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Weekly Update from the Field March 9, 2006
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* Update from the Field
* PEER Challenges the Park Service's Killing Spree and Use of the Buffalo as Emblem
* Ask Fish, Wildlife & Parks An Important Question
* BFC is Heading to Washington DC!
* Protect the Buffalo through BFC's Ebay Auction
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Friends of the Buffalo,
Thankfully, the buffalo traps have remained empty this week. In both Gardiner and West Yellowstone hazing has been the main plan of action for government agents. Hazing, though a relief from slaughter, can still be likened to a slow death because buffalo are being prevented from accessing critical winter and spring habitat and are caused intense and unnecessary stress. Our gentle friends are refused to walk in the thousand-year-old footsteps of their ancestors, simply because cows have invaded the land where the buffalo once freely roamed.

On Tuesday in West Yellowstone, Department of Livestock (DOL) agents attempted to haze about 35 buffalo that, for nearly two months, have been blissfully living their lives along the shore of Hebgen Lake. This is the same group of buffalo that the agents hazed in January, causing twelve to fall through thin ice into the freezing water and two drowning. This time, as the agents tried to force the buffalo's direction, the buffalo headed towards the ice, so the agents - fearing a repeat of January's catastrophe - abandoned the operation. The agents almost attempted the same thing again today, arriving on four snowmobiles, but quickly abandoned any effort to haze. The buffalo are still there, grazing happily as they have since even before that tragic January day. This week in Gardiner, Yellowstone Park wranglers have hazed three groups of buffalo that never even left the Park, as they all too often do here on Yellowstone's northern range. This morning, our field patrols watched as Park Rangers pulled their trucks in front of a group of buffalo, got out, and fired explosive cracker rounds from their shotguns, scaring the buffalo further into the Park.

Even amidst all of this harassment and madness, the wild buffalo maintain their noble integrity and magic. On Saturday, we were fortunate to share in these moments. Our friends Monica, Kevin, Gunner and Beverly came to Gardiner and we went with them into the Park where we could be in the presence of the buffalo and hold a prayer ceremony for them, and the confused souls who do the buffalo harm. We spotted a group in the hills and parked along the road.

Immediately, we were harassed by a Park Ranger who, rather than trying to assist us, questioned our motives and asked if we knew if the area was closed or not. It wasn't, we informed him (shouldn't he have known?). After an intense exchange of words, he finally left, and with drums, sweetgrass and good intention we made our way towards the beautiful buffalo.

We were in the folds of the hills and found a spot by a semi-dry creek bed where we could see the buffalo without bothering them. As we drummed softly and prayed, the buffalo began to respond. Kevin, a Lakota man, said that the elder buffalo probably recalled stories from their grandparents talking about these sounds of celebration. The buffalo moved towards a hill and disappeared behind it, and as our ceremony went on, one by one they emerged from behind and atop the hill. In the lead was a huge, beautiful blond-colored female, the group's matriarch. We stopped drumming to admire this procession. Slowly they continued in our direction. Young bulls sparring and bucking, curious calves, pregnant mamas-to-be. We were celebrating together!

They kept coming closer, until we could hear the clanking of their horns as they sparred and the gentle grazing of the grass. Monica picked up her drum and began the beat again. They moved ever closer, towards the creek bed. A hill stood to our left, and many in the group approached the hill and were directly across from us, grazing away. The drumming stopped and we revelled in the buffalo's sounds. It was amazing! It was also Beverly's first time in the presence of buffalo - such a gift. Suddenly, from the far side of the hill, the blond matriarch appeared walking the length of the group. As if to gather her children, she said in words only heard by buffalo that it was time to go. They all did an about face in unison and moved back towards the direction where they had been when we started, coming full circle. Our prayers had been heard.

These moments are pure buffalo magic and we wish we could take each of you into the field to share these experiences. We wish this also for those who do the buffalo harm, for if they could truly see and feel, they would make different choices. The buffalo family is strong, and we aim to learn to be more like them. We packed up our drums and headed back towards the truck, grateful, awakened and inspired. Strengthening our resolve to do whatever it takes to help the buffalo become free beings once again.
With the Buffalo,
* PEER Challenges the Park Service's Killing Spree and Use of the Buffalo as Emblem
The National Park Service (NPS) has shamefully slaughtered nearly 900 wild buffalo,but not everyone who works in Yellowstone agrees with the management scheme or it's secretive ugliness. Thankfully, they have a place to make their voices heard... anonymously. That place is PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. PEER supports resource employees who are courageous and idealistic enough to seek a higher standard of environmental ethics and scientific integrity within their agency.

Thanks to the courage of certain Park employees pained with wild bison maltreatment and slaughter, this week they took a stand. PEER initiated a press release revealing insider information on the horrors of the Yellowstone bison slaughter and, along with BFC, is challenging the agency's use of the buffalo on their badges. The Park Service falls under the Department of the Interior (DOI), who also uses the buffalo as their emblem. Yet, as BFC and PEER have pointed out, neither the NPS nor the DOI deserve to wear this powerful symbol of freedom as they haze, capture and slaughter the very animals they are sworn to protect.

Take part in the exciting contest and help PEER and BFC come up with a new emblem for the National Park Service and Department of Interior that reveals their true nature and what they really protect. What symbol best fits their priorities, actions and treatment of America's last wild buffalo? Perhaps it's a cow, or maybe a snowmobile. It could even be a cell phone tower or gas station, as Yellowstone caters to the whims of modern convenience by scarring Yellowstone's majestic landscapes with such human infringements.

Check out the PEER/BFC press release:

Learn how you can help change the symbol of the NPS & DOI to reveal their true nature:

BFC is grateful to PEER and the brave souls who are taking a stand from within for the mighty bison. Thank you! Learn more about PEER here: http://www.peer.org/about/index.php
* Ask Fish, Wildlife & Parks an Important Question
Today, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) issued a press release advising horn and antler hunters that certain areas would remain closed to human activity in order to protect big game species during the critical winter months. While we applaud such efforts to reduce wildlife disturbances, we find it a bit hypocritical in light of FWP's participation in bison hazing operations, including the one in which two bison drowned. In Montana, though still not valued as native wildlife, wild buffalo have "dual status" as both an "animal in need of disease control" and a "big game" species, meaning constant harassment. 

Read this excerpt from today's FWP press release:
"The closures are necessary to protect species like deer and elk during the critical winter period. These big game animals need to conserve all of their energy for survival and any activity that forces them to move, escape, or otherwise expend extra energy may mean the difference between surviving and not surviving."

So, the question is, if the aim of FWP is to protect "big game" species from being harassed during harsh winter months, and wild buffalo supposedly have "big game" status in Montana, why do they engage in and participate in the outrageous disruption of the buffalo by hazing them? Ask them why buffalo are not afforded the same protection that this agency gives to other wildlife like deer and elk. Perhaps they'll tell you that buffalo aren't protected because they have brucellosis. Well what about the elk, who also have the disease?

Please contact FWP's Melissa Frost at 406-994-6931; mfrost@mt.gov, and ask her the reason for the double-standard.
* BFC is Heading to Washington DC!
BFC's Josh Osher will be meeting with members of Congress during the week of March 20th - 24th in an effort to gain support for HR 2428, the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act. Congresspersons will also be encouraged to support upcoming efforts to protect the buffalo during the Congressional appropriations process. As we discovered in years past, the most effective way to get support from Congressional Representatives stems from calls and letters from constituents. Many Representatives may decide to cosponsor HR 2428 based on your calls and letters alone. Please contact your U.S. Representative and both of your U.S. Senators and encourage them to act in defense of the buffalo. BFC's meeting schedule will be posted on our web site as it takes shape.

Calls and letters from folks who live in the district of the Reps. that we will meet with are very important. For more information on HR 2428, visit our web site at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/buffalopreservation.html. To find out how to contact your U.S. Representative and Senators, go to the bottom of our Speak Out! Page: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html. For more information or questions, feel free to contact Josh at bfc-advocate"at"wildrockies.org.
* Protect the Buffalo through BFC's Ebay Auction
BFC supporters now have a new way to help us protect the buffalo via ebay's nonprofit auctions. And until March 12 you can bid on a one-of-a-kind bowl created by award-winning artist Melanie Kelley. This beautiful gourd bowl took Melanie over 100 hours to craft. To view it for yourself (you must) or place a bid on this or other items currently supporting BFC, click on the following link.
Auction ends March 12, 5 PM EST.
* Last Words
"As has been recognized from the beginning, there is no reason for Yellowstone National Park to be involved in a brucellosis eradication program from the standpoint of best achieving the basic purposes of the park.

"Trapping, handling, testing, vaccinating and elimination of bison reactors from park herds is seriously at odds with preserving the one truly wild bison [herd] left in the United States and providing opportunities for visitors to see and photograph them."

William Barmore, Bison and Brucellosis in Yellowstone National Park: A Problem Analysis, July 1968.

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