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Weekly Update from the Field September 2, 2004
* Update From the Field
* Fall '04 Wishlist
* BFC Road Shows Bring Buffalo Power to the People
* TAKE ACTION! Oppose Park Service Plan to Vaccinate Wild Buffalo
* Letters to the Editor: Yellowstone Buffalo Policy Shameful...
* Last Words

* Update From the Field
September has brought cool days and cold nights to Montana, providing a gentle reminder of winter's inevitable return. This is always a bittersweet time for BFC, as we rejoice in the return of old friends and familiar faces while remembering the seriousness of our work and the heartbreak involved in bearing witness to the inhumane treatment and slaughter of America's last wild buffalo, animals we come to know as individuals through countless hours spent on patrols in their presence.
Over the course of the coming months we will gather dozens of cords of wood, repair and acquire winter clothes and equipment needed to keep hundreds of volunteers warm and safe in one of the continent's coldest climates. This is a crucial time of year, and we can't do it without the support of our wide circle of allies across the country and around the world.
To those of you who have sent donations in the past weeks and months we offer a heart-felt thanks. To those who have been meaning to do so or waiting for the perfect time to help, that time is now. Your donations will allow us to provide food, clothing, and shelter to our volunteers, as well as continue our hard work in the policy, legislative, and legal arenas. You can send a tax-deductible contribution to the address below, make an online donation directly from our website, or browse our pages of gift items generously donated by supporters http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/pcshop2/bazaar.html.
We have beautiful new note cards featuring a full-color design by Marion Osher and can offer special discounts to supporters who order ten packs or more.
Contact bfc-programs@wildrockies.org for more information.
If you can't afford to donate, you can help the buffalo by commenting against the Park Service's plan to vaccinate Yellowstone buffalo (see below). Or maybe you can dig one of the items listed on our wishlist below out of your attic or storage bin or solicit them from businesses or individuals in your community. If you live on the West or East coasts you can help organize or attend a BFC presentation (read on).
We are grateful to each of you who cares about the buffalo and takes action on their behalf. Whether your support comes in the form of letter writing, volunteering, responding to our emails, telling friends about the buffalo slaughter, or donating items or money, know that you are an integral part of the Buffalo Field Campaign and we couldn't be here without you!
For the Buffalo,
Dan Brister
* BFC Fall'04 Wishlist
Cross country skis and boots (and assorted ski waxes)
Polypropelene long underwear (no cotton please)
Sorrel-type winter boots
Army Style Wool Pants
Warm Hats, Gloves, and Socks
Backpacks (day-packs and overnight)
Energy bars, trail-mixes, and other high energy snack foods for patrol
Apple laptop or desktop computers and accessories.
* BFC Road Shows Bring Buffalo Power to the People
BFC volunteers have been on the road since August 20, inspiring audiences across the West with video footage, stories, and information on the Yellowstone buffalo, their tragic slaughter at the hands of government agents, and the tireless work of thousands of individuals from around the world who have traveled to Yellowstone to defend them and their native habitat. The Road Show will be underway until November, visiting cities and towns on both coasts.
In September we'll cruise California (Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Los Altos, San Francisco, Mountain View, and Palo Alto), Oregon (Eugene, Portland, and Newport), and Washington (Olympia, Port Townsend, Seattle, Issaquah, and Spokane.
From there we'll cross the continent to bring the Road Show to communities from North Carolina to Maine. We'll be finalizing our schedule in the next week so if you live on the East Coast and are interested in hosting an event in your town, please reply to this email or contact Dan at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org.
For more information or to view a schedule of tour dates, please visit: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/aboutus/roadshows2004.html
* TAKE ACTION! Oppose Park Service Plan to Vaccinate Wild Buffalo
*Comment period EXTENDED through October 2, 2004 - Urge the Park to choose
the "No Action" alternative.

The Inter-Agency Bison Management Plan (a plan that has resulted in the unjust slaughter of hundreds of buffalo) calls for vaccinating Yellowstone buffalo "when a safe and effective vaccine is available." To date, no such vaccine is available. Not for cattle. Not for buffalo. Nevertheless, the National Park Service (NPS) is moving forward with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a remote-delivery brucellosis vaccination with the RB51 vaccine. Originally designed for livestock, RB51 has been proven ineffective in both cattle and wild buffalo. Why, then, aren't efforts (and taxpayer dollars) instead being focused on coming up with a safe and effective vaccine that works... for livestock?
The NPS is trying to make us feel good about their plan, diluting the seriousness of what they are doing by using terms such as "remote delivery" that imply a "hands off" approach. Yet, whatever you call it, the agency charged with protecting America's last wild buffalo will be shooting them with "bio-bullets" containing the ineffective livestock vaccine RB51. The disruption to buffalo and the surrounding ecosystem will be extremely adverse. Buffalo that may never even leave the park would still be victims of this ill-advised plan, a plan ultimately designed to protect the profits of Montana's powerful livestock industry.

This so-called vaccination plan will in no way help the buffalo; wild buffalo aren't truly threatened by brucellosis. It is the cattle industry's ability to trade on the international market that is threatened by brucellosis. Buffalo are not severely affected by brucellosis, a disease they acquired from domestic livestock at the start of the 20th century. They have developed antibodies, and have become stronger and more resistant to the effects of the disease. (Unfortunately, government testing procedures send the stronger, disease-resistant buffalo to slaughter, thanks to faulty testing that produces false-positive results.) The real threat to buffalo is the cattle industry and its dark champions.
For the buffalo's sake we cannot remain silent. The Park Service must hear from each of us, and be urged to choose the "No Action" alternative as their preferred alternative. The EIS is in it's scoping stage, so your comments will help formulate where the Park Service goes from here.

TAKE ACTION! The Park Service has extended the public comment period through October 2, so there is time submit your comments. Please encourage your friends and family to speak out for buffalo, too. Important points that will help you build your letter are listed below. Personal comments are most effective. Let them know how you feel and provide them with the facts! Send your comments by mail, fax, and/or email to:
Bison Ecology and Management Program
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Mammoth, WY 82190
FAX: 307-344-2502
E-mail: yell_remote_vaccinate@nps.gov
For a list of public meetings happening in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho,
please visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/technical/planning/bison/index.htm

The NPS must determine a few very real and very important things before moving forward. We must ask the hard questions, repeat the hard facts, and demand answers. The issues the NPS must address include:
(1) The effectiveness and safety in wildlife of a remote delivery system.
** How will the Park Service carry out this remote delivery method? Will they fly helicopters into the park, hovering over the herds, shooting them with bio-bullets? Will they place sharpshooters at the edges of the valley, just inside the trees, take aim and fire? How will they know which buffalo have been "hit" and which haven't? Will each bullet contain some form of paint to mark each animal once struck? How close will they have to get to the buffalo?
(2) The effectiveness and safety of a vaccine for bison,
** Multiple studies on the safety and efficacy of RB51 in buffalo have been conduced in recent years. Don Davis and Phil Elzer, two preeminent researchers on brucellosis in wildlife, "determined that RB51 did not confer significant protection in vaccinated animals....the RB51 bison vaccinated with three injections did not differ significantly from the non-vaccinated bison." They further state, in a 2002 peer-review paper, that "...the efficacy of RB51 is nil in adult bison..."
(3) The human health and safety of park staff and visitors
** If we're talking about brucellosis, human health is a non-issue; Brucellosis is contracted by humans only by ingesting unpasteurized milk or by handling infected tissue (placenta, guts, etc.). If, however, park visitors are in the area where remote delivery is taking place, things could get dangerous. Buffalo may stampede, and when that happens... well, you might as well try to dam the Ocean.
(4) The visitor experience. 
** Already, park visitors are experiencing the domestication of America's last wild buffalo. The buffalo that have been captured, tested, and 'released' by the DOL and NPS are now wearing ear tags, just like cattle. Worse still is the fact that these buffalo are only allowed to migrate so far; Yellowstone National Park has become nothing less than an outdoor zoo. To add insult to injury, remote vaccination will have to somehow be 'marked" so does this mean that our buffalo will now wear paint as well?

1. 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 Park Service should place their focus on acquiring suitable winter range and migration corridors for buffalo, where they won't be threatened by Montana's livestock interests.
2. The RB51 vaccine is not effective in bison. Even APHIS (the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) admits as much when they write, "efficacy [of RB51] in bison has not been definitively determined."
3. Because the disease has little effect on buffalo and because wild buffalo have never transmitted brucellosis to livestock, efforts should be focused on cattle. The Park Service should get out of the vaccination game.
4. The EIS 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 current treatment of buffalo utterly unacceptable.
Thank you for helping our last wild buffalo remain wild and free forever.

MORE INFORMATION: Check out BFC's latest newsletter (Campaign '04), email
bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org, or visit our NEW website: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
Fore information on the Park Service's plan, the
following URLs will be helpful:
* NPS Project Website:
* NPS Scoping brochure: Details background and issues identified to date.
* Letters to the Editor
Sunday, August 8, 2004
Yellowstone Bison Management Policies Shameful, Wrong
July 13: an ideal night in Yellowstone country. My wife and I had just driven through the park and past the bustling metropolis of West Yellowstone on our way to the Madison Valley. The night was gorgeous in the fading light. Heading toward Quake Lake, roughly a mile up Highway 287, we saw a massive bull bison grazing along the road in chest-deep grasses. Knowing the Montana Department of Livestock zero-tolerance policy regarding bison outside the park after May 15, we immediately became alarmed. We pulled over and watched with awe as this incredible creature peacefully grazed among the rich grasses.
Two days later on our way back through the same area, we could not find the bison. A quick look on Montana's official Web site and link to the DOL showed that on July 15 this bison was killed, shipped to slaughter.
I cannot begin to express the disgust I feel at this action. Changes need to occur to end the senseless slaughter of bison. The Montana DOL has no place managing this wild animal. Bison should be managed as wildlife and overseen by trained wildlife professionals within the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The state of Montana continues to give itself a black eye. Every car that passed the lone bison destined to spend money in West Yellowstone and Ennis - thus supporting local economies - paused, slowed or stopped, in awe, at the sight.
To make matters worse, this bison was an adult male - an animal that, according to biologists, has virtually zero possibility of transmitting brucellosis to cattle, even if this particular bison had been a carrier of the disease.
But scientific truths didn't stop the DOL from killing this animal, taking, in the process, some of the joy from the visitors and the spirit from the land.
Michael Leach, 1505 Lakeside Drive, Lolo
* Last Words
"You can't understand about nature, about the feeling we have toward it, unless you understand how close we were to the buffalo. That animal was almost like a part of ourselves, part of our souls."
~ John (Fire) Lame Deer

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