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Weekly Update from the Field January 3, 2008
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* Update from the Field
* Buffalo in the News
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words

* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

Thirteen more of America's last wild buffalo have been killed in Montana's hunt since we last wrote to you, bringing the total number killed to 41.

Phase I of the hunt ended on December 31. Phase II began on New Year's Day and lasts until January 22. BFC Patrols were hopeful for a peaceful and happy New Year's Day, but instead hunters were out in droves and five buffalo were killed along the Park's western boundary. Unfortunately, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks has recently estimated that there are enough buffalo moving in and out of Yellowstone to issue their "trigger" for this phase, and will issue an additional 14 tags for hunters to kill cow or calf bison. This also means that the two tribes hunting under treaty rights - the Nez Perce and the Confederated Salish-Kootenai - also get to split 14 of these extra tags between them.

Thursday afternoon of last week, our patrols were out on Horse Butte, where a mixed group of buffalo were grazing peacefully in the bald eagle closure, an area closed to human activity from December through August. Not even the Department of Livestock can violate the closure without special permission from the Forest Service. Hunters arrived on the scene and were hoping to shoot one of the buffalo in the closure. Luckily our patrols were there to advise them that doing so would be illegal. BFC and the hunters both contacted the Forest Service to inform them of the situation and get clarification as to whether or not buffalo could be hunted there. The Forest Service did not seem to know the law or be concerned about the potential violation. The Forest Service is in charge of this area, they manage the habitat and should be aware of the closures they have put into place and are responsible for enforcing. They acted as if it was news to them. One law enforcement agent said he would respond to the call, but he never made it out to Horse Butte. No human activity means just that, and it includes hunting. Thankfully, the hunters had their ethics about them and decided to leave those buffalo alone that day, though they returned the next day and killed a mama buffalo near the former site of the Horse Butte bison trap. The recurring lesson here is that the Forest Service is turning a blind eye to activities carried out on the land they are responsible for protecting. They put forth the laws of the landscape yet choose to either play ignorant to their meaning, or ignore potentially illegal activity. But you can rest assured when the hunt is over and hazing begins, the Forest Service will have their law enforcement agents out monitoring the actions of our volunteers. This is known as selective law enforcement.

On New Year's Eve, three wild buffalo were struck by one of the local sheriffs while they were trying to cross Highway 191 at the Madison River. One of the buffalo was killed, and when the sheriff tried to seek out the two injured ones, his vehicle and the dead buffalo were struck by a drunk driver, so the sheriff called off the search for the injured buffalo and had to deal with the alleged intoxicated traveller. The two injured buffalo have not been seen by volunteers. They may be wandering injured or they may be dead. We do not know at this point.

In Gardiner, on the Park's northern boundary, it has been relatively quiet in terms of the hunt, though one bull was killed by the Salish-Kootenai. However, last Thursday afternoon, a mixed group of 60 wild buffalo were pushed away from the Stephens Creek area, which is still within Park boundaries. Two Yellowstone Park Rangers hazed the buffalo on foot, shattering the peace with explosive cracker rounds, forcing the buffalo off of their migration route and deeper into the Park.

Wild buffalo have endured every possible tragedy over the centuries, and yet still they remain. They are powerful survivors. Prehistoric wonders that seem to defy all the odds. Buffalo stand strong and face the storm head on, whatever its name. In the name of all that is wild and free we will stand and face the storm with the buffalo, and will never give up.

Roam Free,
* Buffalo in the News
WRITE ON FOR THE BUFFALO! Please consider writing a letter to the editor to any of the papers listed below, those in your community, or the ones we have listed on our web site. Buffalo-friendly letters that are printed win you a free "Let Buffalo Roam" t-shirt. When your letter to the editor is printed, please mail or email us a copy, along with your t-shirt size and mailing address. Thanks for being a voice for the last wild buffalo!

For more info visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html or drop a line to
Stephany at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org.

12/30/07 - Groups rap park threats report (BFC quoted), Casper Star Tribune

12/29/07 - Guest Opinion: Public, private property lost to brucellosis policy
(Glenn Hockett! YEAH!)
, Billings Gazette

12/29/07 - Sun Ranch slates 11,000 acres for conservation easement (READ COMMENTS!), New West

12/29/07 - Species, visitor effects still key issues at park, Billings Gazette

12/29/07 - Focus shifts to feeding on National Elk Refuge, Jackson Hole News & Guide

12/23/07 - Trial bison vaccinations could start this winter, Jackson Hole News & Guide

12/22/07 - Guest Opinion: Brucellosis policy must protect ranchers, Billings Gazette

12/21/07 - American Indians rediscovering the long-revered bison, The Seattle Times

12/20/07 - Bison hunt starting slow (BFC quoted), Bozeman Daily Chronicle

12/18/07 - This Winter: More attacks being planned against wild buffalo of Yellowstone NP, Santa Cruz IMC / Radio Interview Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.1

12/18/07 - Where do the buffalo and elk still roam?
Business Wire / World Wildlife Fund press release

12/15/07 - G&F plan considers vaccination of bison, Jackson Hole News & Guide

12/15/07 - Carbon sink on the range?, Living Earth

12/6/07 - State and federal agencies predict busy winter for bison management
New West

* Photo of the Week
Two frosty buffalo watch patrols along the south side of the Madison River. In the background, you can see evidence of the fire that burned through much of the forest along this stretch of the river over the summer. ~ Photo by Jesse, the Merlyn of BFC.
* Last Words
"In my book a pioneer is a man who turned the grass upside down, strung bob-wire over the dust that was left, poisoned the water and cut down the trees, killed the Indian who owned the land, and called it progress. If I had my way, the land here would be like God made it, and none of you sons of bitches would be here at all."
-Charlie M. Russell, Montana cowboy, painter, speaking to Great Falls civic boosters, 1920's.

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