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Weekly Update from the Field May 11, 2007
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* BFC Volunteers Wrongfully Arrested
* Update from the Field
* Celebrate Mother's Day & Wild Buffalo Calving Season!
* FWP Holds Bison Hunt Meetings
* Hand-crafted Father's Day Cards Available!
* Last Words

NOTE: We apologize for the delay in getting this Update out to you. Given the events described below, we hope you will understand.

* BFC Volunteers Wrongfully Arrested
On Wednesday, as I documented the harassment of hundreds of bison and newborn calves near the Madison River, I was tackled head-first into the gravel by a Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) officer, arrested on false charges, and had my video camera and tape confiscated.

I was out that afternoon, as my friends and I have been for hundreds of days during the past ten years, to document government actions against the Yellowstone bison, America's only continuously wild herd. It was a particularly troubling day as more than 400 bison were being incessantly run for more than eight miles from National Forest lands to Yellowstone National Park. As you will read below, newborn calves and pregnant cow bison are the primary target of these operations and one newborn collapsed due to exhaustion and the inability to nurse while being pursued by the helicopter. In the past we've documented bison giving birth during the chaos of a haze, and newborns dying due to the incredible stress of running for miles without rest.

A freelance photographer had made arrangements to come photograph a hazing operation and on Wednesday afternoon I escorted her into the field, with the goal of positioning ourselves to document bison being chased by the helicopter. We arrived on highway 191 near the Madison and attempted to position ourselves for a good view of the operation. We tried to set up in a few spots but were quickly approached by Forest Service and MHP police officers and told to move. Eventually a Forest Service officer told us we could photograph from a gravel road that runs parallel to highway 191 on the east side of the highway. As soon as we'd positioned ourselves on the road with our cameras ready bison began to emerge from the woods across the highway and I began to film.

As I trained the lens on a group of mothers and their bright red calves I heard screaming from the woods and a moment later the words "my patrol partner is being assaulted" came through my two-way FM radio. Then I heard Pete screaming from the woods, "Get my camera! I'm being arrested!" At this, I decided to head further along the gravel road in the direction of Pete's calls. As I made my way down the road a MHP car came into view and I quickly realized Pete was in custody in the back. I saw a highway patrolman standing near his car and with the camera recording I asked him why Pete had been arrested and what he was being charged with. The officer wouldn't tell me and appeared very uncomfortable with me filming him. I told him I had a right to be there, on public lands, documenting government activities. He approached me and tried to grab the camera from my hands. I did not attempt to run from him and he reached out, grabbed my arm, and forcibly removed the camera and placed it on the trunk of his car. The next thing I knew I was being tackled to the ground. As the officer still had my arm I couldn't break the fall and my head hit the gravel hard. The officer is a heavy man and he dug his knee into my back with his considerable weight behind it. As I lay on the ground with my head in the gravel, I was handcuffed. The officer started to pull me up by my wrists and I complained, saying I could stand on my own. I gained my feet and stood at the back of the patrol car with my hands cuffed behind my back. In front of the car hundreds of bison, being chased by agents and their helicopter, ran eastward.

Standing there with blood dripping down my face I noticed that the glass in one of the rear windows of the patrol car was missing. Later, in jail, Pete and I were given our charges. Pete was charged with "Obstructing a Peace Officer" and "Criminal Mischief," a felony, for allegedly breaking the patrol car window. I was charged with "Obstructing a Peace Officer" and "Resisting Arrest," both of which charges I intend to have dropped. After being booked and held in a jail cell in West Yellowstone for a couple of hours I was fitted with leg shackles, handcuffs, and an immobilizing belt and transported to the emergency room at Bozmean Deaconess Hospital, where the lacerations on my face were cleaned and my head wound closed with three surgical staples.

With the police in possession of our cameras and video footage, at this point it is our word against theirs. We can only hope that the footage will be returned without having been tampered with, as the truth of the events was captured on film. BFC is here to stand truth to power and despite the violence directed against us we will continue to do so. Defending ourselves from these charges and bringing justice for my injuries will be a long and costly process.

If you would like to help or would like more information, please contact dan"at"wildrockies.org.

For the Buffalo,
Dan Brister
Project Director
Buffalo Field Campaign

Read BFC's press release from yesterday:
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0607/pressreleases0607/051007.html
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* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo supporters,

What might I write that you don't already know? This bittersweet time that is Spring in Yellowstone. Currently I sit on the North side bluffs of the Madison River while a helicopter hovers over the south-side and horsemen chase a mixed group of bulls, mamas, and babies. How many more times will we sit on these bluffs and watch the absurdity of it all? For seven years my family and I have travelled to stand with the Buffalo - and for seven years the untamed beauty that is Yellowstone and the majesty that is the buffalo has moved me in ways that I feel words will never do justice.

We urge as many of you as possible to come and stand with this beauty and stand with this pain as well. You will be moved in a way that no update could ever give you. The power of it all is undescribable. Words escape me as well while my mind continues to grapple with the absolute absurdity that we and thousands of others have come to bear witness to. The "interagency" brutality that befalls the buffalo each time they enter Montana is beyond repugnant! Yet the wild buffalo remain as strong as ever despite this human arrogance - which desires to control everything within its grasp and beyond.

We have learned that you cannot control the spirit of the wild nor can you tame it. The buffalo have shown us this for centuries now. They have shown us that which is within us; how true spirit can never be tamed, never be controlled! How the wild must always be free.

The Horse Butte Peninsula is a sanctuary for the wild - a landscape that has nurtured buffalo and their young in her meadows, groves, the folds of her buttes from the beginning of time. Early this week hundreds upon hundreds of buffalo graced every nook and cranny of this magical landscape. Eagles and hawks circled the infinite blue, cries piercing the sky. Various herds scattered throughout, calves and mamas feeding on the fresh greens of spring, young bulls playfully locking horns and wallowing on the earth. This is how it should be, this is how its supposed to be.

Yet this week we watched as we have far too many times, as "interagency" brutality arrived with all their machinery and arrogance to "manage" the wild. We watched as ATV's, trucks, helicopters, and men on horses ran and terrorized newborn calves, yearlings, bulls, and mamas; many with bellies still full of life. We witnessed as this wildlife sanctuary was violated by the thunderous clapping of helicopter blades and as buffalo were chased by the sounds of men on horseback whistling and shouting. Hour after painful hour in the heat of the day.

The livestock agents even got "permission" from the US Forest Service to violate the bald eagle closure on Horse Butte. This is an area "closed to protect wildlife habitat" - nesting bald eagles - from December through August. Nothing is sacred to the government but protecting the interests of economics, as they clearly demonstrate time and again. Even the so-called ban on the DOL's helicopter entering Yellowstone is not real. As the NPS told us, it's a "case by case" judgement.

As I thought to myself that I could no longer be shocked by the malice of it all, we watched as a Park Service Agent - a man entrusted with protecting and preserving the wildness of Yellowstone and it's beasts - repeatedly attempt to haze an exhausted calf nursing from its equally exhausted and radio-collared mother. This mother has been through the wrath of man. She has likely been trapped, been raped with the insertion of a vaginal telemetry device, had her blood drawn, and had her family killed. She knows enough of these men in uniforms to stand her ground and guard her baby. How much is too much? The NPS ranger pushed her too much.

Understandably, the mama had had enough! Protecting her new baby, she charged the Park Ranger. Once, twice, three times, as if to say, "Get away from my baby!" She shook her head fiercely. The ranger finally got the message, gave up, and resumed hazing another group. The haze ended for us there. We stayed and sat with three calves who dropped from utter exhaustion and lay motionless except for their rapidly moving bellies and shallow respirations. We prayed that they would live. One calf in particular was looking very close to death. For over two hours we watched as the radio-collared mama who had charged the NPS ranger stood vigil over her calf. She was powerful and gentle, beautiful, and ferocious. As any mother would be in defense of her baby. In the company of another mama and calf and two other buffalo, she did not leave her baby's side, nor would she even let the other buffalo get near the little one.
We stood watch over the exhausted calf, thinking it would die. Our anguish was great. Our rage, our tears, our frustration with the "economic interests of the livestock industry" causing all of this. Responsible for all of this madness, and the agents seeming to love every minute of it.

The calf, resting, seemed to be dying. The mother watched. The helicopter circled. Then, calls started coming over the radio that a BFC volunteer had been arrested (see above). The helicopter circled right over our heads. We were not going to let this industrial flying machine anywhere near these resting buffalo. More radio calls came that another BFC volunteer had been arrested. The helicopter kept circling. Chop! Chop! Chopping! the blue sky with it's wicked, roaring blades, creating the very real feel of a war zone. Metal predator-bird, circling, circling, looking for buffalo to terrorize. The collapsed baby falling in and out of this world. Would the little buffalo live? It's mother was determined that it would, and she tried everything to ensure this would be so. Helicopter circles again. The mama looks up, stands up over her baby, and dares it to approach. Another radio call: blood spilt, police brutality, civil rights violated. The wild violated. The helicopter continues circling. We stand close enough to the buffalo to steer the helicopter away. The winds come up. The helicopter leaves. Our friends in the field - our family - hauled to the jail. The baby buffalo rests in the shadow of its' great mother and the company of the small herd.

Licking the calf, nudging it, attempting to rouse it in any way possible. Grunting and circling around it. Finally laying next to her baby with the warmth of her massive body. The calf remained still. I watched as the mother grunted and began to wallow around her calf. Somehow this action aroused the calf and the little baby slowly got up and wearily walked off, with it's mama and the other buffalo, into the forest. I breathed a sigh of relief and headed off to join fellow patrollers covering the on-going haze and brutal arrest of long-time volunteers.

Moved yet again by the strength and resilience of the mighty bison. Thursday the peninsula remains empty of buffalo. It feels wrong. Unnatural. The helicopter has refueled three times and sweeps up and down both sides of the river all around the Butte in search of any remaining buffalo. Out of the woods from where I sit appear the mamas and calves from yesterday. I recognize the unmistakable collar. Today the calves, joined by yearlings, are playful and running. They buck and jump. They wallow. This small herd runs down the bluffs of the Madison and into the trees, unobserved by agents and helicopters.

I smile to myself---no you cannot tame the indomitable spirit of the wild!

With the Buffalo,
Roman & Stephany
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* Celebrate Mother's Day & Wild Bison Calving Season!
Join our group of parents and kids driving up from the mountains of Colorado on Mother's Day, May 13, 2007. We will honor the Wild Buffalo of Yellowstone National Park by volunteering with the Buffalo Field Campaign in West Yellowstone. On Mother's Day Sunday we will set up a roadside table and large banner reading, "Free Coffee, Free Cookies, Free the Buffalo!" Please join us for the 3rd year of recognizing Mother's Day as an important time for our only genetically unique and continuously free-roaming herd of Wild Bison! 
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* FWP Holds Bison Hunt Meetings
On May 3, in Gardiner and again on May 8, in West Yellowstone, officials from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) held public meetings to talk about the '06-'07 bison "hunt," and upcoming plans for the '07-'08 bison border shoot. Members of the public who attended also engaged FWP in heated discussions regarding FWP's involvement in the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Citizens voiced their opposition to FWP being involved in the mismanagement of wild bison, for catering to the whims of the livestock industry, for upholding the brucellosis fraud, and for allowing a hunt of an animal that is ecologically extinct everywhere outside Yellowstone, not to mention having the Department of Livestock authorizing a hunt of a wildlife species.

As to the hunt, there continue to be numerous flaws, and BFC holds strong in our opposition to it, as do some local hunting organizations such as the American Bison Foundation, the Gallatin Wildlife Association, and some members of the Montana Wildlife Federation. FWP, however, maintains that they will ignore public opinion (the public that is actually voicing opinion) and continue putting the hunt before habitat to invest hunters in buffalo as a big game species.

According to FWP, habit will come later. FWP has also made some tentative plans for next year's hunt, which - again - does not include any habitat for wild bison in Montana. This great species, native to vast expanses of the North American continent, remains ecologically extinct everywhere outside of Yellowstone National Park. Yet, FWP insists that the "hunt" will go on.

For next year, it's likely that FWP will issue 40 tags to Montana hunters, including two issued to each of the eight Indian tribes living within Montana's borders. Should there be a migration of more than 60 wild buffalo, FWP will initiate a "liberal" season, issuing 25 extra tags for each of the three periods of the hunt. FWP says they are "concerned about bulls" being over-harvested, so these extra 75 tags would be used to kill cow or calf buffalo. FWP is also planning to issue two extra tags to kill buffalo in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, to give hunters a "back country experience." If these hunters are unsuccessful there, they will be able to use their tags in either Gardiner or West Yellowstone.

The Nez Perce and the Confederated Salish-Kootenai also plan to hunt under Treaty hunts this year. The good news is that the Nez Perce also plan to get involved in the future of bison management; they have seen how the state and federal government has been failing, and will lend the wisdom of hundreds of centuries of relationship with buffalo to help gain respect, habitat, and honor for the buffalo. FWP has said, depending on the quotas the Nez Perce and Salish-Kootenai plan for, they will change the state's numbers accordingly.

While FWP holds these meetings to get feedback from the public, they continue to ignore the public who is giving feedback. Regardless of vocal public sentiment, there will be no new habitat, and the DOL will maintain it's position as the authorizing agency. One thing FWP will do this year is let hunters know that Yellowstone Village/Hebgen Lake Estates is an area where hunting is not allowed.

Please stay tuned for more information and opportunities to comment on the hunt. One thing FWP expressed to us is that there has not been enough opposition demonstrated to warrant significant changes. What? So, let us turn up the volume, attend the meetings, submit comments, and keep the pressure on if we are to help the buffalo gain any ground in Montana. We must also pressure Montana to pull out of the Interagency Bison Management Plan and create a Montana Bison Management Plan that respects the wild integrity of buffalo and provides and protects year-round habitat for this sacred, native species. You can also send preliminary comments to FWP Region Three Director Pat Flowers at pflowers@mt.gov.

For a taste of how locals here feel, please read an article from the West Yellowstone News regarding the FWP Hunt meeting in West Yellowstone: http://www.westyellowstonenews.com/articles/2007/05/11/news/news1.txt.
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* Hand-crafted Father's Day Cards Available!
If Dad wants another tie for Father's Day, by all means, get him one! But while you're at it, get him something else as well: a gift of conscience. A gift that works for justice. A gift of compassion.

As a Buffalo Field Campaign supporter, you already know the critical work we do to document, educate, and legislate on behalf of America's last wild, free-roaming bison herd. You've supported us generously both morally and financially. And we say "Thank You" from the bottom of our buffalo-lovin' hearts! Because you have so enthusiastically embraced our Valentine's Day and Mother's Day card fund raisers, this year we offer you the opportunity to share your commitment and conscience with the special men you'd like to honor on Father's Day. Our card is appropriate for all relationships: dad and grandpa, for sure, but also that favorite uncle, and the special teacher who mentored you.

Our Father's Day card is, as always, a hand-made creation. We're offering just one: a smaller (4-1/4 X 5-1/2) photo card featuring a bull bison photographed in Yellowstone (photo image is a smaller, specialty size) and embellished with decorative papers.

The sentiment reads: CELEBRATE STRENGTH! To go their own way, to follow their wild spirit, to persevere and endure. Buffalo Field Campaign is there to work for their future. A gift has been made in your honor by _________ to further this important work. Happy Father's Day!
"We will be known by the tracks we leave behind." ~ Lakota proverb

Please order by June 1st; we'll mail your card to arrive by Father's Day.
Our small photo card is priced at $15.

Here's how to order: Click on this link: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807 or click on the "Donate Now" button on BFC's home page. Make at least a $15.00 donation. Under "Donation or Order" select "Father's Day Card." Scroll down to the "Father's Day Info Box and type in the name and mailing address of the card recipient and let us know how you would like the card signed. You can also send a check along with the above information to the mailing address at the end of this message. Just make sure we receive your order by June 1.
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* Last Words
"We said no to bison slaughter for more than a hundred years, but they keep on killing. The genocide against the bison was part and parcel of the genocide against Indians. The recovery of the bison population in Yellowstone was to us a portent that our spirituality and traditional way of life could be rediscovered."
~ Scott Barta, HoChunk Winnebago


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