from the Field
With summer officially underway and the buffalo safe
in the interior of Yellowstone National Park you'd think
that the hard-working volunteers and coordinators of
the Buffalo Field Campaign would be enjoying some well-deserved
downtime. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.
Instead we've been busy preparing our annual newsletter
for production, getting ready to launch our new web
site (more info next week), and responding to agency
and legislative proposals affecting the Yellowstone
herd. We've been out everyday discussing the buffalo
and their slaughter with citizens who visit our information
table in Yellowstone National Park, and preparing for
the upcoming East & West coast road shows.
Thankfully, we are not alone. While the Montana Department
of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and the Department of Livestock
think they can limit public input on bison management
by releasing proposals in the middle of summer when
families are on vacation, we know they are wrong. The
buffalo have an extremely dedicated and inspired group
of supporters who will take action when it is needed.
To aid you in doing so, we have provided talking points
you can use to draft your own comments on FWP's proposed
buffalo hunt. Next week we will include information
on the DOL's plans to intrusively vaccinate wild buffalo
with an ineffective and unnecessary vaccine.
Things don't always go as planned and we were dealt
back-to-back blows last week when two of the vehicles
we rely upon for transportation to and from our table
in the park broke down.
For those of you who can, please consider making a tax-deductible
contribution that will enable us to repair our cars
quickly so we can continue uninterrupted in our effort
to meet with Park visitors and embark on our annual
For more information on these and other ways you can
help the Yellowstone buffalo, please read on.
For the Buffalo,
BFC Media Team
* Hinchey-Bass Buffalo Protection Amendment
Fails by Narrow Vote
On June 17, 2004, U.S. Representatives Maurice Hinchey
(D) and Charles Bass (R) introduced a bipartisan amendment
to the 2005 Department of Interior Appropriations Bill
to "prohibit the use of funds to kill bison, or
assist in the killing of bison, in the Yellowstone National
Park herd." Despite the hard work of buffalo protection
advocates and hundreds of concerned citizens, the measure
failed to pass by an incredibly close 202-215 margin.
The National Park Service (NPS), whose insignia features
a buffalo, has slaughtered 498 buffalo in the past 16
months. The Hinchey-Bass Amendment would have saved
millions of tax dollars while forcing the National Park
Service to uphold its mandate "to protect the resources
unimpaired for present and future generations."
This was the second straight year that an amendment
to prohibit the park from slaughtering buffalo was offered.
Representative Nick Rahall (D) introduced a similar
measure in 2003 that failed by a 199-220 margin. The
very close votes and the fact that this year's effort
garnered more support than last year's show that the
buffalo have a significant level of support in Congress
and that momentum is building for a Congressional solution
to the unjust slaughter of the Yellowstone buffalo.
See how your Representative voted by clicking on the
House web site: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll261.xml
If s/he voted for the Hinchey-Bass amendment, please
call and express your gratitude. If s/he voted against,
call or write to express your disappointment.
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
If you're interested in reading the entire 50-minute
debate on the House floor, email bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org
and we will send you a copy.
* Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Releases
Plans for Buffalo Hunt
Public Comments Due July 9
Urge FWP to Choose the "No Action" Alternative.
In addition to hazing, capturing, testing and slaughtering,
America's last wild buffalo may soon become victim of
a "sport hunt." On June 7, the Montana Department
of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) released a draft
environmental assessment (EA) featuring a preferred
alternative that would allow 25 permits (or more) to
be issued to "hunters" to shoot buffalo migrating
from Yellowstone National Park onto traditional habitat
Buffalo are accustomed to millions of tourists and are
not afraid of people. They will not give "fair
chase" like deer and elk. Gun-bearers will be able
to walk right up to a buffalo and blast it with a high
powered rifle right at the Park border. Shooting a buffalo
is about as sporting as shooting a parked car. The only
time buffalo flee from humans is when the Montana Department
of Livestock (DOL) chases them with snowmobiles, ATVs,
helicopters, and horses. Now they want to shift some
of the blame to hunters.
The DOL, not FWP, will have authority over this latest
incarnation of the state-sanctioned slaughter. It's
just one more tool in the DOL's wild buffalo eradication
toolbox. Hunters realize they are being used as scapegoats,
and are opposing this plan while actively advocating
for an amendment to the Inter Agency Bison Management
Plan that would allow buffalo to roam in Montana. Buffalo
must be considered a wildlife species managed by the
FWP before any buffalo hunt is considered.
This hunt is of national significance, yet FWP is giving
the public very little time to respond to the proposal,
and is quickly moving toward a plan that could go into
effect as early as November. A mere 30-day comment period
and two public meetings in Montana are inadequate, unacceptable,
and a slap-in-the-face to the public process.
TAKE ACTION! Please send your comments to FWP by July
9th. Strongly urge them to choose the "No Action"
alternative, and use the suggested talking points below,
along with your own personal viewpoints, to demonstrate
why this is a bad idea that should be scrapped immediately.
If you live in Montana, please ask that the FWP conduct
a public hearing in your town or region. You can find
more in-depth information about the hunt at http://www.wildrockies.org/Buffalo/huntcomments.html
Send your comments by July 9th
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
Attn: Bison Hunt Comments
1400 S. 19th Ave
Bozeman, MT 59718
Suggested Talking Points (Please Personalize!)
- Fish, Wildlife, and Parks must choose the "No
- The opportunity for public participation has been
inadequate. Extend the July 9th comment deadline and
hold additional public hearings throughout the State.
- An environmental impact statement (EIS) is required
under both Montana and federal law if the action proposed
will have "a significant impact on the human environment".
- The Inter Agency Bison Management Plan is a "no
hunt" plan, meaning, no hunting! The IBMP must
be amended to allow buffalo to roam freely within Montana
before any hunt can be considered.
- Before a hunt is considered, wild buffalo must be
given the respect of being considered a recovered resident
native wildlife species in Montana, where they are currently
"managed" aggressively by the Department of
Livestock as a "nuisance animal in need of disease
- Tribal consultation should be sought and treaty rights
upheld before any hunt is considered.
- Shooting buffalo is like shooting a parked car. They
do not give "fair chase" like deer or elk.
Don't forget the last time Montana thought it was a
good idea to "hunt" Yellowstone buffalo, the
public outcry caused a huge black eye for Montana.
- The plan does not consider the real possibility of
a future for wild Montana buffalo in which they are
not killed in the gateway communities.
- FWP claims that hunters will be doing a service to
the local communities by removing "problem"
buffalo that are causing damage to private property
and threatening human safety. Almost no property damage
is caused by buffalo migrating into Montana with the
exception of damage caused when DOL agents haze buffalo
through people's fences on private property.
- The preferred alternative sets the dangerous precedent
of putting the Department of Livestock in charge of
the hunting of a Montana big game species.
* Buffalo Field Campaign Needs Donation of Reliable
Last week we learned we'd need a new engine for the
GMC Suburban donated to us by Jackson Browne and a new
transmission for "Buffy," the Subaru that
is adorned with beautiful paintings of wild buffalo.
We are blessed by the fact that Chris, our office coordinator,
is also a mechanic of the finest caliber, allowing us
to save hundreds of dollars in labor costs. Unfortunately,
we are way over budget on vehicle repairs, and we need
your help in order to buy the needed parts to get the
vehicles up and running.
If you are able to make a contribution or donate a four-wheel-drive
vehicle, please contact us immediately. We need vehicles
to travel to and from our information booth in the park
and to embark on our annual road shows, when we share
our experiences with the buffalo with audiences from
coast to coast.
* Last Words
"This [buffalo hunt] proposal undermines the North
American Model of allowing public hunting as a sustainable,
fair-chase conservation practice of wild free roaming
wildlife. The IBMP unfairly limits the time, numbers
and space afforded wild bison in Montana. ... Using
hunting and hunters as one of the "tools"
to eradicate wild bison from Montana by April or May
15th each year is not consistent with sound wildlife
conservation principles. … I suggest FWP pursue
a wild bison habitat recovery and conservation EIS for
the State of Montana rather than a DOL-led bison eradication
plan on the borders of Yellowstone National Park that
is ultimately built on a foundation of intolerance for
wild bison in Montana. "
~ Glenn Hocket, hunter, President of the Gallatin Wildlife
Association. Montana Director of Western Watersheds