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Weekly Update from the Field July 5, 2007
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* Update from the Field
* Join BFC in Yellowstone - Summer Tabling Opportunities
* Buffalo in the News
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
After an unexpectedly very active June, things in the field have quieted down a bit.  The five buffalo that were captured in West Yellowstone on June 20 were transported to Yellowstone's northern boundary, placed in the Stephens Creek bison trap and released on June 22.  Hopefully these buffalo, along with the 50 previously captured and released, are recovering from their traumatic experience and making friends with the northern range herd or are finding their way back to their own herd in Yellowstone's western lands.

Meanwhile, back in West Yellowstone, a big fire broke out in Gallatin National Forest on June 26, along the south side of the Madison River, where buffalo roam and BFC runs frequent patrols.  Intense burning could be seen from BFC's cabin.  It is still unknown how the fire started.  Officials with the national forest estimated about 1,500 acres were consumed by flames.  Campgrounds - including Baker's Hole and those along the Madison Arm Road - were closed, and some summer residents were forced to evacuate.  It was also a scary time for our friends and family out on Horse Butte.  At times it appeared that the fire would jump the Madison River and Horse Butte residents were put on alert for evacuation, which was beginning to appear imminent.  So the buffalo's lesson of taking care of family called everyone to task, and no one blinked an eye at doing what needed to be done.  BFC was ready to do whatever it took to make sure the lives of our friends would be safe.  Preparations to move people and animals out of the fire's path were made, but luckily, the evacuation was unnecessary.

Governor Schweitzer has been busy trying to gain support for a buffer zone plan (see news links below).  The idea - part of the solutions BFC has been presenting to the governor since his first days in office - is to remove all brucellosis-susceptible cattle (cow-calf pairs) from Montana lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park. It's seems like a sensible cattle-based risk management approach to protecting Montana's prized brucellosis-free status while allowing wild buffalo to move more freely in their native Montana habitat. Ranchers who participate would be fairly compensated, those who chose not to participate would be required to undergo strict brucellosis testing before their cattle could be moved in or out of the zone. Lastly, should the unlikely event of a brucellosis-transmission from wildlife to cattle occur in this buffer zone, the rest of Montana would not be affected and would maintain it's brucellosis-free status.  Sounds good so far, right?   Sounds like the potential for a win-win opportunity for wild buffalo and Montana's cattle industry, doesn't it?  Just one problem: Schweitzer's buffer zone plan doesn't benefit wild buffalo in the least.  Schweitzer has stated that even with a buffer zone, buffalo would still be hunted in the Winter and hazed, captured and slaughtered in the Spring.  Once again the sole beneficiaries of Schweitzer's actions are the cattle industry.  Once again, Schweitzer utterly fails at coming through on his campaign promise to provide "more tolerance" for wild buffalo in Montana. He's also announced that he's running for re-election, yet he's failed to help wild buffalo even though his campaign promises to do so are, in part, what got him elected.  He used the buffalo to get where he is now and he's not done a single thing to ensure a viable future for them in Montana.

PLEASE CONTACT SCHWEITZER!  Especially (but not only) if you are a Montana resident, Governor Brian Schweitzer needs to know that you still expect him to live up to his words and to provide wild buffalo some tolerance in Montana.  Tell him that you support the buffer zone idea, but it must benefit wild buffalo!  Tell him that wild buffalo have a natural right to migrate into Montana, and that you still expect him to provide year-round habitat for this national icon. Cattle brought brucellosis to North America and that's where the management actions should focus.  Wild buffalo have never transmitted the disease to cattle, so why are they repeatedly being punished for it?  Native wildlife must be protected from cattle-borne diseases, while being allowed to restore the land, fulfilling their critical ecological role.

Governor Brian Schweitzer - 406-444-3111.

The cattle industry, state, and federal agencies are now blaming elk for the Montana cattle herd that was infected with brucellosis back in May.  Given all their state-of-the-art science, it certainly took a long time for them to place the fault where they wanted to all along.  One has to assume that if cattle were the source, the industry and agencies would still spin the science to put the blame on wildlife.  Blame is the name of the game, do whatever it takes to keep the money flowing, so the finger is never pointed at the holy cow.  Never does the cattle industry own up to the fact that they brought this disease to North America.  Never have they taken responsibility for infecting native wildlife with diseases.  They spin the science to benefit their industry, and North America's native wildlife suffers the consequences.

We are the voice for the wildlife - the voice for the last wild buffalo.  It is up to us to demand a future where wild buffalo are not managed at the whims and fears of the cattle industry.  It is up to us to help set the buffalo free from their political prison so they once again roam their native land.  Keep the pressure on the decision-makers and keep telling the wild buffalo's story to everyone you meet.  Together, we are making a difference.

Roam Free,
* Join BFC in Yellowstone - Summer Tabling Opportunities
BFC is still looking for volunteers who are excited to speak about the Yellowstone Bison to visitors of Yellowstone, the nation's first national park. Volunteers will be housed and fed during their stay in Montana. Come and enjoy the scenery while being part of a great movement to save the beautiful, magnificent buffalo!
Interested? Contact Stephanie Munce at 406-646-0070
* Buffalo in the News
7/4/07 - No new brucellosis; Bridger herd must be destroyed, Bozeman Daily Chronicle

7/2/07 - Feds look at possible brucellosis buffer zone around the park, Bozeman Daily Chronicle

6/30/07 - Elk possible as outbreak source, Billings Gazette

6/26/07 - 'Pooper-scooper's' research suggest distinct bison herds roam Yellowstone , Helena Independent Record

6/26/07 - Guest Opinion: New tactics required to protect Montana cow herd from brucellosis
Billings Gazette

6/24/07 - Bad timing in trip to Montana, Concord Monitor (NH)

(NOTE: this article states that brucellosis is "deadly" to cattle and humans which is untrue; brucellosis causes a cow to lose her first pregnancy, then she resumes normal birthing cycles; in humans brucellosis is hardly an issue since the advent of pasteurization of dairy products. It's called "undulant fever" in humans and symptoms include a mild, fluctuating fever)

6/22/07 - Salish-Kootenai to join Yellowstone-area bison hunt, Associated Press
(NOTE:  this article incorrectly states how many buffalo were killed in last year's hunt; Montana hunters killed 31 wild buffalo, while it is estimated that Nez Perce hunters harvested 28 buffalo)
* Last Words
"A time would come when those plains would be a grazing country, the buffalo give place to tame cattle, farmhouses be scattered along the water courses, and wolves, bears, and Indians be numbered among the things that were."

~ Francis Parkman, in the preface to the 1872 edition of The Oregon Trail

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