Now that you’ve submitted your comments on Yellowstone’s new Bison Management Plan, click below to see our other current action alerts.
- Tell Yellowstone to Stop the Slaughter!
- Speak Up for the Central Herd!
- Additional Action to Protect Wild Buffalo Under the Endangered Species Act!
- Urge Montana to Implement Safe Passage Wildlife Crossings
- Urge Congress to Amend the National Bison Legacy Act
Tell Yellowstone to Stop the Slaughter!
As of January 27th, 2023, Yellowstone National Park began transferring members of the last wild buffalo herds to slaughter! Stock trailers operated by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes have left Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek buffalo trap twice so far. 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?
Just the week before, 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. 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 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
Speak Up for the Central Herd!
Montana’s state bison “hunt” runs from November 15 through February 15, and the treaty hunt seasons run longer than that each year. The Central buffalo herd – the descendants of the 23 survivors of the 19th century government slaughter – remain in danger. Central herd buffalo migrate both west into Montana’s Hebgen Basin, and also north into Montana’s Gardiner Basin, making them doubly impacted by “management” schemes, including excessive “hunting”, capture for slaughter, and capture for quarantine (domestication). Central herd buffalo are the only ones who migrate west into the Hebgen Basin, and they are in so much trouble that for the past few years Yellowstone and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials have called for NO KILLING of buffalo in the Hebgen Basin. So far, these have only been recommendations and they have fallen completely on deaf ears. State and treaty hunters don’t seem to care that the buffalo they are hunting are in such dire straits.
Urge Montana work with treaty hunting tribes to close hunting in the Hebgen Basin. This would offer a small but necessary protection to Central herd buffalo. Yellowstone’s buffalo herds are this country’s last wild, migratory herds. They are endangered, though afforded zero protections. Urge MT FWP to place a moratorium on hunting in the Hebgen Basin until wild buffalo have recovered and restored themselves on the lands that are their birthright. How do we measure recovery? Montana alone could sustain at least a million buffalo. That’s a good place to start. WILD IS THE WAY! ROAM FREE!
TAKE ACTION! Please contact Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and urge them to work with Tribal governments and place a halt on the hunt in Montana’s Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park, in order to protect the imperiled Central herd.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Region 3 Headquarters
1400 South 19th
Bozeman, MT 59718
Phone: (406) 577-7900
Additional Action to Protect Wild Bison Under the Endangered Species Act!
Wild buffalo (bison) once numbered 70 million strong, thundering across the North American continent — Turtle Island — from Canada to Mexico, Virginia to eastern Oregon. Today, fewer than 6,000 wild, migratory buffalo exist and are only found in Yellowstone country, grossly mismanaged under the joint state/federal/tribal Interagency Bison Management Plan. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature red lists the American Bison as “threatened with near extinction” while the state of Montana (who drives the current war against wild buffalo) classifies them as a species “threatened with global extinction”. Scientists have classified wild bison as “ecologically extinct” throughout their native range. Indeed, wild, migratory bison occupy less than 1% of their historic homelands.
In 2014 conservation groups filed a petition with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list wild buffalo as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Over the years, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rejected the petition, but they were sued multiple times for neglecting to use the “best available science” resulting in federal judges ruling in the buffalo’s favor and demanding the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service go back and revisit the petition using the “best available science”.
On June 3, 2022, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced that they “find that the petitions present substantial, credible information indicating that a listing action may be warranted and will initiate a comprehensive status review.”
This is excellent news for the potential listing under the ESA for the last wild buffalo!
TAKE ACTION NOW! Please contact Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and urge her to steer the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service towards listing the Yellowstone population as a Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act.
Secretary Deb Haaland
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
(It is most effective if you put this sample letter into your own words.)
Dear Secretary Haaland,
I am a strong advocate for our National Mammal, out country’s last wild bison, the Yellowstone herds. I was thrilled to learn that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is finally admitting that petitions to list the American bison (buffalo) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act “present substantial, credible information indicating that a listing action may be warranted and will initiate a comprehensive status review.”
This sacred species must gain ESA protections if they are to realize their evolutionary potential. I urge you to press the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to do the right thing and list the American bison as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Your name, address, and other contact information
Urge Montana to Implement Safe Passage Wildlife Crossings on Dangerous Highways Near Yellowstone National Park
Every spring, as wild buffalo are making their way from the interior of Yellowstone into Montana’s Hebgen Basin and to their calving grounds, the buffalo run a gauntlet along U.S. Highways 191 and 287. These dangerous roads cut through critical habitat for not just the imperiled Central herd, but also for endangered grizzly bears, wolves, wolverines, moose, elk, and many others. These highways — especially Highway 191 — are heavily used by semis, locals, tourists, commercial vehicles and through travelers. There are plenty of warnings that buffalo may be on or near the road, but these are largely ignored. And the dark of night is when it’s most dangerous, because buffalo are very hard to see at night, and this is when they are often hit and killed.
These unfortunate collisions could be avoided with the implementation of safe passage infrastructure that allows wildlife to cross deadly highways without ever setting hoof or paw on the asphalt. And it only makes sense to have such safe passage on the edge of the world’s first national park!
TAKE ACTION! Please contact Montana Department of Transportation Director Mack Long as well as Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, and ask them to earmark highway transportation funding to implement wildlife safe passage infrastructure on US Highway 191/287 in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park.
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte
Executive Office, State Capitol
PO Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620-0801
Director Mack Long
Montana Department of Transportation
2701 Prospect Ave
PO Box 201001
Helena, MT 59620-1001
(It is most effective to put these sample letters into your own words, and speak from your heart! If you have personal experience, please share it!)
I am writing to ask that the state of Montana safeguard Yellowstone’s tourists and wildlife by securing funding to implement safe passage infrastructure in Montana’s Hebgen Basin, along U.S. Highways 191 and 287.
Wild, migratory bison — as well as other area wildlife including endangered grizzly bears, wolves, moose, and elk — must run the gauntlet of semis, commercial vehicles, tourists, locals, and passers-through. Wildlife lives are often lost, and it only a matter of time before human life is lost. These collisions could be avoided with the sensible implementation of safe passage infrastructure, particularly at the Madison River Bridge.
While there are plenty of warnings of wild bison and other wildlife on the road, these are mostly ignored by travelers. More must be done.
The Montana University Road Ecology Program has declared that safe passage infrastructure is very much needed, but for some reason the state of Montana has yet to deem it feasible.
Throughout the country, and indeed the world, more and more safe passage infrastructure projects are being created and they are highly successful. One fine example here in Montana is on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes demanded safe passage as a 60-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 93 was being expanded. Safe passage works!
I urge you to please consider earmarking the funding necessary to create safe passage in Montana’s Hebgen Basin on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. You never know, the life you save may be someone you love.
Thank you very much for your consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Your name, address, and other contact information
Urge Congress to Amend the National Bison Legacy Act to Protect America’s National Mammal
The National Bison Legacy Act was signed by President Obama on May 9, 2016, which designated the American buffalo as this country’s National Mammal.
Within the Act, however, is language that is harmful to the last wild buffalo. The Act offers no protections for our National Mammal. Section 3(b) states, “Nothing in this Act or the adoption of the North American bison as the national mammal of the United States shall be construed or used as a reason to alter, change, modify, or otherwise affect any plan, policy, management decision, regulation, or other action by the Federal Government.”
Sec. 3(b) safeguards the horrific Interagency Bison Management Act, which is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of the country’s last wild, migratory buffalo, the Yellowstone herds.
It is a dishonor to our National Mammal for Congress to consent to the gross mismanagement carried out in the Interagency Bison Management Plan. The National Bison Legacy Act must be strengthened by removing Section 3(b) and inserting language that directs federal action to actually protect our National Mammal’s freedom to roam the lands that are their birthright.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Urge your members of Congress to truly protect our National Mammal by amending the National Bison Legacy Act. Ask them to repeal Section 3(b). Congress has an obligation and responsibility to protect America’s National Mammal, specifically the last wild, migratory herds in and around Yellowstone.
(It is much more effective to put this sample letter into your own words.)
Dear your House and Senate representatives,
Find your representatives and easily write to them here.
In 2016 the National Bison Legacy Act was passed by Congress naming the American bison our National Mammal. Yet nothing in this Act offers any protection for bison, not even the last wild, migratory herds of Yellowstone country. As the bald eagle, America’s National Symbol, is offered protections, the same must be extended to the American bison.
I urge you to amend the National Bison Legacy Act by repealing SEC. 3(b), and declaring that the national policy of Congress is to conserve North American bison in the wild as a sacred public trust for future generations.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Your name, address, and other contact information