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Weekly Update from the Field May 1, 2003
*Update from the Field
* Montana Hazes Hundreds of Wild Buffalo;Haze Disrupts Birthing Bison Whose Calf Dies
* Thanks for the Support
* Buffalo Stampede Thundering Ahead
* Legal Update
* Spring Campaign Continues
* Thanks to All who Helped with the Buffalo Exchange Benefit
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Buffalo Supporters,
The ice of Hebgen Lake is now half melted in front of our cabin. Herds of buffalo continue to leave the Park in their spring calving migrations to Horse Butte. Yesterday was another day of senseless harassment for the last wild buffalo in America. The Department of Livestock (DOL)
hazed hundreds of wild buffalo off of our national forests, stressing one calving buffalo into a stillborn birth. The DOL hazed a herd of buffalo with two calves through an occupied campground with no warning. They also trespassed onto a buffalo supporter's property to continue harassing buffalo that fled the haze. Late yesterday afternoon some of our volunteers, including one of our youngest buffalo warriors, came upon two dead buffalo calves on Horse Butte. Six year old Japhy and his mom, Justine, came across both a test fetus used for brucellosis studies and the stillborn calf from the morning's haze on their afternoon patrol
hike on Horse Butte. The dead baby has forced all of us, regardless of age, to bravely confront some of the most appalling evidence of the DOL's inhumane treatment of the last wild bison in America. Our press release is included below.

As I write, the DOL and other government agencies are hazing more buffalo with newborn calves. Our prayers are with the buffalo herd in this time of new birth, and our hopes are that some day buffalo can live wild and free on our public lands.

For the buffalo,
Ted Fellman
BFC Media


* Montana Hazes Hundreds of Wild Buffalo; Haze Disrupts Birthing Bison Whose Calf Dies
For Immediate Release: May 1, 2003

West Yellowstone, MT -- Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents hazed around 200 wild buffalo from national forests west of Yellowstone National Park yesterday, disrupting a calving bison and leading to a stillborn birth. The Montana Department of Livestock has spent over $3
million since 1996 on bison management operations that have killed 2,064 wild bison. Montana's justification for the ongoing buffalo slaughter has been the threat of brucellosis transmission to cattle. There has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild bison
to cattle. Yet the DOL continues to haze hundreds of wild buffalo during their calving season.

"This is what happens when livestock agents manage wildlife," commented Scott Williams, a Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) volunteer who witnessed the event. "The DOL's inhumane treatment of buffalo during calving season further underscores their poor management of America's last wild bison." Williams was in the Gallatin National Forest on Horse Butte
documenting the DOL haze a group of around 80 wild buffalo, including two calves. The buffalo migrate onto public land on Horse Butte every spring to give birth. There are no cattle present this time of year. Williams noticed a pregnant cow buffalo bed down and strain in what appeared to be the start of birthing. Soon two livestock agents on horseback pushed the calving buffalo into the herd that they were hazing. "After hazing the buffalo away, the agents returned, circled
around the spot where the buffalo was calving, and pointed. I knew that I had to return after the haze to see what happened."


When Williams returned later that day he saw Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) agents accompanied by one of the DOL agents involved in the haze. They were removing a dead calf. "If the DOL really believes that brucellosis transmission from 'infected aborted
fetus, birthing material or afterbirth' is possible, then why are they using management tactics that could increase that risk by hazing wild buffalo when there are no cattle present?" remarked Williams. Nearly every week in April the DOL repeatedly pushed the same herds of wild
buffalo miles back into the Park. The cumulative stress of repeated hazes on pregnant buffalo ready to calve could have already caused premature stillborn births or calf deaths that have not been documented. Today the DOL is again hazing wild buffalo and their calves.

Last week the US Forest Service announced that it had transferred the only cattle allotment on national forest land on Horse Butte to another public land allotment in Idaho. The allotment had already been cancelled last summer pending further environmental assessment. Until May 15 the management plan requires that a temporal/spatial separation be maintained between wild buffalo and cattle. Cattle aren't even moved to the sole private ranch on Horse Butte until June when the buffalo have returned to Yellowstone National Park. "Why is Montana wasting tax dollars to harass wild buffalo on our public lands? Where are the cattle that are supposedly threatened?" asked Williams.

The Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their traditional winter habitat and advocate for their protection. Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on and document every move made against them.


* Thanks for the Support
Greetings! Here we are half way from Spring Equinox to Summer Solstice and I am amazed and inspired by the passion and dedication of our grassroots family! The new buffalo calves that are entering the herd are supported by strong allies that make their protection inevitable. The Campaign has been busy on many fronts. We are preparing for the DC Rally to introduce the ESA petition listing that we have been working on for years, as well as requesting that the buffalo be acknowledged as the national animal. A Hearty Thanks go out to all the folks that are pulling together so that national legislators know that this issue is important to the public. Thanks to all the Representatives and Senators who have scheduled meetings with our volunteers to discuss the issue. A special thanks goes out to the speakers who will take time out of their already busy lives to join our new 25 foot buffalo balloon and speak out at the Stampede. To our allies at The Fund and HSUS - thanks for your dedicated efforts! Sheepy - wish you were in Yellowstone but you are rockin' DC! We are especially grateful to all of our grassroots family that wrote letters and will make calls to support this endeavor -together we will make a difference.

We, of course, are still busy in the field documenting and defending the plight of the last wild buffalo. I am constantly inspired by the long hours and focused passion of the volunteers living in frugal and often crowded living conditions. It's a difficult "job" to watch the majestic
buffalo be treated disrespectfully - words to properly express thanks to these dedicated individuals who put their lives and families "on hold" to be with the buffalo are hard to find! Last week members of BFC also attended the GYIBC and APHIS meetings. These lengthy meetings are often bogged down with agency double speak, but it is critical for us to monitor them, lend our guidance, and help them remember the power of a wild ecosystem.

The Earth Day tables at the Buffalo Exchange stores last Saturday were a great success (see below). Dedicated volunteers and Buffalo Exchange staff went the extra mile to do outreach. New folks found out about the issue and how they can get involved and make a difference. The folks that gave up their Saturdays to speak for the buffalo are too numerous to name - please accept our heartfelt gratitude for all your efforts. And to Buffalo Exchange (& Michelle) that set all this up - what can we say? Thank you!
 

To those of the BFC family that can't be at Camp - your letters and care packages (& girl scout cookies ~grin~) are such a morale boost that it keeps it all going! It is humbling to see how the buffalo gather together such strong folks that cooperatively can make an impact. Again, May will be a busy and hard month. If you can make it to Camp - we can plug you in. With all the extended efforts we have incurred additional expenses. If you are able to help us out with a donation, be assured that it will be put to good use! We are frugal and stretch every dollar as far as we can. If it's been a while since you made a contribution or you've been meaning to - every dollar helps!

You can give securely online at our website: www.wildrockies.org/buffalo. Or you can send a check to us here at: Buffalo Field Campaign, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Let us know if you need a tax-deductible receipt.

Most important is the respectful energy that is gaining momentum. Together we are making great strides. Blessings to all that send prayers to the buffalo...and prayers for those who make decisions about their future generations.

With awe and respect for all that's wild and free,
Su Gregerson,
BFC Program Development


* Buffalo Stampede Thundering Ahead
Things are busy here on the western boundary of Yellowstone as the end of another field season approaches. Last night a story including the Buffalo Field Campaign aired on NBC Nightly News. Unfortunately we found out too late to alert you in this update, but hopefully some of you saw it. It was a long time in coming, but at last we're getting more national attention.

And the timing couldn't be better. With our Buffalo Stampede thundering to our nation's capitol next week, we are primed to put the buffalo struggle in the national spotlight. We now have nearly 60 appointments with senators and congressional representatives in Washington, DC. On May 9, in Washington, DC, our 2nd Annual Buffalo Stampede on Capitol Hill will deliver a petition with letters of support demanding that the Department of the Interior list the Yellowstone bison under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For more information on the petition: www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/politico/ESAmain.html Thanks to all of you who wrote letters of support.

The Buffalo Rally will include special guest speakers Winona LaDuke and Rosalie Little Thunder, both strong native voices for the buffalo. If you will be in the area, please come join us! Bring banners, puppets, masks and costumes! We also now have a new tool that will appear at all
buffalo saving events--a 25 foot buffalo balloon that will be making its debut in Washington.
 

Taking our message to Washington is an exciting and hopeful opportunity for the last wild bison in America. However, it has cost us more money than our usual field efforts. The Buffalo Stampede will cost us around $3500 in travel, copies, videotape, and other expenses not even including the 25 foot buffalo balloon. Please consider making a donation to our efforts to help protect the last wild bison in America.

You can send a check to us here at: Buffalo Field Campaign, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Or donate online at: www.wildrockies.org/buffalo Once again, thank you for your continued support of the last wild buffalo in America!

For the buffalo,
Mike Mease
BFC Campaign Coordinator


* Legal Update

Senate Bill 395, the bison "hunting" bill, has passed through the Montana Legislature and is headed for Governor Martz's desk. Thanks to all who wrote or called their legislators and Governor Martz to oppose this atrocious bill. In all likelihood the bill will soon become law. However, don't expect a bison hunt to start next fall. Many options still exist to oppose this new hunt. We will keep you up to date on any new developments.

Several BFC representatives recently attended GYIBC (Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee) and APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services) meetings last week in Jackson Hole, WY. The GYIBC is still committed to the goal of brucellosis eradication by 2010 even though their own scientific research suggests that this goal is impossible to achieve. APHIS likewise seems committed to eradicating brucellosis from the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) and is in the process of developing a new plan. Last week's meeting was a pre-NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) "information sharing" session that included statements from Undersecretary of Agriculture William Hawks and Deputy Secretary of Interior Paul Hoffman. The public was allowed a meager three minutes each to comment with 9 out of 10 opposing eradication as a goal. Most believe that risk management should be the focus for addressing brucellosis and that APHIS should slow down on any new plan. Although billed as an opportunity for the various government agencies and the public to share information about brucellosis in the
GYA, it is clear that APHIS has already decided to bring forth a new brucellosis eradication plan. The "official" NEPA process for the new APHIS plan will likely begin this fall.

For the buffalo,
Josh Osher
BFC Legal


* Spring Campaign Continues!

May is the time to volunteer with the BFC! Hundreds of wild buffalo are migrating out of the Yellowstone National Park's west entrance to their historic calving grounds on adjacent public lands. Department of Livestock and Forest Service agents relentlessly push them back into the
Park. We need volunteer help now more than ever. Come to West Yellowstone, stay in our lodge, enjoy our scrumptious food, and experience the majesty of the last wild buffalo. Contact
BFC directly for more information at 406-646-0070 or buffaloatwildrockies.org

* Thanks to All who Helped with the Buffalo Exchange Benefit

Walking with our last wild buffalo family as DOL and Forest Service agents pushed them off our public lands back into the Park, my thoughts and voice reflected the support and dedication of all who participated in last Saturday's Buffalo Exchange benefit for the BFC. I made sure to
let the agents know that I represented hundreds of people who were tired of their devastating management plan. Thanks to all of our BFC volunteers, Buffalo Exchange employees, and supporters who came out on Saturday. We are empowered in the field and feel the dedication and work of our extended Buffalo Field Campaign family. The success of the Buffalo Exchange event is testimony to the power of the people and the buffalo. It is because of all of you that we are able to be effective in the field, in the media, and in the political arena. Thank you to
the Buffalo Exchange and the BFC volunteers! Together we WILL stop the slaughter!

For the buffalo,
Justine Sanchez
BFC Volunteer Coordinator


"The sale itself went great, we talked to one girl who had brought $95
to spend and was NOT leaving til she had spent it all at the dollar
racks. The employees working at Buffalo Exchange were GREAT!"
-Charles Erickson, Sherwood, OR


"The people who work at the Las Vegas Buffalo Exchange store are truly
dedicated in their efforts to help the BFC. I saw them go the extra
mile to raise money, educate the public and fill as many petitions as
possible. As a longtime activist I can vouch for the fact that it is
rare to meet such committed and hard-working group of people, and my son
and I were truly inspired and heartened by their energy and enthusiasm.
Both my son and I consider it a privilege and an honor to have been
involved in this event."

-Myrna Lefferts, Las Vegas, NV


* Last Words
Bison, Buffalo,
Where did they go?
They say there were once 30 million or so.
Taming of the new found land
Made all that was native and wild disband.
As the weeping Native People watched their brother bison die,
We escorted them to their new land, a reservation.
No taming of the Native Spirit.
The Native People survived, and the last 23 bison got Yellowstone,
reservation style.
--Mike Mease, BFC Campaign Coordinator


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