Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Since we last wrote, much has happened. While Summer
months do bring a respite from the daily persecution
of wild buffalo, state and federal agencies continue
their dark work harassing, domesticating, killing, and
planning more harm to America's last wild buffalo.
~ Bulls Hazed: Welcome to Montana (Unless You're a Buffalo)
A few bull buffalo have had the "audacity"
to remain in Montana, on their chosen ground, outside
Yellowstone's western boundaries. The MT Department
of Livestock (DOL) agents, of course, cannot tolerate
this display of free will. They must remind the buffalo
who's in charge and where their place is, regardless
of the fact that bull bison cannot transmit brucellosis
and pose no threat to livestock. So, more of your federal
tax dollars continue to be wasted to harass wild buffalo,
forcing them off of their native land for no justifiable
~ Quarantine Kills: Baby Buffalo Sent to Slaughter
On June 19, forty-eight yearling buffalo were sent to
slaughter, half of those who've been confined at the
Corwin Springs quarantine facility. This slaughter brings
the '05-'06 death toll to 1,011 wild buffalo.
It wasn't that these babies had brucellosis, no, this
is all part of the experimental study being conducted
by U.S.D.A. Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS) and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP).
These baby buffalo were slaughtered in the name of Science.
Babies from the last wild herd were stolen from the
wild so scientists can dissect them, study their tissues,
and destroy life to "create" a disease-free
herd. This is part the government's "bison restoration"
efforts. Quarantine is twisted, sinister and fully funded
with your tax dollars. This is also more blood on Yellowstone's
hands; the majority of these babies were handed over
to APHIS and FWP by the National Park Service (others
were handed over by the DOL). Their families were all
sent to slaughter before they were ever tested for brucellosis,
yet the agencies continue to insist that this persecution
is about brucellosis. What this is is genocide. The
ultimate message is that livestock has priority over
wildlife. The government tries to disguise quarantine
as an effort to "restore" bison to the American
landscape, yet we see wild bison trying to restore themselves
all the time and the government keeps trying to stop
it. So they come up with a plan that gives them control
and they use words like "restoration" to try
to sell it to the public. Make no mistake about it,
quarantine kills, domesticates, destroys wildness, shatters
family units, and makes a mockery of the mighty bison
and what it means to be wild and free. The worst part
is, despite overwhelming citizen opposition, APHIS and
FWP have approved Phase II & III of their quarantine
feasibility study. A keyword here is "feasible"
they are simply destroying the last wild buffalo to
conduct an experiment to see if it's even possible to
do this on a much larger scale in the future. Approval
of the other phases means there will be more capture
and slaughter in the future. Quarantine must be vocally
opposed. It mirrors the U.S. Government's efforts to
"assimilate" the Indian people, forcing families
onto reservations or killing them outright, and sending
the young to boarding schools to "kill the Indian,"
forcing them to conform to "civilized" society.
*TAKE ACTION! We're sure you're as
angry about this as we are, so please make your voice
heard for the wild buffalo! Contact APHIS and FWP to
let them know you strongly oppose their plans and actions
~ Bison Hunt Expanded: FWP Commission Approves 100 Permits,
On June 8, the MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission
met to discuss plans for an expanded bison hunt. BFC
was present to voice opposition and made strong arguments
against this hunt. Many of you sent in comments to FWP
also stating your opposition. We maintain that a hunt
is unethical and unthinkable while wild bison are ecologically
extinct in Montana, treated as vermin, managed by the
state's livestock agency, and persecuted for stepping
foot onto Montana soil.
Unfortunately, FWP has it backwards and thinks that
a hunt will create a constituency for wild bison in
Montana. So, regardless of common sense and public sentiment,
the FWP Commission approved doubling the hunt from 50
to 100 permits, and also plans to issue cow- or calf-specific
tags along with either sex tags. As it stands now, FWP
intends to issue 30 permits for the Gardiner area and
70 permits for the West Yellowstone area. The hunt is
set to begin November 15, 2006 and last through February
15, 2007. There are no plans to expand bison habitat.
The Department of Livestock (DOL) maintains authority
over the hunt, meaning they can cancel it anytime to
conduct hazing, capture, and slaughter operations. The
expanded hunt is not yet final and FWP is accepting
public comments through July 14, 2006. Final bison hunt
regulations will be adopted on August 3, 2006, at an
FWP Commission meeting to be held in Missoula, MT.
* TAKE ACTION! Please send in your
comments opposing this hunt to: Montana Fish, Wildlife
& Parks (FWP), Wildlife Division, Attn: Public Comment,
P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. You can also
email them to email@example.com.
For more information on why this hunt is a bad idea
and talking points to help you with your comments visit
Attn: HUNTERS! Do not be used as a
tool in the DOL's bison eradication toolbox! Your voice
can send a very powerful message to FWP that a hunt
is not acceptable until wild bison are respected as
wildlife and allowed to fully recover and naturally
restore themselves throughout Montana. Tell FWP you
oppose a bison hunt until buffalo are wild and free
in Montana and the DOL is completely stripped of bison
~ Habitat Possibilities: Governor Schweitzer
Needs Some Words of Encouragement
Facing incredible odds, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
is doing what no other Montana governor has ever done:
he is moving forward with efforts to purchase cattle
grazing leases along Yellowstone's northern and western
boundaries, which translates into more tolerance (habitat)
for wild buffalo in the immediate areas outside the
Park. Of course, true to form, Montana's cattle industry
is busy crying "wolf!" trying to thwart the
Governor's commendable efforts. The Montana Stockgrowers
Association and the Montana Farm Bureau want to maintain
their power and Montana's zero-tolerance policy against
wild bison at any cost. While the governor's plans are
not the final nor perfect solution, they are a very
significant step in the right direction. Governor Schweitzer
is also leading efforts in the state to restore Montana's
landscape. At the first Governor's Restoration Forum,
BFC was able to be a voice for wild buffalo and let
it be known that restoration of native grasslands must
come with the restoration of native grass-eaters, too!
We were successful in getting "expanding bison
habitat" into the final document developed during
break-out sessions. This document will be used as a
foundation for moving forward. We must lend support
and give credit where it is due, and right now Governor
Schweitzer needs to hear words of encouragement from
all of us.
* TAKE ACTION! Please contact Governor
Schweitzer and let him know he's on the right track
in trying to purchase grazing leases along Yellowstone's
northern and western boundary. Applaud his efforts to
offer native wild buffalo real tolerance in areas of
Montana, while protecting Montana's prized brucellosis-free
status. Let him know that this is a great first-step
and that restoring Montana must include native wild
bison. Call him at 406-444-3111 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through it all, the buffalo are as ever the greatest
teachers and strongest survivors. With all they have
suffered, they maintain their dignity and majesty and
their ancient ways and they ask only that we see the
land is to be shared by all species. Through their examples
of patience, persistence, resistance, endurance, and
non-violence, they lend us the inspiration that guides
us on our ever-challenging journey of working in their
defense. The buffalo lend us their ancient wisdom, enabling
us to maintain our strength, nourish our family, stand
our ground, be free and courageous in the face of oppression.
It is through their eyes that we attempt to see, to
become more like them. The buffalo know that no matter
what side of the fence you are on, it is the shared
Earth under our feet that connects us all. Temporary
are the man-made lines cutting up the path worn by their
ancient hoof steps. May the land and our senses once
again feel the awesome earth quake as the vast herds
thunder by freely.
* Summer Tablers Needed! Speak for the Buffalo
The two bears, one black and the other 'cinnamon', grazed
peacefully by the side of the road, seemingly oblivious
to the long line of tourists that had left their cars
to snap a few quick pictures.
This was my first 'bear jam', and also my first time
seeing bears in the wild. While part of me wishes that
this had happened somewhere far from roads and tourists,
I was nonetheless awed by the experience.
A few minutes later, as we approached the Tower General
Store, where we set up our information table every day,
we passed a third bear walking slowly towards the river.
And if that weren't enough, an hour later as I sat in
front of the store enjoying the sunshine, a mother bear
and two cubs appeared on the hill across the road.
When it comes to seeing wildlife, Yellowstone National
Park never disappoints. Bison, elk, deer, pronghorn,
bighorn sheep, bears, wolves, bald eagles; if one spends
enough time in Yellowstone they'll get to see all of
these animals, some in great numbers.
Where Yellowstone does disappoint, however, is in their
management of this wildlife. That's what we spend our
time addressing here at Buffalo Field Campaign.
I've spent some time in the past going door-to-door
discussing issues that were close to my heart. I've
sent hundreds of letters and emails, worked on newsletters,
marched in rallies and protests, wrote letters to editors
and talked to whoever would listen about the things
I care about.
One of the most amazing experiences I've had doing outreach
has been speaking for the buffalo in Yellowstone National
Park. To think that I could visit such a magnificent
place, get in for free, camp for free, and get to spend
time talking with the public about an issue that is
extremely close to my heart; the mistreatment of the
beautiful buffalo that call this area home. I am blessed.
As I sit typing this update, I am listening to the MDOL
and FWP haze one bull buffalo back into the park. It
is late June and the buffalo are still out there, asserting
their right to roam on National Forest Lands. The Department
of Livestock is relentless in its harassment, but so
are we relentless in our vigilance. Despite our lack
of volunteers, we have a patrol in the field to document
this atrocity. The rest of our volunteers are in the
park, sitting at the Tower General Store, enjoying the
sunshine and spreading the word.
There is still opportunity to come out here and help
us do what we do while enjoying the wonders of the world's
first National Park. Our goal is to be at that table
every day during the summer, reaching as many people
as we possibly can. If you can spare some time to join
us in one of the most beautiful places in the world,
you'll have the best all expenses paid working vacation
of your life. Contact Kalanu or Stephanie at 406-646-0070
* Bring BFC to Your Community! West & East
Coast Road Shows Forming!
It's nearing that time of year again! BFC is preparing
to hit the road and bring the buffalo's story to your
community! Our annual West Coast Road Show will kick
off at the end of August, and the East Coast Road Show
is set to begin in October.
The Road Shows have proven to be an invaluable means
of outreach and fundraising. We continuously meet beautiful
people who are just learning about the issue for the
first time, they become inspired and empowered and add
to the growing family of wild buffalo advocates. We
are graced each season by numerous volunteers who attended
presentations or spoke with us during these important
journeys. We also get to see old friends and strengthen
the ties that keep our buffalo family strong. Help us
keep this momentum growing! Please let us know if you
would like to bring BFC to your community. While the
West Coast schedule is already fairly full, we are still
booking East Coast dates. If you can help set up a presentation
or know of events where we can set up an info and advocacy
table, please let us know. Farmer's Markets, festivals,
coffee shops, libraries, community events, colleges,
and more are all possible outlets for sharing our work
to save the last wild buffalo. As we finalize dates
and locations we'll post them on our web site. There
will be exiting buffalo friends accompanying BFC this
year, making it an unforgettable road show season that
we can't wait to share with you!
West Coast Road Show contact Mike Mease at mease"at"wildrockies.org
or call 406-646-0070.
East Coast Road Show contact Dan Brister or Stephany
Seay at dan"at"wildrockies.org
or call 406-726-5555.
For the Buffalo,
* Last Words
"The political system is absolutely in tune with
the demands of the livestock
industry and is determined to do nothing that will offend
or upset the
industry, no matter how many laws and principles of
~ Robert Hoskins, Wildlife Advocate