Target: National Park Service Superintendent Jeff Mow
Goal: Stop the annual cull of bison in Yellowstone National Park.
The National Park Service, charged with protecting and conserving public lands and the animals that live on them, annually sends a percentage of Yellowstone bison to slaughter. Up to a thousand bison are rounded up and sent to slaughterhouses by rangers in what they term a “cull.” The park service claims this shocking measure is a necessary step in the fight against spreading brucellosis, an infectious, bacterial disease, from bison to cattle. However, the park service has separately acknowledged that the chance of brucellosis spreading from bison to cattle is extremely remote.
Successfully redeemed from the endangered species list in recent years, the American bison is a survivor, as well as a beloved icon of Yellowstone National Park and the American west. Though humans killed over 50 million bison in the 1800s, conservation and farming has restored the species enough to remove them from federal protection with their current population hovering at around 150,000 total. Though no longer technically endangered, bison – like other animals that have recently lost federal protections – exist on the outer margins of endangerment. An increase in overzealous hunting or a single difficult disease could easily hurtle bison back onto the endangered species list.
The true reason for the annual bison cull seems to lie with local ranchers, who complain that bison destroy their property and compete with their cattle for grass, and the fact that the National Park Service is politically beholden to them. The fact that the federal wildlife policy is directed by the political interests of the cattle industry, rather than ecological and conservation interests, is shameful. Demand that the National Park Service extricate itself from the influence of Montana ranchers and devote themselves instead to protecting federal lands and the animals that call them home.
Dear Superintendent Mow,
The bison is a beloved symbol of America, one that until recently was still considered endangered. Although the bison population has been restored enough to be removed from federal protections, their numbers are a tiny percentage of what they were before significant human impacts. It’s hard to comprehend that the National Park Service, committed to serving the land and its animals, would send these creatures to slaughter.
We, the undersigned, value bison, and we value our public lands. We support ecology and conservation as central interests of the National Park Service, and we regret that political interests of the cattle industry seem to have taken their place in this instance. We urge you to extricate Yellowstone from the political power of ranchers and end the annual bison cull.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: National Park Service