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Weekly Update from the Field August 10, 2006
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* Update from the Field
*Buffalo in the Press
*Spreading the Word to Save the Herd
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
A week ago today, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission (the governor-appointed body that oversees the agency) landed two strong, fatal blows to the Yellowstone buffalo. The Commissioners approved the hunt and, ignoring the recommendations of their own biologists, voted to increase the number of permits from the agency's recommendation of 100 to a whopping 140. BFC addressed the Commission, once again outlining our opposition to the hunt and advocating for year-round habitat for wild bison in Montana. Again we made the point that wild buffalo are ecologically extinct in Montana. There's never a time when they are allowed to be in the state without being subjected to hazing, capture, slaughter, quarantine or shooting. In addition to our stance of 'no habitat, no hunt,' we called for eliminating the authorizing role of Montana's Department of Livestock (DOL), creation of a 'no hunt' buffer zone adjacent to Yellowstone's boundary, an increase in permit fees that will go towards the purchase of bison habitat, better hunter education, and prohibition for gunning down bison at the site of the Duck Creek bison trap, where two were killed by gunners last year. None of these suggestions were adopted or even discussed by the Commission. But, as Dan noted, public meetings have become a pure theater, the government having made up its mind from the start, soliciting comments from the public as a mere formality.

In an attempt to limit the number of "trophy bulls" killed by gunners, the Commission approved 95 either sex (bulls or cow/calf) permits and 45 cow/calf only permits. It was bad enough to watch these magnificent bulls gunned down in front of their brothers. Now moms and babies will be gunned down, too, by people who have no concept of bison behavior or their current plight. The Commission also approved re-issuing permits that are not used. So unlike last year when some tribes opted not to participate and those buffalo were consequently saved, the unused permits will be given to other gunners who will use them. Sadly, in FWP's statement to the Commission they noted only 66 comments from the public were received. They made note that aside from outright opposition, all had common underlying themes: more habitat and get the DOL out of it! Both suggestions were ignored.
If there's good news to report, it's that neither the Commission nor the agency understands bison migration, so although they approved an expanded hunt, the natural movements of buffalo are going to force many hunters to come away empty handed. Add to that the recent slaughter of over 1,000 buffalo by the Department of Livestock (DOL) and National Park Service (NPS) and it's very unlikely there will be a significant out-migration while the hunt is underway. In this way, the buffalo will be saving themselves, at least for a time.

Worth noting for all of you across the country and around the world, FWP Commissioner Brenden made the statement that he could care less what people in New York think about Montana's bison hunt. We reminded him that these buffalo constitute America's last wild herd - they do not belong to Montana alone and because of current policy they are, in fact, ecologically extinct in Montana - and that he and all the decision-makers should, indeed, care about what people from New York, Florida, Arizona, Wyoming, Germany, Poland, etc. think. He was reminded that Montana is one gateway to the world's first National Park, Yellowstone, and a lot of time and money are spent in the state by so-called outsiders, time and money that could be spent elsewhere.

Please remind Montana's Governor that you will continue to spend your vacation dollars elsewhere until the buffalo killing spree ends. Governor Brian Schweitzer, 406-444-3111.

Later that afternoon, the Commission took up the Quarantine Phase II & III issue, a nefarious effort spearheaded by FWP and the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Totally ignoring the fact that no one from the public supports this effort, the agency recommended moving forward and the commission quickly approved leasing the Slip-n-Slide Ranch, north of Gardiner for their expanded facility. This facility, like the Corwin Springs facility, lies within a critical migration corridor, important for the movement of bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, antelope, wolves, bears, mountain lions and (eventually) buffalo. Sound science and understanding continues to be ignored along with public sentiment, while the agencies go ahead with their plans regardless of anything outside of themselves.

As to the public process, if there is a lesson here it's that we need to take it back or re-create it. Be a strong presence and refuse to be ignored. Submit comments, attend public meetings, contact elected officials, question decision-makers, and *be creative* in making your voice heard for the last wild herd! Remember "Power to the People?" We've still got it, we just need to exercise it. The government would like nothing better than for us to grow despondent and go away, and that's exactly what we cannot and will not do. Make yourself known, look them dead in the eye, let them know you are watching their every move, and be a strong voice for the mighty buffalo and all things born wild and free!
Roam Free,

* Buffalo in the Press
Bison Hunt Expanded by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission
BFC Press Release 8/3/06:

Montana Nearly Triples Yellowstone Bison Hunt
Jackson Hole News (WY), Associated Press 8/4/06

Hunters Will Kill More Bison This Fall
KIFI Channel 8 (ID) 8/4/06

Yes to Bison Hunt, But Take it Slow
Daily Inter Lake (MT) 8/4/06

Bison Hunt Expanded Despite Opposition
Queen City News (Helena, MT)

Letter: Where Bison Roam (by BFC)
New York Sun (NY) 8/9/06
* Submitted in response to an op-ed by Thomas Bray:

* Spreading the Word to Save the Herd

Yellowstone National Park: Summer tablers needed! Contact BFC buffaloatwildrockies.org or 406-646-0070 if you can make it to Montana and help us talk to visitors that come to wild buffalo country. Help us tell the story, educate, and inspire visitors to Yellowstone National Park. Free entrance and camping in Yellowstone. Room and board provided. Not to mention the company of wild buffalo!

West Coast Road Show: BFC's Mike, Jesse and Seamus travel to the West Coast in less than two short weeks! This is going to be a really exiting time with lots of talented, eco-minded folks helping out. Visit our web site to find out where you can catch up with the Buffalo Field Campaign and Native American talents Good Shield and John Trudell: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/aboutus/roadshowswest2006.html

Southern Rockies Road Show: BFC's Josh is kicking off the first-ever Southern Rockies Road Show! If you know of towns or events he shouldn't miss or if you can help set up a presentation in your own community or school, please get in touch with him at bfc-advocate"at"wildrockies.org.

If you have an event, festival, or fair where you would like to represent BFC and the buffalo, please contact us. We will set you up with the necessary information and materials. Contact buffaloatwildrockies.org or call 406-646-0070. Thank you for helping to spread the word to save the last wild herd!

* Last Words
"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and the land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. Harmony with the land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left."

~Aldo Leopold

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