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Weekly Update from the Field December 2, 2004
* Update from the Field
* Thank You for Helping Buffalo
* Buffalo News Stories - Please Write a Letter to the Editor
* Come Stand with the Buffalo! Volunteers Needed
* BFC Wish List
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
The temperatures are quickly dropping in the winter wonderland of West Yellowstone. Just last week Hebgen Lake was still flowing water; now it is frozen. Everything around us is covered in beautiful, white snow, which continues to fall with soundless, peaceful grace. The days shorten in the waning sunlight. Morning patrols get off to a frigid start, and afternoon patrols come home with the dark, sooner each day. Officially, winter has yet to arrive, but truly, it is already here. How we respect and admire the shaggy buffalo who can live in these conditions, standing to face the cold.

It has been a difficult week for the buffalo. We lost a magnificent bull on Tuesday; the second slaughter of the season. He had been spending time in an area called Upper Bear Trap, a small housing development less than a mile from the border of Yellowstone National Park. He was hurting no one, destroying no private property, and threatening no cows. He was simply hungry and needed to eat. The park provides poor winter habitat for buffalo, elk, and other wildlife so they migrate to lower elevations in search of winter forage. Unfortunately for the bull and the rest of us, one property owner made a call to change the world for the worse forever. With complaints of private property concerns, the aggressive Department of Livestock was called upon to deal with the "problem," and so they, along with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, gladly and immediately came out, harassed the gentle giant, chased him across the highway on horses and ATVs, and into the Duck Creek buffalo trap. The National Park Service was there to help control traffic; tax dollars hard at work. The big bull spent much of the night in the confines of the trap, cold and alone. At midnight, under the cover of darkness, he was loaded onto a trailer and sent to a slaughterhouse. We deeply mourn his passing.

The DOL has remained in town most of the week, running recons along the park border, checking for "delinquent" buffalo that might dare step across the arbitrary, man-made boundaries that dissect the landscape. They were out again this morning hazing one buffalo that was already inside the park's boundaries, pushing him further into the park. But, perhaps there are some buffalo the DOL and agents would never find, perhaps there are some buffalo that might make it out of the park undetected, into areas in which they haven't been seen in centuries. Stealthy as they can be when they want to, it's bound to happen. And maybe, just maybe, there's a buffalo that might make it all the way to Idaho.

A buffalo in Idaho? On Tuesday, BFC received a call from a reporter, letting us know that a buffalo had been spotted 60 miles south of Salmon, in Lemhi County, Idaho. As of this writing, he's still there. And no one is really sure where he came from. About 100 miles in one direction is the closest buffalo ranch; another 100-plus miles in another direction is Yellowstone National Park. Wherever he came from, he was determined. It is also still unclear what Idaho Fish & Game plans to do about it; they have the authority to remove or kill the buffalo if they want to. Let's hope he'll take cover and continue his journey to wherever he's going. Maybe he'll even choose to stick around. They say it's been nearly 200 years since buffalo were spotted in the area. Trappers and fur traders of the 1820's were the last to report large herds in Lemhi County, and buffalo haven't been seen there since. But just because we don't see them doesn't mean they aren't there.
With the Buffalo,
* Thank You for Helping Buffalo
BFC extends a great big thank you to Sam and Sandy for coming all the way to Southwestern Montana from the peaceful milds of San Francisco, to brave the frigid climes of West Yellowstone for the sake of the buffalo. Your energy, constructive criticism, and direction has breathed new life into us. We are excited to step back and look at the bigger picture. Thank you for helping lay the steps to making it a reality and for all your support over the years. Thank you also to Glenn and Joe for being such a big part of this vision. We are ready to make happen.
We'd also like to thank Bridget for coming to the BFC presentation at Bryn Mawr College, PA, and for being inspired to write to the Mt. Airy Times Express in Philadelphia about the plight of Yellowstone buffalo. Actions like these get the word to so many people, and we really thank you for taking the time to help tell the buffalo's story. Thanks also for sending us a copy of your beautiful piece!

Many belated thanks also go to Patrick McDonnell, the brilliant mind and artist behind the cartoon "Mutts." On October 24, a Yellowstone buffalo got to tell his story to Mooch and Earl, and also to much of the newspaper-reading public. Thanks to everyone who has written to us about this strip, and for sending us a copy. Thank you Patrick, Mooch, and Earl! For those of you who haven't seen this brilliant, heart-felt piece, here it is:
Thanks to Long Standing Bear Chief of KGPR Great Falls, for having us as a guest on Spirit Talk. We appreciate the opportunity and are excited about building a relationship with you and your listeners in our efforts to protect the buffalo. Next time, we're coming to Great Falls, and we can't wait to have you spend time with us here in the field. See you soon!
*Buffalo News Story - Please Write a Letter to the Editor
The Billings Gazette printed an article about the DOL's hazing, capturing and slaughtering this week. In the article, the DOL claims to have "successfully" hazed 110 buffalo back into the park in the past two months. The truth is that they have continually harassed the same 15 buffalo who have been leaving the Park looking for some good grass to eat. Furthermore, they have killed two bulls under the guise of protecting livestock from contracting brucellosis, yet, bulls pose zero threat. Concerns about so-called threats to private property are also unwarranted, as folks who live in buffalo country know that one of the only times buffalo "destroy" property is when they are being chased by the DOL. Letters to the editor are needed to correct the DOL's misinformation. To read the article use the link below, and please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org to read BFC's press releases and then click on "Write a Letter to the Editor" for Billings Gazette contact information and letter-writing tips. If your letter is printed, please send us a copy by mail or email: bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org; BFC/Media, P.O. Box 597, W. Yellowstone, MT 59758. Billings Gazette article: http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2004/11/30/build/wyoming/75-wandering-bison.inc
* Come Stand with the Buffalo - Volunteers Needed
Buffalo are migrating out of the park, the Department of Livestock is in the field, and we need YOU to come stand with us in defense of the buffalo. Winter is upon us, and as the buffalo migrate out of the park, the agents lurk in the background, waiting to chase, capture and slaughter members of America's last wild herd. We are in need of field volunteers, so if you have ever considered coming to West Yellowstone, MT to stand in the buffalo's defense and document actions taken against them, now is the time to do so. We also need help around the cabin and office, so please consider arriving whether you want to be out on skis or indoors. Anyone willing to stand in defense of our last wild buffalo is always welcome.
BFC provides room and board to anyone willing to work in defense of the buffalo. To volunteer or to learn more about being a BFC volunteer, please email us at buffaloatwildrockies.org or call 406-646-0070. If you can't make it in person, but would like to keep us in the field, please make a monetary or in-kind donation. Use the mailing address at the end of this email, or email Su at bfc-programs@wildrockies.org if you have questions. For more information visit our new web site at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
* BFC Wish List
With hundreds of inches of snow on the way and temperatures already dropping to 20 degrees below zero, we need to bolster our stock of winter gear. Keep a volunteer warm by donating:
* Winter hats, gloves, and mittens--
* Sorrel winter boots, liners, and wool socks - warm feet=happy patrols.
* Polypropylene or capilene long underwear bottoms (NO COTTON please)
* Heavy wool pants of all sizes (available at most army surplus stores)
* Gore-tex gators (zip around the lower leg and keep snow out of boots)
* Snowshoes, cross-country bindings, boots, skis, and wax
For the Office:
* Postage stamps, packing tape, and office supplies
* Recycled office paper - we need to use 100% post consumer recycled paper, but the cost is significantly higher. Consider a gift certificate or a mail order for office supplies.
* Large, long lasting candles and lamp oil - our power isn't very consistent during the winter and our tipis are non-electric. Lamp oil should be odor-free and freeze proof.
Please call (406) 646-0070 or email buffaloatwildrockies.org us if you have any questions.
* Last Words
"Those who wish to pet and baby wildlife love them, but those who respect their natures and wish to let them live their natural lives, love them more ."
-Edwin Way Teale

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