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Weekly Update from the Field January 12, 2006
* Update from the Field
* The Buffalo: A Perspective from Down Under
* Quarantine Comment Deadline EXTENDED!
* Send Some BuffaLove this Valentines Day
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Greetings Buffalo Friends,
It has been a most intense, difficult and crazy week for the last wild buffalo. All in separate incidents, buffalo have been shot, captured, sent to slaughter, run over and hazed through ice. Strong prayers are greatly needed for our wild buffalo friends and relatives, and for our volunteers who continue to witness so much death and monstrous actions against the sacred buffalo.

On Friday in Gardiner, the National Park Service (NPS) was busy harassing wild buffalo, protecting livestock interests instead of the flora and fauna they are mandated by the American people to protect. Park Rangers came out on horseback, dressed in cowboy finery, just miles from the hunt zone, and forced wild buffalo off of their winter range. Two groups were hazed into the Park and then the rangers picked up another large group that had never even left the Park's boundaries. All in all 350 noble wild bison were caught up in the haze, herded like cattle by John Wayne park rangers and pushed far into the Park's boundaries towards Mammoth. Area pronghorn - a species of special concern - were also harassed in the operation, and likely many other wildlife species were as well. What price beef production?
On Saturday, we got a call from Mike up in Gardiner telling us that he just witnessed the 18th buffalo get shot. With sadness, we also breathed a strange sigh of relief because this meant the last of the non-Indian permits for Phase I of the hunt. Since the Crow Nation and Nations of Fort Belknap pulled out of the hunt, we wrongly assumed that other tribes would follow suit and no more buffalo would be shot during this portion of the bison hunt. But, just a few short hours later that same day, we got another call from Gardiner saying that there was a 19th buffalo shot. As it turned out, the Little Shell Band of Chippewa did decide to use their permit.

Read our press release: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0506/pressreleases0506/010906.html
On Monday, Ryan and Brittany discovered a bull buffalo laying down in the middle of Forest Service Road 610 that runs along the Horse Butte Peninsula. They watched him for a bit, giving him room and the right of way, but when he didn't move for a while they soon found out why; The buffalo had two broken back legs. They had been snapped in half and he was clearly unable to move. We called the local Fish Wildlife & Parks (FWP) game warden who was a bit annoyed to have to "put some clothes on" at 9:30 a.m. on a work day and go out to deal with the situation. As we monitored from the radio room, we also learned that a call had been placed to the agency - by a snowmobiler - at 7:30 p.m. the night before. Why did FWP not respond to the situation immediately? Why did they wait until BFC called them the following day? That bull needlessly suffered two broken legs for over 15 hours. The game warden came out and shot the buffalo five times. After the third bullet, the bull was still alive and the game warden turned to Ryan and Brittany and said something like "is that enough for ya, do you want me to put another in him?" After he was killed, FWP trucked his body to an unknown non-profit organization in West Yellowstone that wanted his head, and then the rest of his body was flung to the local dump. It's ironic that less than a month ago the media reported that snowmobiles had no adverse impact on wildlife. No adverse impact? Tell that to the dead bull who got his two back legs snapped in half on a cold winter night and found his final resting place at the town dump.

Demonstrating who's really in charge of the bison hunt, on Tuesday we learned that FWP was planning to suspend the bison hunt on the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. This decision was made under pressure from the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) who is the authorizing agency of the bison hunt. They feared that buffalo were outside the hunt's so-called tolerance zone, or hunt area, and the DOL wanted to flex their authoritative muscle by cancelling the hunt to conduct a hazing operation. Though close to yet another manmade line, the buffalo were not, and have not been, out of the "tolerance" zone. Regardless, the hunt was suspended on the western boundary as of 1/2 hour after sunset on January 11. Bison hunting will resume on the opening day of Phase II, this coming Monday, January 16. Yet during the suspension, there is no peace for the buffalo.

Read our press release: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0506/pressreleases0506/011006.html

Just yesterday we got a call from Gardiner that Yellowstone National Park Rangers had captured 208 buffalo inside the Stephens Creek Bison Trap. Another 100 buffalo were captured today. They will send them all to slaughter without testing. The Stephens Creek Trap is located inside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. The NPS claims they had hazed the buffalo back into the park repeatedly and that capture and slaughter was their only option. The Chief of Public Affairs for Yellowstone said, "we are working with our neighbors to protect Montana's brucellosis-free status." Isn't the Park supposed to be protecting wildlife? Ironically, the NPS made this move without consent or cooperation from Montana. Montana, fearing bad publicity while their hunt is underway, was incensed over the Park's decision to capture bison. Consequently, Montana refused to assist the Park Service, so they had to get help from the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - the federal agency that makes and breaks the laws regarding animal health. The NPS has violated their own agreement, the Interagency Bison Management Plan, by sending the buffalo to slaughter without testing. In the plan it states that they must conduct their late-winter/early-spring bison count BEFORE they can make the decision to send bison to slaughter without testing. They have not yet done the count. As of this morning, at least 24 of the captured buffalo have been loaded onto livestock trailers and sent to slaughterhouses. Forty buffalo may go to slaughter tomorrow. The remainder are being held in the capture facility over the weekend and possibly longer before they, too, are sent to slaughter.

Read our press release: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0506/pressreleases0506/011106.html

This morning, our volunteers witnessed a horrible event. The DOL did, indeed, come out to haze. The DOL's target was a mixed group of about thirty buffalo that were safely within the "tolerance zone" or hunt area, so there was no reason for the DOL to even be out hazing them. They approached the buffalo from across the ice riding their snowmobiles and actually hazed them onto thin ice. Twelve buffalo fell through. It was a heart wrenching scene, to say the very least. The volunteers who witnessed it are speechless. The agents that caused this to happen sat and watched the buffalo as they tried in vain to gain footing to free themselves from the freezing waters. Two buffalo drowned. After a long period of waiting, the agents finally took action and used chain saws to create a pathway that the buffalo could access. Using ropes they tied around the buffalo's necks and horns, they pulled them out of the water. Some of the agents were laughing as they tried to pull the exhausted, freezing buffalo out of the water. Shane Grube, the local DOL agent, was actually seen patting his leg at one big bull, as if to say "come 'ere puppy" to the wild buffalo in freezing water. One young buffalo that was brought to the surface of the ice lay there shaking, its mother standing over it, and agents were throwing snow at her trying to get her away from her freezing baby. She did not move from her baby's side. The fate of the ten buffalo that were pulled out of the ice is unknown.

Read our press release: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0506/pressreleases0506/011206.html

With Strong Prayers for the Buffalo and All Our Relations,
* Quarantine Comment Deadline EXTENDED!
Many thanks to Josh and D.J. and everyone who sent in letters to FWP requesting that they extend the comment period on their Bison Quarantine Environmental Assessment. FWP granted the request and agreed to extend the comment period for another 30 days.

The new deadline for comments is February 13, 2006
Please take action to help prevent wild baby buffalo from being stolen from their mothers and families, held in captivity and used in scientific experiment.

Information about the quarantine plan, information about quarantine, and the contact info for sending in your comments can be found at:

You may also email Josh at bfc-advocate"at"wildrockies.org with questions. Please send him a copy of your comments as well. Many thanks for being a voice for the last wild buffalo.
* The Buffalo: A Perspective from Down Under
Wilderness areas are all unique places - the tundra of Patagonia, Australia's arid and then wet Kimberley, or the vast ecosystem of Yellowstone. Yet somehow they are all united by an indescribable feeling, something wild and calming on the soul. They are able to hang on to a sense of true nature and connect us to who we are - remind us of our selves and what it is to be alive, regardless of borders or cultures.

As an Australian visiting Yellowstone I felt instantly at home with the buffalo - moved by their majesty, grace and stubborn will to survive. That sense of survival and disregard for time and manmade borders unites wild animals everywhere. The buffalo don't belong to any one people or place - they belong to, and are a part of the world. That they are treated as they are is an offense not just to Americans, but to all people.

Humanity's insane destructive and controlling desires threaten all kinds of wild places. Conflicts between the fragile game of a healthy ecosystem and the whims and egos of human politics and power are everywhere, especially on the fringes of Yellowstone where these regal creatures - their spirit so much a part of the landscape - are harassed, shot and tortured almost daily. It sickened me.

To a foreigner, as to an American, the buffalo are a powerful symbol of the continent; a portent of how things were, how this huge landmass was a vibrant, healthy place long before white man's paws scarred it. They are a symbol of what America would like to be - wild and free, powerful and strong. Sadly, the daily intrusion into their lives is probably even more a symbol of America, of that desire to control and dominate and, of course, protect business interests.

Sadly, America does as much outraging of the world as it does inspiring them these days. The paradox of the country is that so few can destroy so much, but good stories there are. A passionate, caring and dedicated group of volunteers are there, early morning to sundown, watching the buffalo. Good vs evil on the plains of Montana - now that's America.
Despite the anger and frustration of what's going on, being with the buffalo everyday was an amazing opportunity. It gave me an intense feeling of history - not that idea of history as a record of change, but of history as an ongoing, constant place. Amazing, breathtaking animals. Animals who have lived, foraged and walked these routes for millennia. These are animals who, frustratingly for human egos, don't need us.

Ironically, it us who need them. We need the buffalo, their sense of calm, their sense of place and their sense of being. There they are, the last herd of wild buffalo, drifting across Horse Butte, epic creatures, symbols of an ecosystem which tells us the world is healthy. But more than that, more than a country's symbol, more than beasts roaming the plains. Their survival and health retains a link that us, as humans, must hang on to. Their peace, majesty and humility is not something we can afford to torment or wipe out. More than anything, we need them to be wild.

Garry Dagg
BFC Volunteer and Human Being Extraordinaire
(Garry volunteered with BFC for much of December and January. He was on his Summer Vacation and chose to stand in defense of America's last wild buffalo. Garry spent time in West Yellowstone and also in Gardiner. He is such a pleasure to be around and everyone misses him. We hope he'll come back and join us on the front lines in the not-too-distant future. Thank you, Garry with two R's! You inspire us!)
* Send Some BuffaLove this Valentines Day
Roses are red,
Bison are brown.
Here's ONE valentine
You'll WANT to hunt down!

Valentine's Day is on the near horizon. On this day dedicated to love, we invite you to honor your loved ones with a gift truly from the heart. Instead of (or in addition to) candy, flowers, and trinkets, let Buffalo Field Campaign send a valentine in your name. It's cheap, it's easy, yet it means so much!
* Last Words
"Initially, critics said BFC's vigilance would never last. But while tree sitters in old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest have come and gone, BFC is anchoring one of the longest continuous environmental
protests in U.S. history."

Todd Wilkinson, April 2004 from a news story called "Yellowstone Bison: To Shoot or Not to Shoot?"

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