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Indians Pray For End To Shooting Of Bison

Fri., March 7, 1997

A group of American indians gathered around the skin and skull of a bison on the Capitol steps Thursday to pray for an end to the killing of bison near Yellowstone National Park.

Their prayer came a week after senior administration officials met with Montana’s congressional delegation in an effort to end the slaughter, but afterward acknowledged no solution was in sight.

“That’s why we’re praying because we’ve tried everything else,” said Mark Heckert, executive director of the InterTribal Bison Cooperative, an organization of tribes committed to saving the bison.

“There’s been intransigence by all the government agencies,” Heckert added. “The state of Montana seems dedicated to eliminating all these bison, and we’ve run through every alternative we could find.”

About 1,000 bison have been killed or rounded up for slaughter over the past few months when they roamed outside of the park in search of food. Ranchers fear the bison will spread brucellosis, which causes cows to abort their calves, to livestock grazing near the park.

The InterTribal Bison Cooperative s proposing to the Interior Department that bison be captured and tested for brucellosis.

Under the plan, bison testing positive would be destroyed. Uninfected bison would be turned over to the cooperative, which would distribute healthy animals to tribal governments.

Under a state-federal agreement, wandering bison are either shot or sent to slaughterhouses.


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