* 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
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:
* 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:
* 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:
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
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,
* 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