Is the Interior Department guilty of false advertising?
Has the agency that believes in protecting and maintaining "a wild, free-roaming population of Yellowstone bison," the agency that oversees the National Park Service, whose core mandate is preservation of resources, has this agency closed its eyes to the plight of Yellowstone's bison?
Some folks think so.
In fact, the Buffalo Field Campaign and the folks at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility are so disgusted with how the Interior Department has allowed hundreds of Yellowstone's bison to be shipped off to slaughter this winter that they think it's time for Interior to peel the bison image from its agency logo and hunt up a new one.
Perhaps one depicting a nice juicy bison tenderloin on a spit? Or maybe one sporting Buffalo Bill Cody?
"Chipmunks in New York's Central Park get more consideration and protection than the bison in Yellowstone," says Jeff Ruch, PEER's executive director. "The fact that Interior uses the bison as its official symbol adds the insult of misleading advertising to the injury of mass mayhem."
So disappointed are the groups with Interior's stance on Yellowstone's bison war that, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, perhaps not, they're giving YOU an opportunity to help redesign Interior's logo.
So far this winter more than 800 Yellowstone bison have been shipped off to slaughterhouses, many without even being tested for brucellosis -- a disease that can cause livestock to abort their fetuses -- because of the possibility that they carried the disease. Two others drowned back in January during efforts to haze nearly 50 bison back into the park.
Now, the way park and Montana officials have handled bison this winter is part of an approved interagency bison management plan. Plus, Yellowstone officials have said they believe the park's bison population should be around 3,000 animals; it got up to about 4,900 late last summer, and so the culling of bison this winter not only addressed the brucellosis concern but also served as population control.
But what concerns PEER and the Buffalo Field Campaign is how the issue of brucellosis and over-population has been handled. In addition to officials sending truckload after truckload of bison off to slaughterhouses, the groups say six other bison died from overheating after being chased by wranglers on snowmobiles, and many others were injured and killed from wounds sustained while being crowded into capture pens.
"Bison are slashed, gored and trampled as they run into pens with sharp corners, blind stops and exposed metal edges," the group says.
The solution to this animal cruelty, the groups believe, is the purchase of grazing rights in Montana just north of Yellowstone's border so the park's bison can truly roam free as they head to traditional wintering grounds.
However, instead of looking in that direction, the groups maintain that the park has spent more than $180,000 to capture bison and not a cent on habitat acquisition.
"At the request of Yellowstone Park's own employees who are appalled by what one calls 'biological malpractice,'" PEER says in a release, "PEER has started a drive to remove the bison as the official seal for the Interior Department and is enlisting public involvement in suggesting a substitute symbol for the agency."
That's right, folks, Interior's public face is up to you.
"Although it is the official symbol of the U.S. Department of Interior, the American bison is treated worse than any other form of wildlife in the national park system," say the groups, who are unveiling their campaign today. "This year, more than one in five members of the nation's largest remaining 'free-roaming' herd, located in Yellowstone National Park, will be killed -- by slaughter, hazing and maiming -- as a result of federal action."
Now, the rules for recommending a new logo are pretty straightforward. All you need do is email a jpeg or gif image of your proposed logo to firstname.lastname@example.org. The groups say a panel of judges will select a winner by April 1, 2006, and use it to petition the Interior Department to remove the bison from its logo.
While you can spread the word of this contest by referring your family, friends and colleagues to "the traveler," you can also head over to PEER's website, where you'll find a handy email form to get the word out.