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Weekly Update from the Field December 14, 2006
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* Update from the Field
* Auction in Progress: February Ski Trip to Support BFC
* When Quarantined Buffalo Tasted Momentary Freedom (by Dru)
* Last Words

* 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 so-called hunt.

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,
~Stephany
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* Auction in Progress: February Ski Trip to Support BFC
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 the 20th.

View the auction and place a bid:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230063508087
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* When Quarantined Buffalo Tasted Momentary Freedom
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 it themselves.

"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.

Sincerely,
Dru Dixon (kiss the cook!)

CONTACT Agencies Responsible for the Slaughter and Decision-Makers that Must Hear from You:
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html
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* 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


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