Update from the Field
On Friday, along Yellowstone's northern boundary in
Gardiner, the National Park Service once again emptied
the Stephens Creek bison trap. They sent the last 30
of 266 wild buffalo to slaughter, where they have died
in horror like cattle, on cold concrete, without honor,
without ceremony or respect. Yellowstone's latest kill
resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of 849 wild buffalo.
Management actions and hunters have killed 903 buffalo
since September. And the Park Service has not only slaughtered
wild buffalo, but they have handed over 86 wild calves
to a government-funded quarantine experiment (see below,
third section). These actions by the National Park Service
are criminal. The NPS continues to ignore the public's
outcry against the buffalo slaughter and when we question
and challenge their actions, they only say "It's
in the Plan." They dodge our questions, ignore
our protest, and shirk their responsibility to protect
the wild buffalo in their care.
Just within the week, the NPS was invited to participate
in two separate radio interviews to discuss their position.
A radio station in Boulder, CO (KGNU), as well as World
Talk Radio's American Indian Movement Today invited
the agency to explain their involvement in Yellowstone
bison slaughter. The NPS refused. They either wouldn't
return numerous phone calls or simply stated that they
are "tired of discussing the issue." This
attitude by taxpayer-funded public servants tends to
demonstrate their belief that they are above the law
and accountable to none, a trait of the current Administration.
But, such isn't the case. The NPS is accountable to
the American people, to the citizens of of this country,
and we have asked them time and again to stop killing
wild buffalo and start taking proactive steps to ensure
their future within and beyond Yellowstone. The NPS
has chosen to become the puppet of the cattle industry.
We must sharpen our voices and cut the puppet strings.
We must refuse to be ignored.
While the Park Service turns a cold shoulder, Mother
Nature responded with an arctic blast. Throughout much
of western Montana, temperatures dropped to a frigid
-45. Nevertheless, while most hunkered down within heated
walls to ride the cold snap out, BFC patrols faced the
temperatures and stood in the field with the buffalo.
Winters are harsh in Yellowstone country and food is
scarce this time of year. Safeguarding energy reserves
can mean the difference between life and death for many
animals. Though buffalo are one of the toughest animals
around, facing both blizzards and predators, they, too,
can suffer the Winter's chilly grip. As if Winter weren't
challenging enough, the buffalo must also suffer the
current management scheme.
On Saturday, here in West Yellowstone, eleven buffalo
were spotted on the ice of Hebgen Lake. They stayed
bedded down on the ice for quite a long time. When they
rose, they stood frozen as if statues. After some hours
they began to move with slow intention over the ice,
trying to make their way west out of the deep snows
towards the lush Madison Valley. For days we stood with
this mixed group - calves, yearlings, young bulls, young
females and pregnant mamas - as they were faced with
the challenges of highway 287, deep snowbanks, drifts
and cutting winds. Eventually they settled in an area
of aspens and firs for a few short days.
On Tuesday, Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Park Service,
Gallatin County Sheriff, and US Forest Service agents
arrived on snowmobiles, ATVs and trucks to haze this
exhausted and hungry herd over twelve miles of asphalt
back to Yellowstone's boundary. Ironically, the area
where the haze began is closed to snowmobiles and protected
as "elk winter range." And elk, like buffalo
leave Yellowstone because food is hard to find there
in the winter, it is not suitable winter habitat for
many wildlife species. Yet, only the buffalo are held
prisoner to Yellowstone's boundaries, forced to remain
within an area in which it is difficult to survive.
Montana's zero-tolerance policy still manifests itself
in the driving off of wild buffalo from critical winter
range, while other animals are free to come and go,
free to survive.
With the Stephens Creek trap now empty, the Park Service
says they will "only" haze for the next couple
of weeks, but they are poised to capture and slaughter
again. The DOL continues to plow trap sites on the Park's
western boundary, themselves poised for capture and
slaughter. However, hope is on the horizon. Voices are
rising, outrage is swelling, more and more people are
speaking out against the mal-treatment of the country's
last wild buffalo. Momentum is building within Indian
country, as more Native voices are rising in defense
of the buffalo.
All of us, together, will create the change. That change
feels urgent and far away when we're faced with so much
slaughter, so many buffalo being harassed and killed.
But, patience is a lesson that the buffalo teach us.
They are strong survivors. Like the buffalo resist being
fenced in by politics, we must resist the status quo
fed to us by the government and cattle industry. The
"bottom line" is not theirs, we do not accept
their ultimatums. The government does not have the luxury
of ignoring us, of pushing their own agenda, destroying
wild freedom in an effort to create a controlled, "manageable"
environment to appease the economic interests of the
cattle industry. Our persistence is making a positive
impact. Keep the pressure on and refuse to be ignored.
Please continue to contact these decision-makers:
Please, also, incorporate these solutions into your
Spread the word ~ Save the herd! Thank you for being
with us and for being a strong voice for the last wild
With the Buffalo,
* Hold the Park Service Accountable!
On Wednesday March 1, Secretary of the Interior, Gail
Norton, will be appearing before the House Interior
Appropriations Committee. Secretary Norton will be answering
questions about her agencies' expenditures and requests
for the coming year. Issues relating to the National
Park Service and particularly the buffalo slaughter
in Yellowstone are sure to come up in the hearing. If
one of the following Representatives is from your district,
please take the time to write or call.
Secretary Norton must be held accountable for the slaughter
of nearly 900 wild buffalo at the hands of the National
Park Service. Even if your Representative is not on
the Interior Appropriations Committee, please call or
write asking them to co-sponsor HR 2428, "The Yellowstone
Buffalo Preservation Act", and to support future
legislation to protect wild buffalo.
For information on how to contact you Congressperson,
visit our web site at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html
under the heading "Congress."
House of Representative Interior Appropriations Committee
Charles H. Taylor, NC (R - Chairman)
Norman D. Dicks, WA (D - Ranking Member)
Zach Wamp, TN (R)
James P. Moran, VA (D)
John E. Peterson, PA (R)
Maurice D. Hinchey, NY (D)
Don Sherwood, PA (R)
John W. Olver, MA (D)
Ernest J. Istook, Jr., OK (R)
Alan B. Mollohan, WV (D)
Robert Aderholt, AL (R)
John Doolittle, CA (R)
Michael K. Simpson, ID (R - Vice Chair)
* Last Call for Quarantine Comments - Due February
Last Thursday in Gardiner, BFC attended a public meeting
the quarantine plan. The meeting, which we requested,
was hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP)
and the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS). There was a large turnout and when it came
time for the public to give their comments, not a single
person spoke in favor of quarantine.
The current quarantine facility is just miles north
of Yellowstone National Park, across the road from Church
Universal & Triumphant (CUT) lands. Anyone can pull
over to see the baby buffalo prison, where "science"
is "helping" the buffalo, while right across
the road cattle roam free. The wild buffalo calves are
surrounded by two layers of tall electric fence. They
are tagged like livestock. They are fed hay like cattle.
They will be run through tests and handled by scientists.
They will breed for these scientists to do more tests.
More than half will be slaughtered. Those that "graduate"
will be transplanted to unknown lands. This is the governments
idea for "restoring" wild buffalo to the landscape.
They want to "clean" them up, but they violate
the wild buffalo.
The government made statements like "training them
to be wild" and "it's a lot like ranching."
They want us to belive that it's this way or no way
at all. They cannot see that they are essentially domesticating
the buffalo, and that the people have other ideas for
how buffalo might be restored. How about naturally?
How about fencing in cattle, focusing efforts on cattle-based
risk management, opening habitat for wild buffalo and
resisting the human desire to manipulate and control?
The spokesmen for the quarantine plan are proud of their
goals and objectives. They truly believe that their
intrusive, degrading science is the only way to "bring
back" the bison. They really couldn't understand
why people are so against such a "great" effort
to "restore" wild buffalo! But the government
doesn't get it. We certainly have fundamental and philosophical
differences. Ours is to live and let live, while the
government's is control and manage, dissect and experiment.
The Mystery of life is lost on them, and they cannot
see the forest for the trees. The buffalo don't need
that kind of "help;" what they need is the
respect to live their lives freely. Wild buffalo are
doing for their species what science could never do.
The buffalo are restoring themselves, and the government
is getting in the way.
Monday, February 27th is the final day for sending in
your comments about the quarantine plan. Please let
the government hear from you and speak strongly and
from the heart. Contact information as well as the truth
about quarantine can be found at: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/actionalerts.html.
* BFC Supporter and Artist to Auction Award-winning
Work for BFC
This one of a kind gourd bowl was created by me, Melanie
Kelley. When I started it I fully intended to create
a piece that was simply to show off my talents. It was
never my intention to try to sell it. I needed a show-stopper
in my booth. I needed a piece to enter into the many
contests that occur in the art shows that I do. The
kind of piece that folks would simply marvel at but
never purchase. It did it's job very well and I won
several awards with it. Now, it is time to put it to
better use.... to help save our beloved Yellowstone
Auction begins March 2, 5 PM EST.
To view a picture, read more about the piece, and learn
how to place a bid:
*A BuffaLove Thank You!
Thanks to the generosity and beautiful hearts of
BFC supporters, our Valentine's Day card fund raiser
brought in over $1,100 for the defense of America's
last wild and free-roaming bison herd. Watch this space
for a similar opportunity to donate for Mother's Day...we'll
send a card on your behalf to the special women
in your life.
Many heartfelt thanks to writer and artist Kathleen
Stachowski, for her wild and talented heart at work
for the buffalo!
* Last Words
"We are doomed as a culture if we cannot learn
to nurture our natural environment with compassion and
reverence. Unnecessary persecution of wild bison is
as rampant today as it was when we wiped them off the
plains 125 years ago. The only thing that has changed
is the excuse we make for killing them."
Don Woerner, DVM