« Return to this article

Know the West

'I kill them and cook them'


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

When officials from the Montana Department of Livestock decided they needed help slaughtering bison leaving Yellowstone National Park, they thought of Mac Carelli, owner of C&C Meats in Sheridan, Mont. Even though he says scores of reporters have been all over him "like ugly on an ape," Carelli is still willing to talk:

Mac Carelli: "It's a terrible deal. They only have so much feed in the park for all the elk and buffalo they've got. They're overstocked and there's no grass anymore. If a rancher ran his business the way the park does, he'd be out of business in 30 days. You have to control your population.

"The state pays me for killing them and cooking them. We go over there and trailer them back here under supervision by the state of Montana and the Park Service. I just do what they tell me to do. I'm just a dumb truck driver.

"Then the state hires a licensed auctioneer. We've had three sales. A lot of people just want to buy a head or hide and have them tanned. Everybody buys them, people from Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming. The last big heads brought $380 for the skull and horns. People used to hunt bison, but now the environmentalists won't let you shoot anything. The only way to get a trophy is to come here. The state gets the money.

"They've stopped bringing the bison in now. The animal activists have put a stop to it. They're turning them back into the park, letting them die of starvation and letting the wolves eat them. Or they're shooting them and giving them to the Indians. Now it's just a great expense to the state instead of them getting any revenue back.

"Those poor goddarned animals. What are they going to do? They're just like you and me. What would you do if you didn't have any food?"