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Weekly Update from the Field May 13, 2004
* Update from the Field
* Survey Shows Americans Oppose Slaughter of Yellowstone Buffalo
* Support the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act
* The Buffalo Field Campaign Needs Your Support
* Call for Summer Outreach Volunteers
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Buffalo Supporters,
May 15 is 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 Saturday 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." Never mind the lack of public lands cattle allotments on Horse Butte or along the Madison River. Fortunately the Horse Butte Trap was dismantled and hauled away earlier this week, but the stakes for the last free ranging bison are about to be raised.
It is surprisingly difficult to find a buffalo outside of Yellowstone National Park these days. The relentless hazing has left little opportunity for the buffalo to follow their instincts. I miss hiking through the aspen groves and meadows of Horse Butte and finding small herds of buffalo roaming free, calves playfully running, mommas watching over their young, bulls butting heads. Buffalo these days are rarely left alone long enough to make the full trek to their calving grounds on Horse Butte.
Why do the cattlemen feel the need to keep native wildlife off of our public lands in Montana? Why can't wild buffalo be left in peace during their calving season? Why does the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) insist on wasting millions of our tax dollars every year to play cowboy, chasing down wild bison with horses, ATV's and helicopters? Where exactly are the cattle that they are busy protecting?
Despite these lingering questions, the militarization of the Yellowstone border continues. A helicopter drones overhead today seeking out the handful of fugitive buffalo with the courage to follow their instincts. DOL agents scour the national forests in search of grazing buffalo mothers and their calves. How many government agents does it take to track down less than a dozen buffalo? It's a trick question when you have a fat budget to spend before the buffalo return to the Park in the coming weeks.
The DOL chased seven buffalo mothers and their calves at full speed back into the Park today. Livestock agents also trespassed on private property during today's haze amidst angry local residents. A lone bull buffalo who had been peacefully grazing in the area for days was hazed through private property on Horse Butte without any warning given to the property owners. "Whether it be on ATV's, horseback or helicopter, the fact that the DOL chooses to force the buffalo through a populated area shows a blatant lack of respect for the safety of myself, my neighbors, friends, visitors and tourists alike," said Karrie Taggart of Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo. "One day someone is going to get hurt because of this costly, ineffective practice of hazing even though there are no cattle in the Horse Butte area."
And so days spent in peace with wild buffalo have become rare. The other afternoon I was fortunate enough to spend time in a fresh snow watching eight momma buffalo with eight calves on the Madison bluffs near the Park boundary. It was a peaceful, inspiring sight--buffalo grazing intently with watchful eyes, calves jumping around, suckling at their mothers, bounding to catch up with each other. The snow added a layer of quiet to the scene, blanketing all in the white of innocence. But there is no innocence left for the buffalo. If they make it through the harsh winter, they are faced with relentless hazing all spring, confined to Yellowstone Reservation by force, denied access to their calving grounds by the greed of Montana's powerful livestock industry.
We took this message to Helena on Saturday where we had a successful vigil for the buffalo on the lawn of the state capitol. The 278 gravestones were a stark reminder of this season's death toll, of the blood on Montana's hands, of the continued madness of "bison management." Nearly fifty people gathered to pay their respects. Many of the gravestones held press releases recounting the season's slaughter or photos of buffalo being tested, heads locked in clamps and noses held up by pinched rings. There was a mood of solemn prayer as people knelt in front of the gravestones to read the stories or examine the photos, a surreal metaphorical cemetery to honor those buffalo that lost their lives this season because Montana refuses to tolerate wild buffalo in the state. We formed a circle, passed burning sage around, and told stories about the buffalo, about what we have learned from them, about our visions of a future where buffalo can roam wild and free in Montana. You can view some pictures from the event at:  www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/helenavigil.html. Special thanks to Colin, Dave, and Nancy of the Humane Society of the United States and Patti and Devanie for helping to make the event such a success. And thanks to everyone who came to the vigil and all of you who supported our Week of Action for the Buffalo in your own communities.
As we spend long spring days bearing witness to the continued harassment of the last wild bison in America, it can be hard to maintain perspective. If wild bison are not allowed to roam free in Montana, where can we expect them to roam free? It tests the limits of reason or cynicism. But we are like the buffalo. We face challenges to our survival in all directions. And like the buffalo nation, we will persist. We will continue to resist through our actions until the wild is free. We thank all of you for your actions in defense of the buffalo. It will take all of us to live the dream of wild buffalo roaming free on our public lands. Until that day, I will linger in the bittersweet comforts of spring afternoons spent in the inspiring presence of these mighty buffalo. 
For the buffalo,
Ted Fellman
BFC Media
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* Survey Shows Americans Oppose Slaughter of Yellowstone Buffalo
A nationwide survey finds that 75 percent of Americans disapprove of slaughtering buffalo wandering outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. The National Park Service (NPS) and the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) have killed 278 buffalo this year and hazed and harassed wild buffalo nearly every day this spring. The Yellowstone herd is the last remaining continuously wild, genetically pure herd of buffalo in the United States.
The survey was commissioned by The Humane Society of the United States and conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates in April 2004. Out of 900 adults in the United States, 75 percent of respondents said that they disapproved of the policy allowing the slaughter, with 59 percent of those polled indicating that they "strongly disapprove." An even higher proportion of respondents oppose the use of federal funds to implement the program to kill the buffalo. The poll has a margin of error of ± 3.3 percent.
"It's a travesty that this lethal policy continues year after year despite such strong public opposition," said Wayne Pacelle, CEO-Designate of The Humane Society of the United States.
Part of the buffalo population in Yellowstone National Park migrates outside the park boundaries onto public Forest Service land in winter and spring in search of better forage and to escape the deepest snow. During the summer months, several ranchers also graze their cattle on nearby private land. With a few cattle grazing near traditional buffalo migration routes and calving areas, the MDOL claims that cattle are at risk of contracting brucellosis, a disease that may cause spontaneous abortions in cows.
However, as noted by Chuck Clusen, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's National Parks Project, "there has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild bison to domestic cattle." In fact, the risk of such transmission is negligible.
"Most wild bison that migrate into Montana never even come close to cattle, and yet they are hazed, captured and slaughtered," said Ted Fellman of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "When people learn that the threat of brucellosis transmission is exaggerated by the livestock industry to justify the continued slaughter of the last wild bison in America, they overwhelmingly disapprove. It is time to give voice to that disapproval and stop the slaughter."
The NPS and MDOL are among several federal and state agencies using a bison management plan that allows state and federal agencies to haze the animals back into Yellowstone when they cross the unmarked boundaries. As the harsh winter weather drives more buffalo from the interior of the park, government agents typically switch from hazing the animals to capturing them. All buffalo testing positive for antibodies to brucellosis--a test that does not determine whether animals are currently infected--are sent to slaughter. Many of the bison who were sent to slaughter in the past two springs were not even tested first. In the past ten years, the NPS and MDOL have shot or sent to slaughter 2786 Yellowstone buffalo.
The Hinchey-Bass Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act (H.R. 3446) would prohibit state and federal agency officials from hazing, capturing, or killing Yellowstone buffalo until certain conditions have been met. The bill has 101 cosponsors.
The bill is backed by many conservation, animal protection, and wildlife organizations including Bear Creek Council, Buffalo Field Campaign, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Species Coalition, The Fund for Animals, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Wilderness Society.
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Stop the slaughter of the last wild buffalo in America.
Call your Congressional Representative today!
* Support the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act

The National Park Service and Montana Department of Livestock have already killed 277 wild Yellowstone buffalo this season. The Park Service has killed nearly 500 wild buffalo inside Yellowstone National Park in the past two years. In the past ten years the Montana Department of Livestock and National Park Service have slaughtered 2,778 buffalo in and around Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone buffalo slaughter is slated to cost taxpayers nearly $3 million a year until 2015.
Please take action today to stop the senseless slaughter of an American icon. Support efforts to protect the Yellowstone herd. The Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act (HR 3446) calls for a three year moratorium on the hazing, capturing and killing of Yellowstone buffalo; expands the range that buffalo are allowed to roam; requires the dismantling of the Stephens Creek Trap inside Yellowstone National Park; and gives the Park Service sole jurisdiction over buffalo within the Park.
Thanks to your efforts, HR 3446 continues to gain momentum, with 101 House co-sponsors.

Check http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/politico/3446.html for talking points and to see if your Representative has signed on. If they haven't, give them a call and strongly urge them to do so. If they have, please thank them and encourage them to speak with their colleagues. 
You can contact your Representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 800-839-5276, and asking to be transferred to his/her office. Or you can use http://www.house.gov/writerep to look up your Representative and send them an email. It only takes a few minutes to help the buffalo.
A Senate version of the bill will be introduced soon. Take a minute to contact your Senators and inform them about this important legislation. You can contact your Senator by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 800-839-5276, and asking to be transferred to his/her office. Or you can visit http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm to look up your Senator and send them an email. It only takes a few minutes to help the buffalo.
If you live in Washington State, your help is especially needed. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are two potential champions. Contact them today and let them know how you feel about the Yellowstone buffalo slaughter and the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act.
Maria Cantwell
717 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3441
Senator Patty Murray
173 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-2621
Thank you once again for your support. Together we will stop the senseless slaughter of America's last wild buffalo.
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* The Buffalo Field Campaign Needs Your Support
Longtime BFC supporter Melanie Kelley is auctioning a beautiful and original buffalo gourd, created and donated by the artist Shalot, to benefit the work of the Buffalo Field Campaign. The ebay auction ends Saturday, May 15, 8pm PDT as item #3721965770.   Make your bid! This is a unique opportunity to support BFC's field efforts.
What are wild buffalo worth to you? What does it mean to you to know that your grandchildren will be able to experience wild places with wild buffalo roaming free?
Of course these things are priceless. We cannot put a price on maintaining viable rangeland for the last wild buffalo in America. But we can put a price on BFC's efforts to stop the slaughter of the Yellowstone buffalo. It takes about a dollar a day to feed a volunteer. That means that if we have 30 volunteers, it costs just over $30 a day to feed camp, or about $250 a week. It costs about $3.50 for a mini-DV tape for our video cameras. On a hazing day we usually have at least 5 patrols in the field documenting the harassment of the last wild buffalo, using about $17.50 worth of tape. Every VHS tape that we send to a supporter to show what is happening to Yellowstone's last wild bison costs us about $1 for the tape. 
It costs money to maintain our field presence on behalf of the buffalo. We are extremely frugal here in West Yellowstone. We don't have fancy offices or high paid staff. But we do have dedicated volunteers working long days to stop the slaughter of the last wild buffalo in America. Can we count on you to help by making a donation? Donations are tax deductible and go directly to front lines work.
You can make a secure donation online at our website (www.wildrockies.org/buffalo) or directly at: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807
Or you can send a check to us at: 
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
On a budget -- $1-$15 to keep the videos flowing.
Count on me -- $15-$100 for a day/week of footage.
Big thanks -- $30-$250 to feed BFC volunteers for a day/week.
Thank you once again for your support. Every little bit helps.
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* Call for Summer Outreach Volunteers
As our spring season draws to a close, we are starting to look ahead to another summer here in West Yellowstone. As many of you know, the massive springtime migrations end around late May or early June, and our daily patrols are no longer necessary. This is the time of the year when we focus on outreach, talking with tourists in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks about the slaughter of the bison. We are currently looking for six to eight volunteers interested is spending a summer at the Campaign. You can expect to spend three to five days a week tabling, helping with projects around the cabin on slower weeks, and hiking, fishing, or whatever else suits your fancy. In return, all volunteers receive free room and board, as well as a little pocket money. A commitment from June 1 until Labor Day is preferred (with the option to come earlier and stay later), but if you can only stay for part of the summer, please apply anyway. All interested people should send a resume and cover letter, or contact Chris (our summer office/volunteer coordinator) directly.
Hope to see you this summer!
With the buffalo,
Chris
buffaloatwildrockies.org
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* Last Words
What is life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
Crowfoot's last words (1890) (Blackfoot warrior and orator)


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