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Weekly Update from the Field January 11, 2007
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* Update from the Field
* Buffalo Field Campaign Meets with Yellowstone Park Officials
* Attendance Needed at 1/31 Interagency Bison Management Open House
* Endless Pressure, Endlessly Applied
* Send Some BuffaLove for Valentine's Day!
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
As Montana's canned bison hunt continues, the National Park Service (NPS) began hazing wild buffalo this week.  Near Gardiner, along the Park's northern boundary, the Yellowstone River is sort of a management dividing line.  On the east side of the river, America's last wild buffalo are being killed by hunters, while on the west side of the river, the NPS conducts harassment operations, running wild buffalo off of the ground they choose to be on, all in the service of livestock interests.  On Monday a mixed group of 41 buffalo stepped onto land owned by the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT) and were chased back into Yellowstone by Park Rangers on horseback.  As of this writing, those buffalo are nowhere to be found.

Montana's buffalo "hunt" has taken the lives of 16 bull buffalo so far.  Every buffalo that has migrated across Yellowstone's boundary has either been shot by hunters or harassed by Yellowstone Park Rangers, save for three bulls who remain safe in a West Yellowstone-area subdivision.  This housing area has certainly seen its share of frustrated hunters and even more frustrated residents. The hunters have travelled hundreds of miles to come kill buffalo, yet due to last year's mass-slaughter and this year's milder weather, and the fact that wild buffalo are ecologically extinct outside of Yellowstone National Park, there simply aren't many buffalo out of the Park for them to kill.  This frustration goes with the territory of participating in an extermination program of an ecologically extinct animal.  As we've said before, it isn't a hunt, it's a buffalo extermination program.

Having out of town gunners scoping the neighborhood, pining over buffalo they are not allowed to kill, trying to persuade landowners to let them shoot, can be quite unnerving for the people who live here. The people of Yellowstone Village live here because they love the wildlife; they enjoy and welcome wild buffalo in their neighborhood.  

Ann Stovall, a life-long resident of this area recently wrote to us with her thoughts on the hunt:
"As to my feelings about this hunt, this is a poor excuse of an excuse.  Since when is a fair-chase hunt done by people driving around in their pickups dragging their snowmobiles and expecting to shoot  a Buffalo?  These [gunners] think just because they got a 'tag' that gives them the right to trespass and disrupt residents in a subdivision, which, by the way, doesn't allow hunting in it.  MOST of the people in this area are happy to co-exist with the wildlife that we have.  As for the wannabe hunter (again what a joke) if they are so dead set on getting a Buffalo, Ted Turner has 'Blue Light Specials' and they can get their damn Buffalo.  The hunters that I know would NEVER disrespect the residents or the fact that private property means just that: PRIVATE.  Sorry but nobody is going to shoot a Buffalo in MY front yard and get away with it.  Also, the Agencies have conditioned these Buffalo to hate snowmobiles, horses and four-wheelers, because of the constant chasing they do of them on these modes of transportation.  I wonder, do they inform their so-called hunter?"

The good people of Yellowstone Village are the lucky few who have opportunities the rest of us don't yet have.  They get to wake up in the morning to see a frosty bull buffalo bedded down just outside their window.  And they set a fine example for the rest of us humans: they know how to co-exist with native wild buffalo, they respect them and they protect them fiercely.  Imagine a world in which the rest of Montana took their lead.   Imagine a world where hunters refused to participate in canned hunt and demanded ecological recovery of wild bison.  Imagine a world where the National Park Service actually honored the living beings whose symbols they wear on their badges and used their strong influence to ensure a future for wild buffalo rather than acting for the economic interests of the cattle industry.  Imagine a world where buffalo calves are not captured, orphaned and quarantined, but where landowners and state, federal and tribal governments work together to protect migration corridors and re-connect buffalo with their native habitat.  Imagine wild buffalo using these corridors and protected lands to restore themselves.  It can certainly happen.  All we have to do is agree, the rest will fall into place with just a little effort on our part.  Respect the buffalo, restore the land.  The wild buffalo will show us the way.

Roam Free,
* Buffalo Field Campaign Meets with Yellowstone Park Officials
On Tuesday January 9 Buffalo Field Campaign met with Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis and other Park officials to discuss the Park's approach to bison management and attempt to gain a better understanding of the factors leading to the slaughter of nearly 1,000 bison in 2006.  It was the first ever meeting between BFC and the Park leadership and, while there were difficult moments and many points upon which we don't agree, the meeting helped open communication between us and shed insight into some of the Park's motives and actions.
We came away from the meeting with the sense that Yellowstone officials feel trapped between the Park's mission to protect bison and outside pressure to protect Montana's livestock industry from the perceived risk of brucellosis transmission.  "The most recurring nightmare I have," Superintendent Lewis said at one point, "is a transmission."   

BFC doesn't believe it is the proper role of the Park Service to place the economic interests of the cattle industry above the wildlife the agency is entrusted, by the American people, with protecting.  We made this clear during the meeting and reminded Park decision-makers of their potential to do right by the bison through their actions, positions, and public statements. 
Understanding just how powerful Montana's livestock industry is, we recognize that the Park finds itself in a difficult situation.  The current Yellowstone administration feels that it can make more progress by working cooperatively with the other agencies than it could by taking a stronger stance for the bison. 

This is unfortunate.  Whether the agency deserves it or not, the public inherently trusts the National Park Service.  By remaining quiet in the face of injustice and continuing to participate in a bison management scenario that has sent more than 4,000 bison to slaughter since 1985, the Park leadership is sending a message to the American people that the profits of a few Montana ranchers is more important than protecting America's only continuously wild bison.  We know the American public doesn't feel this way.

We are grateful for the opportunity to discuss these issues in an open forum and hopeful that we can engage in future discussions with Superintendent Lewis and other decision-makers with the power to do right by the bison.  With this in mind, we will be meeting with Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer at the end of the month.  We will keep you posted.
* Attendance Needed at 1/31 Interagency Bison Management Open House
On Wednesday, January 31, from 4-8pm in Bozeman, Montana, you have an opportunity to speak to the state and federal agencies responsible for the harassment and slaughter of America's last wild buffalo.

The InterAgency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) partners include the National Park Service, Montana Department of Livestock, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, National Forest Service and USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service.

The purpose of the open house is to "provide an update to the public about IBMP operations, share information on adaptive management changes to operations under the IBMP, and discuss potential future changes to the plan."  The agencies plan to discuss the "bison quarantine feasibility study, remote vaccination, adaptive management changes to the operating procedures, the Royal Teton Ranch, and habitat restoration projects."  They also want your input on issues affecting wild bison such as " hunt expansion, capture facilities, livestock herd management and fencing, and long-term quarantine."

Please make every effort to attend this open house and speak out on behalf of the last wild buffalo!  The event will be in Bozeman, Montana at the Hilton Garden Inn, January 31 from 4-8pm. 

Spread the word to save the herd!
* Endless Pressure, Endlessly Applied
That heading is part of a favorite quote by a good buffalo friend, Brock Evans.  Brock is an environmental hero and one of the co-authors of the Endangered Species Act; he knows what it takes to make change in this political landscape:  endless pressure, endlessly applied.   The last wild buffalo deserve nothing less than that. 

Make a steadfast and determined commitment to set them free! Please do three things for the Yellowstone buffalo today, speak from your heart and invoke the wisdom of the wild buffalo:

1.  Contact Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis
Mail: PO Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Phone:  (307) 344-2002
E-mail: yell_superintendent@nps.gov OR suzanne_lewis@nps.gov

2.  Contact Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
State Capitol, Helena, MT 59620-0801
Phone: 1-406-444-3111 * Fax: 1-406-444 5529 Email: BrianSchweitzer@mt.gov

3.  Submit a Letter to the Editor
The editorial section is the most widely read section of the newspaper.  Campaigns have been won using this medium to right wrongs, share information and raise awareness. 

For suggested papers, tips and more visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html.  Authors of printed letters will receive a free BFC t-shirt! 

Contact bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org with questions or suggestions.
* Send Some BuffaLove this Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day is on the horizon, and once again BFC offers you the opportunity to send an original, hand-crafted card to the special people in your life.  Your parents, grandparents, best friend, sweetheart, favorite teacher, the grumpy guy next door who obviously needs extra kindness...our card is appropriate for all relationships. Added bonus:  It lets the recipient(s) know that you are a person of compassion and good heart, and it raises funds for BFC, allowing us to continue the important work of defending America's last free-roaming, wild bison.

Two cards are available.  For a $10 contribution, a 4-1/4" X 5-1/2" bison card (copy of hand-drawn original); for a $35 contribution, a larger hand-made photo card featuring Yellowstone bison.  Both contain brief information on BFC and our work, and bear the sentiment:  "A gift has been made in your honor by _________ for the love of wild bison.  Happy Valentine's Day!  'Nature never did betray the heart that loved her...'  Wordsworth"

Card orders must be received by Saturday February 3; please order early.  We'll time the mailing to arrive by Valentine's Day. 

To order, just click on this link: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807, specify the donation amount for the type of card you are ordering, scroll down to "Special Valentine's Card," select the card you want, then move below to the "Valentine Info Box" and write the recipient's name and address as well as how you would like the card signed.  To complete, scroll down to fill in general and credit card info into the secure server. If you'd rather pay through the mail, send a check along with the name and address of your Valentine to: BFC, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758.
* Last Words
"We hear you, fellow-creatures.  We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid.  What we have unleashed has such momentum now, we don't know how to turn it around.  Don't leave us alone, we need your help.  You need us too for your own survival.  Are there powers there you can share with us?

'I, lichen, work slowly, very slowly.  Time is my friend.  This is what I give you:  patience for the long haul and perseverance.'

'It is a dark time.  As deep-diving trout I offer you my fearlessness of the dark.'

'I, lion, give you my roar, the voice to speak out and be heard.'

'I am caterpillar.  The leaves I eat taste bitter now.  But dimly I sense a great change coming.  What I offer you, humans, is my willingness to dissolve and transform.  I do that without knowing what the end-result will be, so I share with you my courage, too.'"
~ Joanna Macy

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