Suspended 35 feet in the air from tripods made of tree trunks, two members of the group Buffalo Nations keep vigil.
They are here to prevent the Montana
Department of Livestock from building a bison pen outside West
Yellowstone, Mont., near Horse Butte, about 15 miles from
Yellowstone National Park. The department wants to capture errant
bison and test them for the disease brucellosis (HCN, 12/22/97).
Protesters spend 24-hour shifts suspended from the tripods, which
block the road to the capture site.
"If they have
a capture pen on Horse Butte, then they will kill more buffalo,"
says activist Sarah Chalmers. "We don't want it to be easy to come
in here and put up this trap."
have killed 15 bison this winter. Six others tested negative for
brucellosis and were returned to the park.
state Department of Livestock says that the bison migrating out of
the park endanger Montana's cattle industry. Critics disagree. For
two years, the federal Animal Plant Health Inspection Agency has
said that the state can allow bulls, calves and yearlings to wander
outside the park in some places without threatening the state's
In January, Montana
officials announced they would not adopt APHIS's "low risk" policy.
"We are here to protect Montana's livestock industry," said state
veterinarian Arnold Gertonson. "Any bison that tests positive for
brucellosis is a potential threat and will be sent to slaughter."
Park Service officials, meanwhile, are trying to
keep bison inside Yellowstone. On Jan. 29, they hazed 13 bison near
Gardner, Mont., further into the interior of the