The Force of the Horse

Hundreds of Bison Sent to Slaughter Over Tribes’ Objections

Source: Multiple

Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure said state and federal officials “slapped the Fort Peck tribes in the face” by not using the facility.

Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday started shipping hundreds of wild bison to slaughter for disease control, as a quarantine facility on a Montana Indian reservation that could help spare many of the animals sat empty due to a political dispute.

Fifteen female bison initially slated for quarantine on the Fort Peck Reservation were instead loaded onto trailers near the town of a Gardiner, Montana and sent to slaughter. Hundreds more will be shipped in coming days and weeks, park officials said.

More than 400 bison, also known as buffalo, have been captured this winter attempting to migrate out of the snow-covered park to lower elevations in Montana in search of food. More animals are expected to be captured and shipped to slaughter through March.

Fort Peck’s Assiniboine and Sioux tribes built their quarantine facility to house up to 300 animals in hopes of using it to establish new herds across the U.S with Yellowstone’s genetically pure bison.

Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure said state and federal officials “slapped the Fort Peck tribes in the face” by not using the facility.

“They knew we were building a quarantine facility. A lot of money and time and effort were involved in this and all of a sudden they throw a monkey wrench in it,” Azure said.

Montana livestock officials and federal animal health agents oppose transferring bison to the quarantine site because the animals have not been certified to be free of brucellosis, a disease that can cause animals to abort their young. Ranchers in the state fear bison could transmit the disease to cattle and would pose competition for grazing space on public lands.

No transmissions of the disease from wild bison to cattle have been documented.

The park and state severely limit bison migrations into Montana under a 2000 agreement intended to guard against such transmissions.

The agreement set a population goal of 3,000 bison inside the park.

There were an estimated 5,500 animals at last count. To reduce that number, park officials want to kill up to 1,300 bison this winter through a combination of slaughter and public hunting.

A Democratic lawmaker from Missoula introduced a bill Wednesday to the Montana Legislature to change a law that calls for the state veterinarian to certify bison as brucellosis free before the animals can be transferred to tribes. Rep. Willis Curdy, whose family runs a cattle operation in western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, said he understands the ranching industry’s worries about brucellosis but thinks the tribes’ wishes deserve fair consideration.

“The state of Montana is continually getting very bad press for its policy in terms of the slaughters,” Curdy said. “We need to make a move in a positive direction, not only for the tribes but also for the bison.”

Hunters in Montana have shot more than 300 bison so far this winter. Meat from slaughtered animals is distributed to American Indian tribes. Many tribes historically relied on bison for food, clothing and other needs until the species was driven to near-extinction during the settlement of the U.S. West in the late 1800s.

Gov. Steve Bullock temporarily halted the park’s slaughter plans last month after Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said 40 animals once slated for the quarantine would be killed to make room in corrals used to hold migrating bison.

Bullock lifted the ban after the park, state and U.S. Department of Agriculture reached a deal that would spare 25 bull bison for future shipment to Fort Peck, once they undergo a lengthy quarantine at a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility just north of the park in Corwin Springs, Montana. That’s now down to 24 animals after one of the bulls was shot Tuesday when he broke his leg inside the park’s corrals.

To make room for the animals, federal officials will send to slaughter 20 Yellowstone bison that took part in a government research program at Corwin Springs, said Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Bullock spokeswoman Ronja Abel said state officials continue to work toward a long-term solution to the issue. She declined to say if that could include future use of Fort Peck’s quarantine.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said the park still wants to transfer bison to the tribes’ quarantine and plans future negotiations to make that happen.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of slaughter as a first step toward conservation,” Warthin said.

19 replies »

    • The disease is species specific—it causes females to abort their calves. It is not infectious in humans. It has NEVER been documented to transfer from bison to cattle, as the post says. The real carriers are elk, but this presents a PR conundrum because hunters want elk and the ranchers are loathe to make enemies with that group. The issue is over perceived grazing rights and bison take space from public lands ranchers.


      • “Ranchers in the state fear bison could transmit the disease to cattle and would pose competition for grazing space on public lands.” And we all know that “ranchers fears” are much more important than facts!


  1. “The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of slaughter as a first step toward conservation,” Warthin said……Seriously??? I AM REALLY TIRED OF HAVING TO PRETEND THAT STUPID IS A VIRTUE!!


  2. This is (one of) the biggest frauds perpetrated against wildlife ever. Bison haven’t had brucellosis in years. They won’t use a quarantine facility because they don’t want the truth to come out. The ultimate goal is to reduce slaughter as a “first step” to conservation? When do they plan to start? They’ve been slaughtering the bison for 300 years, and have done nothing for conservation, being held back from wiping them completely out by true conservationists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the biggest wildlife fraud perpetrated against the American people too – along with the lies told about wolves and wild horses. I wish they could be sued, and the American people part of a class action. Probably the native people could do much better.


  3. He’ll of a way to conserve the species isn’t it. Just slaughter them all. Montana has been a destructive force tho the Indians, the business, the wolves avid the Mustangs. I don’t believe brucellosis has been a problem with the bison for quite a while. I believe they are just killing them off so the ranchers and frackers can destroy the land. Just remember…first the bison and other wildlife, then the cattle and finally the ranchers. Montana better wake up. They are voting the destruction in and now they are going to get their wish…when will it all end?


  4. They’ve really got quite a racket going – by allowing it in elk, it keeps the vicious cycle going, doesn’t it. And grazing fees reduced again , government contract killers at their beck and call. Isn’t there a vaccine for livestock? If they can keep grazing fees low, surely they can subsidize/reduce fees for veterinary care. Yellowstone management should be ashamed – it’s not a zoo.


  5. These Make believe reasons are just the tip of the infinite iceburg. They are chomping at the Bit to kill off Mistangs and this is their rwvenge on the next closest animal within their grasp. In Illinois the DNR wants to Shoot to death cats. Literally Shoot Feral vats. This bloodlust is Only part of a larger desire to murder All animals. You think proslaughters propaganda about ARs wanting to erradicate pets entirely, just look at the facts…the Federal Agencies and their State Counterparts have been Slaughtering hunting and destroying every critter and actuallly are BANNING WILDLIFE AND EXOTIC OWNERSHIP. ITS NOT ANIMAL RIGHTS KILLING OFF ANIMALS ITS THESE AGENCIES!!


  6. Also tribal members should take Note the door to Horse Slaughter Allowed to try to open makes these Agencies think You will agree with slaughtering anything. The Horse Slaughter Agemda has to be permanently driven out of the US. Its destructive supporters will drive every animal into extinction but cattle. We have to be Loud and Clear in Every Aspecy Horse Slaughter Needs to go to Stop these animal crimes. The fact is they USE ANIMAL RIGHTS as a scapegoat to Blame for Federal and State Agencies Bad behavior. Its been a smoke screen for years. Lets take this as a warning to work harder than Ever to stop these Horrific scenes.


  7. The sickening bottom line is found by following the $$$. Sad for innocent animals to be murdered. Karma is when those who have a need to devour innocent animals rot themselves from cancers.


  8. Interesting history here as buffalo apparently got the disease when domestic cattle were allowed to graze in the park.
    Article excerpt: “Bullying the Bulls is Bull: Many (some seasons, all) buffalo captured and slaughtered are bulls, which are incapable of transmitting the disease. Often slaughtered buffalo tested positive for brucellosis antibodies, but not the resulting infection. Because it is proven that bison build natural resistance to brucellosis, these animals (with antibodies but not infection) may actually be the strongest, healthiest animals of the herd.

    The overwhelming majority of bison slaughtered according to these test results don’t actually carry the disease. This means not only is DOL killing what we consider and hope to prove is an endangered species, they are killing the toughest of them…the ones that should be breeding future buffalo babies.”


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