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Weekly Update from the Field June 16, 2004
* Update from the Field
* Hinchey-Bass Buffalo Protection Amendment Fails by 202-215 Vote
* Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Releases Plans for Buffalo Hunt
Public Comments Due July 9
* BFC Needs Donation of Reliable Car
* Last Word

*Update 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 road shows.

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 an email.
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 in Montana. 
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 to: 
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
Attn: Bison Hunt Comments
1400 S. 19th Ave
Bozeman, MT 59718
Email: bisonhuntcomment@montana.edu

Suggested Talking Points (Please Personalize!)
- Fish, Wildlife, and Parks must choose the "No Action" alternative. 
- 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 control."
- 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 Car
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 Project.

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