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Weekly Update from the Field September
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* Update from the Field
* Update from Washington, D.C.
* Please Keep the Pressure on Congress!
* Buffalo in the News
* Last Words ~ by Tristam

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
The northern boundary of Yellowstone has seen little activity in the past two weeks, and it seems that the buffalo have had quite enough of being harassed by Park wranglers.  Buffalo are enjoying this very early spring.  Grasses are already greening-up inside Yellowstone.  For now, the northern herd is content to graze the now-plentiful grasses uncovered by early snowmelt.  They are full of energy and showing it!  Beautiful, healthy and spirited, the herds dance and graze, wallow and play.  Gorgeous mama buffalo are showing huge round bellies that will soon bring forth the next generation.  On the western boundary there is still a stark absence of buffalo outside Yellowstone, but we expect they will soon roam to their favorite calving grounds at Horse Butte.

As you know, the buffalo were a hot topic in Washington, DC this week (see below for Josh and Darrell's report, news articles and a call to action).  On Tuesday, the House Parks Subcommittee hearing room held a nearly all-star cast of the many players involved in the buffalo's current story, including villains, heroes and the ever typical, non-committal fence-sitters.  Sadly, the Native American voice was again left out.  Congressional champions are calling much-needed attention to the mismanagement of Yellowstone bison, while the cattle interests keep showing their greed for grass and ignorance of the meaning and importance of wildness.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer showed his true cowboy colors by announcing to the Subcommittee, "I  come to you not just as Montana's governor, but first as a cattleman."  So, there it is.  Granted, he did agree that the current Plan is not working, and that removing or strictly managing cattle in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) is a good first step towards a solution.  But, of great importance here was his admittance that this issue isn't totally about brucellosis - it's about grass.  Schweitzer unveiled that if wild bison were brucellosis-free, they still would not be welcome to reclaim their Montana habitat.  Of course, we see that this is the case across the country where genetically unique, disease-free bison are held captive in fences on our public lands.  Schweitzer celebrated the quarantine experiment and also suggested that Yellowstone should be open to hunting and complained how Montana has to "wait to shoot them until their noses cross the line."  He and all others speaking for cattle interests asserted that Yellowstone is overgrazed and overpopulated, and Schweitzer had the audacity to compare the survival mechanisms of bison forced to live inside Yellowstone, who make it through the harsh winters by grazing exposed grasses around thermal features, to "a cattle feedline."  What?  Of course, his recent visits to Yellowstone have been in the saddle of a snowmobile, so his thinking might be clouded by exhaust fumes and noise.  But now we know where he really stands.

While we must continue to hold the Park Service accountable for the slaughter and harassment of the bison in their care, we also have to give some credit where it's due.  At the hearing the National Park Service actually spoke on behalf of the wild buffalo for a change.  Mike Soukup, NPS Director, stated that this is the nation's only continuously wild herd and that it is "small but precious." Suzanne Lewis, Yellowstone's Superintendent, was asked why the buffalo migrate out of the Park.  She beautifully and frankly stated that "[the buffalo] are doing what they've been doing for centuries ... it's not because the Park is overgrazed, it's because it's winter."   The Park Service also testified that the bison population in Yellowstone is certainly NOT over capacity, and in fact, Yellowstone could support twice as many (upwards of 7,000).  And the Park Service finally admitted that maintaining a free-roaming herd of wild buffalo is of higher value to them than is a brucellosis-free herd.  KUDOS!  Let's hold them to these words and ensure that their future actions will follow.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported on their undergoing investigation of the Interagency Bison Management Plan and the land deal with the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT).  CUT is the largest cattle producer in the bison's way, and they own less than 300 cows.  So long as cattle graze these lands, said GAO, no bison will be able to access even the wildlife conservation easement lands within their critical winter range.  Hopefully the ongoing discussions with CUT will turn into an agreement that wild bison can live with.  It remains to be seen.  The general theme from cattle interests was that they are unwilling to make room for wild buffalo, and if they "must", they touted the tiresome "cows not condos" theme and threatened to sell out to developers before coexisting with wild bison.

One stark figure that was laid bare by the Humane Society of the U.S. was the fact that the United States hosts 100 Million cattle.  Think about that.  In their height of glory, wild bison numbered in the tens of millions.  Yet, here we have one hundred million cattle upon the land in America.  That is an astronomically ridiculous number of invasive grass-eaters, and the people who would hoard grasses and kill native species for them purport that 3,600 wild bison are "too many."   Would these cattle producers and their political backers support the death of the mighty oak or the majestic redwood so that kudzu and noxious napweed can flourish?  And why, pray tell, was there a seat filled by a professor from Utah with no link to this issue other than being a constituent of conservative Rep. Bishop, yet not a single Native American voice was represented?  Wayne Pacelle of HSUS reminded us that the slaughter and mistreatment of the American Bison is a symbol of humans' destructive capacity; the beauty is, we have the capacity to change.

All of the panelist's written testimonies, including BFC's, are available for you to review at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=36, and our friends from the Gallatin Wildlife Association have submitted powerful comments that are well worth checking out at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/aboutus/artthoughts/GWA.html.

Ultimately, this hearing is a first step and we are grateful to and commend Rep. Rahall and Rep. Grijalva for taking the initiative to bring this issue to light.  The health and well-being of the last surviving wild population of bison in the United States depends on what happens next.  Many great thanks to everyone who contacted the Subcommittee and their representatives.  Keep the pressure on!  You will help shape the future for wild buffalo by letting those who represent you in Congress know how important is is that wild bison regain a foot-hold on their native homelands.  The native grasses and the wild buffalo need your support and your voice now.

Roam Free,
~Stephany
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Update from Washington D.C.
Darrell and I have now completed two full days on Capitol Hill.  On Tuesday, as many of you know and might have seen, we spent the morning participating in a hearing about the buffalo before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.  The hearing was certainly an interesting and educational experience for us all.  Clearly, we have a lot of work ahead of us to overcome the significant ignorance and misunderstanding about the Park, the buffalo, and the responsibility of Congress.

We were very encouraged by the strong words issued by Representatives Nick J. Rahall II and Raul Grijalva in opposition to the continued slaughter of wild Yellowstone buffalo.  Thanks also to Rep. Maurice Hinchey for getting the General Accounting Office to investigate the Interagency Bison Management Plan and Royal Teton Ranch land deal.  Based on further discussions today, we are certain that these congressional champions of the buffalo will work toward legislation to help stop the slaughter.

Today we met with the staff of both Montana Senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester.  It is absolutely imperative for any legislation to get through the Senate that at least one if not both Montana Senators assume a leadership role on this issue.  To all of Montana's buffalo supporters, we urge you to call and write to our Senators about the buffalo.  Urge them to take proactive steps to protect habitat for wild buffalo.  Demand that they make the buffalo a legislative priority.  To all of the buffalo supporters outside of Montana, call and write your Senators and ask them to discuss these issues with the Montana delegation.  Urge them to show their support for creative and effective solutions to this crisis.  The Democrats are now in control of both the House and the Senate.  There is no time to deliberate and make excuses about how "complex" the issues are.  Now is the time for our elected officials to act for the benefit of the buffalo.

We will continue, through the remainder of this week and next, to meet with various congressional staff about the crisis facing the buffalo.  We are very grateful for all of the encouragement and suggestions you have sent this week.  Congress is comprised of the elected representatives of the people.  They are responsible to the American public and we must hold them accountable for both their action and inaction on behalf of the buffalo.  When praise is due, let us show our gratitude.  When the will of the people is denied, let us show our disdain and demand change.

In closing, we'd like to thank everyone who wrote, called and emailed the Subcommittee and their Representatives.  Your letters are powerful testimony to the sacredness and importance of the last wild buffalo and the need to set them free!  Special thanks also go to Marian Osher for her continued steadfast support and for helping us prepare info packets and other materials for the hearing and Congressional meetings at hand.

For the Buffalo,
Josh Osher
------------------------------
*  Please Keep the Pressure on Congress!
1) If you live in the home district of one of the Subcommittee members please contact her/him on behalf of the last wild buffalo because it is especially critical that they hear from you!  Urge them to do whatever it takes to stop the harassment and slaughter of the wild Yellowstone bison.  Contact information for each member of the House subcommittee is listed below (scroll down) or here at this link: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/cgi-bin/newcommittee.cgi?site=ctc&lang=&commcode=hresources_parks

2) Don't see your Representative listed?  Use the following contact info to get your message to the subcommittee membership: Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, 1333 Longworth House Office Building, Phone:  (202) 226-7736,  Fax:  (202) 226-2301

3) If your House representative is not on the Subcommittee, please contact them anyway and urge them to take a leadership role in protecting the Yellowstone bison, the United State's last continuously wild herd.    http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html

4) Please contact your Senators and urge them to hold a similar hearing in the Senate.  MONTANA:  It is critical that Senators Tester and Baucus hear from you - we need their support to win for the buffalo!  http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html

SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS:
Urge the Subcommittee (and all of Congress) to provide clear direction to our National Forests and Parks that wild bison belong, and are our top priority on public lands and ask them to fund the purchase of wildlife conservation easements including winter range and corridors for bison to migrate through private lands in the Yellowstone area.  Please also urge that Native American interests are represented at future hearings.  BFC will be visiting with Congressional offices the rest of this week and the next and your calls will make a huge difference!

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS & PUBLIC LANDS:
*Majority Membership:
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) [Chairman], 202-225-2435, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), 202-225-3611, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), 202-225-2726, neil.abercrombie@mail.house.gov
Donna M. Christensen (D-VI), 202-225-1790, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Rush Holt (D-NJ), 202-225-5801,  http://holt.house.gov/contact.shtml
Dan Boren (D-OK), 202-225-2701, http://www.house.gov/boren/emailsignup.shtml
John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), 202-225-4016, http://sarbanes.house.gov/IMA/issue_subscribe.shtml
Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), 202-225-6416, N/A
Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY), 202-225-6335, http://www.house.gov/hinchey/contact/zipauth.shtml
Ron Kind (D-WI), 202-225-5506, http://www.house.gov/kind/contact.shtml
Lois Capps (D-CA), 202-225-3601, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Jay Inslee (D-WA), 202-225-6311, http://www.house.gov/inslee/contact/email.html
Mark Udall (D-CO), 202-225-2161, http://markudall.house.gov/HoR/CO02/Contact+Mark/Contact+Mark.htm
Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), 202-225-2801, stephanie.herseth@mail.house.gov
Heath Shuler (D-NC), 202-225-6401, http://www.house.gov/writerep/

*Minority Membership:
Rob Bishop (R-UT) [Ranking Member], 202-225-0453, http://www.house.gov/robbishop/contact/
John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), 202-225-5435, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Christopher Cannon (R-UT), 202-225-7751, http://chriscannon.house.gov/email.htm
Tom Tancredo (R-CO), 202-225-7882, http://tancredo.house.gov/contact/contact_contacttom.shtml
Jeff Flake (R-AZ), 202-225-2635, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Rick Renzi (R-AZ), 202-225-2315, http://www.house.gov/renzi/email.shtml
Steve Pearce (R-NM), 202-225-2365, http://www.house.gov/formpearce/emailtemplate.htm
Henry E. Brown, Jr. (R-SC), 202-225-3176, http://brown.house.gov/writebrown/
Louie Gohmert (R-TX), 202-225-3035, http://gohmert.house.gov/contact_louie.htm
Tom Cole (R-OK), 202-225-6165, http://www.house.gov/cole/contact.htm
Dean Heller (R-NV), 202-225-6155, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Bill Sali (R-ID), 202-225-6611, http://sali.house.gov/contactform/
Doug Lamborn (R-CO), 202-225-4422, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
------------------------------
*  Buffalo in the News
3/21/07 - Billings Gazette:  Hearing addresses bison management (Also appeared in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle under the headline "Congress Calls for End to Bison 'Murder'")
http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/03/21/news/state/25-hearing.txt

3/21/07 - Billings Gazette:  Opinion: Park Bison Dispute Migrates to Congress
http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/03/21/opinion/gazette/50-gazetteopinion.txt

3/21/07 - Environmental News Service:  Yellowstone Bison Controversy Thunders On
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2007/2007-03-21-10.asp

3/21/97 - Ralph Maughn's Wildlife News:  Congress Looks at Solutions to Yellowstone Bison Debate
http://wolves.wordpress.com/2007/03/21/congress-looks-at-solutions-to-yellowstone-bison-debate/

3/20/07 - BFC Press Release:  Advocates for America's Last Wild Bison Get Hearing in Congress
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0607/pressreleases0607/032007.html

3/20/07 - New West:  Congress Looks at Solutions to Yellowstone Bison Debate
http://www.newwest.net/index.php/topic/article/congress_looks_at_yellowstone_bison_solution/C74/L38/

3/20/07 - KIFI TV, Idaho:  Democrats in Congress want to Stop Bison Slaughter
http://www.localnews8.com/story.cfm?nav=news&storyID=1781

3/19/07 - Billings Gazette:  Deal on Bison Travel Close
http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/03/19/news/local/40-bison.txt

3/19/07 - BFC Press Release:  Congress Investigates Bison Slaughter
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0607/pressreleases0607/031907.html
------------------------------
* Last Words
"The buffalo ran at us as if we were family separated in tragedy and at last reunited in the most harmonious of gatherings. Each of our movements is slow and quiet driven by our hearts as not to overwhelm our surroundings. We breathe gently amidst our friends, gathering feelings of heartache and distress over our separation tossing them behind us. We are free now and stand as one again. Our smiles fill the blue skies and our play shakes the ground beneath us... This is why we are here... To emanate this vision, this experience, from within Yellowstone clear out over its borders with stampeding force back into the Great Plains, to the Florida Peninsula, to our growing allies in the east, throughout Appalachia, and beyond our fictional, political, and arbitrary boundaries to settle as seeds yearning to germinate on the vast lands of the North American continent. We are with the bison and the bison with us to see that this vision, these seeds, take root."

~ Tristam Coffin, BFC Volunteer


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