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Yellowstone bison controversy leads to ongoing protests

Yellowstone bison controversy leads to ongoing protests

by | Mar 27, 2018

Yellowstone bison controversy leads to ongoing protests

Two people associated with Wild Buffalo Defense, an activist organization dedicated to “non-violent direct action” to prevent the killing of bison, were arrested for blockading a road in Yellowstone in efforts to stop the shipment of bison to be taken to a slaughterhouse on March 16.

The two individuals sat in front of the Stephens Creek Capture Facility gate with their arms inside three concrete-filled 55-gallon barrels with the words “Protect the Sacred” and “Honor the Treaties” painted on them, according to Wild Buffalo Defense’s Facebook page.

Protests over the slaughter of Yellowstone bison infected with brucellosis have been ongoing for the past two months.

On Jan. 16, Yellowstone park staff reported 52 bison had been released from their quarantine. On Feb. 22, Yellowstone stated 73 bison had been illegally released.

“Blackfeet and Lakota prophecies say that when the wild buffalo return, the people and the earth will be healed,” according to a press release on Wild Buffalo Defense’s Facebook page. “Yellowstone National Park currently captures and slaughters about 25 percent of the herd every year. If this mismanagement of the population continues, these prophecies will never be fulfilled.”

Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a Yellowstone news release that these protests are a setback for bison conservation.

“Creating a successful quarantine program will allow the transfer of live animals to tribes to develop conservation herds on tribal lands. The saboteurs are only ensuring more bison will be shipped to slaughter,” Wenk said in the Yellowstone news release.

Yellowstone officials posted on a National Park Service informational page that they worry the increasing number of bison, which increases by 10 to 17 percent every year, will cause overgrazing and sickness among bison herds in Yellowstone.

Currently, the bison population can only be controlled by hunting and capturing outside the park, and these captured bison are transferred to Native American tribes for slaughter, according to a Yellowstone news release.

Yellowstone and its partner, the Interagency Bison Management Plan, created a 2018 winter operations plan to reduce 600 to 900 animals through a combination of shipping and the public and tribal hunt, according to a Yellowstone news release.

Bison are at risk of carrying brucellosis, which could cause pregnant cattle to abort. Sick bison were sent to Stephens Creek to be tested. Stephens Creek was established as a quarantine program with the intent to reduce the shipment of Yellowstone bison to meat processing facilities, according to the Yellowstone news release.

A number of healthy bison are held in corrals under quarantine to later be shipped off to other areas, according to the National Park Service.

Yellowstone National Park plans to collaborate with other conservation areas, sending them to areas such as Assiniboine and Sioux tribes on the Fort Peck Reservation.

The National Park Service stated, “We need a new paradigm that recognizes bison as wildlife and gives them the ability to move more freely on suitable public lands outside the park.”

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