Update from the Field
The snow is melting quickly in and around Yellowstone
National Park and fresh green grass is starting to sprout
on the Horse Butte Peninsula. The annual spring migration
began earlier this week with dozens of buffalo leaving
Yellowstone and travelling west along the Madison River
toward the Butte. What should be a celebration of spring
is instead viewed with dread, as the Department of Livestock
(DOL) will be hazing, capturing, and slaughtering these
very buffalo in the coming weeks.
The hazing season started last Friday, March 26, when
DOL agents gathered on Horse Butte and began chasing
a group of 20 buffalo from the Butte's upper slopes.
In a blatant disregard for public safety, the agents
initiated the operation by hazing two bulls directly
toward a BFC patrol that was in the area documenting
the haze. Fortunately the buffalo quickly outsmarted
the cowboys and took refuge in an eagle closure where
humans are not permitted. The DOL left town frustrated
at their inability to haze or capture the buffalo.
They returned this week, determined to chase the Horse
Butte buffalo to Yellowstone National Park. Why they
are so insistent on keeping buffalo out of Montana is
a great mystery. The DOL claims that they are protecting
cattle from brucellosis, but there are never--at any
time of the year--cattle on the Forest Service lands
occupied by these buffalo. Even if there were cattle
present, there would still not be a problem, as wild
buffalo have never transmitted brucellosis to livestock.
What's really at issue here is control of our public
lands, and the Montana Department of Livestock is unwilling
to budge and allow even a few buffalo into Montana.
The agents came out in force yesterday and hazed more
than 70 buffalo from Horse Butte back into Yellowstone.
In a bizarre incident Forest Service and Gallatin County
Law Enforcement Officers confiscated the shoes of BFC
volunteer Benjamin Yager. His soles, they said, resembled
prints they'd seen in the snow near a log that lay across
the Forest Service trail accessing the Horse Butte buffalo
trap. Our volunteers have been the victim of frivolous
investigations meant to intimidate them in the past
but never have we had the shoes taken from our feet.
Below you will find more information on recent events,
and concrete suggestions on ways you can help protect
the buffalo. The coming weeks will be difficult for
the buffalo and those who care for them. With your help
we will stop the slaughter. Please read on and take
action on behalf of the Yellowstone herd, America's
last wild buffalo.
* By the Numbers:
Buffalo captured since 2/21/04 by the National Park
Buffalo killed since 2/21/04 by the National Park Service:
Buffalo currently being held in livestock pens in Yellowstone:
Buffalo inoculated with livestock vaccine and ear tagged:
Buffalo captured since 2/17/04 by the MT Dept. of Livestock:
Buffalo killed since 2/17/04 by the MT Dept. of Livestock:
* Letters to the Editor Critical!
We've been asking buffalo supporters to write them,
and the newspapers have been printing a lot of terrific
letters to the editor lately - thank you! This tool
is an amazing one, as it reaches thousands of readers,
including some of those rascally decision-makers, and
helps put the buffalo issue in the spotlight where it
belongs. And that's when the powers that
be begin to really pay attention. BFC's web site has
a list of key papers to target, as well as tips
on writing your own letters. We've also pasted
an excellent example below--let's keep up the great
work folks, and thanks for your efforts - they
ARE paying off! For newspaper contact info and tips
please visit Letters
to the Editor
This creative letter was published in today's
Award winners named for park bison debacle
It is time to present awards to those involved in slaughtering
wild bison. Their actions represent the best in dogmatic,
unscientific and political management of wildlife and
they do it with $3 million a year of your money.
Best Director: Montana Department of
Livestock (DOL). Call 406-444-7323 and email at email@example.com
and heap praise on director Marc Bridges.
Best Supporting Director: APHIS Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service The federal version
of DOL. Visit this Web site: http://www.aphis.usda.gov
These folks also run the misnamed "Wildlife Services"
that actually traps, shoots and poisons not only predators
but also birds that have the audacity to interfere with
Best Supporting Politicians: Call Conrad
Burns, Max Baucus, Dennis Rehberg at 800-839-5276. Call
Judy Martz at 406-444-3111
Best Supporting Agencies: Yellowstone
National Park -- Cheryl Matthews, 307-344-2010;
Gallatin National Forest -- Becky Heath, 406-587-6701
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks -- Pat Flowers, 406-994-4042
Funniest Dialog: "The interagency
bison plan made us do it"
Best don't say what you mean line:
Lethal removal. i.e. shot.
Best lie: A tie. Cattle can get brucellosis
from bison. The interagency bison plan is adaptive.
Best Buck Passing: The Forest Service
refusal to even plan for bison occupancy on their lands.
"The DOL won't allow it. Our hands are tied."
Best Obstructionist: We have a double
winner! The Forest Service again for encouraging cattle
grazing on lands adjacent to Yellowstone.
Best Supporting Characters: Those that
raise cattle adjacent to Yellowstone and the slaughter
facilities that finish the job.
* Former Park Employees Unite in Opposition
to Buffalo Slaughter
Great news, folks! A group of over 220 retired Park
Service employees, who have formed an active coaltion
- The Coaltion of Concerned National Park Service Retirees
- just sent a letter to two federal big wigs, calling
for an end to the buffalo slaughter. The Coaltion sent
Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Agriculture Secretary
Ann Veneman a very strong letter urging them to find
common sense solutions, and to "immediately impose
a moratorium on the further killing of the Yellowstone
bison." We are very thankful that these former
stewards of America's national parks have taken such
a strong stand for the buffalo. You
can read this letter in its entirety
* Update on Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation
You guys just keep on rockin' for the buffalo! We are
very pleased to let you know that H.R. 3446, the Yellowstone
Buffalo Preservation Act now has 88 cosponsors! We've
updated our website to reflect the House Representatives
that have signed on - please check this list out, and
if you do not see your Reps name on there, please call,
write, email, fax, visit them and strongly urge them
to sign on. If you do see your reps name, please thank
them if you haven't done so already. Letters to the
editor on this critical legislation are crucial as well,
so keep that pen in your hand and write on! For information
on the bill and the current list of cosponsors please
visit the Yellowstone
Buffalo Protection Act Cosponsors. Thanks for taking
action for the buffalo!
* Despite Public Sentiment, APHIS OK's Buffalo
As if we really thought they had it in them to do the
right thing, given this Administration and all.
So, of course, true to their course, the Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service has once again scrapped
sound science and public sentiment and decided they
will go ahead and vaccinate wild buffalo with a brucellosis vaccine
(RB-51) intended for cattle, and one that doesn't even
work. This is a huge slap in the face to the buffalo
and the people. Please keep the pressure on, stay on
their mailing list and contact APHIS - the
agency responsible for this ridiculous decision
- to express your disappointment and outrage. Email
them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Support the Buffalo and the Buffalo Field
At the Buffalo Field Campaign we have no high paid staff
members or frivolous expenses--just dedicated folks
working hard to stop the slaughter. The majority of
our support comes from people like you who care enough
about the buffalo to take action on their behalf. With
lots of buffalo heading toward the park boundary and
more than two difficult months ahead, your support is
more crucial than ever. Below you will find a few creative
ways to help BFC help the buffalo.
We all give gifts occasionally, so the next time you
need a gift - consider voting with your dollars. You
can get some great art, pottery, jewelry, photos, watercolors,
prints, 100% organic cotton t-shirts, 100% recycled
note cards, music and more at the Buffalo
Bazaar and support BFC's work at the same time!
Please take a moment and check it out. If you want to
offer something for the buffalo through our supporter
to supporter program - just give me a holler. The graciously
donated Suburban is one of our main patrol cars and
currently needs a new transmission. If everyone who
reads this makes a small donation or buys a gift - we
can get it fixed.
On another note, our computer cartridge recycling program
has just gotten much easier! All you have to do is go
- hit the "collect for a cause" button and
look at the options under BFC to collect cartridges
in support of our work. All envelopes and boxes are
easy to get to folks that use computers and offer prepaid
shipping. The landfills receive less plastic and BFC
benefits - a win-win situation, indeed.
A big thanks to all of you for all your work & efforts.
It is my honor to work with such dedicated grassroots
Together we will make a change.
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign Programs
West Yellowstone, Montana 59758
email@example.comDonations are tax deductible
and go directly to front lines work. BFC is the only
group in the field 365 days a year with the last, free
* Last Words:
"Something is terribly wrong when the natural migration
of the American buffalo, one of the most symbolic wildife
icons in our nation, dooms them to be slaughtered when
they step outside park land."
- From a letter sent to Interior Secretary Gail Norton
and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman by the Coalition
of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, 220 strong.