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Weekly Update from the Field May 25, 2005
* Update from the Field
* GYIBC in Jackson Hole - A Chorus of Nonsense
* H.R. 2428 - Contact Your House Representative!
* BFC Honors Marriage of Yarrow & Yote
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
My patrol partner and I pulled up to the perch on our morning Duck Creek patrol to find that the six bulls that had been lazily grazing in and out of the park all week had found their way right in front of the trap. Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents were arriving and these bulls were practically dancing in the capture facility. I secretly smiled. A livestock agent drove his large truck up to the bulls and hazed them close to the fence-line where this private property ends and public lands begin. The truck then turned to head back to the house while the bulls turned to haze the truck. They followed the livestock agent, danced in front of this publicly funded trap sitting on private land, and turned to book it past the fence and well into the park. It was as if they were saying, "We are not afraid! We are Wild and Free. We will teach our family to be wild and free!" I admired these bulls as I thought to myself how many days I have sat at that fence line on Fir Ridge. How many times I have wanted to cross onto that private property and destroy that trap. But fear of arrest, fear of hurting the campaign, fear of endangering my son's security have kept me on the other side of that fence. Not the Fir Ridge bulls. They will stand in the face of their oppressors and dance!

The next day on patrol, my partner and I were privy to the other half…the mamas and babies.
We came upon four females and their four new calves on the high bluffs above the Madison River. There they grazed, nursed, played and relaxed. When the mothers began to wallow, rolling in the dirt to clean themselves and scratch at their shedding hair, the calves got so excited. They ran 'round and 'round their mothers, kicking up their hind legs and attempting to wallow as well. It was so cute to see their little legs popping up and down off the ground as they tried to mimic their mothers. We laughed and smiled and felt contented. Yet, I thought to myself, the quarantine is going to prevent this exchange, this joy and play, from happening. The quarantine is not a place where the young will learn from the old. After their long romp, the four newborns collapsed in an exhausted heap in the sun. That's how they were resting when five agents on horseback found them.

The haze continued that day as the helicopter was brought out. The Fir Ridge bulls were chased miles into the park by the buzzing chopper. Two of the mama and baby pairs were "successfully" hazed across Highway 191, where we have lost 20 buffalo and one grizzly this year to vehicles. One of the pairs was lost down in the flats of the Madison River, where I hope they have found refuge. The last of these tender pairs were separated. I saw the mother cross the highway without her calf. The sheriffs had already allowed traffic to continue to flow after shutting it down for the haze. That mother turned and ran into and across the highway to find her baby. That mother came so close to being hit by two oncoming vehicles that I gasped and grabbed my partner's hand. That mother showed no fear in going to find her lost calf. Again I found myself admiring the strength and courage of the last wild buffalo. 
~ Roman
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* GYIBC in Jackson Hole - A Chorus of Nonsense
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Dan and I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the tri-annual meeting of the Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee (GYIBC). Amidst presentations by the various agency researchers and scientists, the GYIBC discussed the document - known as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) - that will re-authorize the Committee. The process of revising the MOU has taken over two years and countless hours and federal tax-payer dollars. As it stands now, the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture have agreed to the revised MOU language which will be sent to the Governors of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The revised MOU contains a few provisions that should raise alarm among not only the conservation community but the states as well. The new language stresses elimination of brucellosis over risk management and requires the development of elimination plans for each affected elk and bison herd by the agencies with management authority. This agreement signals the further erosion of a conservation ethic within the Department of Interior under the Bush administration.

However, agreement from the states is far from a sure thing. Wyoming just recently began a new brucellosis plan for elk that is far from an elimination effort. Unfortunately, Wyoming will begin a test and slaughter pilot program on one of its 22 state elk feedgrounds next winter under extreme pressure from the livestock industry. Montana is in the process of beginning a management plan for elk in the Madison valley that will focus on risk management, not elimination of brucellosis. Neither state is likely to embrace a mandate to eliminate brucellosis when the only tools available are an ineffective vaccine and test and slaughter. It is critical to understand that in order to eliminate (or eradicate) brucellosis, every single animal that may potentially carry the European livestock bacteria would have to be killed. Every buffalo, every elk, every single critter. Eradication is entirely unacceptable and unrealistic.

Meetings with the three state Governors are likely to occur this summer with an answer to the Federal agencies expected by the next GYIBC meeting in Idaho Falls in late August. BFC will be keeping a watchful eye on the continuation of this process throughout the summer and fall.
TAKE ACTION! Please take the time to express your concerns with the development of brucellosis elimination plans for wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Area to the Governors of both Montana and Wyoming. The truth of the matter is that brucellosis elimination will devastate the affected wildlife populations and is still likely to fail to eradicate the disease throughout the ecosystem. It makes far more sense to manage cattle better, and to develop a livestock vaccine that works for and is used on livestock.

Contact Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer at:
Governor's Office, State Capitol, Helena, MT 59620-0801, (ph) 406-444-3111, email: governor@state.mt.us.

Contact Wyoming's Governor, Dave Fruedenthal can be reached at:
Governor's Office, State Capitol, 200 West 24th Street, Cheyenne, WY 82002-0010; 307:777:7434 (phone); 307:632:3909 (fax); 307:777:7860 (TTY); or by email at governor@state.wy.us.

For the Buffalo,
Josh Osher
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* H.R. 2428 - Contact Your House Representative!
The Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act now has a bill number: H.R. 2428. This critical and bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Rep. Hinchey and Rep. Bass, will place a three year time-out on the current Interagency Bison (mis)Management Plan.

If this bill becomes law, it will:
1. Dismantle the Stephen's Creek bison trap located within Yellowstone National Park's borders

2. Allow buffalo unmolested access to Gallatin National Forest lands immediately adjacent to Yellowstone's north and west boundaries. These are the same lands where buffalo currently migrate with fatal consequences.

3. Give the National Park Service sole jurisdiction over buffalo inside the Park. (Currently, the DOL has authority to haze along the western boundary - with horse and helicopter - far into the park, even within areas closed to protect wildlife)

4. Direct the Park and Forest Services to acquire additional habitat for buffalo in Montana

TAKE ACTION! Please take a moment to contact your House Representative and urge him/her to sign on to H.R. 2428, the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act. Last year, thanks to your phone calls and letters, we gained over 100 cosponsors for this legislation. This year we can do even better!

Contact your Representative: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html.

NOTE: If you are represented by either Bass or Hinchey, please drop them a line to say
THANK YOU for taking the initiative (again) in protecting the country's last wild buffalo.

To learn more about the bill visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/buffalopreservation.html.
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* BFC Honors Marriage of Yarrow and Yote
yote and yarrow
On Sunday, May 29, long-time BFC family members Yarrow and Yote will gather with friends and family on the banks of the Madison River in celebration of their love and commitment. Past volunteers and coordinators have begun arriving for what we know will be a festive celebration and ceremony honoring Yarrow, Yote, the buffalo they have dedicated so much of their lives to protecting, and all the wild creatures that make this ecosystem home.

Please join us in spirit on Sunday afternoon as we join in the circle of this beautiful couple's love for one other and the Earth on which we live.
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* Last Words
"Like the two sides of the buffalo/Indian-head nickel, we are synonymous; two sides of a single coin. We, and the buffalo, share a common history that we dare not forget. We may be generations and miles removed from the buffalo, but according to the wisdom of thousands of years of existence in the natural world and interdependence with the buffalo, we hold a belief; a prophecy of an inseparable destiny.

Surely, as a leader, you must at least understand the challenge of being responsible for not only the people, here and now, but also for future generations. "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact upon the 7th generation" was the challenge of our traditional leadership.
If the sacredness of the buffalo is so difficult a concept to understand, then consider this: science recognizes the buffalo as a keystone species of the ecosystem and like us, who serve as "miners' canaries" for humanity, the buffalo too serve as such for the natural world that sustains us all.

If this land could support 60 million plus buffalo that were almost completely exterminated, save for those very few that sought refuge in Yellowstone, then we have yet to comprehend, to experience the full impact of their absence."

~ Rosalie Little Thunder, Lakota elder and co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign
From a letter to President Bill Clinton


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