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Weekly Update from the Field September 8, 2005
In This Issue:
* Update From the Field--Montana Approves Bison Hunt
* How You Can Help Stop the Hunt: A Call to Action!
* Last Words - No Habitat, No Hunt!

* Update From the Field--Montana Approves Bison Hunt
For the first time in 15 years, hunters will shoot Yellowstone bison as they exit the park on their seasonal migration into Montana. The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission adopted regulations for the 2005-2006 bison hunt at its meeting earlier today.

The Commission approved two seasons: one between Nov. 15, 2005 and Jan. 15, 2006 and another from Jan. 16, 2006 to Feb. 15, 2006. The hunts will take place along the park’s northern boundary near Gardiner, MT and along its western boundary near West Yellowstone. A total of 50 permits will be issued, including 10 already issued for last year’s cancelled hunt.

This latest incarnation of a buffalo hunt in Montana is nothing more than an affirmation that Montana will not tolerate wild buffalo in the state. As the policy is currently laid out, wild buffalo entering Montana will remain under the authority of the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL). The DOL’s only “concession” to the buffalo is to refrain from hazing, capturing and killing them for the three months that hunters will shoot any buffalo that wanders out of Yellowstone National Park. If more than 25 buffalo are out of the Park in either period or if any buffalo wanders past the allotted area, the DOL may decide to haze or capture the buffalo leading to a temporary suspension of the hunt. In either case, any wild buffalo that enters Montana between November 15 and February 15 will be killed for following their migratory instincts.

Beginning February 16 the DOL will implement a massive capture, test and slaughter program with the goal of transporting 100 buffalo calves that test negative for brucellosis antibodies to the quarantine facility near Gardiner, Montana. The DOL, together with the National Park Service, will likely capture well over 500 buffalo throughout the winter and spring to reach their goal of 100 calves for quarantine. The agencies (including the same FWP game wardens that will administer the hunt) will continue to terrorize one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the United States with daily hazing operations that include low-flying helicopters, snowmobiles, ATV’s, trucks and horses. Many buffalo will be needlessly killed or injured until the landscape is completely empty of buffalo. Those that do survive the spring will have next year’s hunt to look forward to before the hammer of the livestock industry once again falls the following spring.

The buffalo hunt is still completely unacceptable for all of the same reasons it was last year. In fact, this year’s proposal will lead to more buffalo being killed in the fall than under current operations. In essence, the addition of a buffalo hunt will completely eliminate any and all wild buffalo that enter Montana. The FWP Commission’s decision is nothing more than a political whitewash that will not succeed in hiding the ugliness and blatant injustice of the current policies. Three significant criteria highlight problems with the proposed hunt. First, wild buffalo in Montana should be under the sole management authority of FWP. The Dept. of Livestock has no rightful business managing wildlife, particularly the last wild buffalo herd in the United States. Second, buffalo must be given access to sufficient habitat in Montana where they can establish resident herds. In other words, “No Habitat, No Hunt!” Third, Native American tribes throughout the region must be included and involved in the decision making process for the management of wild buffalo that migrate outside of Yellowstone National Park. A long-term comprehensive management plan should be developed that includes all of the interested parties, especially traditional Native Americans who maintain a relationship with the buffalo that transcends modern wildlife management theories and practices.

Read BFC's Press Release on today's hunt approval:

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* How We Can Stop the Hunt: A Call to Action!
In the early 1990s, the last time Montana authorized a buffalo hunt, images of the hunt were broadcast from coast to coast. These images of buffalo being shot repeatedly and at close range created a public outcry that damaged Montana's reputation and ultimately led to the cancellation of the hunt.

While such public opposition stopped last year's hunt a few days before it was set to begin, Montana seems intent on going forward with a hunt this year. If they do, we will be there so everyone in the country can see what a bison hunt really looks like.

With hunts this year set to take place simultaneously near West Yellowstone and Gardiner, BFC will need to be both places at once. We are making preparations to rent and equip a second field camp, but we can't do it without your help.

The number of BFC patrols will likely double, meaning we will need twice as many video cameras, radios, and volunteers. We will also need more food, equipment, and supplies to keep those volunteers warm, dry, and well-fed through high-stress circumstances in one of the coldest climates in North America.

We are calling on our network of supporters to help meet the costs of these additional patrols. You make it possible for us to be with the buffalo and it is more important than ever that we are here this year. Please send a contribution or make a secure online donation from our web site today. Donations are tax-deductible and go directly to our front-lines work.
If you are interested in joining us in the field as a volunteer during the 2005-2006 winter/spring season, email: buffaloatwildrockies.org

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* Last Words:
"Gory network television images--wounded buffalo bleeding onto the snow struggling desperately to get back on their feet, being shot three and four times before they died--drummed up an outrage that sent everybody involved scrambling to explain."
Outside Magazine, May 1991 (on the last Montana buffalo hunt)
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