LAWTON, Okla. (KFOR) – The US Fish and Wildlife Service provided more details about the two bison shot on private property about a mile away from the Wichita Wildlife Refuge over the weekend. Officials claim the bison were humanely euthanized over concern for diseases.
“Our whole lives revolved around this buffalo. We migrated through eight states following this buffalo,” said Martina Minthorn, the Comanche Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. “To us, this is just disheartening.”
The Comanche Nation is preparing for this weekend’s fair, celebrating the rise of the buffalo.
Last Saturday, they harvested bison meat for tribal members. However, they wish they knew two buffalo would be shot and killed by two Wichita Wildlife Refuge workers the next day.
“That would’ve been a blessing to have additional food, to be able to give to our people,” said Minthorn.
On Sunday, David Folkert’s mother was delighted to spot two buffalo roaming in her yard that sits just behind his.
“Shortly after that, two Wichita wildlife refuge employees knocked on her front door, inquiring about the two buffalo,” said Folkert.
The two men got in their car and left.
On Monday, David discovered the two bison shot, bloated, and covered in flies along a dried up creek on his property.
“They never once asked our permission. They never notified us after they executed the buffalo,” said Folkert. “They’re supposed to be 100% conservation on the buffalo, and this is proof that they’re not doing that.”
The US Fish and Wildlife Service provided News 4 with the following statement:
“Protecting and supporting the viability of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge bison herd is important to ongoing efforts to support conservation of this species across the nation. Two members of the refuge’s core American Plains bison herd moved off refuge several weeks ago. Following the Bison Management Plan, to limit the risk of introducing diseases to the core refuge herd those two animals were humanely euthanized off refuge. It is rare for bison to leave the refuge, and staff are working to ensure refuge boundaries are secure. We are in communication with our neighboring landowners and will continue to prioritize those relationships as we manage the herd into the future.
“They could’ve donated them to the tribes,” said Folkert.
“All surplus buffalo from wildlife refuges in national parks go to tribes. And we’re right here,” said Minthorn.
On Tuesday, Folkert reached out to the tribe in the hopes of giving the bison a proper ceremony.
“We pray for those people who have taken the life of the buffalo, and we’re going to pray for the meat that’s going to be distributed,” said Minthorn.
Unfortunately, that’s something performed during the killing. Following the tribe’s direction, Folkert did the next best thing which was to sprinkle tabacco and lay sage on top of them.
“Once you take from mother earth you give back to Mother Earth,” said Minthorn.
News 4 sent the US Fish and Wildlife service several follow up questions including why the bison were left on the property to rot on Folkert’s property, why the tribes were not contacted, and if the refuge workers explored any other options. We have not heard back.