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Weekly Yellowstone Bison Update from the Field March 30, 2006
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* Yellowstone Bison Update from the Field
* Bison on Road: Thank You All!
* Help Interior & the NPS Find their True Symbol
* Montana, Mark Your Calendars
* Want to Help Buffalo on Earth Day?
* Last Words

* Yellowstone Bison Update from the Field
On Monday, BFC volunteers witnessed the phenomenon of wild buffalo attempting to recover their stolen range, each by the power of their own four feet, combined with their strong will to survive and their desire to be free to walk their native earth. Four magnificent bull buffalo migrated west, past our cabin along Hebgen Lake, past the Hebgen Lake dam (the Governor's intended new "drop dead zone" for buffalo along Yellowstone's western boundary). These four bulls traveled along a once-intact migratory path that has been altered a little by nature and a lot by man. But the way is ancient and buffalo remember. This corridor was used by their ancestors, and used recently by several groups of buffalo whose efforts would have been successful if not for being abruptly and rudely halted by government agents. Even in the face of persecution, buffalo persist. On the bulls went, past the forested, mountainous areas of deep snow, down through the small, winding canyon that the dramatic flow of the Madison River has etched into the landscape. These bulls made it further than any who tried in recent years. Like being birthed again, they emerged out of the mouth of the canyon and into the life-sustaining grassland of the upper Madison Valley.

This portion of the Madison Valley is perfect for buffalo. It is free of cattle, offers little snow and has plenty of good grass to eat. Thousands of deer and elk (also carriers of brucellosis) are free to live their lives in peace here. But the grasses have ached with the absence of the buffalo. They must have lifted their little heads in recognition of the vibration of hooves they remember from way back, pining for the gentle grazing, tilling, and fertilizing that the wild buffalo bring; the grasses themselves anticipated restoration. In a perfect world, this event would be celebrated. The grass knows it, the buffalo know it, and we know it. But it's not a perfect world and this buffalo story, like too many others, has a fatal ending. Sending a crushing blow to the four bulls and BFC volunteers, our patrols documented as Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents arrived on the scene, approached the buffalo with rifles in hand, and all at once shot the four bulls dead. Bulls pose no risk of transmitting brucellosis to cattle. View BFC's exclusive video footage of the incident at: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

On Tuesday, a mixed group of ten buffalo, including pregnant moms and last year's calves, were also making their way west, heading for the good grass of the lower Madison Valley, withstanding the challenges of Highway 287 that runs the course of their migration corridor. But they wouldn't get as far as the four bulls. The DOL agents arrived in all their federally-funded, government-sanctioned glory to "protect" invisible cattle from the non-existent threat of wild buffalo. The DOL, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and other agents arrived to haze the buffalo east to the Duck Creek bison trap located on private land less than a mile outside Yellowstone's western boundary. The buffalo spent the night in the trap. The next morning they were loaded onto livestock trailers and sent to a slaughter facility. Ironically, they were trucked to their deaths along the same path they had been walking the day before. The trucks hauling these wild buffalo to slaughter would also pass the very spot where the four bulls had finally restored their presence before being brutally killed.

Today, things are again heating up in the field. Agents are out on snowmobiles along Highway 191 and the National Park Service and Gallatin County Sheriff are out to assist today's buffalo harassment efforts. BFC is here, and the government's every move is being documented. Meanwhile, 300 wild buffalo remain trapped inside Yellowstone's Stephens Creek bison trap along the park's northern boundary. The Park Service will hold them until spring green-up occurs in the Park. They don't want the buffalo to "threaten" the Church Universal & Triumphant's small private herd of cattle. Glad our government has it's priorities in line! The greatest irony of the Park's latest move is that the buffalo will be released without being tested for exposure to brucellosis. With brucellosis being used as the government's bison slaughter justification, you'd think testing (for exposure) might cross their mind. But neither the Park Service nor the DOL have tested buffalo this year, save for the calves slated for quarantine. Further, by confining buffalo in such a way, the NPS is risking disease transmission - from buffalo to buffalo.
Clearly, this isn't about brucellosis. It all boils down to greed, fear, power, and control. But, ultimately, we - the consumers, taxpayers, citizens - decide who gets to eat the grass. If we don't buy the beef, the livestock industry doesn't get the buck.

These events are as difficult for us to witness and report as they are for you to read; yet we are mindful that knowledge is power. Thank you for so consistently being there for the buffalo.
Roam Free,
~Stephany
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* Bison on Road: Thank You All!
I just wanted to thank all of you who spent time emailing and calling the MT Department of Transportation, the governor's office and Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to help us achieve the goal of lowering the speed limit on highway 191 between the Fir Ridge Cemetery Hill and the north end of West Yellowstone. On Friday, March 24th, speed limit signs were added at mile marker 3 and mile marker 6 on 191. Additionally, 55mph speed limit signs were placed on Highway 287 at Red Canyon and the state managed to find an additional blinking reader board warning motorists of animals on road. The next step is to make sure these lowered speed limits are enforced.
I would also like to thank David Warner, editor of our local newspaper, the West Yellowstone News, who wrote an editorial urging people to slow down. (Unfortunately, the editorial isn't up on their web site but once it is we'll get it to you. In the meantime, an excerpt from his article is below under "Last Words.")

Additionally, extra special thanks, love and hugs to BFC volunteers who have positioned themselves on the road all day and all of the night to warn motorists when our buffs are on the road. What would we do without this group in our community?

for WILD buffalo,
barb abramo
philbarb@montana.net
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* Help Interior & the National Park Service Find their True Symbol
Although it is the official symbol for the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Park Service, the American bison is treated worse than any other form of wildlife in the national park system. This year, more than one in five members of the nation's largest remaining "free-roaming" herd, located within Yellowstone National Park, will be killed - by slaughter, hazing and maiming - as a result of federal action.

Accusing the agency of false advertising, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and BFC have launched a contest to replace Interior's symbol. Enter the contest by telling us what should replace the America Bison as Interior's official symbol. Submissions will be accepted through the last minute of April 15, 2006. Learn more and enter: http://www.peer.org/campaigns/buffalo_contest.php
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* Montana, Mark Your Calendars: Upcoming Events
1. Montana Wild Bison Restoration and Conservation, Tuesday, April 4, 2006. Presented by the Gallatin Wildlife Association, featuring Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the presentation beginning promptly at 7:00. Event location is the FWP Conference Room, Region III Headquarters, 1400 S. 19th Street, Bozeman, Montana. For more information contact Glenn Hockett of the Gallatin Wildlife Association, 586-1729.

2. Drumming a Sacred Circle for Life - Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2006. Our friend Monica RavenHeart is organizing the second drumming for hoof-beat and heart-beat to be held in a high school auditorium in Livingston, Montana. This is bound to be a very powerful, high energy event! In February over 100 people attended and drummed to the sacred rhythms of grizzly bear and wild buffalo. We shared information and told stories, learning from each other and sharing what we are taught by the wild ones we are sworn to protect. Join us as we drum for positive change for our wild brothers and sisters. Details are still being arranged, so watch this space. For more information contact Monica at rvnhrt153@yahoo.com.

3. Governor's Restoration Forum, Thursday and Friday, June 8-9, Sheraton Hotel, Billings, Montana. The forum's stated purpose is to "advance the restoration of a natural ecosystem..." in Montana. This is a perfect opportunity to talk about WILD BUFFALO RESTORATION and all issues critical to the natural health of our special spot on Mama Earth.
For more information and to register visit http://www.restoration.mt.gov/
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* Want to Help the Buffalo on Earth Day?
Although every day is Earth Day, April 22 traditionally marks the celebration of Earth Day and events will take place across the country. It's a great time to celebrate the re-greening of the Earth, the birth of wild babies, raise awareness about pressing issues, and encourage active participation in positive change. If you are attending an Earth Day event, or if you are able to set up an information table to help the wild Yellowstone buffalo, please let us know. BFC can send you newsletters, petitions, post cards, DVDs and other information that will help spread the word to save this special herd.
Email Stephany at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org.
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* Last Words
"No other wild animal symbolizes and memorializes the history and culture of the American West like the bison. It is an icon to the West's grand distances and spaces; to its awe-inspiring fecundity and power. It is a spiritual sibling of many of the region's indigenous people. And, tragically, a symbol of the lengths European emigrants were willing to go to move those indigenous peoples out of the way. That one of these animals should die splayed across the grille of a White Freightliner seems a particular indignity."

~David Warner, news editor for the West Yellowstone News. Excerpt from an editorial he wrote last week about the presence of buffalo on the road and the need for drivers to slow down and be cautious.

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