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Weekly Update from the Field June 1, 2006
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* Update from the Field
* Our Sweet Willow Lives! ~ Thank You for Your Support!
* Tatanka 2006 ~ Benefit Concert this Saturday!
* Summer Outreach Opportunities with BFC
* This Summer, Don't Forget About the Buffalo (incredible essay by Dru)
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
BFC's ninth season in the field with the last wild buffalo comes to a close. The recent days have been bittersweet with the parting of ways. Volunteers set out for their summer adventures and the buffalo return to the summer grasses of Yellowstone. The absence weighs heavy, yet the parting is undertaken knowing the buffalo and their defenders will be together again. Those who remain at Camp will be with the buffalo inside Yellowstone, talking to millions of park visitors about what has happened here. It has been an intense year, to say the least. And positive change is on the horizon. Your persistent, strong voice and support of BFC and love for the buffalo is the reason.

As if to set the example that things must get worse before they get better, this season was the most deadly for the wild buffalo since 1996-1997. Montana's first bison hunt in 15 years manifested itself in the deaths of 40 wild buffalo, all huge "trophy" bulls and one female. Through the hunt, one thing the buffalo taught us is how they mourn the loss of their fallen relatives. Of course they do. Outside of the hunt, more than 900 wild buffalo lost their lives, unnecessarily and unjustly, to state and federal "management" actions. The most notable, shameful killer this year was Yellowstone National Park. Of course, the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) deepened the color of their buffalo-blood-stained hands, yet parceled out much of the dirty-work to Yellowstone and hunters. The DOL's cruelty was acutely demonstrated this year when they caused 12 buffalo to fall through the ice of Hebgen Lake, drowning two. Those images still burn hotly in our minds, and also, thankfully, in the minds of millions across the country. (You, beloved supporter, enabled us to be here to tell these stories.) Wild buffalo calves, nearly 100 of them, were stolen from their mothers and family (who were sent to slaughter). These calves are being held in a prison, just a few miles from Yellowstone National Park, for a government experiment. They wear yellow ear-tags, eat hay, are handled and tested, and eventually more than half will be slaughtered.

It's hard to see the good news in light of the buffalo's extreme suffering this year, but truthfully, we have made some incredible progress...

This year we witnessed the magic of wild buffalo attempting to re-inhabit the Madison Valley, a vast and grassy land on which their ancestors thrived. Had they been left alone it would have been a prime example of natural buffalo restoration without intrusive government "aid." Four groups of buffalo migrated west, past our cabin, and though the DOL hazed, captured, slaughtered, and shot them for doing so, their trek showed us how - if we humans aim to aid buffalo restoration efforts - we must step aside and let the wild buffalo take the lead.   Due to constant pressure from wild buffalo advocates, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is currently working to buy out the grazing leases from a handful of private ranchers along Yellowstone's northern and western boundaries, to allow more habitat for wild buffalo. For the first time in recent history, wild buffalo were allowed to exist in peace on the Horse Butte Peninsula for most of the winter. For the second year in a row, the Horse Butte bison trap was not constructed. Setting himself apart from Montana Governors of the past, Governor Schweitzer ordered the DOL to release one group of captured buffalo that the agency intended to send to slaughter. BFC and local residents were instrumental in the placement of buffalo warning signs and lowered speed limits (from 70mph to 55mph) along two stretches of highway (191 & 287) that run through the buffalo's habitat. A core group of volunteers also became certified to help warn motorists of the presence of buffalo on the road and local residents are taking a stronger, more vocal stand for the wild buffalo and opposing government actions against them.

This year the buffalo's story received extensive media coverage, with front page coverage in the New York Times, the Earth First! Journal, High Country News, and other widely-read publications. Some Montana papers, notably the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, called the government on their inconsistencies regarding brucellosis and their singling out of wild bison. Native American support is also building. Scott Fraizer, a BFC board member, initiated a Boycott of Montana beef; Rosalie Little Thunder, one of BFC's co-founders, returned to the Yellowstone region to visit her relatives and rekindle fires of action. Injustice to the buffalo even sparked the Nez Perce Nation to exercise their 1855 treaty rights, letting Montana know that the buffalo are not theirs to torture. The Buffalo Nations are rising!

We certainly still have a long way to go. Just this morning, the DOL, riding ATVs, hazed a lone bull (posing no risk of brucellosis transmission!) out of Montana, back into Yellowstone. The country's last wild buffalo continue to be harassed and killed for simply being wild and free. These buffalo are our friends, our family, our teachers. They have lived here longer than any of us and they have the natural right to walk the land they choose - freely - just as their ancestors did. They deserve our honor, love, respect, and protection. Those in control may still maintain "power," but the mindset is changing and the excuses of brucellosis are running thin. The time of the DOL cowboy is running out; the return of the wild buffalo is coming.

We are so grateful to you for being with us every step of the way. You make it possible for us to watch over the buffalo. It is because of you that volunteers are able to be here, to give their all, standing with the buffalo, telling their story, documenting and challenging their persecution and advocating for their lasting protection. Thank you. With the deepest, heartfelt gratitude & tons of BuffaLove...
~ Stephany

P.S. Thank you to everyone who wrote MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Pat Flowers about Montana's upcoming bison hunt. The email address sent out is correct; his mailbox was just full. Until further notice, please continue to send your comments regarding next year's hunt to pflowers@mt.gov. Thanks!
* Our Sweet Willow Lives! ~ Thank You for Your Support!
Friends, family & loved ones,
We extend our deepest thanks for your love and support. The path we are traveling is long and hard but as always if you keep your eyes and heart open - there is always beauty to be seen. Our greatest blessing at this time is life - our sweet Willow lives. She is strong and her vitality shines brightly. Each breath she takes in today is by herself. Miracles manifest daily in small ways. Your love, prayers and support have created a sacred healing cradle which allows us to focus on the hour by hour challenges. The strength of community and love are being affirmed. You are all so precious and we give thanks for such blessings. The key is - Willow is here with us and on her healing path, breath by breath. We will keep you updated and please - live, laugh and love those around you as our sweet Willow always has and does.

With deepest gratitude,
Su Gregerson & Jim Coefield

P.S.  Please keep the great surgeons, specialists, nurses, LifeFlight crew and staff at St. Patrick's trauma center (reknowned as one of the best in the Northwest) in your prayers also - these folks are amazing and... true healers. Willow is but one of so many folks who are injured and they have shined like bright rays of sunshine & through our tears of initially, sadness and now joy - rainbows form in our vision thanks to them.

A benefit fund to help the family with the medical bills & other costs has been set up. You can mail checks to: Benefit for Willow Coefield, Missoula Federal Credit Union, 2001 Brooks St., Missoula, MT 59801. OR you can wire money -- the Missoula Federal Credit Union's routing number is: 292977899 and Willow's benefit account number is 236030. If you have further questions on how to make a contribution, please call the Missoula Federal Credit Union at: (406) 523-3300.

You can also send mail to Jim Coefield PO Box 4784, Missoula, MT 59806.

In addition, a benefit for the family is planned for Saturday June 17 from Noon to 5PM at Kiwanis Park in Missoula, Montana. This benefit is a family friendly, no alcohol event with local Music, Food, Poetry, Stories, and a Silent Auction. Donated Goods and Services are needed for the Auction. To help with the benefit, contact: Linda Tracy Turtle Majik Productions (406) 396-3584 turtle@montana.com
* Tatanka 2006 ~ Benefit Concert this Saturday!
Join BFC for a rockin' benefit for the wild Buffalo & Buffalo Field Campaign in Boise, Idaho with Built to Spill, Travis Ward & Junkyard Bandstand, and Bales of Hey this Saturday, June 3rd at the Big Easy Concert House. Tickets are on sale now for just $15! We'll see you there!

For more information and to order tickets please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/events/builttospill.html.

Many thanks to Built to Spill and Ken Cole for making this event possible!
* Summer Outreach Opportunities with BFC
Buffalo Field Campaign has positions open for summer tablers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks from June 10 through September 5, 2006. We are looking for 3-4 dedicated people who are well-versed on the buffalo issue and enjoy talking to others about it. You can help tell the buffalo's story and inspire action from the millions who flock to the Parks to admire them.

If you've been wanting to experience the beauty of the Yellowstone ecosystem and speak out for the buffalo, we want to hear from you! Applicants should be hardworking, outgoing, friendly folks who are comfortable camping for up to five days at a time (in the parks - what a dream!). A minimum commitment of one month is required (and appreciated). BFC will provide a small stipend as well as room and board.

Interested? Contact Stephanie Munce at buffaloatwildrockies.org or call 406-646-0070.
* This Summer, Don't Forget About the Buffalo
It's a beautiful Thursday morning here in West Yellowstone. I look out across Hebgen Lake at the snowcapped mountains, shining brilliantly white. I'm typing on a computer in our ramshackle log cabin that we call an office. The insides are covered with pictures of buffalo and our library is full of books about them. Yes, it's cluttered (partly my fault), but it's home. The same is true for our main cabin, which is usually packed to the gills with volunteers that have come to do their part in opposing the buffalo slaughter. I say volunteers but really they are my dearest friends; some of the most beautiful people I've met in my 26 years of life.

I hear a radio transmission from one of our patrols out in the field: a bull buffalo is being hazed by three DOL agents on ATVs down Duck Creek Road. It saddens me because this buffalo poses no threat to the sanctity of the mighty cow, which seems to be revered above all except money (and if we really want to face it, power and control).
But, after watching two buffalo drown and 10 others pulled out of the freezing water of Hebgen Lake by the same people that caused them to break through the ice; after watching 4 bull buffalo freedom fighters that reached the Madison valley shot down and murdered; after watching newborn buffalo calves running along with their mothers and herd, chased by a helicopter for miles; after almost a thousand buffalo (1,000!!!) were captured and sent to slaughterhouses by an agency that purports to serve the ecosystem of Yellowstone (the National Park Service); after all of that, one buffalo being hazed seems a little tame.

And that scares me.

Because it means that I'm becoming desensitized to the horrors that this culture of control and destruction is inflicting on the Earth and her children. And that's how it's done.

It's okay if the polluters and destroyers (EXXON, Weyerhauser, etc.) wreck most of our ecosystems over a long period of time, leaving only bits and pieces to "conservation," just as long as it doesn't happen overnight. "There's nothing to get upset about," they tell us. This is Progress. Similarly, as long as the Department of Livestock and the National Park Service don't kill all the buffalo and the killing that does happen is kept behind the locked doors of a slaughterhouse, well, that's just the way things are. "Don't get upset, these things don't concern you."

But the fact is that a couple hundred years ago, North America was teeming with 30 to 60 million buffalo and now, in 2006, a herd of their descendents can't even peacefully live on this tiny patch of public land.

We can change this. If you are reading this you are part of the extended buffalo family. We are all in this together and we are all needed in the struggle for buffalo freedom and freedom for all living things.

So this summer, don't forget about the buffalo. Talk to everyone that you meet about this issue. Brainstorm ways to bring about liberation for yourself and the buffalo. This fall look for the West Coast and East Coast (and maybe Midwest) Road shows. Maybe start your own road show. Maybe start your own campaign. Hope and dream of the open prairie full of native grasses and native grass eaters that this land still remembers.

And humanity is a part of this dream. We just have to figure out our place again.
~ Dru Dixon, BFC
* Last Words
8:45 am, great blue heron, less than 1/4 mile from the cabin
9:06 am, immature bald eagle, flying east over open water
9:15 am, great blue heron flying, eight white pelicans floating, near Duck Blind
9:25 am, osprey, flying over land, then over open water
10:10 am, immature bald eagle, flying over open water
10:21 am, two sandhill cranes, flying over open water
10:34 am, two great blue herons, flying over open water
11:02 am, bald eagle, perched along bluffs, west of Duck Blind
11:30 am, immature bald eagle, flying over land then open water
11:45 am, great blue heron, flying over open water
12:00 pm, perched bald eagle takes off, heading west, drops a gorgeous feather (we didn't touch it!)
~ From Charlie and Stephany's wildlife report, Tuesday, patrolling the North Bluffs of the Madison River. This is just a brief snapshot of the incredible variety of wildlife that we see on a daily basis, in the land of the last wild buffalo. Field patrols complete wildlife reports for each shift, using the information to demonstrate the ecological integrity - and sensitivity - of Yellowstone's borderlands. When the buffalo are harassed, hundreds of other wild species - many federally protected - suffer with them. On the quiet days, we are in Paradise.

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