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
Fax: 1-406-444 5529
Thanks to everyone who is working so hard to save the
* 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
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,
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"