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Weekly Update from the Field March 23, 2006
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* Update from the Field
* Thank You for Contacting the NPS Advisory Board!
* Help Make Roads Safer for Wild Buffalo
* Handmade Mother's Day Cards Coming Soon!
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
This week, five buffalo migrated west of the BFC cabin. As the groups before them, they were heading towards portions of the Madison Valley where there is little snow, plenty to eat, and no cows. Where thousands of elk (who also carry brucellosis) are allowed to winter each year. This is where the buffalo need to go. They know it, but the government refuses it.

On Tuesday, near West Yellowstone, the Department of Livestock (DOL), National Park Service (NPS), and Gallatin County Sheriff stopped their migration. On ATVs, snowmobiles and in trucks, they hazed the buffalo east, down Highway 287. The agents trapped them in a pull-out along the road, set up their portable corrals and forced the buffalo onto livestock trailers then transported them to the Duck Creek Capture Facility. They picked up two other buffalo in the Duck Creek area and trapped them, too. The seven captured buffalo spent the night in the Duck Creek trap. The next morning, they were sent to slaughter. They, like all the others, were never tested for exposure to brucellosis.

Agents, on Tuesday, also hazed a bull we've been watching for months, pushing him down 287 and back into Yellowstone. Before they forced him over the man-made line, they shot him with yellow paint balls, marking him as being "hazed." A calf we had been with over the course of the week, who ended up being sent to slaughter yesterday, had also been speckled with yellow paint. This activity further demonstrates the DOL's inability to manage wildlife. And why harass bulls or calves? Bulls, calves, yearlings and non-pregnant buffalo pose no risk of transmitting brucellosis, while pregnant buffalo pose only a *theoretical* risk. There has never been a documented case of wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis to cattle. Ever.

Yesterday, in Gardiner, 300 of our shaggy friends were captured at the Stephens Creek bison trap, located within the boundary of Yellowstone National Park. The Park wranglers claim they've made frequent attempts to haze the buffalo, yet these efforts have been lazy at best, and fruitless because wild buffalo are nomadic and instinctually migrate to where the food is. Might as well dam the Ocean as keep wild buffalo from migrating. But, the land adjacent to the Park is owned by the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT) and is currently 'forbidden ground' for wild buffalo.

Probably responding to public pressure and to the harsh reality that the last wild population is becoming dangerously small, the Park Service decided to hold our friends in the trap for the next two to three weeks, until spring green-up occurs in the Park. They will be released. Again, without being tested for exposure to brucellosis. Certainly, BFC is no advocate for wild buffalo suffering the horrors of brucellosis testing, but the government's rhetoric just doesn't make sense. All the agencies keep saying this war against buffalo is about brucellosis. But, if that's true, why haven't they bothered to test for exposure to the disease, and why are other carriers of brucellosis - like elk and deer - able to roam free while buffalo end up harassed, in prison, or the slaughterhouse? Why crowd 300 buffalo in a holding facility where disease is more likely to spread? And why, if brucellosis is supposedly the "threat" they claim it is, are untested, slaughtered buffalo handed over to tribal charities and food banks?

The government is very effective in masking grass-control as disease-control. This scare-tactic enables them to prevent wild buffalo from naturally re-inhabiting their native range. In truth, the government - National Park Service included - is simply defending the economic interests of Montana's cattle industry. In Montana, as in many western states, cattle trump wildlife, taking precedence over native fauna, even on America's public lands. Disease-control is a wonderful scare tactic, a good excuse to mask true intentions, but the government's reasoning and science are full of holes that are really beginning to show. The facts before us reveal what we've said all along: this issue is about the grass and who gets to eat it.

Thankfully, although they are confined in a domesticated situation, crowded, and will get dangerously used to eating hay, the 300 buffalo now in the Park Service's trap will be released without being run through testing chutes or being sent to slaughter. Meanwhile, along the Park's western boundary, the DOL busies itself by harassing and killing buffalo to "protect" invisible cattle. It's sad that protecting the economic interests of the cattle industry continues to be a government priority, while the last wild buffalo are denied their home range and are punished for following their natural instincts.

Regardless of the government, or perhaps in spite of them, the return of the wild buffalo is happening. The cattle industry's power will run out. Mother Nature doesn't lie or suffer fools for very long. The truth is on the buffalo's side.
Roam Free,
* Thank You for Contacting the NPS Advisory Board!
We sincerely appreciate everyone who took the time to send a letter this week to the National Park System Advisory Board. With your heartfelt, informative letters, you have brought the plight of the Yellowstone buffalo to their attention in a very meaningful way. This issue is now on the Board's radar and additional pressure is on the Park Service. Let us know if you receive any response from any members of the NPS Advisory Board (email bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org). As Brock Evans says, it takes "endless pressure, endlessly applied" to manifest change. You are applying that pressure and it's making a difference! BFC will add the NPS Advisory Board to our list of decison-makers to contact. Until the slaughter and harassment of our last wild buffalo stops, we will keep the pressure on all responsible parties.

Many thanks to D.J. Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute for initiating this action and helping us craft a strong message. D.J. has been in Washington, D.C. with BFC's Josh Osher this week, meeting with members of Congress to gain support for the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act (H.R. 2428). Please support our efforts in D.C. by learning more about this bill and writing your Congressperson today! http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/buffalopreservation.html
* Help Make Roads Safer for Wild Buffalo
Since the 13th of March, at least six buffalo have died due to collisions with automobiles. These are deaths that could be avoided with a lower speed limit and adequate warning signs. Because many collisions happen at night when buffalo are nearly impossible to see, BFC started running all-night patrols to help warn traffic of buffalo on the road. These night roves are making a huge difference, but it's hard for us to be everywhere at once and Montana needs take the responsibility to make the roads safer for wild buffalo and travellers. Spring migration is just beginning and more and more buffalo will be using the road to get to Horse Butte and other national forest lands.

With the help of a local BFC family member, barb, we have been making some slow but steady progress in getting the speed limit lowered and signs put in place along highways 191 and 287. As it now stands, the speed limit has been lowered to 55mph and signs warning motorists of the buffalo's migration are in place. Yet, more reminders need to be added along the road and the speed limit should also be lowered to at least 45mph. On Tuesday, in the midst of a 55mph speed zone, a female buffalo was hit and her leg badly injured. Unfortunately, this buffalo was one of the seven that ended up being trapped and sent to slaughter by the DOL.

Please contact the decision-makers below and THANK them for the effort to make 191 & 287 safer. Let them know you support these efforts yet more needs to be done. Urge them to lower the speed limit to at least 45mph and to put better signs in place along the highways that remind motorists that they are driving through a migration corridor and must use caution and reduce their speed. BFC has offered to help make signs and we're now also out for twenty-four hours helping warn traffic. More help - for buffalo and motorists - is badly needed. Too many buffalo have already died, and we hope it won't take a person getting killed before more action is taken by the State.

* Jim Lynch, Montana Department of Transportation: jilynch@mt.gov
* Hal Harper, Office of Governor Brian Schweitzer: hharper@mt.gov
* Pat Flowers, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks: pflowers@mt.gov
* Handmade Mother's Day Cards Coming Soon
Spring is here and the next generation of wild buffalo will soon be born! Honor the nurturing women in your life while you help protect the wild buffalo mothers who are soon to give birth. Buffalo Field Campaign will send a hand-made Mother's Day card on your behalf. Details coming in April!
* Last Words
(Bull Buffalo)
With the Peoples of our Nation
Around the time of the Ice Age
The Bison came to the Great Plains
And wrote another History's page.
They numbered in the millions
For as far as the eye could see
A blanket of horn and flesh and fur
Roaming like some dark, living Sea.
Called "Tatanka" by Lakota
The Great Tribe of those Plains
They used every part of their kill
So there were no wasted remains.
The hides for clothing and shelter
To protect them from the bitter cold
The bones turned into useful tools
Skulls, Altars where Prayers were told.
They took only what they needed
From the wealth of Mother Earth
Giving Thanks for all the Blessings
Knowing what each Bison was worth.
A large part of the everyday life
And of stories told in their folk lore
A certain Magic brought to them
From those ancient days of yore.
But then the foreign Peoples came
And wrought destruction on the Herd
Killed the Buffalo by the thousands
The Lakota cries ignored, unheard.
The rivers ran red with the blood
The carcass rotted where they fell
Piles of bleached bones in the sun
And the stench of the rotting smell.
Hides and tongues were sold for money
And soon the wild herds would cease to be
And by the year Nineteen, Aught, Two
They only numbered, twenty-three.
The Whites had thought the Native People
Would die without those Buffalo
So they killed just for the killing
But found those People would not go.
Today those herds are slowly returning
And the Lakota Nation lives on
With the inborn Pride and will to Live
They've known since this World's dawn.
Del "Abe" Jones

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