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
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
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.
* 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
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
6/24/07 - Bad timing in trip to Montana, Concord Monitor
(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
~ Francis Parkman, in the preface to the 1872 edition
of The Oregon Trail