Each year, as wild bison wander beyond the borders of Yellowstone National Park in search of food, Montana livestock officials demand that these iconic animals be rounded up and shipped to slaughterhouses to keep them out of Montana and to keep their numbers low.
The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), responding to unfounded fears of some livestock producers, has taken the position that letting bison wander outside the park exposes cattle to a bacterial disease called brucellosis. But there has not been a single documented case of bison transmitting the disease to cattle in Montana.
Many conservation groups support the solution of an expanded "tolerance zone" around Yellowstone National Park, an area dominated by public land where bison would be allowed to roam. Yet the Montana Board of Livestock, which oversees the DOL, is blocking this common-sense solution. Governor Bullock must use his authority to urge this Board to get on board with this common-sense solution. Until then, any bison wandering outside the boundaries of Yellowstone could be shipped to slaughter.
Yellowstone is home to one of the last genetically pure wild herds of bison left in North America. This yearly slaughter not only prevents the herd from expanding... it also sets back bison restoration at other sites that could use Yellowstone bison to repopulate native herds.
Tell Governor Steve Bullock to stop the slaughter and let bison roam outside of Yellowstone National Park!
I am saddened to learn that your Department of Livestock continues to force the hazing and slaughter of Yellowstone's wild bison as they roam out of Yellowstone Park and into Montana. This is an unnecessary tragedy directly resulting from the Montana Board of Livestock's rejection of a widely-supported proposal to expand the wild bison "tolerance zone" north and west of the Park and a failure to voice a new vision for the future of Yellowstone bison.
I want to thank you for your vetoes of anti-bison legislation in 2013. I hope you will continue to champion bison conservation and restoration by shutting down future ship-to-slaughter programs as your predecessor, Governor Brian Schweitzer, did in 2011 and 2012. I ask you to also use your influence to ensure that the Montana Board of Livestock supports common sense solutions such as expanding the bison "tolerance zone" north and west of Yellowstone National Park.
It's time for a new vision that is not rooted in prejudice and fear. Nobody wants to see wanton, unnecessary slaughter of Yellowstone's wild bison. This is why Yellowstone National Park, the Intertribal Buffalo Council, individual Tribes, many conservation groups and almost all of the 120,000 people that commented on the bison "tolerance zone" expansion proposal want to see expansion implemented, maintained and improved. The best science supports expansion, and the moral choice is to prevent this needless slaughter and let real solutions emerge that address Yellowstone bison population management. The future for this herd and the future for bison restoration to additional locations depend on it.
You have the authority to guide the choices made by your agencies. Make bison a real part of Montana's wildlife heritage. Please use the weight of your office to get the Board of Livestock to be part of the solution and support year-round tolerance zones for Yellowstone's bison.
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