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Update from the Field March 25, 2004
* Update from the Field
* Reflections on the recent slaughter in Gardiner
* Call the Government on its Bad Science
* Thank you for the Support
* Support BFC
* Week of Action for the Buffalo, May 1-8
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Buffalo Supporters,
The dust from the Stephens Creek trap has hardly settled. Our volunteers have returned with disturbing video and stories. Images of buffalo bucking and fighting in the trap as they are forced into head clamps, struggling to escape until their noses are tugged up by rings, forcing them into submission, while Park Service employees test them. These images of hundreds of buffalo forced through this gruesome procedure haunt me. Thinking of the 198 buffalo held in captivity at the Stephens Creek trap, scarred by the experience of this brutal testing procedure, fills me with anger and despair. When will the madness stop? Some 278 wild Yellowstone buffalo have already been killed this season. And the spring migrations are just beginning.
The other day I followed buffalo tracks down the Madison River. It was a beautiful sunny spring afternoon. Bald eagles, trumpeter swans, blue herons, osprey, geese and ravens filled the sky. The snow is melting, uncovering grass and sagebrush. The frozen lake is receding. Sets of tracks clearly pointed their way to Horse Butte. As we approached we saw a bull buffalo, moving briskly, stopping to wallow and jump, grazing, and moving along again. Further along was a mixed herd of buffalo continuing their trek westward. 

By the time we caught up to them, they had already reached the Horse Butte trap and were grazing behind the police tape that warns the public that a piece of our national forest is closed to the public good. We watched nervously as the buffalo grazed by the trap. I have seen this sort of brazen resistance from wild buffalo before. Sometimes it seems that they choose to roam into the danger zone as an example of their wild spirit. Unwilling to be domesticated, they challenge their would be captors with their courage. These majestic buffalo inspire me with their resistance.

I was relieved when they moved on down the Butte. For now they are being left alone. Department of Livestock (DOL) agents have hazed some buffalo leaving Yellowstone National Park near the highway, but have not mounted a major hazing or capture operation on Horse Butte. These few dozen Yellowstone buffalo graze wild and free on our national forests on Horse Butte. More buffalo will follow. Volunteers reported from a flyover this weekend that several hundred buffalo are gathered inside the park at Cougar Knoll, less than 10 miles from the border. It is only a matter of time before their calving instinct brings them to Horse Butte. Their fate is unknown.

Our season is about to get even busier. If you or someone you know wants to come out and join us in the field, now is the time. We will be running more patrols in the next months as hundreds of buffalo migrate to Horse Butte and risk their lives in the shadow of the Horse Butte trap. Even if you can't come join us in the field, there is much you can do to help the Yellowstone buffalo. Your tax-deductible donations help keep volunteers in the field and sustain our efforts to fight this senseless slaughter. Please read more below and watch for updates in the coming weeks. Thank you for your support of the last wild buffalo in America.
For the buffalo,
Ted Fellman
BFC Media
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* Reflections on the recent slaughter in Gardiner
Have you ever experienced something so horrible that you never thought anything could compare? Then, sad as it could be, those memories are rekindled by acts just as disheartening. These feelings haunt my mind after returning home to West Yellowstone yesterday and finally slowing down long enough to digest my sorrow. Having witnessed the 1997 mass slaughter of 1083 buffalo first hand, this year jaunted those nightmares. 
First I must take my hat off and thank with all of my heart, George. Your efforts to save the buffalo through dedication and compassion keep me strong. You and your wife Susan are family for life and I already miss you both. 

The last major capture held over 300 buffalo in the traps for several days. Buffalo family members that had escaped capture circled the trap, lured back by the hay that the Park Service had left there as bait. This went on for several days giving the appearance of visitors' day at the county jail. Cramming over 300 buffalo in these death traps produced many injuries and one buffalo died. The Park Service has still not released the cause of death. 

It seems that the Park has problems even communicating between themselves. The rangers, wranglers or park police are the ones that haze and capture the buffalo. They don't consult, get advice, or in some cases, get along with the buffalo biologists. The rangers say they have hazed groups of animals several times but the radio collars tell the biologists a different story. The other day on a conference call with the Park Service I brought up the question of why untested buffalo are allowed on the national forest in Eagle Creek, but not in the Gallatin National Forest near West Yellowstone. Wayne Brewster said the difference is that there are no cows or private lands up in Eagle Creek. As we speak Bill Hoppe's cows are giving birth, next to his neighbors' houses and the over 100 buffalo that have wintered in the Eagle Creek area. On the west side in the Gallatin National Forest, cows are only here from June 15 through October 15. For the last two years, there have been no cows on the national forest and they can not return until the Forest Service completes an environmental impact statement. To date the Forest Service has no plans to do the EIS. 

I have grown tired of the double talk. If the Park Service feels so bad about being involved, then STAND UP and be counted. Voice your outrage and pull out of the bison management plan. Show the world that you are able to protect our national treasure, the buffalo and Yellowstone National Park. Expose Montana's ability to justify anything for the cattle industry. Return the responsibility and financial burden for the buffalo slaughter to Montana, the state demanding zero tolerance for wild buffalo, not on the US taxpayer.
With the Buffalo,
Mike Mease
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* Call the Government on its Bad Science
Hold the government accountable for the bad science that is the foundation of the current bison management plan. Contact Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) of New York's 24th legislative district. Rep. Boehlert is the chairman of the House Science Committee and has the ability to call for oversight hearings on the science involved in bison management. Let Rep. Boehlert know that the current management plan is totally inconsistent with the current science on Yellowstone bison and brucellosis.

Here are several points to make in your comments to Rep. Boehlert:
1. There is no indication that calf, yearling, bull or non-pregnant female bison can transmit brucellosis. Yet the Interagency Bison Management Plan does not distinguish between individual bison, but rather calls for all seropositives to be sent to slaughter.

2. Two government sponsored reports, the 1992 GAO report and the 1998 National Research Council report, both concluded that the risk of transmission between all wild bison and domestic cattle is low. Based on these reports, it is unreasonable to pursue a policy of zero-tolerance for bison in Montana. 

3. A recent doctoral dissertation by Natalie Halbert at Texas A&M University concludes that there are at least two genetically distinct populations of bison in Yellowstone National Park. In discussing the current management practices, Halbert states, "The potential impact of these issues on the long-term preservation of YNP bison warrants consideration in the future management of this historically and genetically important bison resource."

4. The Park Service recently began vaccinating captured bison with RB51 vaccine. Scientific studies on the efficacy of RB51 vaccine in bison conclude that RB51 vaccine, "did not confer significant protection in the vaccinated animals." (Davis & Elzer, 1999)

5. The test used to determine which bison are sent to slaughter only determines the presence of long-term antibodies for brucellosis. Based on culture testing results, the "gold standard" for brucellosis, over ninety percent of bison slaughtered were not actually infected with brucellosis bacteria.

Ask Rep. Boehlert to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 3446, the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act. Ask him to call for an oversight hearing to investigate the killing of Yellowstone buffalo based on inconsistent and inaccurate science. Contact Rep. Boehlert's office in Washington, D.C. by phone at 202-225-3665 or by e-mail through www.congress.com.
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* Thank You for the Support
BFC Would Like to Thank these Special Supporters:
George and Susan for all of their support. We can't thank you enough for all you do for the buffalo.

Thanks to Thom at the Riverside Cottages in Gardiner. Thank you Julia Page for the discounted rent. Thanks to Bettie Deweese for bringing food to our volunteers in Gardiner.
Dave Pauli with the Humane Society, Don Woerner, DVM, Will Patric with Greater Yellowstone Wildlife Alliance, and Glenn Hockett of the Gallatin Wildlife Association for coming out to Gardiner to witness firsthand what is happening inside Yellowstone.

LightHawk and pilot Reg for the recent flyover that has helped us prepare for the coming spring migration of buffalo down the Madison River. LightHawk flights have been an invaluable tool for the Buffalo Field Campaign over the years, and we can't thank them enough for their continued help and support. To learn more about this amazing, all-volunteer, environmental aviation organization, visit the LighHawk web site: http://www.lighthawk.org.
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* Support BFC
And don't forget, in addition to tax deductible donations, you can also support our important work by purchasing quality gifts and art. Please see our new offerings at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/pcshop/bazaar.html - we are updating this page and our offerings as you are reading this - check back often and share it with your friends.

A big thanks to everyone who ordered and is enjoying the Cedar Tree Music CD. Here's a quote from a satisfied supporter:
"I was just about to respond to your lovely e-mail yesterday when to my delight and amazement, the CD's came in the mail (great service!). This morning I listened to it for the first time, also looking at the notes that come with it, and was so impressed. There is something about the music that really touches the heart - we all go through challenging periods... - but when I heard the music I was immediately moved to tears in a very healing way, and felt confident that we will get through these challenges and come out stronger on the other side. I'm looking forward to hearing your music again and really taking the time to listen to all the words with the notes and explanations in mind. Thanks for creating such beautiful music (and I get a special thrill when I hear the dulcimer) and for sharing the proceeds with such a good cause as the Buffalo Field Campaign. Fondly, Bonnie"

Every little bit helps...
Thanks so much -
For the Buffalo,
Su
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* Week of Action for the Buffalo, May 1-8
Workshops, Field Patrols, Actions...with the Buffalo
We are encouraging a Month of Action all of April culminating in our Week of Action for the Buffalo, May 1-8.
The National Park Service and the Montana Department of Livestock have already killed 278 wild bison this winter.

Stop the slaughter of the last wild bison in America.
Come defend the buffalo.

There were once more than 35 million buffalo in North America. Today the Yellowstone buffalo herd is the only continuously wild herd in the US. In the spring, Yellowstone bison migrate to national forests in Montana where they are hazed, captured and killed. The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) has spent nearly $4 million since 1996 on bison management practices that have killed over 2,000 wild buffalo.

Volunteers are urgently needed in the spring. Hundreds of buffalo have already begun their spring migrations to Horse Butte to calve. There is a trap waiting for them on national forest land.

BFC monitors the herd's migrations, perform acts of non-violent civil disobedience, and documents all actions taken against the buffalo. Volunteers are provided with housing, training, and equipment. 

Our Week of Action for the Buffalo is an opportunity to gather activists to concentrate our efforts to defend the buffalo. If you've been thinking about coming out (or back) to Yellowstone, please join the buffalo for a Week of Action, May 1-8.
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* Last Words
Three letters to the editor on behalf of the buffalo were published in the Bozeman Chronicle this week...
March 19, 2004
Spend bison slaughter money on real solution
The government is taking our wildlife. Is it worth it and for what?
These are two questions reasonable people are asking about our government's bison slaughter program.

We spend more than $3 million annually, hazing, confining and slaughtering wild bison both within and near Yellowstone National Park. Supposedly, we do this to protect the livestock industry's brucellosis-free status. However, the government will likely begin killing wild bison regardless of their disease status (Bozeman Chronicle, March 16). In reality, few domestic cattle use the area and most of them belong to the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT).
Supposedly the CUT moved to Montana for "spiritual renewal" and to live in harmony with the environment. Unfortunately, the consequences of their land use and management choices near Yellowstone National Park have led to everything but renewal and harmony. As well, the Department of Livestock (DOL), the agency responsible for regulating livestock in Montana, turns its back on reckless livestock husbandry practices that unnecessarily threaten the entire industry. If DOL doesn't care, why should we?

The Wyoming livestock industry lost its brucellosis-free status. Interestingly, brucellosis was probably transferred to cattle from wild elk. Regardless, has the sky fallen in Wyoming? No. Dr. Jim Logan, Wyoming's state veterinarian, notes 100,000 to 300,000 livestock will be tested in Wyoming (Belgrade News, Feb. 24). At $5 per test, a worst-case scenario leads to an annual cost of $1.5 million.

Oh, by the way, taxpayers picked up the tab there. We could do the same here. The cost of testing cattle in Wyoming is half the cost of our government-run bison slaughter program, and cattle testing is much more humane. Let's spend the $1.5 million we save each year on habitat, a real solution.

Of course, wild bison have never transmitted brucellosis to cattle in the wild, so the questions remain -- IS IT WORTH IT AND FOR WHAT? When the DOL, CUT and our government turn their backs on reasonable solutions, one has to wonder.

Glenn Hockett
President, Gallatin Wildlife Association
Montana director, Western Watersheds Project
Bozeman

March 23, 2004
Urge agencies to stop bison slaughter
I want to thank Scott McMillion for his stories on the current Yellowstone bison situation. People have to realize that the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) has no intention of tolerating bison on our public lands in Montana even when no cattle are present for miles around. It is all about power and control. Karen Cooper of DOL is quoted as saying, "It really doesn't have anything to do with the cattle there (on the CUT property). It has to do with the fact that there is disease in the herd (of park bison)." This is totally disingenuous! Of course this situation has everything to do with livestock, which wrongly take precedence over native wildlife too often on our public lands. It is cattle that should be managed, not bison. Bison tolerate brucellosis. It is not a threat to people. To wipe out this disease in wild herds is to condemn these herds. Do we really want to eradicate this genetically unique herd? Do we want them to be less wild? Do we want them sent to slaughter from our most famous national park?

I went to Yellowstone two days ago because I was distraught. From a mile away, with good binoculars, I could see the huge corral complex, which is off of the old Corwin Springs to Gardiner Road to the west. The public cannot get anywhere close (because of safety issues and effect on the bison?). There are warning signs everywhere. It was horrible to see. Here are park bison in corrals in the park, which is supposed to be their refuge, tested, ear-taged, fed hay, just like cattle, calves vaccinated with a drug not proven effective in bison. I cried.
I urge the concerned public to go see this travesty. Our tax dollars are funding the slaughter of our native wildlife to protect the cattle industry. Let them protect themselves. Vaccinate their cattle and graze them away from the bison migratory routes north and west out of the park.

I talked with park officials, and they don't like the situation either, but there is little they can do because of the current bison management plan. The Park Service input into this plan did soften it. DOL would have liked to go into the park to kill all the bison that tested positive (for antibodies, not necessarily the disease), maybe half of the herd. The Park Service would not allow that. There was compromise. These individual bison who exercise their urge to move north (or west) are now sacrificed, when there are no cattle for miles.
Pressure DOL, pressure the Church Universal and Triumphant and the Park Service. This is bureaucracy gone amok. Bison deserve a better fate.
Gail Richardson
Bozeman

March 25, 2004
Buffalo on public land should be managed as wildlife
Yellowstone National Park is trapping our wild buffalo, and with the complicity of the Montana Department of Livestock herding them into cattle trucks for transport to slaughter. With high fanfare of official uniforms, badges, sidearms and flashing red lights on official cars, they are sending them down the highway to death, for no good reason.

Our native buffalo evolved over thousands of years to become fit for Montana's land, water and climate. They must be allowed to move into public wildlife winter ranges in the Yellowstone, Gallatin and Madison River basins. Native genetically pure wild buffalo are more valuable than the few cows that are causing their slaughter.

Buffalo are being trucked out without even testing for brucellosis. Who gave the right to Yellowstone Park and Montana Department of Livestock to slaughter our buffalo? I am requesting that Yellowstone National Park, Gallatin National Forest and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks remove themselves from this quagmire and let Montana Department of Livestock and the Animal and Plant Health Service roast in hell for their actions.

Do this before the killing once again plunges us into national disgrace over one of our national symbols.

We can balance our buffalo numbers on public land by managing them as wildlife, with discrete, fair chase, efficient, money-making public hunts that will be a fair harvest open to all and participated in by many. As biologist Jim Posewitz said, "Montana still has the opportunity to do it right. After that is accomplished, let the other states feel free to follow."

Joe Gutkoski, secretary
American Buffalo Foundation
Bozeman


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