Conservation and Native American Representatives
Call on Norton to Immediately Halt Killing of Yellowstone Buffalo
- March 12 - Secretary of Interior Gale Norton received a letter
today on behalf of conservation organizations and Native American
tribes calling for an immediate halt on the killing of Yellowstone
Park buffalo by the National Park Service, a branch of the Interior
Department. The letter was copied to Yellowstone National Park
Superintendent Suzanne Lewis. Regional and national conservation
organizations signed to the letter represent over 8 million members,
and the Native American Intertribal Bison Cooperative speaks for
National Park is home to the only wild free roaming buffalo herd
in the United States. Genetically unique, these few thousand animals
are a living link to the millions of buffalo that once thundered
in great herds across our western plains.
231 of these iconic buffalo were rounded up by Park Service personnel,
confined in a holding pen, and shipped to slaughter. Most were
within the boundary of Yellowstone National Park when they were
captured. The Park Service has stated publicly that it's compelled
to take this action as part of a management plan.
The March 11
letter asserts that the Park Service has greater management discretion
and authority relative to Yellowstone buffalo than it's currently
exercising. It notes that 13 million taxpayer dollars have been
spent toward securing range immediately outside the Park for buffalo.
The letter calls for the Park Service to utilize its clear discretion
to uphold the highest possible standards of protection for Yellowstone
a close look at the management plan under which the Park Service
is operating in Yellowstone," Charles Clusen of the Natural Resource
Defense Council reported. "Public assertions that it has no choice
but to capture and kill buffalo just don't wash."
Tony Jewett of the National Parks Conservation Association, "The
Park Service is killing buffalo by choice and not because it has
to." He characterized this decision as "a stunning departure for
an agency the public counts on to protect America's heritage,
not eliminate it."
of The Humane Society of the United States called upon the Park
Service "to demonstrate ethically, fiscally, and environmentally
responsible management consistent with its mission." She added,
"The Department of Interior's Park Service is striking out on
all three counts."
Executive Director of the Intertribal Bison Cooperative, called
the Park Service slaughter "a return to our worst memories of
the 19th century." The Cooperative is based in South Dakota and
represents 51 tribes. To many Native Americans, Yellowstone buffalo
are not only a national treasure but a potential breeding source
for future reservation herds as well. "Tribes would give anything
for the buffalo the Park Service is killing," DuBray lamented.
By current policy, Indians may receive heads and hides of slaughtered
buffalo, but not the honored living animal with which they hope
to repopulate their lands and revitalize traditional culture.
Congressional act that established the Park Service, Jim Coefield
of the Montana-based Ecology Center noted the agency's mission
is "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects
and the wildlife within." "That's certainly not what's happening
in America's first national park," he observed. "Secretary Norton
and Superintendent Lewis have a lot of explaining to do."
Montana livestock from a bacterium called brucellosis is the supposed
rationale behind slaughtering Yellowstone buffalo. Brucellosis,
common in Yellowstone wildlife, has never been transmitted in
the wild from buffalo to cows. Nonetheless, for years the Montana
Department of Livestock has singled out Yellowstone buffalo for
hazing and killing when winter weather draws wildlife out of the
Park to lower elevation range nearby.
actions are completely unnecessary and have cost taxpayers millions,"
said Hope Sieck of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. "The Park
Service should pursue common-sense solutions that protect Yellowstone's
buffalo and the integrity of our first national park."
the slaughter point out that only a few hundred beef cattle graze
anywhere near Yellowstone, mainly in the summer when buffalo have
returned to the Park. All agree that simply moving those cows
to another location would solve any perceived problems and save
money all around.
"We are heartened
to see that last week's slaughter by the Park has caught the attention
of Congress, specifically Representative Rahall, ranking Democrat
on the House Committee on Resources," said Defenders of Wildlife's
Caroline Kennedy. "We'll help him investigate the Park's recent
actions and how taxpayer dollars are being used to slaughter Yellowstone's
cherished buffalo herd."
The March 11
letter details management stipulations, and discrepancies, relative
to the recent Park Service actions. A copy of the letter can be
downloaded at http://www.defenders.org/wildlife/new/prairie/bison/norton.pdf.
B-roll footage is also available upon request.
|Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.
press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by
one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community.
you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information,
please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)
Read our Guidelines
for Submitting News Releases
1997-2003 Common Dreams.