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Weekly Update from the Field March 3, 2005
* Update from the Field
* Live in Montana?  Take Action for the Buffalo Today!
* Buffalo Nickel Premature in Light of Yellowstone Slaughter
* Three Things You Can Do for the Buffalo Today
* Last Words
* Update from the Field
When you keep company with wild buffalo, especially in winter, things are bound to be interesting.  Magic happens. Late last week, under the Full Moon, we pulled a couple of all-night patrols out on Fir Ridge, keeping watch over an older bull who had been too close to the Duck Creek buffalo trap for anyone's comfort.  The night was set afire by the cool, silver moonlight, and the knowledge that just a few yards away was this massive bull whom we were guarding.   Huddled around our campfire, bundled in our sleeping bags and blankets, we drank hot tea and ate frozen sandwiches, told stories, and bonded with one another through the chill of the winter, the light of the Moon, and the awesome company of the buffalo.  When dawn arrived, along with our a.m. relief, we were hesitant to leave, so enriching was the night. Thank you Sing and Warren, and the Buffalo.  It is amazing how the buffalo weave us together, and strengthen our family ties, many times when we are least expecting it but need it the most.  Thankfully, that lone bull is in a place where he cannot be touched by the long-arm of the law, and so he grazes in peace among the willows.

That was nearly a week ago.  In the days and nights that followed, events both unforgettable and heartbreaking took place.

On Saturday afternoon, 22 buffalo left the park along the Madison River, and moved west, crossing Highway 191.  Six BFC volunteers were along the roadside with buffalo-crossing signs, as we often are, warning oncoming motorists that buffalo were ahead.  That group of buffalo safely crossed the road.   Later that night, another large group travelled the same route, and they, too, began to cross the road.  Again we were there; we had never left.  That night, as the buffalo were crossing, one driver made the choice to ignore our signs, the other cars pulled over, and our frantically waving hands -- he did not slow down.  By the time he saw the buffalo it was too late.  His truck struck two female buffalo right before our eyes.  One was standing and was able to limp away but the other was badly hurt.  The local sheriff did the thankless but necessary deed of releasing her from her pain.  She is no longer with us, and there are no words to describe the horror and heartache of that moment, or the anger and frustration we felt in bearing witness to the carelessness of the truck driver.  Like the memory of that buffalo, the sadness will never go away. 

Real Player

Windows Media
New video from BFC of the Montana Department of Livestock
hazing wild buffalo taken 3/02/05.
(1:02- 2.14MB)
More video clips here
All but four bulls eventually made their own way back into the park.  Yesterday, the DOL arrived and hazed the four bulls several miles along the Madison River, and as usual, other wildlife was disturbed including elk, trumpeter swans, eagles, great blue herons and other animals.  The bulls, which cannot transmit brucellosis, were grazing on National Forest lands that never have cattle present and the nearest cattle are 35-40 miles away.  This has become a weekly occurrence here and the disruption to wildlife is disturbing.  Grizzly bears, wolves, bald eagles, wolverines, trumpeter swans, osprey, great blue herons, common goldeneye, otters, mallards, moose, bison, elk, mergansers, coyotes, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, mule deer, ermine/weasels, martens, fischers all depend on this habitat and to have a weekly haze using snowmobiles, ATV's, or helicopters weakens the whole system. Hazing doesn't affect just the bison, which deserve to be here, but it affects the whole area.  Many times we have seen these animals terrorized by the hazing and have watched buffalo running to get away from government agents with their tongues hanging out.

We are here in the field, and we need you there where you are to help us tell these stories.  Please read further to learn about different ways you can stop the harassment and slaughter of America's last wild buffalo.

For the Buffalo,
~Stephany, Kim, & Ken
Live in Montana?  Take Action for the Buffalo Today!
If you live and vote in Montana, then you need to take action today.  A bill to neuter wild buffalo that leave Yellowstone National Park is quickly moving through the State Legislature.  SB 353, which has already passed the Senate, allows for the Department of Livestock (DOL) to perform surgery on captured buffalo, rendering them infertile.  These neutered buffalo would then be shipped  to Indian reservations in an attempt to gain tribal support for the current mismanagement of America's last wild herd.

Basically, the bill offers an ultimatum:  neutered, infertile buffalo that can never reproduce, or slaughtered buffalo, who can also never reproduce. This herd is the last living link to the millions that once thundered across the great plains; they are genetically unique, and this heritage must be respected.  Their life-line must continue and be free to bring in the generations to come.  This bill stops them dead in their tracks, and brings insult to the Indian people.

The House Agriculture Committee is expected to hear this legislation as soon as next week, and your representatives need to hear from you today.  Representative Jonathan Windy Boy, a Chippewa-Cree tribal member who sits on the committee, has spoken up for the buffalo before, and with your encouragement, can stop this ill-fated idea in its tracks.

TAKE ACTION MONTANA!  Montana residents - and, please only Montana residents - first and foremost should contact their House representative and urge them to vote against SB 353.  Please also contact Rep. Windy Boy, and write a letter to the editor of Montana newspapers, especially the Helena Independent Record, which is read by legislators and the Governor.  There is a hearing scheduled for next Thursday, March 10, at 3pm in room 472 of the State Capitol in Helena.  Be there and speak up for the buffalo!

Call 406-444-4800 and asked to be transferred to your House Representative.  If you're not sure who your Rep. is, check this map: http://nris.state.mt.us/gis/legislat/2005/

House Agriculture Committee: http://leg.state.mt.us/css/committees/standing/Membership.asp?

Representative Jonathan Windy Boy: Call (406)444-4800 or (406)395-4407
Send a Letter to the Editor: http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html

View the Text and Status of SB 353:  http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/2005/billhtml/SB0353.htm

Thank you for taking action for the buffalo!
* Buffalo Nickel Premature in Light of Yellowstone Buffalo Slaughter
This week, the U.S. Mint issued a brand new buffalo nickel, in part to commemorate the "conservation success" of the American buffalo.  Given the current status of wild buffalo in this country, Buffalo Field Campaign views this celebration as extremely premature.  Some tout a figure of 500,000 bison in the country, yet the majority of these buffalo live on ranches and are raised as livestock.  Most contain cattle genes.  There are only 15,000 genetically pure buffalo left in the country, and of these, only 4,200 are unfenced and have an uninterrupted history of occupying their native range.  These are the wild buffalo of Yellowstone, and given their treatment by Montana and federal agencies, we find there is very little to celebrate.  However, the issuance of this new nickel gives us all an opportunity to educate people on the plight of our last wild herd.

Please check out BFC's press release in response to the buffalo nickel, and consider writing a letter to the editor of any newspaper, underscoring the premature nature of this celebration.  Remind folks that once upon a time 30-60 million buffalo roamed the land, and now the last wild herd is subject to harassment and slaughter.  Urge Americans and others to learn the truth about what has become of this magnificent icon of Western America, and to take action on their behalf.

BFC's Press Release: http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0405/pressrelease0405/022805.html

Letters to the Editor tips and contacts: http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
* Three Things You Can Do For Buffalo This Week

1.  Write to Montana's Governor, Brian Schweitzer:
It is a "new Montana" as Governor Schweitzer likes to say.  Let that start with wild and free buffalo in Montana.  Share your vision with him, and demonstrate your support for buffalo being treated with respect as a wildlife species in Montana.  Tell him that his decision to cancel the hunt was the right one.  Urge him to find solutions that involve better management of cattle, and giving the buffalo room to breathe.  Let him know that these buffalo are a treasured asset, and they belong not to Montana, but to all Americans.  Finally, urge him to continue the dialogue with BFC to find common-sense solutions that will end Montana's livestock industry-driven buffalo slaughter once and for all.  You can reach Governor Schweitzer at:  Montana State Capitol, Helena, MT 59620-0801 / Phone: 1-406-444-3111 / Fax: 1-406-444 5529 / E-mail: Governor@state.mt.us

2.  Write a Letter to the Editor
The Yellowstone herd has been getting a lot of coverage in the papers lately, and not all of it has been good.  Issues such as the population of the Yellowstone herd, the recently approved plan to quarantine and kill 100 buffalo calves, the absence of a Native American voice in any aspect of buffalo management, the Governor making the right decision in cancelling the hunt, as well as his ridiculous plan to rid the Park of all buffalo in a fruitless effort to eradicate brucellosis must be addressed with real facts, the real truth, underscored with the heart-felt emotion these amazing buffalo inspire in all of us.  Please visit our Letters to the Editor page for tips and contact information for some key newspapers.  We can reach tens of thousands of people - including decision-makers - with the buffalo's story using this medium.  The time to write to the media is now.  http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html

3.  Donate to BFC and Bid on a Beautiful Buffalo Gourd Mask
~ Times are hard, and we need your help to keep our volunteers fed, housed and in the field defending the last wild herd of buffalo in America.  Please consider making a cash donation to BFC today.  It is hard for us to ask, but the truth is, without your generous donations, it would be impossible for us to be here with the buffalo.

~ Right now, O'Ceallaigh Originals is offering some beautiful gourd art for the buffalo on Ebqay along with an author-signed copy of Buffalo Medicine by April Christofferson.  The mask is a beautiful hand-crafted one-of-a-kind with faux fur and glass and stone beadwork.  

Many thanks to Mel and April for your generosity.  

View a photo of the mask and place a bid here:

The gourd mask will be EBay Item number 7303557668 through March 12.
Thank you for your support!
* Last Words
"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul"
~Ed Abbey

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