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
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign
* 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
Suggested Talking Points (Please personalize!)
- Fish, Wildlife, and Parks should 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".
- 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 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
* 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.
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
Written comments may be mailed to:
Montana Department of Livestock
PO Box 202001
Helena, MT 59620-2001
Fax to: 406-444-4316
Email to: email@example.com
Suggested talking Points (please personalize
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!
* 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:
* Last Words
"Let the Buffalo Roam!"
Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758