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Weekly Update from the Field July 19, 2007
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* Update from the Field
* BFC Reaching Out to Yellowstone's Visitors
* Buffalo in the News
* Give to BFC by Searching the Internet with GoodSearch!
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Since we last wrote to you, three bull buffalo have been shot and killed on separate occasions.  Two weeks ago, a bull buffalo was on Pat Povah's cattle ranch, located west of town near the Madison River.  Mr. Povah and his hired hands have made it clear that they do not want to share the land with wild buffalo.  Finding this bull near their holy cows, they called the Montana Department of Livestock and were given permission to kill the bull, who was supposedly "threatening," since his kind contracted brucellosis from cattle nearly a century ago.  As we've said before, cattle brought brucellosis to this country, bull buffalo cannot transmit brucellosis to cattle, and no wild buffalo ever has anyway.  Below are reports from the field about two other bull buffalo who were shot and killed for being wild buffalo.

Wild bison, wild fires, wild people...is there a place for them?  A fire recently swept through the forests along the south side of the Madison River.  The burn is an amazing sight to behold.  Stark black, intense rust, and bright green colors form a mosaic from the West Yellowstone airport north to the Madison River.  These acres were the exact habitat that the buffalo were trying to access all spring causing the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) to set up the capture facility there.  I can't say it was a "wild" fire as the officials in charge of fire investigation have not yet determined the cause.

Historically, wild fires and bison have shared an intimate relationship.  Wild fires open habitat and forage for bison and bison stimulate the growth of native grasses; in essence, rejuvenating the burned area.  James H. Shaw, Professor in Conservation and Wildlife Ecology at Oklahoma State University, writes, "Together, bison-grazing and fires create shifting mosaics of grasses at the landscape level.  It is possible that the bison's effect on the land results in an overall richness and diversity of tall-grass species."  Gary Nabhan, Director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University, states, "By recovering free-ranging bison on large landscapes, they will again influence the patch dynamics and plant diversity of (a) region.  Bison will not be the only harvestable product from this wild ecosystem; a number of historically important food plants will also increase in abundance should buffalo wallows, browsing pressures, and historic fire regimes reestablish themselves."  Ecology is an amazing circle...believe in coexistence.

This week a bull bison crossed Hwy 191, heading west into the burn.  Japhy and I saw him around dinner time.  A smile from ear to ear lit up my 11 year-old son's face.  "It's the first buffalo I've seen since Mother's Day!" he exclaimed excitedly.  The bull traveled quickly through the burn and was found the next morning some ten miles west on private property.  Shane Grube (Montana Department of Livestock) and Jim Smolezynski (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks game warden) were quick to respond with horses and shotguns.  Although the private property owners were quite clear that they did not want any harm done to the buffalo, their concerns fell on deaf ears.  Shane claimed that private property rights don't matter in the case of disease management.  When asked what disease management had to do with a bull bison that cannot transmit brucellosis, there was no response.  Shane and Jim hazed the bull off the property and then shot him in some willows out of view of BFC cameras.

BFC volunteer Eric Stewart, who was on patrol that morning wrote of his experience:
"This particular bull had wandered out of Yellowstone National Park during the middle of summer.  When state and federal agents arrived to deal this creature its sentence, it was resting, bedded down in the summer heat and offering no one so much as a problem.  Like so many before, this bull wandered, and wandering IS a bison's nature!  Yet we continue to cut down the very genetic untamedness of the herds.  Weeding out the smart as they learn to go to lower elevations for food in the winter and the wild, as in the case of those who recently made it all the way to Idaho only to be killed there, we continue to display the typical knee-jerk reaction applied in almost any instance in which bison are out of the park where media attention is minimal, i.e. not during major migrations.

We continue to slaughter an animal whose only crime, as far as recorded history and science are concerned, was to be the major source of sustenance for a people we wished annihilated, a people now on their own reservations, contained, disregarded.

Let it not be so!

I bore witness.  It was not done in a sacred way.  These men do not understand sacred when it comes to the last there are, walking remnants of an ice age long gone, and the greatest recovery effort for a wild species, with the possible exception of the gray wolf, in the history of this country.

Let it not be said we brought these beings back from the brink of extinction only to push them around."

Earlier this week several reports came in that three bulls were seen in Idaho, just across the MT state line on Hwy 20.  Then rumor had it that all three were shot.  Then we heard rumors that it was only two bulls.  We frantically called around to learn the truth.  We found no help from any Idaho agencies.  Mel Frost (MT FWP) returned our calls only to say that she had heard nothing of bison killings.  She quickly made some calls and finally Jim Smolezynski confirmed with her that he and Shane Grube had been "back-up" on the killing of one of the bulls in Idaho.  He gave no indication of which Idaho agency had been responsible for the death and no information on the other bull or bulls.  Finally, we received confirmation from Pam Juker, Chief of Staff for the Idaho Department of Agriculture, that the buffalo was "destroyed."  When asked why the buffalo was killed, she stated, "No wild bison of any kind (are) in the state of Idaho."  We are unsure why she responded in such a way; there were wild bison in Idaho and they killed one.

I can't help but wonder why these agents sneak around in the willows, evade phone calls, and refuse to comment on their roles and reasoning.  Perhaps they feel shame because a part of them knows the buffalo are sacred.

Here at camp life goes on.  BFC is hosting Aerie Backcountry Medicine (http://www.aeriemed.com) out of Missoula, MT.  Aerie is training 15 students, one being BFC's Program Director, Dan Brister, who they gifted a scholarship to attend the month-long Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) intensive.  At the end of the course, students will be ready to take the national registry exam and become practicing EMT's.  Congratulations Aerie for your great contribution to communities all over the country and globe!  Several BFC volunteer's have already become EMT's through Aerie, in fact, two of the instructors for the current course are BFC family!  In addition, BFC's kitchen coordinator Jesse, who is making the most amazing whole foods for the students during their stay, is also a certified EMT through Aerie's program.  I feel proud of our buffalo community for following the example of the bison...service and family, first and foremost.  There's no hiding here.  Instead, members of our buffalo family will stand tall as they help to save lives and contribute to their local communities.

Lots of love and appreciation to BFC's tabling family.  In record high temperatures these folks are out in Yellowstone speaking for the buffalo to thousands of visitors.  Many tourists are uninformed as to the role the National Park Service plays in the mistreatment and killing of the last wild bison.  Unabashedly, our volunteers tell the true story, sending out ripples that will continue to grow in strength.

Special thanks to Dave Meade, of Idaho State University, who helped to create beautiful new tabling boards.  "It was a group project", says Stephanie Munce, assistant BFC office and summer campaign coordinator.  "We all worked together with editing and photos and the outcome is magnificent!"

We will continue to be the watchdogs for the buffalo.  We will continue to send out field patrols as long as they are needed.  We will continue to be a force to be reckoned with...much like the wild.  Crazy Horse was considered a "wild" Lakota because he lived in harmony with the natural world.  It is a honor to be named Wild and stand in such great company...Wild Peoples, Wild Bison, Wild Fires...Wild and Free!

For the Buffalo,
Justine Sanchez
BFC Board Member
* BFC Reaching out to Yellowstone's Visitors
Here in Yellowstone National Park, BFC volunteers are afforded the opportunity to reach out to people from all over the world and help educate them as to the situation of the only continuously wild, free-roaming herd of genetically pure bison in the U.S.  We have had the chance to talk to people of all walks of life and from every corner of the globe, this park being one of the biggest tourist attractions anywhere.

It is amazing to see (if Montana and federal agencies' actions are any indication) not only just how many people are unaware that the only wild bison left were brought back from extinction only to be pushed around (a reality we intend to alter), but the genuinely emotional concern that this revelation inspires in people.  Every day I am in awe at the huge potential in the "average person" to move and shake things in such a way as to provide hope for the future of these magnificent forces of nature.  Everyone, including myself, is excited to be a part of something that is doing such good things, if in small, hard-fought steps.

I am humbled and, at the same time, empowered by my experiences tabling for Buffalo Field Campaign and I think I speak for all the others who table with me, and the entire campaign (for that matter), when I say thank you to each and everyone that supports us in whatever way that you do, however small or large.  On behalf of the buffalo and those dedicated to them, I extend the sincerest of gratitudes.

I highly recommend the experience to any and all that would do themselves and the bison the favor of tabling in Yellowstone National Park.  If you're interested, contact Stephanie Munce at buffaloatwildrockies.org or 406-646-0070.

Eric Stewart
BFC Volunteer
* Buffalo in the News
A reminder that you can take action for the buffalo by submitting Letters to the Editor to print media.  There is so much political/industry spin, putting out misinformation in regards to the last wild buffalo, and it is up to each of us to help tell the truth of the buffalo's story.  Send letters to any of the papers below, to your own chosen papers, or those we have highlighted on our web site.  Folks who get a buffalo-friendly Letter to the Editor published received a free BFC "Let Buffalo Roam!" t-shirt.  When your letter is published, please email or mail us a copy (addresses are at the end of this email) along with your mailing address and t-shirt size. 

For more info and tips about writing and submitting Letters to the Editor please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html or
contact Stephany at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org

Write on for the buffalo! 

7/6/07 - FWP considers paring number of bison tags, Billings Gazette

7/6/07 - Reader gives his take on brucellosis, The Prairie Star (a cattle/agricultural based publication)

7/12/07 - Slaughter imminent for brucellosis infected cattle, Great Falls Tribune

7/13/07 - Letter:  Why kill the whole herd (Ann Stovall), Helena Independent Record

7/13/07 - Montana ranchers agree with slaughter payment for infected cattle, New West
(Note:  the comment section below is well worth the read and input!)

7/19/07 - Yellowstone's bison look meek, but they might attack those who get too close, Miami Herald
* Give to BFC by Searching the Internet with GoodSearch!
It can be really easy to help maintain BFC's front lines work to defend America's last wild buffalo: every time you need to search the Internet, use GoodSearch.com.  "GoodSearch is a search engine which donates 50% of its revenue to the charities and schools designated by its users.  Use it exactly the way you would any other search engine." 

All you have to do is go to http://www.goodsearch.com, and before you type in what you are searching for, you can put in "Buffalo Field Campaign" where it asks "Who do you GoodSearch for?"  Every time you search, the work of BFC will benefit.

Many thanks to BFC supporter Cherie for helping to make this happen!  To learn more about GoodSearch visit http://www.goodsearch.com/About.aspx.
* Last Words

The poor old bison has no vote
Him therefore you may freely shoot
To guard the cows with pointed feet
When you will slaughter for their meat
But why not cull the elk also?
The hunters will not have it so
The world if ruled by sport and beef:
The patient bison bears the grief

~ by P. Preit, Charlottesville, VA, who visited BFC's info table inside Yellowstone this summer, and shared with us this thoughtful poem.

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