PETITION TARGET: The National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park’s wild buffalo horrifically have been driven into traps and trucked to slaughterhouses for decades— and it’s past time for this abuse to stop.
Last year alone, 88 wild buffalo were killed through the National Park Service’s grisly capture-to-slaughter program, which involves baiting or herding wild buffalo on the outskirts of the park into corrals at a trap site — typically using riders on horseback, ATVs, trucks, or helicopters in terrifying chases that often leave the buffalo seriously injured or separated from their herds. The buffalo then are imprisoned in a quarantine facility before they are trucked in trailers to livestock slaughterhouses, where they are skinned and dismembered before their brutalized bodies are shipped out in pieces.
Now, a new plan recently proposed by the National Park Service (NPS) could end these gruesome killings. While the first two alternatives allow the cruelty to continue, Alternative 3 would end the NPS’ slaughtering program — instead relying on natural selection and hunting outside of the park’s boundaries to manage populations.
Even though it is the best of the three options, Alternative 3 does not go far enough — nor does it acknowledge the entirety of the scientific information available about buffalo.
The NPS has acknowledged that available forage in Yellowstone can comfortably accommodate 10,000 buffalo during the summer and 6,500 buffalo in the winter, yet all three alternatives set a low management threshold at 3,500 buffalo — a minimum that leading conservationists have reported would likely critically endanger the herd’s genetic diversity.
The NPS’ emphasis on hunting outside of the park’s boundaries to “manage” already sustainable buffalo populations in Alternative 3 also is seriously concerning, given last year’s massacre of 1,175 buffalo outside of the park’s boundaries and a pending decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) over whether to to grant Endangered Species Act protections to the animals.
The FWS, in response to a lawsuit from conservationists, noted “substantial scientific or commercial information” to justify the change — in part because Yellowstone’s Central herd is widely considered by experts to be the last remaining genetically “pure” descendants of ancient buffalo.
These majestic and rare buffalo do not deserve to be hunted and slaughtered out of existence. Any approved plan must support the long-term health and well-being of wild buffalo and must also allow for their natural migration from the park to lands outside of the park.
The final plan is expected in Summer 2024 — but public comments to direct its outcome must be received by Sept. 25, 2023.
Sign our petition telling the NPS to support — but modify — Alternative 3 to include an end to cruel captures-to-slaughter, a re-evaluation of the rigid population minimums that don’t appear to be backed by science, and for strengthened protections for the Central herd.
Then, using your own heartfelt words, please take a moment to tell the NPS to end the capture-for-slaughter program while adding in additional protections for buffalo to ensure their well-being and genetic diversity for future generations.
You can submit comments online here or by mail to Superintendent, Attn: Bison Management Plan/PO Box 168/Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.
All comments must be received by September 25, 2023 to be considered.