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Weekly Update from the Field May 15, 2003
* Update from the Field
* Seattle School Witnesses Wild Bison Haze; Pregnant Buffalo and
Newborn Calves Repeatedly Stressed by Hazing
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Buffalo Supporters,
It's been another crazy week for Yellowstone's wild bison. Yesterday
the Department of Livestock (along with the Forest Service, Park
Service, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and local law
enforcement) mounted multiple hazing operations in the area, pushing
pregnant bison and newborn calves from national forests with no cattle
present. The DOL helicopter returned, filling the skies with noise and
disturbing all sorts of wildlife, especially waterfowl like blue herons,
pelicans, and eagles. The chopper dropped down to treetop level while
hazing bison inside the Park, even breaking branches on trees. The
helicopter pushed bison near Fir Ridge miles back into the Park before
assisting the crew of agents on ATV's and horseback to flush out other
wild bison near the Madison River. Many bison were lost in the woods by
sloppy hazing efforts that succeeded mostly in stressing calves and
pregnant buffalo. At one point the DOL decided to use their helicopter
to haze an injured or birthing cow buffalo already inside the Park that
had collapsed from exhaustion from the haze. The chaos of the day was
perhaps best illustrated when one DOL agent nearly shot another with a
cracker round, and then another DOL agent nearly shot their helicopter
with a cracker round.

Our patrols, however, were everywhere at once, documenting the chaos.
Not only were we able to track multiple hazes, but we brought a German
television camera crew into the field and a group of students from
Seattle. The German television crew is producing a documentary that
will include the Yellowstone bison issue. The students were visiting
after studying the issue in their class. The mixing of the two elements
kept the DOL guessing. Picture the scene -- a yellow school bus and
other cars gathered on Horse Butte, students and teachers asking tough
questions to the agents in the field, an obvious outside media presence
capturing the action on film, while the DOL forced a herd of over 50
bison and at least 15 calves past the onlookers with just a few yards
separation.

Today, the DOL and crew are at it again. The helicopter is once again
terrorizing the skies around Yellowstone and more calves and their
mothers are being disturbed on public lands with no cattle present.
Early reports indicate that more bison have been lost in the woods
during hazing efforts, but at least three buffalo and a moose have been
pushed across the highway so far. They are currently rounding up about
a dozen buffalo and a calf on Horse Butte. Hopefully, the circus will
leave soon and give the wildlife a rest.

Today is May 15, the "zero tolerance" date for wild bison outside of
Yellowstone National Park, according to the Interagency Bison Management
Plan. Although the plan is an "adaptive management" plan which allows
for discretion to be applied in hazing bison back into the Park before
May 15, after today the plan calls for bison to be "captured or shot to
ensure none remain outside the Park in the western boundary area during
the applicable temporal separation period." Who knows if the fact that
the grazing allotments on national forest on Horse Butte have been
cancelled will make a difference? So far the DOL and Forest Service
have been hiding behind the private property excuse, and nobody knows if
the Munns family plans to bring cattle to their private ranch on Horse
Butte this June. As always, we will keep you informed of any moves made
against the last herd of wild bison in America.

Thank you once again for your continuing support for the Yellowstone
bison. Hopefully we will make it through these last tense weeks before
the bison naturally return to the Park with no more bloodshed.

For the buffalo,
Ted Fellman
BFC Media


Seattle School Witnesses Wild Bison Haze; Pregnant Buffalo and Newborn Calves Repeatedly Stressed by Hazing
For Immediate Release: May 14, 2003
Contacts: Ted Fellman, Mike Mease (406) 646-0070
 

West Yellowstone, MT - Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents
hazed over a hundred buffalo and dozens of newborn calves from national
forests while a school class watched nearby. Thirty-six students,
grades 4-8, from Alternative School #1 in Seattle, WA have been studying
Yellowstone all year. When they learned about the bison slaughter from
a friend, they decided to visit the Buffalo Field Campaign to learn
first hand about the issue. Teacher Carmen DiDomenico explains that
although they try to present both sides of an issue in order to foster
critical thinking, the DOL has been unwilling to return calls or arrange
a meeting to discuss the bison slaughter.

The students didn't get many answers from the agents hazing the buffalo.
"I think it's disrespectful the way they treat the buffalo," said
student Raven Matthews. Added Kaitlyn Texley, "Why are they only hazing
buffalo when elk have brucellosis too? There are elk everywhere, but
this is the last wild buffalo herd that they are killing off." Another
student, Jericho Taylor-Daves, commented, "the buffalo have been giving
birth here for longer than we've been ranching - they are just following
their instincts. Why don't we move the ranches instead of the buffalo?
There was a sign closing an area to protect wildlife, and yet they
harassed the wild buffalo in the area."

The DOL with assistance from the National Park Service, US Forest
Service, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and local law
enforcement have hazed hundreds of buffalo nearly every week this spring
during their calving season. The DOL has repeatedly stressed pregnant
buffalo and their calves on national forests with no cattle present.
Just two weeks ago, the DOL hazed a calving buffalo who gave birth to a
stillborn calf. A helicopter was used in today's hazing operation,
which disturbed other wildlife in the area including bald eagles, hawks,
and osprey. According to their plan, the DOL could return to
slaughtering bison that migrate out of Yellowstone National Park after
May 15. The DOL is not trained in wildlife management, yet has spent
nearly $3.5 million since 1996 on bison management operations that have
killed 2,064 wild bison. This year alone, the DOL has spent over
$350,000 to kill 244 wild bison.

The Yellowstone herd is the only continuously wild herd in the United
States. It is descended from just 23 wild bison that survived the mass
eradication of the 19th century and is the largest remaining single
population of genetically pure bison.

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.


Buffalo Stampede Thunders through Nation's Capital

For the second straight year, the Yellowstone bison found strong voices
in the streets of Washington DC and in the halls of Congress. BFC
volunteers joined forces with DC-based groups to share the buffalo's
plight with more than 70 U.S. Senators and Representatives. Our efforts
generated coast to coast press coverage and kicked off a concerted push
to permanently protect the Yellowstone herd. Many members of Congress,
after watching BFC video footage and hearing stories inspired by our
time in the field, agreed to take action to protect the bison.

Clouds and showers may have darkened the skies over Friday's rally, but
no amount of rain could dampen the spirit and resolve of the more than
fifty supporters who donned buffalo masks and marched across the
National Mall to call attention to the ongoing slaughter and to ask the
Department of Interior to uphold its congressional mandate to protect
the Yellowstone herd under the Endangered Species Act. Like bison
standing strong and facing into a storm, we braved the wind and rain as
we made our way to the Interior Department to submit the more than 2,000
citizen letters supporting our efforts to get the Yellowstone herd
listed. If you want to see a photo of the event and learn more about
our efforts, visit our website:
www.wildrockies.org/Buffalo/press02/050903.html

You can also check out our latest videos on the web. "Buffalo Hope"
provides a good overview of the issues facing the Yellowstone bison and
our efforts to protect them. "Shame on Yellowstone" documents the Park
Service's slaughter of 231 wild buffalo inside Yellowstone National Park
during the first week of March, 2003. The videos can be accessed at:
www.wildrockies.org/Buffalo/politico00/footage.html

Special thanks to Bette and Nancy at The Humane Society of the United
States, Rebecca and Jeff at The Fund for Animals, and Shipi and Mitch at
Clear the Air. Thanks also to die-hard BFC supporters Dave and Donna C.
and Jim M. And thank you all for taking the time to write such strong
letters on behalf of the bison. Each and every one of you played an
indispensable role in making this year's stampede such a thundering
success!
For the Buffalo,
Dan Brister
BFC Project Director

* Quick poll on ESA Protection for Yellowstone Bison
The Billings Gazette is currently running an opinion poll on whether
bison in Yellowstone National Park should be protected under the
Endangered Species Act. Go to: www.billingsgazette.com to vote!
The Gazette and other regional papers have been covering the plight of
the Yellowstone bison for a while. Let's keep the issue newsworthy!

* Last Words
During yesterday's haze, our volunteers captured an interesting bit of
dialogue from Park Service rangers hazing wild buffalo:
"Why don't we kick them on down to the river so they can get some water?
That'd be the nice tree hugging thing to do, wouldn't it?"
They did NOT give the buffalo a chance to get some water by the river
before hazing them further into the Park.

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