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Weekly Update from the Field May 24, 2007
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* Update from the Field
* Buffalo in the News
* Photo of the Week & Slide Show!
* Honor Father's Human & Wild
* Flyer & Invitation: BFC 10 Year Anniversary & Family Reunion
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,

Wild buffalo are amazingly resilient creatures.  In the face of harassment and death, they continue to demonstrate that Nature has no borders and that the livestock industry is not the owner of the land; this land is the buffalo's land.   After centuries of abuse and slaughter by the government and livestock interests (is there even a difference?), wild buffalo are still here and still walking the land the cattle industry tries to shut them out of.

This week the DOL's helicopter has been flying all over our public lands, circling low, trying to scare buffalo out of the woods so the government cowboys can herd them with their horses deep into Yellowstone.  This week, FWP fish biologists helped from a boat, after agents hazed the buffalo into Hebgen Reservoir.  The hazing is happening again today as I write.  Buffalo moms and babies, yearlings, aunts, big brothers and sisters - the whole buffalo family - are being shoved around, pushed out of Montana.  The helicopter again got permission from Yellowstone National Park to fly into the Park.  It's terribly difficult for the buffalo, but even more so for the brand new babies who's little legs are strong enough for moments of rambunctious play with other calves, but not for being hazed nearly 10 miles in fear, without rest or the ability to nurse.  As we've seen before, these cruel operations can spell their doom.  It's hard to imagine how the buffalo moms must feel, trying to shelter their calves while fleeing from hounding horsemen and helicopter. But buffalo are strong survivors.  One day they will be free to roam - the cattlemen will have to go home and tend to their livestock.

While BFC field patrols were up and out with the buffalo before the rising of the sun this morning, preparing to document another day of government wildlife harassment, those of us who remained at the cabin were rudely awakened by the DOL's helicopter, purposely flying low over our headquarters at 7:40 this morning.  Given the recent breaking news, the DOL is probably not in the best of moods.

On Friday it was announced that brucellosis had been found in Montana cattle.   There has been a lot of speculation and very little factual reporting on the source of this infection.  The good news is that the buffalo are not responsible.  Even Governor Schweitzer says the chance of buffalo being responsible is "remote."  But, of course, the livestock industry is certainly trying to place the blame on them or elk, which would make things easy for the cattle industry and APHIS. It's convenient for the industry to blame wildlife considering that brucellosis wasn't in North America until the arrival of European cattle.

The infected cattle herd was from Bridger, MT, at least 70 miles northeast of Yellowstone, far from the buffalo's migratory path. Some of the cattle in the Bridger herd spent time in Emigrant, MT, (about 25-30 miles north of Yellowstone) where buffalo have not been allowed to roam for at least a century.  Either way, the brucellosis test results on these Emigrant cattle have come back negative.  Eyes return to the Bridger cattle.  Wild buffalo are not to blame, but that isn't going to stop livestock interests from pointing the finger at them.  Yellowstone-area elk are not known to move that far north either, so perhaps cattle will be determined to be the source of infection.

Brucellosis is a disease that invasive cattle brought to North America's native wildlife, and this is finally being reported by the papers, as is the fact that - even where they coexist - wild buffalo have never transmitted brucellosis to cattle.  It's high time the cattle industry takes responsibility for infecting our native wildlife with cattle diseases and manage their livestock so as not to continue harming wildlife.   Governor Schweitzer has some sensible cattle-based solutions in mind, including zone management, meaning that ranchers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) could have their grazing leases bought out, or they could switch to brucellosis-proof livestock such as steers, or they could undergo rigorous and costly testing if they insist on hosting brucellosis susceptible cattle within the GYE.   Under zone management practices, if cattle within the GYE were found with brucellosis, the entire state would not lose it's prized brucellosis-free status.

Montana's cattle industry cries that it has spent millions to acquire and maintain its brucellosis-free status, and that losing it would cause an economic blow.  But those costs could never compare to the price native flora and fauna have paid since the coming of the cattle industry.  Cattle ranching is an extremely harmful industry whose practices are responsible for water pollution, diseases, degradation of native grasslands, thousands of miles of barbed wire fencing, millions of acres of mismanaged landscapes, destruction of riparian areas, and poisoning, trapping and slaughtering of native wildlife, along with many other nefarious things including human sickness.

While it remains to be seen what will happen next, this brucellosis incident demonstrates that Montana's cattle industry has been foolishly targeting wild buffalo while failing to focus on cattle-based brucellosis risk management.  Maybe if DOL's livestock inspectors had been doing their jobs rather than wasting our federal tax dollars by repeatedly harassing and killing wild buffalo, this brucellosis incident could have been prevented.
Ultimately, cattle ranching is not conducive to the health of this vast and delicate ecosystem. The GYE is one of the last wild places of it's kind, still home to the amazing wildlife that was once found in abundance throughout North America.   For now, the cattle industry has a stronghold on the land and how it is used; but the industry is not sustainable and is feeling the pressure of it's slow decline.  As the cattle industry fades, the buffalo will again roam and will help restore the land.

Roam Free,
* Buffalo in the News
With all the harassment (hazing) of Yellowstone buffalo going on, coupled with the incident of brucellosis being found in Montana cattle (not from buffalo!), the papers have been teeming with stories.  Below are some links to recent buffalo news.

Letter sent by BFC and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) to the Interagency Bison Management agencies, requesting humane treatment of wild buffalo as well as elements of cattle-based risk management: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0607/pressreleases0607/052307.html

Recent news about wild buffalo and also brucellosis being found in Montana cattle:

An opinion editorial by BFC printed in the West Yellowstone News

TAKE ACTION! Please write on for the buffalo by sending in Letters to the Editor to your local, regional and national papers. Contact info for targeted media, as well as writing tips can be found at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html.

When your buffalo-friendly letter is printed, please send us a copy along with your t-shirt size because we will send you a free "Let Buffalo Roam!" t-shirt. Printed letters can be sent to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org or to the mailing address at the end of this email.

* Photo of the Week & Slideshow!
The Photo of the Week is testament to the absolute adorableness of wild baby buffalo!

Here's a slide show that is sure to make you fall in love with buffalo! Browse these beautiful pictures from Yellowstone and witness the very first steps of this wild roamer, while the loving, protective gaze of a proud mama watches her closely. Many thanks to Elizabeth Laden and John Losch for sharing this amazing photo journal entry with everyone. http://web.mac.com/ipnews/iWeb/Site/BabyBison.html
* Honor Father's Human & Wild ~ Handcrafted Father's Day Cards Available!
Gifted maker of BFC's Mother's and Valentine's Day cards, Kathleen Stachowski,  is creating handcrafted cards for the special men in your life.  BFC is now offering handsome handcrafted Father's Day cards!  This Father's Day, give the gift of conscience, justice and compassion.  Give the gift that honors fathers both human and wild. Give a handcrafted buffalo bull photo card that helps support BFC's work to defend the Yellowstone buffalo.

We're offering just one: a 4-1/4 X 5-1/2 inch 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 Father's Day 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.
Email barb at buffaloatwildrockies.org with questions.
* Flyer & Invitation: BFC 10-Year Anniversary & Family Reunion
We are honored to invite you to celebrate BFC's ten years of frontlines bison defense with us here in West Yellowstone, MT.  Email Mike Mease (mease"at"wildrockies.org) or click on the link to our event flier for more information: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/Reunion07letter.pdf
* Last Words
Wild Buffalo
I sit here with tears
Running down my face
As I read how the buffalo
Are treated with disgrace
In this place called Montana:
Persecution is the thing
In this place called Montana
Where cattle ranchers are king.
Buffalo mothers are calving:
They can't catch their breath
Because men with big machines
Run them nearly to death!
Baby is fallen!
Mother stands by
Defending her baby:
Will baby live, or die?
Mother buffalo
Nudges her fallen calf.
Baby finally arises, revived at last!
Two brothers are arrested
For breaking NO LAW!
Just for taking pictures
Of abuse going on.
Here in America!
Handcuffed like slaves!
In "The land of the free
And the home of the brave."
Land of the free?
Not if you're a buffalo!
Men with machines tell you
Where you can and can't go.
You long for wild freedom
Of days long gone by.
If you go to Montana,
Chances are, you might die!
Buffalo skull
On Montana license plate.
Grim predictor
Of the Buffalo's fate
If cattle barons and the DOL
Continue to have their way,
There won't be wild buffalo left one day!
Abusing these gentle giants!
Your atrocities scream!
In this place called Montana
Where cattle are king.

~ Robin Hummingbird Songs, 5-12-07

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