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Weekly Update from the Field November 16, 2006
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* Update from the Field
* Bison Hunt News: Press Release & Articles
* Elk Test & Slaughter Program - Comment!
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
The opening day of Montana's canned bison hunt has ended, and with it so have the lives of two bull buffalo. The first buffalo was taken in West Yellowstone on the south side of the Madison River - less than a quarter mile from Yellowstone's western border - and the second bull was killed in Gardiner near Eagle Creek campground, not far from the Park's northern boundary. BFC volunteers, maintaining a presence in both West Yellowstone and Gardiner, were on the scene documenting both.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) expanded the bison hunt this season, issuing 140 permits to kill Yellowstone bison, as opposed to 50 permits issued last season. Unlike last year, this year's permits specify the hunt location (West Yellowstone or Gardiner) and the sex (bull/cow/calf or cow/calf).

Sadly, there are 1,011 less Yellowstone buffalo this year, mostly due to the massive capture and slaughter operation conducted last spring by the National Park Service and the Montana Department of Livestock. Few buffalo have been spotted outside of the National Park boundary in the past weeks and some hunters will perhaps come away empty handed.

This year, in addition to helping educate hunters about the extreme mismanagement the last wild buffalo suffer, volunteers in the field are asking for the support and action of the hunters for designating critical buffalo habitat. Massive change requires massive action, and with the help of Montana hunters and conservation organizations, the battle for significant viable buffalo habitat throughout the state and the country can be won.

Yellowstone Buffalo are America's last continuously wild herd, numbering less than 4,000. This is only a fraction of the 30 to 50 million that existed before Europeans settled America.  The slaughter of the American buffalo originated then, and continues today through rash government actions and federal tax dollars. Buffalo have been persecuted for far too long, and they deserve our respect and protection.

Please consider making a secure donation to BFC today to help keep us on the front lines with the buffalo. Mail your donation to the address at the end of this update or click here to make a secure donation over the web: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807

Please continue to write, call, fax, and e-mail Montana's governor Brian Schweitzer. Insist that he take a stand for America's last wild buffalo.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
State Capitol, Helena, MT 59620-0801
Phone: 1-406-444-3111
Fax: 1-406-444 5529
Email:  BrianSchweitzer@mt.gov
Thanks to everyone who is working so hard to save the buffalo.
* Bison Hunt News: Press Release & Articles
BFC Press Release 11/15/06
Yellowstone Bison Border Shoot Begins

Bison season has low-key but successful start
Billings Gazette 11/16/06

Tracking the hunt: Volunteers to film hunters, not interfere
Billings Gazette 11/13/06

* Please write a letter to the editor of the Billings Gazette or your preferred local, regional or national paper, to help tell the story of the last wild buffalo.  Encourage everyone to take part in helping wild buffalo become a respected, valued native wildlife species and regain their native habitat throughout Montana!  Contact information and tips are here: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html.
* Elk Test & Slaughter Program - Comment!
The controversy surrounding brucellosis management in the Greater Yellowstone Area not only involves the buffalo, but is also targeted at elk, particularly in Wyoming.  The Wyoming Department of Fish and Game (WF&G) has a long-standing program of feeding elk in the winter, primarily on National Forest lands.  The program began in the 1950's as a way to keep elk off of cattle feed lines.  Now, Wyoming has developed feed dependent elk that are far above the population that the landscape would support.  Additionally, elk feedgrounds preempted the need to establish secure migratory corridors for wintering elk.  WF&G currently operates 22 elk feedgrounds in northwestern Wyoming.

In addition to the many issues that make winter feeding of elk a bad management policy, the feedgrounds are a breeding ground for brucellosis.  Rates of brucellosis exposure for feedground elk range between 17 and 60 percent.  Elk that are not on feedgrounds range between 0 and 3 percent.  The feedgrounds create the ideal condition for brucellosis exposure and transmission.  In fact, such a transmission did occur between elk at the Muddy Creek feedground and domestic cattle sharing a fence line throughout the winter.  The state of Wyoming's decision about how to deal with brucellosis on elk feedgrounds is to test and slaughter elk.  Last year, WF&G captured and tested 171 cow elk on the Muddy Creek feedground, sending 58 to slaughter, only 18 of which culture tested positive for brucellosis.  The agency plans to continue this program and extend it to additional feedgrounds in the next two years. 

Several advocacy groups in Wyoming recently filed a federal lawsuit challenging the test and slaughter program and the continued winter feeding of elk based on the lack of environmental analysis by the Forest Service for use of public land for these long-term projects with significant impacts to the human environment.  A decision is expected by the Federal District Court in Wyoming anytime.  To preempt this decision and assert their perceived right to manage public lands without public input, the Bridger-Teton National Forest is attempting to categorically exclude feedground reauthorization from analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 
A letter, dated November 3, 2006, appears on the agencies web site, asking for comments on their decision to exclude feedgrounds from NEPA analysis:  http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf/projects/

The current deadline for comment is November 24, 2006.  However, the story didn't emerge in the media until today in an article by the Jackson Hole Star Tribune, http://www.jacksonholestartrib.com/articles/2006/11/16/news/wyoming/5231d383061ad0248725722800039f8f.txt.
Eight days is not nearly enough time to produce substantial comments on this important decision by the Forest Service.  Wyoming's feedgrounds are directly tied to the overall controversy surrounding brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area and the slaughter of Yellowstone buffalo.

Please submit a letter to the Bridger-Teton National Forest requesting an extension to the comment period until December 8, 2006. 

Your letter can be sent by email to:
Attn: Craig Trulock, Acting Natural Resource Specialist
Bridger-Teton National Forest
P.O. Box 1888
Jackson, WY  83001

For more information contact BFC's Josh Osher at bfc-advocate"at"wildrockies.org
* Last Words
"All things worthy that are in peril,
as the world now stands,
those are my care"
~ J.R.R.Tolkein

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