more than 12% be taken. Even the Montana Department of Livestock (who has no business “managing” wild bison) agreed to a cap of 25% removal. (These numbers can be seen on page 13 of the draft report from the last IBMP meeting.)

Roam Free Nation board member Cindy Rosin asks, “If even the buffalo’s worst enemy says the killing should stop at 25% of the herd, why are the buffalo still dying? Why is the Park still capturing? Why has Yellowstone not released the remaining captured buffalo?”Roam Free Nation is a Montana-based wild buffalo, wildlife, and wild lands advocacy group who speaks from and represents the perspective of wild nature. Their representatives have over fifty years of combined experience in the field monitoring wild bison migration, documenting actions against them, and advocating on their behalf. Learn more at www.RoamFreeNation.org.