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
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.
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,
* 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
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
*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
Bison Ecology and Management Program
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Mammoth, WY 82190
BE HEARD AND SEEN!
For a list of public meetings happening in Montana,
Wyoming, and Idaho,
please visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/technical/planning/bison/index.htm
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS:
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
** 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
OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS TO MAKE IN YOUR LETTER:
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
Thank you for helping our last wild buffalo remain wild
and free forever.
MORE INFORMATION: Check out BFC's latest
newsletter (Campaign '04), email
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
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
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