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Buffalo Field Campaign - Archives

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Total Yellowstone
Buffalo Killed
Since 1985
9,172
(past counts)

Yellowstone Bison Slaughter
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Horse Butte Bald Eagle Lawsuit
8/23/07- Update on the ESA listing
Read the Horse Butte Complaint
The 9th circuit court ruled against BFC, et al.'s
appeal of the helicopter hazing lawsuit.
A copy of the ruling can be found here (78K pdf).

Horse Butte Bald Eagle Lawsuit Time Line

April 1998 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers videotapes a Montana Dept. of Livestock helicopter landing in a Bald Eagle Closure Area on Horse Butte during a bison hazing operation. The videotape shows the Livestock helicopter landing, taking off and flying through the bald eagle closure around the Horse Butte nest. The Horse Butte bald eagle nest failed to produce eaglets that spring.

April 1998 thru May 2001 - Buffalo Field Campaign and its volunteers begin to document illegal actions by the Montana Dept. of Livestock harming threatened bald eagles and dislocating sensitive species such as trumpeter swans, and failures by the US Forest Service to protect threatened species and critical habitat for bald eagles on public lands.

December 1998 - US Forest Service Hebgen Lake District Ranger Stan Benes issues an Environmental Assessment for the Montana Dept. of Livestock to set-up a bison trap within 1/2 mile of a threatened bald eagle nest on Horse Butte. As part of its comments, Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers submits a videotape of the Livestock Department's helicopter violating the Bald Eagle Closure Area on Horse Butte.

December 1998 - US Fish & Wildlife Service Montana Field Supervisor R. Mark Wilson releases a Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement authorizing the harming of the Horse Butte bald eagle nest. The take condemns an adult bald eagle nesting pair, a brood or clutch of 3 eaglets annually for 10 years. The Biological Opinion requires the US Forest Service to enforce non-discretionary bison hazing requirements on the Montana Dept. of Livestock, including a prohibition on using helicopters in the Horse Butte area and other measures to minimize harm to bald eagles.

February 1999 - Gallatin National Forest Supervisor David P. Garber issues his decision approving a Special Use Permit for the Montana Dept. of Livestock to construct and operate a trap over a period of 10 years, to capture bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park to Horse Butte Peninsula. His decision also includes a finding of no significant impact.

March 1999 - The Ecology Center Inc. and Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers file an appeal of the US Forest Service's decision to permit the Montana Dept. of Livestock to construct and operate the Horse Butte bison trap on the Gallatin National Forest.

April 1999 - US Forest Service Region One Appeal Officer Kathleen A. McAllister denies the appeal by The Ecology Center Inc. and Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers to block the Department of Livestock's bison trap from being used on public lands in threatened bald eagle habitat.

May 2000 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The Ecology Center Inc.; and Buffalo Field Campaign appeal to US District Court Judge Charles C. Lovell for a hearing to stop the Montana Dept. of Livestock from using helicopters to haze and trap bison on Horse Butte. The groups sought a temporary restraining order to halt helicopter hazing of bison, and the cooperation of the US Forest Service and National Park Service in bison hazing operations.

May 2000 - Judge Lovell issues his ruling that the required 60-day period for a Notice of Intent to Sue had not transpired, leaving the groups without legal standing to ask for relief under the Endangered Species Act. In his ruling, Judge Lovell cites US Forest Service and Montana Dept. of Livestock court statements that "there is no intention for future helicopter hazing in Horse Butte area."

May 2001 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The Ecology Center Inc; and Buffalo Field Campaign file suit alleging that Marc Bridges, Director of Montana Dept. of Livestock, David Garber, Supervisor of Gallatin National Forest, Dale Bosworth, Chief US Forest Service, Ann Venneman, Secretary of Agriculture, Gail Norton, Secretary of Interior, and Fran Manell, Director of National Park Service and are in violation of the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act, Administrative Procedures Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

May 2003 - Judge Lovell dismisses all claims raised by the conservation groups.

June 2003 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The Ecology Center Inc. and Buffalo Field Campaign file an appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on claims that the US Forest Service failed to properly consider impacts to threatened bald eagles, and evidence submitted by the groups documenting violations of, and failure to enforce, bison hazing requirements.

July 2004 - A 3-judge panel from the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses all claims raised by the conservation groups.

July 2004 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The Ecology Center Inc.; and Buffalo Field Campaign announce that they will appeal to all 28 active judges on the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear their claim that harming bald eagles is a significant impact. The en banc hearing requires one judge to move the issue to a vote, and a majority of active judges to agree to a rehearing.

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