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Weekly Update from the Field February 15, 2007
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* Update from the Field
* Take Action for Wild Buffalo!
* The Yukon Visits Yellowstone
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,

Pee-eew! Does anyone else smell a skunk?

Today, a half hour after sunset, Montana's canned bison hunt will thankfully be over. 

Over one hundred buffalo were able to survive it.  How did the wily giants do it?  They didn't give fair chase, dodging bullets, fleeing for the forests.  They didn't elude the blaze orange stalkers on snowmobiles.  They weren't shepherded out of harm's way by buffalo advocates.  They didn't grow wings and fly to the far away magic mountains.  No, the buffalo that survived the hunt did so because they simply didn't walk into Montana.  The forty or so that did migrate over the ecologically nonsensical and imaginary line-in-the-sand were killed.  Every single buffalo that stepped into Montana is now dead.
If there was any "success" in this hunt, it's only being celebrated by Montana's Department of Livestock, the hunt's authorizing agency who's motto might as well be "the only good buffalo is a dead buffalo."  The DOL successfully used hunters to ensure the death of every single bison that entered the state.

The nearly 100 hunters who got skunked (i.e. were unable to find buffalo to kill) are extremely frustrated and trying to place the blame on BFC.  Hunters have complained to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks that BFC volunteers moved buffalo out of the hunt area, back into Yellowstone.  A little tracking experience would tell you that the tracks hunters saw going in and out of Yellowstone belonged to moose, not bison.  But, since they've had no experience around wild buffalo, we can understand why hunters would make such mistakes.  Our new volunteers tend to make that mistake the first few times in the field.   But to try and blame BFC for an unsuccessful bison hunt is illogical and irresponsible.  It certainly was not BFC who issued 140 permits to kill an animal that is ecologically extinct.  Nor is BFC in the business of pushing wild buffalo into Yellowstone National Box; that's the DOL's job and we've been trying to get them fired for years.    If there is blame to be placed - and there certainly is - it's upon Montana officials - FWP and the Governor's office - who are willing to be pulled by the Livestock Puppetmaster's strings.

Bison hunters, your frustration has strong foundation: you have been used.  You were sold tags to kill an animal that is ecologically extinct in Montana.  You fell for a hunt without habitat.  You were sold tags to participate in a bison extermination program.  You were used to help the DOL achieve it's goal without having to take the heat.  If you want to hunt wild bison, you need to advocate for year-round bison HABITAT, just like you would do for any other species you want to hunt.  Place the burden on the state who holds a zero-tolerance policy against wild buffalo, not those who have worked so hard to see wild bison flourish.  Your voice is at least as strong as that of the cattle industry!  Don't be silent - speak up for wild bison!

Be proactive, advocate for a resident population and demand that wild bison be respected and valued as a native wildlife species.  Refuse the DOL's role in bison mismanagement. Contact your hunting brothers and sisters at the Gallatin Wildlife Association.  They have been the only hunting organization to wisely, strongly oppose this canned hunt and they have a solid vision for bringing wild buffalo back to Montana.   Contact FWP and demand that your $125 in-state or $750 out-of-state money be allocated towards bison habitat in Montana. Contact Governor Schweitzer and FWP and tell them to pull out of the Interagency Bison Management Plan, and implement a Montana Bison Management Plan that respects the wild character and ecological role of buffalo.

Now that the bison hunters have left the Park boundary, the DOL will take over again on the West side.  Along the Park's northern boundary, Yellowstone rangers are already conducting regular hazing operations.  The estimated 3,300 last wild bison that still exist in the United States - Yellowstone National Park - are targets for harassment, capture, slaughter and quarantine.  The "hunt" added insult to injury.   It is a mistake to take from the buffalo and give nothing back.  It is a mistake to ignore their needs and expect to satisfy your wants.

Roam Free,
* Take Action for Wild Buffalo!
Please contact the following Montana decision-makers, and in your own words, insist that they:  pull out of the Interagency Bison Management Plan now; design and implement a Montana Bison Management Plan that respects the wild integrity of bison, establishes and conserves a state-wide, year-round resident herd; listen to their constituents and stop caving to livestock interests.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Attn:  Pat Flowers, Supervisor Region 3
1400 S. 19th Street
Bozeman, Montana
Phone: 406-994-4050

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
State Capitol
Helena, MT  59620-0801
Phone:  406-444-3111

Yellowstone National Park rangers have been hazing wild buffalo along the northern boundary on a regular basis for weeks now.  At any time they will begin to capture bison in the Stephens Creek bison trap. Buffalo will be crammed into pens where, frightened and frustrated, they will gore each other; they will be run through glorified cattle chutes, poked with electric cattle prods, yelled at by overzealous cowboys and agency reps, their heads will be locked in place, noses bloody from being pinched in rings, so scientists can draw their blood and determine if they should live or die.  Likely, most will be crammed onto livestock trailers and trucked to far-away slaughterhouses.  Calves who's mothers are sent to slaughter, if not slaughtered themselves, will be sent to the Corwin Springs quarantine feasibility study, raised and forced to breed in domestication and experimented on by scientists.  Last year, Yellowstone sent nearly 1,000 wild bison to slaughter.  Don't let it happen this year! Contact Yellowstone now before they begin!

Yellowstone National Park
Superintendent Suzanne Lewis
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
(307) 344-2002
yell_superintendent@nps.gov or
* The Yukon Visits Yellowstone
Buffalo Field Campaign is a participating member of the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative, which "combines science and stewardship, seeking to ensure that the world-renowned wilderness, wildlife, native plants, and natural processes of the Yellowstone to Yukon region continue to function as an interconnected web of life, capable of supporting all of its natural and human communities, for current and future generations."

Yellowstone is at the southernmost tip of the Y2Y region, and yesterday we were blessed with a visit and presentation by friends from the northernmost region representing the Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).   Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke are traveling portions of North America to share "Three Rivers: Wild Waters, Sacred Places," a project which aims to "celebrate and protect the the Yukon's great boreal mountain wilderness area" comprising the Peel watershed from which flows the Snake, Wind and Bonnet Plume Rivers.  This is the traditional territory of the Nacho Nyak Dun and Tetl'it Gwich'in First Nations. Though largely intact, unmanaged, wild and free, this landscape of outstanding beauty and intense diversity is "vulnerable to the continental hunger for hydrocarbons, including new development schemes for oil and natural gas, pipelines, coal and coal-bed methane, roads, rails, and mining."

In a perfect world, somewhere in the middle of the Yellowstone to Yukon, the bison and the musk ox would meet.  Please learn more about this breathtaking and life-sustaining landscape and help ensure its future.  Thank you Juri and Sarah for coming to BFC and sharing the Three Rivers Project with us.  We are thankful for your work and are honored that we were able to introduce you to the wild buffalo here at the southern tip of our combined dream, and we look forward to the day we can join you in the Yukon!

Learn More:
Take action - http://cpaws.org/borealaction
Learn about the Three Rivers Project - http://www.cpawsyukon.org
Learn about the Y2Y Conservation Initiative - http://www.y2y.net/
* Last Words
"... It's an extension of the self, not the rational self but the self that feels.  When the North is damaged and we hear about it, we hurt.  The twenty-first century will tell us - once and for all, I suspect - how much of ourselves we're prepared to destroy."
~ Margaret Atwood

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