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Weekly Update from the Field July 8, 2004
* Update from the Field
* URGENT! Last Chance to Submit Comments on Buffalo Hunt - Due Friday!
* Vaccination Comments Due July 23
* Letters to the Editor: Yellowstone Shouldn't Kill our Wild Buffalo
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Our new web site http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org is off to a very strong start with hundreds of hits in the first few hours after we announced its launch. As those of you who have been reading through the information posted there know, the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and the National Park Service (NPS) are the two agencies most responsible for the unjustified slaughter of the Yellowstone buffalo. Since last November these agencies have teamed up to slaughter 280 members of America's last genetically pure, free-roaming herd.
While most of the killing and harassment takes place during the winter and early spring, the DOL showed its eagerness to kill at any time of year by capturing and slaughtering two bull buffalo two weeks ago, on June 21. The bulls had been peacefully grazing in the Duck Creek area just a few hundred yards west of the park boundary, and were causing no harm. While the DOL claims the slaughter is necessary to prevent the transmission of brucellosis from wild buffalo to cattle, no such transmission has ever been documented. Even if transmission from buffalo to livestock were possible, it is a widely recognized fact that bulls pose absolutely no risk. Yet the slaughter continues.
It will continue as long as our elected officials and appointed leaders think it doesn't matter to "we the people" who put them in power. This is why it is so crucial that you take the time to act for buffalo protection. In addition to the ongoing slaughter, the DOL is busy preparing other nefarious plans to kill and degrade the wild character of the Yellowstone buffalo. Below you will find information and tips for writing comments on the DOL's plans to inoculate buffalo with an ineffective vaccine designed for livestock. And for those of you who have yet to submit comments on the DOL-supervised hunt, we've pasted information below.
It is difficult to work so hard at something for so long with so few palpable results. But we are making headway. 202 members of Congress recently voted to protect the Yellowstone buffalo thanks to the phone calls and letters of people like you from all across the county. Our resolve will not soften until the Yellowstone buffalo are free to access their winter and spring range outside the park. Please join us today in working for the protection of the Yellowstone buffalo. We will not succeed without your help.
For the Buffalo,
Dan Brister
Buffalo Field Campaign
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* URGENT! Last Chance to Comment on Buffalo Hunt - Due Friday!
Urge FWP to Choose the "No Action" Alternative.
Friday, July 9th is the last day to send in comments opposing the buffalo "sport hunt" proposed by MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks! Please send your comments to FWP today! 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 a buffalo hunt 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.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/huntcomments.html.
Send your comments by Friday, 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 should 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".
- 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 or a couch. 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 a dangerous precedent of putting the Department of Livestock in charge of the hunting of a Montana big game species.
The Fish, Wildlife, and Parks EA can be viewed in its entirety at: http://www.fwp.state.mt.us/publicnotices/show.aspx?id=605
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* Tell the DOL to Vaccinate CATTLE and Leave the Buffalo Alone!
Comments needed by July 23!
On June 23, the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), announced that they intend to add "vaccination" to their list of buffalo maltreatment. This would mean that in addition to hazing, capture, testing, and a possible hunt, wild buffalo that aren't shipped to slaughterhouses would be subjected to a brucellosis vaccine developed for use in livestock. This vaccine, RB51, has been shown to be ineffective in wild buffalo and cattle. Under the guise of "brucellosis eradication," this vaccine plan has been coming from a few directions; APHIS, NPS, and now the DOL. The studies conducted thus far conclude the same: the vaccine doesn't work on wild buffalo. There are many reasons why vaccinating wild buffalo is a very bad idea and should be strongly opposed, and we've listed some of them below.
The plan is in its "scoping" stage - meaning this is just the beginning, and a great time to nip it in the bud before it gets going, so please write your comments now.
TAKE ACTION! Comments are being accepted through July 23. Using the talking points and contact information below, in your own words tell the Department of Livestock to stick to livestock! Tell them you are strongly opposed to vaccinating wild buffalo, especially with a vaccine that doesn't even work. Tell them they might want to find a vaccine that actually works on cattle and use it on them, not buffalo. The DOL will hold a *PUBLIC MEETING* in Helena, MT on July 15 at the Red Lion Colonial Inn, 2301 Colonial Drive. Please attend if you can, and urge folks you know to do so as well! You can get more information about this issue, and read the DOL's scoping announcement by going to http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/dolvaccine.html or by emailing bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org with questions.
Written comments may be mailed to:
Karen Cooper,
Information Officer
Montana Department of Livestock
PO Box 202001
Helena, MT 59620-2001
Fax to: 406-444-4316
Email to: livcomments@state.mt.us

Suggested talking Points (please personalize for effectiveness!)
1. The Yellowstone bison herd is a cultural and biological treasure, being the only herd to continuously occupy its native range in the wild. Vaccines, including RB51, are a tool designed for use in livestock, not wildlife. Rather than focusing on Yellowstone's wild bison, efforts should be directed at cattle herds. The process of subcutaneously injecting yearlings and new-born calves with the RB51 strain of brucellosis--and the attendant stress such procedures will have on the animals--will further erode the wildness of the Yellowstone bison herd at a tremendous cost.
2. The RB51 vaccine is not effective in bison. According to a recent peer-reviewed study*, "It was determined that RB51 did not confer significant protection in the vaccinated animals. In terms of abortions and infections, the RB51 bison vaccinated with three injections did not differ significantly from the non-vaccinated bison..." Even APHIS (the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), admit as much on page 9 of their EA when they wrote, "efficacy [of RB51] in bison has not been definitively determined." ~ * Davis, D.S. and Elzer, P.H., 2002, Brucella Vaccines in Wildlife, Veterinary Microbiology (90): 533-544.
3. The vaccination of buffalo outside the Park with an ineffective vaccine will not eliminate brucellosis from the herd. Because the disease has little effect on buffalo and because wild buffalo have never transmitted brucellosis to livestock, efforts should be focused on cattle.
4. The EA does not discuss the efficacy or impacts of vaccinating newly born bison within hours, days or weeks of birth. Neither does the EA address the impact of capturing newborn calves, vaccinating them, and releasing them without their mothers.
5. The EA fails to adequately address the proposal's impact on Native Americans, who have an age-old and complex relationship with buffalo. Many Native American individuals and organizations consider the buffalo as kin, and find the repeated capturing, testing, vaccinating, and tagging of bison unacceptable. Such intrusive measures affect the sacredness of buffalo by treating them as livestock.
6. Yellowstone buffalo are not domestic animals. Because neither APHIS nor Montana Department of Livestock personnel are trained in wildlife management, they have no place meddling with the fate of the Yellowstone bison herd and eroding their wildness through vaccination.
Thank you for helping our last wild buffalo. We are the only chance they have. We cannot let them down!
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* Letters to the Editor
Park Service shouldn't kill our wild buffalo
On June 18, The [Billings] Gazette carried an article about a congressional amendment vote entitled "House rejects proposal to ban bison hunting." For the record, the bipartisan amendment had nothing to do with hunting. By amending the House Interior appropriations act, it would have halted, for one year, funding for the slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo by the National Park Service. Quoting the exact wording of the amendment, "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to kill, or assist others in killing, any bison in the Yellowstone National Park herd."
As the story indicated, the amendment only narrowly lost. This is because most Americans, and many members of Congress, feel the Park Service shouldn't be killing our nation's only truly wild, genetically pure buffalo. Rep. Rehberg called this a Hollywood perspective, but speaking as a Montanan who has frequently witnessed the irrational, draconian "management" of Yellowstone buffalo, I'd suggest he take a closer look himself. With some 500 buffalo needlessly rounded up and slaughtered over the past two winters by the agency that is supposed to be their guardian, there is good reason ever more Americans are saying enough.
Incidentally, Rehberg made the claim during the House floor debate that "Last year three buffalo were shot, because they needed to be." Our congressman would have been more accurate if he'd mentioned that 277 were rounded up by the Park Service, held in a cattle pen, and shipped off to slaughter. Rehberg, chastising another congressman as out of touch, said he should "see what the over 400,000 head of bison are doing to their riparian area." In fact, there are about 4,000 buffalo in Yellowstone. If Rehberg is going to criticize others questioning Park Service actions, it's only fair we call a spade a spade.
William C. Patric Bozeman
To read this letter online or to send your own letter to the Gazette, click here:
http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2004/07/03/build/opinion/50-reader-voice.in
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* Last Words
"Let the Buffalo Roam!"
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Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
(406) 646-0070
buffaloatwildrockies.org
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org


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