Food For Thought...
This is an
online friend of mine by the name of Greg wrote:
Vegetarian Society of El Paso
Article of the Month
Where the Buffalo Can't Roam
In the movie Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan, there is a piece of
technology called the Genesis device. When exploded on a planet it
breaks down the matrix of that world and reforms it at a molecular level
which makes it favorable to the formation of new life. While created as
a means of quickly terraforming a hostile planet and making it fit for
human habitation, this device could also be used as a weapon to wipe out
all life on a planet so that the conquering army could move in, re-seed
the planet and start a new world from scratch.
It occurred to me yesterday how similar this plot line is to what
actually occurred when the European settlers moved to this country. We
attempted to wipe out all lifeforms so that we could create a new
system. And our motivation for this genocide and species-cide was our
taste for beef. We needed the lands that Native Americans inhabited for
our herds of cows. So we set out to eliminate the American Indians. We
exterminated all the predators that posed a threat to our livestock, the
wolves, the mountain lions and we exterminated the competition for
grazing land, prairie dogs, wild horses, buffalo.
We didn't have a Genesis device at that time or we surely would have
used it. All we had was a ruthless, selfish philosophy based on a
concept of our destiny, that we were the best thing on this planet and
that God wanted us to tame this land and multiply.
There were in the early 1800's, an estimated 60 million bison, the
American Buffalo roaming the plains of the west. By the beginning of
this century we had reduced that number to a couple of hundred. It was
perhaps, the most aggressive, methodical animal massacre ever conducted.
And the reason we did it was to subjugate the American Indians and make
them stay on the reservations. In effect we closed their supermarkets.
In 1876 the area known as Yellowstone became our nation's, and the
world's first National Park, and in 1916, the National Park Service was
established to protect and preserve our national treasures. At that time
there were 25 buffalo left in the greater Yellowstone area. Through
careful management the Park Service was able to increase the size of
that last free roaming wild buffalo herd to a viable group with a size
at one time of 4000 animals.
The buffalo is the symbol of the National Park Service and it is hard to
understand why they have bowed to pressure from the cattle industry and
have allowed the state of Montana to kill thousands of bison over the
last 15 years. During the winter of 1996/97, Montana shot or captured
and sent to slaughterhouses 1100 buffalo, only half the Yellowstone herd
survived that winter.
Buffalo carry a bacteria known as brucella abortus. In cows this
bacteria causes the disease brucellosis which causes cows to abort their
first calf and also causes lameness and reduced milk production. The
bacteria can be passed to humans through unpasteurized milk and then the
disease is known as undulant fever. This disease is rare, mild and
treatable and the only known recent case was due to unpasteurized goat
The buffalo of Yellowstone are not sick with brucellosis. They have
learned to live with the bacteria. There have been only four documented
spontaneous abortions in the Yellowstone herd in the last eighty years.
How is this known? The buffalo have been closely studied in Yellowstone,
especially during the last ten years during which time many females have
been implanted with sensors which relay information about birthing
Montana's cattle industry would suffer economically if an outbreak of
brucellosis occurred in cattle. They would lose their status as a
brucellosis free state and they would be unable to export beef to other
states. But there has never been a single documented case of buffalo
spreading the disease to cattle in the wild. There was one laboratory
case where a cow contracted the disease by being fed fetal tissue from a
buffalo infected with brucellosis.
This is the method of transmission in cattle. A cow must ingest
contaminated tissue from a spontaneous abortion by an infected animal.
The only buffalo which pose a risk to cattle are brucellosis infected
pregnant females. Male buffalo and female yearlings which are too young
to conceive cannot possibly pass this disease to cattle and yet Montana
has killed thousands of males, calves, yearlings and non pregnant
Because of bad publicity the agents of the Montana department of
livestock stopped shooting buffalo in public. Now they capture them and
test them for brucellosis and send all which test positive to a
slaughterhouse. There is less public outrage when slaughter is conducted
behind closed doors.
There are 14 grazing allotments on public land managed by the national
forest service just outside the northern boundary of Yellowstone Park.
Cows are only permitted to graze on these public lands between June and
October. The buffalo are only out of the park in these public lands in
the winter when the heavy snows force them to seek forage there. The two
species do not occupy the same places at the same times. What is the
risk of transmission of brucellosis?
Montana's war against the buffalo can't really be about brucellosis.
There are 100 thousand elk in the greater Yellowstone region and elk
also carry brucellosis and have been documented to pass the disease to
cattle. But there hasn't been any talk of thinning the elk herd because
elk hunting brings in millions of dollars each year to the state of
In early January the first captures of the this winter began. So far
Montana has captured 17 buffalo, 2 tested negative for brucellosis and
were released --
15 tested positive and were sent to slaughter. Of those 15, 13 were
males who pose no risk of passing the disease. Montana has requested of
the U.S. Department of Agriculture a half million dollars per year for
the next ten years to help them capture and kill buffalo. It is
estimated that the National Park Service and the US Forest Service will
spend over 50 million dollars during the next decade on capturing,
testing, and quarantining buffalo. The U.S. government gets less than 10
thousand dollars a year in grazing fees to allow cattle to graze on
public lands surrounding Yellowstone park.
The solution to this problem is to stop allowing cattle to graze on
Forest Service land near Yellowstone. The solution to this problem is
for us to demand responsible management of the Yellowstone bison by
biologists and scientists and not by the Montana cattle industry. The
solution to this problem also lies with what we eat for dinner.
Every burger helps bury the buffalo.
If you would like to help you can write Congress, the President and the
Vice President, you can write Montana Governor Marc Racicot but I hear
he throws away all letters that come from out of his state. You can
write Bruce Babbitt, the Secretary of Interior, Robert Stanton, the
Director of the National Park Service and Mike Finley, the
Superintendent of Yellowstone.
For more information and updates about the activities of a grassroots
activist group, Buffalo Nations, which is working to protect the
Yellowstone bison, please visit their website at...
Welcome from Buffalo Nations
----Greg Lawson, VSEP
Greg also has a very informative website:
Vegetarian Society of El Paso
Yellowstone Bison Update
WEST YELLOWSTONE: Horse Butte Capture Facility Operation Begins.
Before 7:00 a.m. this morning [March 31], the Department of Livestock agents on
nine snowmobiles chased 20 buffalo from the hillside of Horse Butte and trapped
them in their new capture facility. By 8:00 a.m. DOL had chased 9 more buffalo
from the mouth of the Madison River into the trap. Buffalo were loaded into horse
trailers and transported to the Duck Creek capture facility for testing.
One volunteer locked her neck to the cattle guard with a bike lock in order to stop
transportation of the captive buffalo to the Duck Creek capture facility for testing.
She was cut free and arrested. Her name is unavailable for release. Another
volunteer was arrested at the Duck Creek capture facility in an attempt to lock
the gates to the facility shut to prevent buffalo from being loaded from the trailers
into the facility. His name was not available at the time of release.
Five buffalo released from Duck Creek Capture Facility by buffalo
Last night, March 30, volunteers released 5 buffalo from the Duck Creek capture
facility, which is located 50 feet from the boundary of Yellowstone Park. The
buffalo liberators were able to escort the freed buffalo to safety without any
Illegal Hazing Operations within Bald Eagle Nesting Protected Area.
Hazing buffalo off designated trails within 1/4 mile of an active bald eagle nest site
violates guidelines that protect the nest site. DOL snowmobiles were documented
as they drove up and down the hill off-trail hazing buffalo into the facility. The
Hebgen Lake Ranger District of the Forest Service was not informed of these
off-trail hazing activities according to Gene Hardin, the Forest Service official
available this morning. The DOL is required to ask the Forest Service for
permission to break their restrictions on off-trail hazing. Gallatin County Sheriff
Officer with badge #637 and other officers who were on site watched the DOL
haze buffalo within the eagle closure but did not enforce the closure.
Hazing on the Madison River before 10:00 a.m. violates the guidelines for hazing
set out by the permit. Activities associated with the removal of bison that occur
within 1/4 mile of open water on the Madison arm and upper Madison River will
only be permitted between 10:00 a.m. and 3 p.m. in order to protect the 1/2 mile
radius around a bald eagle nest.
Fish Wildlife and Parks biologists who are monitoring the bald eagle nest which is
located within 1/4 mile of the capture facility have documented that the nest is
active. Two other active bald eagle nest sites are on the Butte. Department of
Livestock operations in the area are required to follow a set of restrictions on
hazing near the three nest sites and eagle feeding areas on the Butte. Examples
of restrictions are that the DOL must receive the approval of the Forest Service
prior to any hazing activities within 1/4 mile of one of the nests.
"Obviously when the DOL decides they want to kill buffalo, all protections for other
wildlife fall to the wayside. The DOL has no incentive to care for wildlife, whether
bald eagles or buffalo, when cattle interests are at stake," stated Sue Nackoney,
Background: The Gallatin National Forest, particularly in the Horse Butte area,
provides critical winter habitat for Yellowstone wildlife, particularly buffalo. Currently
the warm south-facing slopes of Horse Butte provide the most plentiful available
forage for migrating buffalo. There have been over 30 buffalo grazing on the
exposed ground on the Butte within a half mile radius of the capture facility since
Horse Butte is a peninsula on Hebgen Lake, NW of West Yellowstone, and is an
active bald eagle nesting site. Biologists with the Montana Department of Fish,
Wildlife and Parks have been daily documenting eagle nesting activity. The area
also provides habitat for additional threatened and endangered species such as
the grizzly bear and peregrine falcon.
The facility is located within 1/4 mile of a bald eagle nest, which is actively used
by a pair of bald eagles. The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Biological Opinion
authorizing a "take" of the nest, which will allow the impact of operating the
facility to displace eagles from nest site and render the site inactive. However, the
permit to the nest was issued assuming that construction of the facility would be
complete during nesting season, which began February 1. Construction of the
facility involves heavy machinery, soil disturbance, a generator and floodlights
that illuminate the area at night.
The state of Montana has requested up to $500,000 per year from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the operation of the bison trap for the
purpose of protecting its brucellosis-free status (a status given by the USDA to
states which have no brucellosis in their cattle herds). However, the USDA does
not have the legal authority to revoke Montana's status based solely on the
presence of potentially exposed wildlife in the state.
The facility will capture and test buffalo who migrate to the peninsula. The
agencies claim that the operation of the capture facility will help with the "urgent
need" to reduce bison mortality. However, in the winter of 1996-1997, the use of
these facilities sent hundreds of buffalo to slaughter. All pregnant females,
regardless of whether they test positive for brucellosis, will be shipped to
slaughter. All other buffalo testing positive will be shipped to slaughter.
More than half of the buffalo captured in a similar trap at Duck Creek this year by
the DOL have been slaughtered while only 13% have actually carried brucellosis.
Only culture tests determine if an animal is actually infected with brucellosis.
Such tests are conducted at the slaughterhouse by the US Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service (APHIS). According to APHIS, only 2 of the first 17
buffalo slaughtered this winter actually carried the disease. Video available upon
request. Scanned still photos available.
Buffalo Field Campaign
(formerly Buffalo Nations)
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
You Can Help Save the Buffalo
The killing of the bison goes on. So far 45 buffalo have been
killed this winter by
the state of Montana to protect their cattle industry profits. Please take one
minute and go to this website Save the Buffalo National Petition, '99
By electronically signing this petition you will add your voice to ours in telling
President Clinton, Mike Dombeck, Chief of the Forest Service and Bruce Babbitt,
Secretary of the Interior that we are tired of our taxpayer dollars being used to kill
this majestic animal to prop up the Montana beef industry.
Please do this, it only takes a moment. Thanks.
To learn more about Montana's slaughter of our bison, go to the website of the
Buffalo Field Campaign, an activist group fighting to save this part of our heritage,
at Welcome from Buffalo Nations