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Weekly Update from the Field November 17, 2005
* Update from the Field - Bison Hunt Begins
* Experience in Gardiner - What the Buffalo Teach Us
* Join Us on the Front Lines - Volunteers Needed
* Contact Governor Schweitzer Today!
* Hunt Information: BFC's Press Releases and More!
* Last Words

* Update from the Field - Bison Hunt Begins
November 15, the opening day of Montana's ill-fated bison hunt, spelled the death of two magnificent buffalo bulls; one up in Gardiner (please see below) and one here in West Yellowstone. You can view BFC's powerfully eye-opening and heartbreaking footage from Gardiner at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org. Many thanks to our brothers Dru and Tyler for bearing eye-witness.

The bull shot in Gardiner suffered at the hands of a 17 year old hunter, who skipped school to take the life of one of America's last wild buffalo. In West Yellowstone, the local DOL agent, Shane Grube, was seen escorting a hunter around the area, and led him to the buffalo who had made his way onto the land of Dale Koelzer. Dale Koelzer hosts the Duck Creek bison trap and allows the DOL and other agencies to use his home as their base of buffalo harassment operations. The buffalo was shot dead at the mouth of the bison trap.

Montana has claimed that this hunt will be "different" than the buffalo hunt from 15 years ago, because they said they wouldn't be leading hunters to the animals. Evidently, Shane ignored this code of ethics, but that's no great surprise.

We are running two camps for the duration of the hunt; one here in West Yellowstone and one up in Gardiner. Everyone is working overtime and then some. Here in West, some buffalo are dangerously close to the line in the sand that could mark their doom, and there are others in buffalo-friendly neighborhoods who are safe just for now. Up in Gardiner, our six patrols are keeping an eye on nearly 25 buffalo that have entered Montana's killing fields. The media is watching, and hunters are swarming the area. So far things have remained relatively quiet since Tuesday, but we expect the coming days to bring on more madness.

For now, the skies are blessedly silent, but forty eight more hunters have yet to "bag" their bison.

Please read on below to learn more about what has happened here this week. If you can make it to Montana, volunteers are needed. If you cannot make it but still want to offer your support, sending a monetary contribution will help keep us in the field, enabling us to continue bearing witness so the world can know what's happening to the last wild buffalo left in America. Please also continue to contact Governor Brian Schweitzer, send letters to the editor of local and national media, and pray hard for the buffalo.

With the Buffalo,
* Experience in Gardiner - What the Buffalo Teach Us
I'm running down a steep incline, just north of Gardiner, Montana. I'm running because three blaze orange clad hunters are heading towards a group of five bull buffalo on the opening day of the first buffalo hunt to be held in Montana in 15 years. My intent is not to throw myself in front of a bullet, or scream at the hunters. I was simply there to document.

One bullet, two bullets fly through the cold morning air, but the buffalo is still alive after three bullets enter his body. All animals twitch after death, but this buffalo made one last attempt to stand up. Finally 24 minutes after the first bullet was fired, a fatal fourth shot was released.

His four buffalo brothers do not run from apparent danger, but instead surround him, and don't leave until being hit several times with jagged rocks thrown by the hunters.

The rest of the press arrives and the hunters move in to begin field dressing the buffalo. But his family hasn't given him up yet. All of a sudden, the four buffalo come running back, chasing away the numerous reporters who have arrived. Eventually, the four buffalo are again chased off, seeking refuge with their kindred.

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday I sat with a group of eight buffalo, of which those four were a part. In the afternoon a large bull buffalo began leading the others to yesterday's kill sight, where a gut pile still remains. The eight buffalo stood around the pile, four in particular closest. I believe they were paying respects to their fallen brother.

Then a group of ten other buffalo joined them, grunting, sparing, and running around, perhaps
celebrating the life of their friend. A friend of mine whispered to me, It's like a wake, isn't it?

Looking back on the past two days, I'm realizing the lessons that the buffalo are trying to teach us. If only we humans treated each other with as much respect and love as these buffalo treat each other with. If only we too could learn to live in harmony with our environment as they do.

The two buffalo that were killed on Tuesday will feed two families. I can't be sad about that. But I can hope that all the media attention surrounding this buffalo hunt will bring to light the needless annual slaughter of Yellowstone's wild and genetically pure buffalo. Let's not forget what will happen after the fifty buffalo tags are filled this winter. Let's not forget that buffalo are harassed and killed the moment they follow their instincts into Montana. And let's not forget the lessons of the buffalo.

Dru Dixon
BFC Volunteer
Join Us on the Front Lines - Volunteers Needed
If you are serious about wanting to help protect the last wild herd of buffalo in America, please consider joining us on the front lines in their defense. Field patrols are needed to help document actions taken against the buffalo here in West Yellowstone, and up on the Park's northern boundary in Gardiner, Montana.

Volunteers are provided with room and board, video equipment, and winter gear. All you need to do is get here. Please bring with you a serious commitment to help defend the last wild buffalo.
Please contact BFC's Volunteer Coordinator, Ryan, at buffaloatwildrockies.org or 406-646-0070 for more information. We look forward to your arrival!
* Contact Governor Schweitzer Today!
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer continues to defend the state's nefarious bison hunt, yet the irony is, without habitat in the state, wild buffalo are ecologically extinct in Montana. Governor Schweitzer has appeared to be a friendly face, one who is willing to listen - but he is a dangerous player of politics. So far, he has done nothing to back up his campaign statements that "wild buffalo will enjoy more tolerance in Montana" or that "the DOL is ill-equipped to manage them." The only "tolerance" Montana has shown wild buffalo in the state is a bullet to the head, and the DOL continues to be the lead agency, overseeing the hunt.

TAKE ACTION! Please contact Governor Schweitzer - even if you have already - and tell him to stop this bison hunt! Let him know that the world is watching as Montana once again takes up arms against an animal that isn't even allowed to exist in the state without being gunned down, hazed, captured, quarantined, and slaughtered. Montana residents should identify themselves as such, while those outside of Montana should let Schweitzer know you will not spend one more dime in this state until wild buffalo are respected and valued as a native wildlife species and are allowed to roam freely and unmolested on all public lands within Montana's borders. Remind him that there has never been a documented case of wild buffalo transmitting the European livestock disease back to the cattle they got it from. Also remind him that the majority of the buffalo that are being killed in this hunt will be bulls, and bulls cannot - by the very nature of brucellosis - transmit it. Thank you for keeping the pressure on!

Contact Gov. Brian Schweitzer today!
Phone: 406-444-3111
Fax: 406-444-5529
Web: http://governor.mt.gov/contact/comments.asp
Mail: State Capitol, P.O. Box 200801, Helena, MT 59620-0801
* Hunt Information: BFC's Press Releases and More!
First Bison Killed Takes 4 Shots, 45 Minutes to Die:
DOL Agent Escorts Bison Hunter to His Kill:
Incredible Essay - Bison Hunt 101, by BFC Board Member, Kathleen Stachowski:
Why BFC Opposes the Bison Hunt:
BFC Photos from the Hunt's Opening Day:
* Last Words
"The animal dropped like a stone, but it was kicking a little bit. It was as clean a kill as I've seen in my life and I've hunted for 42 years."
~ George Clement, father of the 17 year old who killed a bison in Gardiner on Tuesday. 

View BFC's footage of that kill to see how "clean" it was:

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