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Update: Yellowstone Ships 17 More of America’s Last Wild Bison to Slaughter
Yellowstone National Park shipped 17 more of America's last wild bison to slaughter this morning. The buffalo were transferred to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) for direct shipment to a tribal slaughter facility.
Since Feb. 7, approximately 87 of America's last wild, migratory bison have been captured inside Yellowstone National Park's Stephens Creek bison trap, located in the Gardiner Basin. Patrols with Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), report that Yellowstone National Park has been luring wild bison into the Stephens Creek trap with hay. Bison have been captured without ever having left Yellowstone's boundaries.
To date, 37 wild buffalo have been transferred to the CSKT for slaughter. Five bison were transferred to USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, the federal livestock overseer, and the agency will use them for research in a highly controversial birth control experiment.
Tom McDonald, Fish & Wildlife Division Manager for the CSKT's Tribal Natural Resource Department told BFC today that, “The death sentence on those bison is not put on them by us, but by the National Park Service and the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP).”
As of this press release, 45 wild bison remain inside Yellowstone National Park's Stephens Creek bison trap. It is anticipated that the InterTribal Buffalo Council, a federally chartered bison ranching organization, will take captured buffalo from Yellowstone to tribal slaughter facilities later this week.
Nez Perce tribal member and member of BFC's board of directors, James Holt remarked, “It is painful to watch these tribal entities take such an approach to what should be the strongest advocacy and voice of protection. It is one thing to treat their own fenced herds in this manner, it is quite another to push that philosophy onto the last free-roaming herds in existence.”
Yellowstone plans to slaughter between 600 and 800 bison this winter, according to park spokesman Al Nash. "We're going to seek opportunities to capture animals that move outside the park's boundaries," he said.
None of the buffalo that have been captured have left Yellowstone's boundaries.
The state-federal-tribal IBMP has set a "population target," of 3,000 to 3,500 animals.
“The population target set by the IBMP is an arbitrary number based on politics, not science,” said Stephany Seay, of BFC. “Yellowstone completed a bison carrying capacity study in 2009, which determined that the Park could sustain upwards of 6,200 wild bison just within Yellowstone's interior, additionally, there are tens of thousands of acres of public land surrounding Yellowstone that bison should be allowed to access year-round."
The current buffalo population numbers approximately 4,400 (1,300 in the Central Interior and 3,100 in the Northern range). The Central Interior subpopulation also migrates north into the Gardiner basin and has not recovered from the last Park-led slaughter in 2008 that killed over half of the Central Interior buffalo. The government's “population target” makes no distinction for conserving subpopulations in this unique buffalo herd.
Yellowstone National Park has failed to complete a population viability study, which was designated as a research priority by the IBMP back in 2000.
BFC is vehemently opposed to the IBMP's management actions against bison, and is actively pushing for habitat expansion outside of Yellowstone National Park. Bison advocates are currently pressuring Gov. Bullock (D-MT) to take a leadership role in influencing state agency decisions and approve an Environmental Assessment that would provide year-round habitat for wild bison in the Hebgen Basin.
To speak out against the IBMP's slaughter visit the Buffalo Field Campaign's page and take action.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
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A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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