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Weekly Update from the Field January 20, 2005
* Update from the Field
* Montana Approves Quarantine Study
* Letters to the Editor
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
With no known buffalo out of the park it's been a fairly quiet week on the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Department of Livestock agents are in town, but instead of harassing buffalo they're keeping busy plowing out their buffalo traps and taking joy-rides on their snowmobiles. Our volunteers have been enjoying the peace of keeping an eye on a handful of buffalo quietly grazing inside the park.

We've also been keeping a close eye on Helena, where decision makers have been busy laying the groundwork on a number of ill-fated anti-buffalo plans. Both Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Governor's office announced plans to quarantine Yellowstone buffalo. The FWP plan, finalized today, involves the capture,year-long confinement, and eventual slaughter of up to 200 buffalo calves. The Governor outlined his early ideas on a plan to capture the entire Yellowstone herd in a process that would leave the park, for a time, void of buffalo.

For more on the Governor's plan, please see our press release on the issue: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0405/pressrelease0405/011805.html
In light of such threats, we've been focusing on our vision of free-roaming herd of American buffalo on their native range in Montana. Our state has a unique opportunity to celebrate itself as the only place in America with truly free-roaming buffalo. The Yellowstone border does not support many cattle and rather than slaughter buffalo at the behest of Montana's livestock industry, we should encourage brucellosis-proof management practices for cattle being grazed in the heart of the buffalo's winter range.

BFC volunteers took our message to Helena today, and performed street theater with fifteen-foot-tall puppets outside the Department of Livestock and State Capitol buildings. We will be posting photos of the action, keep checking this link. http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/update0405/012005pics.html.

Celebrating free-roaming buffalo makes sense for Montana, and our skits demonstrated the value of buffalo in Montana and decried the senseless slaughter that takes place every winter and spring.

We are proud to have information on BFC featured in the premiere issue of Lowbagger.org, an online journal providing a voice in the cyberspace wilderness:
http://www.lowbagger.org/yellowstonebison.html

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* Montana Approves Quarantine Study
Despite receiving 2,228 comments from 49 states and 11 foreign countries overwhelmingly opposing the plan, this morning the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks released its decision to begin a "quarantine feasibility study," which will result in the slaughter of up to 200 buffalo calves.

The buffalo calves will be captured, starting this winter, inside Yellowstone at the Stephen's Creek trap, transported to a small holding pen at Corwin Springs, experimented upon for a full year, and promptly slaughtered. Half the buffalo will be killed over the course of the study and half at its conclusion.

A news story on the plan and a PDF of FWP's final decision are available here:
http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/press0405/news0405/012005.html
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/quarantinedecision.html
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* Letters to the Editor
With the plans moving forward regardless of our comments, it is crucial that we flood the papers with sound arguments opposing the plan. A swell of public opposition led to cancellation of the hunt. Let's do the same to stop this insane quarantine proposal.

For tips on writing letters to the editor and addresses of key newspapers, please visit:
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html

For more information on points to make in your letters, visit our Quarantine information page: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/quarantine.html

This week's featured letter provides a prime example of a strong and effective letter to the editor:
Idaho State Journal
January 17, 2005
Your Views

Bison hunt
Thumbs up to ISJ ... for your "Journal Views" column on Jan. 7 opposing Montana's bison "hunt." It was in response to articles like yours, and public outcry, that the slaughter was called off. But the persecution of Yellowstone bison will continue as long as Montana allows the livestock industry to control wildlife management policies. They will continue to haze and kill bison, and attempt to reinstate the hunt next year.

Montana refuses to acknowledge that the bison are native wildlife, and should be allowed to roam freely on public land. The majority of U.S. taxpayers, who share ownership of public lands with the extractive industries, would rather have bison on their property than cattle.
I realize that cowboys and free-range cattle are Western icons, but so are roaming buffalo. Montana's policy of allowing its Department of Livestock to "manage" bison is a thinly-veiled attempt to eliminate competition for forage on public land.

Taxpayers would be appalled if they knew how much of their money is spent trying to keep bison in the park. They would also be appalled if they saw how bison are being treated. Although wild bison have never transmitted brucellosis to cattle, hundreds are being hazed, trapped and killed, purportedly to prevent spread of disease.

It seems patently unfair to open a hunting season on bison. I am not opposed to hunting; I enjoy hunting deer and elk. I believe that hunting is a viable wildlife management technique, but killing 10 bison that wander out of the park is absurd!

Bison should be allowed to expand their range naturally and establish a free-roaming population. If overpopulation becomes a problem, then perhaps hunting would be a viable option. Bison are indigenous to this region and should have "equal rights" with deer, elk, moose and other big game species. And with cattle...

David Mead, President, Portneuf Valley Audubon Society, Pocatello
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* Last Words
"The buffalo gave us everything we needed. Without it we were nothing. Our tipis were made of his skin. His hide was our bed, our blanket, our winter coat. It was our drum, throbbing through the night, alive, holy. Out of his skin we made our water bags. His flesh strengthened us, became flesh of our flesh. Not the smallest part of it was wasted. His stomach, a red-hot stone dropped into it, became our soup kettle. His horns were our spoons, the bones our knives, our women's awls and needles. Out of his sinews we made our bowstrings and thread. His ribs were fashioned into sleds for our children, his hoofs became rattles. His mighty skull, with the pipe leaning against it, was our sacred altar."
--John (Fire) Lame Deer


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