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Weekly Update from the Field June 10, 2004
* Update from the Field:
Unjustified Buffalo Harassment Continues at Taxpayers' Expense
* Comments in Opposition to Montana Buffalo "Hunt" Needed Immediately
* Editorial: Bison Hunt is Terrible P.R.
* BFC Volunteer Sentenced in Federal Court for Action that Shut Down Buffalo Trap
* Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo (HOBNOB) Meet with the Park Service
* BFC Prepares for West and East Coast Roadshows
* Support the Buffalo Field Campaign with a Tax Deductible Contribution
* Last Words

* Update from the Field:
Unjustified Buffalo Harassment Continues at Taxpayers' Expense
As livestock returns for the summer to the West Yellowstone area, DOL agents are still finding time to harass the few remaining bull buffalo that are still outside the Park. This week, three DOL agents hazed two bulls from the Duck Creek area back into the Park. They also searched for two other buffalo that have been seen out of the Park in recent days. Fortunately, they have been unable to find our two friends and gave up for the week. This week's haze represents the 51st time that DOL agents have come to haze Yellowstone buffalo. The DOL spends nearly one million federal tax dollars a year to ensure that no wild buffalo live outside of Yellowstone's boundaries. Their claim that wild buffalo in the West Yellowstone area present a risk of brucellosis transmission to domestic livestock simply does not hold water. The fact is that no cattle are present within 45 miles of Yellowstone's western boundary from October to June. The only buffalo that may still be in the area when cattle are here are bulls, which do not have the biological capability to transmit brucellosis. Recent studies show that no brucellosis bacteria is likely to be present in the environment by late May. And, of course, there has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission between wild buffalo and domestic livestock. Further, there is no basis in fact for DOL's claim that buffalo are causing damage to private property. With the exception of a few rare cases, the primary cause of damage to private property by buffalo (i.e., fences) is caused by DOL's incessant hazing operations.
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* Comments in Opposition to Buffalo "Hunt" Needed Until July 9
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) Monday on the feasibility and desirability of reinstating a buffalo hunt in Montana. FWP's modified preferred alternative calls for issuing up to 25 permits to shoot any buffalo on small portions of public and private lands on both the north and western borders of Yellowstone National Park (YNP). More than a decade ago, the last time Montana thought it was a good idea to "hunt" Yellowstone buffalo, public outcry from graphic images of a firing line at the borders of YNP caused a huge black-eye for Montana and the "hunt" was repealed. This time around, FWP claims that the hunt will be different. They claim it will be a "fair chase" hunt and will not have significant impacts on the buffalo population. These claims are ludicrous. Yellowstone buffalo will never be hunted in a fair chase situation. The simple fact is that Yellowstone buffalo are not afraid of people. These buffalo are used to millions of tourists approaching them regularly for photographs. They have been shot, hazed and captured by government agents for over twenty years as they try to leave Yellowstone in search of food and calving grounds, yet they return year after year. Agents attempting to chase buffalo have to get within a few feet on their snowmobiles, ATV's or horses, hoot and holler at the buffalo and then continue in pursuit if they want the buffalo to run away. Hunters will also be able to walk right up to a buffalo and blast it with a high powered rifle right at the Park border. If Montana thinks this will go unnoticed or undocumented, they are living in a fantasy world. It is very important for all supporters of the buffalo to rally now and send comments to FWP. Let them know that people all around the world care about Yellowstone buffalo. Tell FWP to chose the "no action" alternative and scrap this horrible idea.
Let your voice be heard by sending comments to:
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
Attn: Bison Hunt Comments
1400 S. 19th Ave
Bozeman, MT 59718
Email:
bisonhuntcomment@montana.edu
Those of you living in Montana can attend a public meeting in Bozeman on June 21 at 7pm at the Holiday Inn, 5 Baxter Lane
We will be posting more information on this latest attack on America's last wild buffalo on our website tomorrow. See http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/huntcomments or contact bfc-advocate"at"wildrockies.org for more detailed information.
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* Editorial: Bison Hunt is Terrible P.R.
The following editorial, featuring a quote from BFC's Josh Osher, appeared in yesterday's Helena Independent Record. While we don't agree with the sentiment that Montana has been "unfairly demonized" for slaughtering America's last wild buffalo, we wholeheartedly agree that resuming a buffalo hunt is a terrible idea for Montana and the United States.
<http://www.helenair.com/articles/2004/06/09/opinions_top/a04060904_01.txt>
By The Helena Independent Record - 06/09/04
Years ago, Buffalo Bill was an American cultural icon. But that was then. Today, in the eyes of the American people he ranks right up there with the state of Montana as the buffalo bad guys.
The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks released a draft proposal Monday that would allow a limited hunt of bison that roam north and west out of Yellowstone National Park. The plan wouldn't replace the current practice of hazing the animals back into the park, but it would issue permits for up to 25 hunts between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15.
Supporters of the plan say the proposal is different than hunts allowed in the late 1980s, when state personnel essentially escorted hunters up to the animals, letting them be shot like so many billboards. Under the new plan, according to state Sen. Gary Perry, R-Manhattan, who sponsored a bill to establish the hunt, "This is truly going to be a fair chase."
Tell that to Americans across the country who know Yellowstone's bison - buffalo to them - as the once nearly extinct animals who spend most of their lives amid tens of thousands of tourists. Bison might gore a few people in a typical year in the park, but they sure aren't afraid of them.
"People are going to be able to walk within a few feet of them and shoot them," said Josh Osher of the Buffalo Field Campaign, which has spent years protesting the annual hazing of bison and the slaughter of those testing positive for brucellosis.
In our view, Montana has long been unfairly demonized merely for trying to protect its multi-million-dollar livestock industry from disease. The state never asked the National Park Service to let its bison overflow the park.
But by resuming the hunting of a treasured American symbol, Montana would needlessly add to its image problem. When Buffalo Bill's no longer defunct, the state's reputation may as well be.
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* BFC Volunteer Sentenced in Federal Court for Action that Shut Down Buffalo Trap
On Wednesday June 2 Akiva Silver, the young man who heroically closed the Horse Butte trap for a week in April by occupying a platform suspended from a pole perched in the center of the main pen, pled guilty to two counts. Silver was sentenced to two consecutive years of probation, banned from being within ten miles of the Horse Butte Trap, and fined more than $1700.00. Silver noticeably moved those in attendance with an impassioned speech before the judge, in which he defended his action as a moral necessity.  
The second year of probation will be dropped if Silver pays his fines within a year. Because Akiva works as a volunteer and receives no pay, it will be extremely difficult for him to pay his fines. Because he lives within ten miles of the Horse Butte Trap, he will be forced from his home when the trap is erected again next winter.
Please take a moment to personally thank Akiva for his brave action and to find out how you can help. He can be reached at: akivasilver@yahoo.com     
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* Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo (HOBNOB) meets with the Park Service
Members of HBNOB along with several BFC volunteers and others met with Yellowstone National Park bison biologist Rick Wallen for several hours on Monday. Rick gave a presentation on the buffalo issue in general and management strategies of the National Park Service. He also listened to the complaints and goals of HOBNOB members. Rick agreed with HOBNOB's primary objective: to allow buffalo to freely roam the Horse Butte area. He seemed sympathetic to HOBNOB's objections toward the Montana Department of Livestock's (DOL) intensive hazing of buffalo throughout the year even when no cattle are present in the area. Rick seemed surprised to learn that little to no private property damage was being caused by buffalo with the exception of damage caused during agency hazing operations. He was also surprised to learn that the vast majority of hazing operations on the west side of the Park originated on public land. Not surprisingly, the DOL has been presenting a false picture of their operations by claiming that property damage is a major problem and that most of the buffalo are on private property. Hopefully, some of this information will find its way into the interagency meetings scheduled for this summer. HOBNOB plans to schedule more meeting with the various government agencies throughout the summer. Their purpose is to gain information in preparation for a panel discussion this coming fall with representatives from all the agencies.
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* BFC Prepares for West and East Coast Roadshows
In the coming months we will embark on our annual roadshows, when we visit communities across the country and share buffalo-inspired stories and video footage to generate support for protecting the Yellowstone herd. This year we will travel the West Coast from late August to mid-September and the East Coast during the month of October.
--West Coast
Last year, we had tremendous success attending farmers markets throughout the region. We will again be traveling with our 25x15x10 foot inflatable buffalo (requires stationary power). If you are interested in helping us arrange with farmer's markets or in setting up an event, please contact us as soon as possible. Call the BFC office or send an email to mease"at"wildrockies.org.
--East Coast
Last Fall we shared our stories and video footage with hundreds of people at universities, colleges, community centers, and Pow-Wows from North Carolina to Maine. This year we will do the same. If you are interested in organizing an event in your community, please reply to this message or write: bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org.
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* Support the Buffalo Field Campaign with a Tax Deductible Contribution
The Buffalo Field Campaign is a grassroots effort comprised of volunteers and supporters from across the country and around the world. Our continued existence hinges on the support of people like you. Tax-deductible contributions allow us to be in the field with the buffalo 365 days a year and to work through a variety of channels to gain lasting protection for America's last wild buffalo. Please send a donation to the address below or contact us for more information.
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* Last Words
A buffalo head and horns on a sportsman's wall!! I'd rather see the critter livin', breathin', kickin' and free.
--Anonymous, 19th Century


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