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Weekly Update from the Field April 8, 2004
* Update from the Field: Nonviolent Action Shuts Buffalo Trap
* Take Action for the Buffalo.
* Write a Letter to the Editor
  * Urge TV Stations to Cover Buffalo Slaughter
  * Organize a Community Event
*Last Words

* Nonviolent Action Shuts Buffalo Trap
     
As we walked along the Forest Service road accessing the Horse Butte buffalo trap yesterday morning we knew, for the first time in months, that the buffalo were safe. As we approached the trap where the Department of Livestock (DOL) has captured hundreds of buffalo since 1999, we were overjoyed. For once the trap didn't seem so ominous.
Akiva Silver, a 24 year-old volunteer who witnessed the capture of hundreds of buffalo in Yellowstone last month, sat perched upon a platform suspended from the top of a 45 foot-long pole in the center of the trap. Hanging from the platform a banner announced, "Bison Trap Closed To Protect Wildlife."
The pole, or monopod, stands straight up from the center of the holding pen, supported by a skirt of ropes tied to the walls and gates, making it inoperable as long as Akiva remains in his perch.  
Shortly after we got there, the local DOL agent arrived on the scene to prepare the trap for a week of capture and slaughter. His face dropped when he saw Akiva and realized that his plans had been changed. He made a few calls on his radio and was soon joined by the familiar crew of government agents who work together to kill buffalo. Next on the scene was Tyler Robinson of the U.S. Forest Service. He was followed by police officers from the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department, West Yellowstone Police, and the National Park Service. They spent the morning staring up at Akiva's structure, asking him to come down, and videotaping the BFC volunteers who had gathered to support him.
Horse Butte is the favorite spring habitat of the Yellowstone buffalo. In the past few days mixed herds of more than 75 have migrated to the Butte's greening south-facing slopes. As we sat on the ground by the trap talking to Akiva we could see a large herd on the hillside behind him. Over the course of the morning the buffalo, energized by the spring sunshine, began to trot down the Butte. Before long they were on the flats behind the trap, more than fifty strong, a few hundred yards away. 
We watched as they ran. Playfully jumping, darting and veering, they ran to within a few dozen yards from the agents standing at the far end of the trap. Dejection showed in the agents' faces, suddenly robbed of their power to capture. After running past, some buffalo wallowed in the road, kicking up great clouds of dust. Others gently sparred with their horns. Akiva cheered and we joined him, jubilant in the fact that there was no danger in the trap, that the buffalo would remain free, that the day would be theirs to wander as they wished.
Akiva remains upon his perch, where he has been for more than 30 hours. Unable to capture, the DOL regrouped for a hazing operation. They spent the morning disturbing the sanctity of the Buffalo on the Butte, riding their ATV's and firing explosive shells into the air to frighten buffalo--chasing them more than five miles past the trap to the park. While the DOL claims to have had no intention of capturing buffalo, we know differently. For we were there in February when they slammed the steel doors shut behind a herd of 18; we were there in 2002 when they captured and slaughtered more than a hundred buffalo; we have seen buffalo fall dead, injured and abused at the hands of the DOL in the very trap where, as I write, one young man sits perched, protecting a national treasure.
 
If you have ever felt ineffective or thought that the actions of one person can't make a difference, think again. Akiva Silver is living proof that each of us embodies the power to make a better world.  
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* Write a Letter to the Editor
Many papers have been printing buffalo-related letters to the editor, and we can't thank you enough for your energy and effort on this. Letters to the editor are an easy and effective way to awaken thousands of people to the buffalo crisis going on in and around Yellowstone. Future updates will feature recently-published letters and a link to BFC's letter writing page, with letter writing tips and contact info for crucial papers: http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/politico04/030304writelte.html
If you need information or tips on writing a letter you can always reach us at
bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org.

*Letter of the Week:
Why is Yellowstone no longer a safe place for bison?
Why are certain people catching bison and slaughtering them? I want to know why Yellowstone National Park is not a safe place for them any more. I don't think it is fair to have bison being slaughtered like that. I don't think it's OK for bison to almost be extinct. I hurt inside. I think that bison should have a safe place to live. I think that we should do something about it. Thank you.
Kelly Hockett, age 8
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* Urge television coverage of Yellowstone Slaughter
In addition to flooding the print-media with buffalo stories, we wanted to try something fairly new. A lot of TV stations have recently requested and received our footage from the field - we need your help to encourage them that this is newsworthy footage, so they'll show it and people can see what's happening to the buffalo. Gathering this footage is what BFC volunteers spend countless hours doing. As the eyes and ears for the American public, we need your help to get the footage out there!  Please put pressure on the TV news media, so the American public will know what's happening to the last wild buffalo. Listed below are just three TV news stations who have received footage from us. Please call and/or email them, and tell them you've got a story idea - ask them why they aren't covering the mass buffalo slaughter, and urge them to air the footage they have received from us. Encourage your friends and family to make these calls too. For the latest, TV media can also check our website for more footage as well. Your phone calls to them will demonstrate that this is important to the public, that it is indeed newsworthy, and that it must be shown!

TV NEWS STATIONS TO CONTACT:
1. NBC - Dateline NBC: Email - nightly@nbc.com - Phone - 212-664-7501
2. 48 Hours: Email - evening@cbsnews.com - Phone - 212-975-4848
3. ABC - 20/20: Email - 2020@abc.com - Phone - 212-456-7777
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* Mark Your Calendar! Silent Protest Planned in Helena
As part of BFC's Week of Action, we are planning a special event for Saturday, May 8th at 2:00 pm, in Helena, the state capitol of Montana. The DOL and the Park Service have already killed 277 buffalo this year alone, and we suffer their loss painfully. Though it is spring, and we should be celebrating new life, we know the killing-season isn't over yet. In response, we will stand in silent mourning and protest, juxtaposed between the eastern lawn of the State Capitol, the headquarters of the MT DOL, and the offices of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. We will don funeral attire, and set up headstones to represent the deaths of each of our buffalo friends. Our goal is to have *at least* one person for every buffalo killed, but more people will make a much stronger statement. We need your help with outreach, and hope you are also able to attend. Please go to (http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo) for a flyer that you can download and print to post around town, on campus, or in the office. Email any list serve you're on and let them know about this too. Help us make an impact by informing the masses and encouraging everyone to attend. Helena is about a 3-hour drive from West Yellowstone, so if you can, plan to come to Camp a few days early to go out on patrols with us, and then caravan or ride with us to the event. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you there! For more information or directions contact
stephany@wildrockies.org.
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Last Words:
"I am doing my best by non-violent means to stop this assault on the buffalo.
I believe that as long as I can remain inside the Hose butte trap, no buffalo will be captured here.
This is why I am here."
--Akiva Silver, on his closing of the buffalo trap on Horse Butte


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