* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Less than a mile from the border of Yellowstone National
Park, the eighth bull buffalo has been killed in Montana's
Over the past few days, patrols had been keeping an
eye on two bull buffalo that were inside Yellowstone
National Park slowly making their way west. So long
as they remained within the veritable cage of the Park's
boundaries, they were safe from gunners. And, after
talking with Koelzer's grandson, coupled with this years'
absence of "hunters welcome" signs posted
on the property, we even thought the buffalo might be
okay there. We were wrong.
Early this morning, patrols made their way from Fir
Ridge along the Yellowstone boundary trail towards Duck
Creek to check up on the bulls. The trail follows the
western edge of Gallatin National Forest, a tract of
public land less than 1/4 mile wide bordering the Koelzer
property. Patrols waited in the cold and waning dark
to get a glimpse of the shapes of buffalo. But they
didn't find any living buffalo. As the sun began to
rise shedding light on the landscape, they saw that
buffalo blood had been shed on the Koelzer property.
The only thing left of this bull was the blood-stained
snow. His shaggy partner left only tracks going back
deep into Yellowstone. The shooters must have waited
until the last possible legal minute to kill the buffalo,
making quick work in the dark last night. A testament
to their conscience?
Honestly, we don't even know if the Koelzer family has
given permission for gunners to shoot buffalo on their
property. We assume so. But, why would the hunters wait
until dark if they had permission? Maybe deep down they
know it's wrong and were trying to avoid being noticed.
But they were noticed. BFC is always watching.
The DOL never has had a good excuse for killing bull
buffalo. The DOL claims it's "protecting"
the cattle industry from the spread of brucellosis,
yet bulls cannot transmit brucellosis - and no wild
buffalo ever has given it to cattle anyway. The potential
is extremely rare, almost non-existent. But now, with
this canned hunt, the DOL doesn't have to justify their
deeds - they get "hunters" to do their dirty
work for them. It's still a buffalo extermination program
no matter how they try to mask it. Montana is one vast
no-tolerance zone for America's last wild buffalo. It's
all about the grass and who gets to eat it.
Montana changes the players and the wording for a few
months, from DOL slaughter to hunters hunting, and somehow
this disguise is fooling a lot of people. It's an extermination
program employing hasty gunners too eager to fill their
freezers with the bodies of America's last wild buffalo.
Without giving voice for the buffalo or their habitat,
the shooters participating in this canned hunt are stealing
from the land.
Yellowstone National Park is the last place in America
where wild buffalo have continuously existed. It is
the only place where wild buffalo are unfenced and still
follow the instinct to migrate. The Yellowstone buffalo
are this country's last wild bison and there are fewer
than 3,500 of them left. With an historical population
estimated at 50 million wild buffalo, this last remnant
population is in dire need of protection. Everyone who
cares about wild buffalo should take action now.
Please contact Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and
remind him that Montana has initiated a border shoot
of a species ecologically extinct in the state. Tell
him to show some tolerance and respect for wild buffalo
by calling off the canned hunt and calling off the DOL.
Urge Montana to stand aside and allow wild buffalo to
restore themselves upon their native habitat. 406-444-3111.
As for the Koelzer family, we are still holding on to
hope for the future because we know that the DOL's time
on that property is running out.
With the Buffalo,
* Auction in Progress: February Ski Trip to
Support Buffalo Field Campaign by bidding on a February
ski trip to Crested Butte, Colorado. The auction includes
a week of free lodging in a slopeside condominium, 8
free lift tickets courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain
Resort, free ski jackets and hats courtesy of Patagonia,
and gift certificates courtesy of Crested Butte and
Gunnison businesses. Auction runs from December 10 until
View the auction and place a bid:
* When Quarantined Buffalo Tasted Momentary
Over two weeks ago, Animal & Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS) and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
(MFWP) displayed their utter incompetence when they
allowed eight bison calves to escape a quarantine facility
corral located just north of Gardiner, Montana. Apparently,
a gate was left unlocked and the wind blew it open.
Sadly the calves, already showing signs of domestication,
just grazed around the facility and were easily re-captured.
This "quarantine feasibility study" is being
conducted in an effort to produce brucellosis free buffalo
that could be used to start or supplement herds on native
or public lands. If this study is successful, buffalo
calves will be captured as part of the Interagency Bison
Management Plan and kept in corrals to be tested and
bred until their managers are assured that they do not
indeed have brucellosis. Right now there are 47 buffalo
in the Corwin Springs quarantine facility. MFWP and
APHIS have intentions for hundreds more.
But what happened in that period in which those buffalo
tasted momentary freedom? What implication does this
have for the scientific validity of this government
funded "study"? Will the results mean anything?
What about last year when bighorn sheep were found inside
the quarantine facility? Can these government agencies
be trusted with this project?
Or, the bigger question: should this project even exist?
My answer is "no", and again I am reminded
of how much I hate being drawn into defending the buffalo
using their killers' logic. Of course this quarantine
study has been ridiculously compromised. Any other scientific
study would have been scrapped by now. Of course there
is almost no public support for taking baby buffalo
from their herd, slaughtering their families and raising
the calves as livestock. (Supposedly, MFWP will "teach"
the buffalo to be wild again.)
No, this is insane. If APHIS and MFWP want to see buffalo
restoration, I invite them to go out on patrol with
us to witness the annual migration of buffalo out of
the park. That is buffalo restoration; they are doing
"Just leave us alone," they are saying, "we'll
take care of ourselves." If left to themselves,
buffalo would eventually repopulate North America. Those
of us who have seen herds of a couple hundred often
daydream about the once common thundering buffalo herds
of a forgotten time. And it wouldn't cost a dime.
And it also wouldn't require baby buffalo to be kidnapped,
ripped from their family structure, experimented on
and possibly eventually slaughtered anyway. Those horrible
things wouldn't be on our collective consciousness.
We wouldn't have to look back on these days with regret,
but in humble gratitude that we were able to stop this
horrible project from going any further.
The 47 buffalo in the facility right now are probably
lost, and this is heartbreakingly sad. (Though I'm secretly
praying to a higher power, asking her to magically turn
the quarantine facility into luscious green grass, letting
the buffalo just eat their way to freedom and good health.)
But this insanely cruel project need go no further.
Please talk to everyone you know about this quarantine
study. Please write to as many newspapers as you can.
Please tell your favorite magazine that they should
do a story on the buffalo. Find out who your representatives
are in government and tell them that you care, so they
should too. Write to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
and Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (their
contact info below) and tell them to stop kidnapping
and killing baby buffalo. Hell, go to MFWP and APHIS
to tell them in person! Organize a group of people to
visit these agencies and show them how many people are
against this "study." If you can garner enough
support, march to these agencies' headquarters!
Organize a group of people to meet at your favorite
independent bookshop or fair trade coffee house, and
discuss how you feel about buffalo being quarantined
and the annual government funded buffalo slaughter.
Hold brainstorming sessions with your friends and family
about how to help the buffalo.
If you are a teacher (and we all are), let us help you
put together a packet that you can show to your students.
If you have a knack for writing, use it to put together
a freelance magazine or newspaper article. If you are
a student, organize with your classmates and come up
with better ideas than the ones I'm giving you. (If
we had THE answer, this would all be over; the buffalo
are counting on all of us.)
But as you do all this (and hopefully more!) let yourself
feel. Too often in our society, we are told that emotion
is weakness. You aren't supposed to cry when a buffalo
is killed, a river dammed, or a 1,500 year old redwood
is cut down. We are told that we can't change things
and that we'd better get used to it. We are just one
person and how can one person change the world?
Well, we aren't just one person. "We" is me,
you and everyone you know who feels that something is
wrong, that there is a right and a wrong, that there
is something worth fighting for outside of ourselves.
So when you call up MFWP and tell them to stop the buffalo
quarantine, let the emotions flow. If a tear falls onto
your handwritten letter to your congressperson or senator
don't start over, send that letter off. And when you
find yourself on the steps of APHIS or Capitol Hill,
in front of thousands of people, when you are addressing
the uncaring bureaucracy that is destroying the Earth
and killing her children and your voice shakes, well,
hell, let it shake!
Best wishes to you this solstice. May you find love
and laughter with your friends and family, and in this
new year, as the sun greets us earlier and earlier each
day, may we all realize just how strong we really are.
Dru Dixon (kiss the cook!)
CONTACT Agencies Responsible for the Slaughter and Decision-Makers
that Must Hear from You:
* Last Words
I hear a voice,
the cry of a wounded animal,
Someone shoots an arrow at the moon,
A small bird has fallen from the nest.
People must be awakened,
Witness must be given,
So that life can be guarded.
~ W.S. Rendra