Update from the Field:
Unjustified Buffalo Harassment Continues at Taxpayers'
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.
* 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black-eye for Montana and the "hunt" was repealed.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
Those of you living in Montana can attend a public meeting
in Bozeman on June 21 at 7pm at the Holiday Inn, 5 Baxter
We will be posting more information on this latest attack
on America's last wild buffalo on our website tomorrow.
or contact bfc-advocate"at"wildrockies.org
for more detailed information.
* 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.
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
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.
* 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
* 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.
* 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.
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.
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.
* 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.
* Last Words
A buffalo head and horns on a sportsman's wall!! I'd
rather see the critter livin', breathin', kickin' and
--Anonymous, 19th Century