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Weekly Update from the Field January 31, 2008
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* Update from the Field
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Snow has been falling practically non-stop here along the western edges of Yellowstone this week. The grasses the buffalo need to eat are buried under at least five feet of winter's white mantle. In some areas, especially along the river bluffs, the drifts are deeper still. These are hard times in the land of the last wild buffalo.

Thank you to everyone who took last-minute action last week and sent comments to the National Park Service regarding their report to the World Heritage Committee. In 1995, Yellowstone National Park, a World Heritage Site, had been declared "in danger" due, in part, to threats to wild bison. In 2003, the Park was removed from the "in danger" list because of the "considerable efforts" made by the Park to address these threats. Ironically, the Park claims success with the initiation of the infamous Interagency Bison Management Plan, a joint federal-state scheme which exclusively benefits the interests of Montana's cattle producers. In the report, tactics such as Montana's bison hunt, quarantine, vaccination, and continued hazing, capture and slaughter, were actually deemed positive actions by the Park. The government is so good at spinning the horrors they initiate in attempts to make the public believe what they are doing is beneficial. Thank you for your participation in helping draw attention to their lies.

For more information on the report, please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/worldheritage.html.

As to the hunt, the blood continues to spill. Since last week's update, sixteen wild buffalo have been killed by state and tribal hunters, bringing the total as of the time of this writing to 86. It is barely February and we've already lost nearly 100 wild buffalo. All but three of the buffalo killed this week have been taken along Yellowstone's western boundary. The Salish-Kootenai hunt is due to end today. The Nez Perce just started their hunt over the weekend, and likely will continue through mid-March. The state hunt will end on February 15.

As we've mentioned, the Montana Department of Livestock and the National Park Service have stated numerous times that come February 16, the day after Montana's bison hunt ends, they will begin hazing, capturing, and slaughtering in an aggressive manner. It will be quite interesting to see how these nefarious activities play out while the Nez Perce are conducting their treaty hunt. A showdown of enormous proportions could commence. But the ones who continuously suffer the games of man are the buffalo.

Along the park's western boundary there is no excuse for the Department of Livestock to engage in bison mismanagement. There are no cattle for them to "protect." The entirety of the Horse Butte Peninsula, a favorite landscape of wild buffalo, is completely cattle-free at all times of year now. The Interagency Bison Management Plan is supposed to be "adaptive" and change with new circumstances and information. Thus far, the only adaptations the agencies have made add up to more killing and invasive mismanagement; nothing that benefits wild bison or their native habitat. We will need your help in the coming weeks and months to make concerted efforts to protect the Horse Butte Peninsula as year-round habitat for wild buffalo in Montana.
This past week in Gardiner we saw no hazes of wild buffalo from the National Park Service, but there was a lot of bison activity inside the town itself. On Saturday, patrols saw the killing of three bull bison in the hunt zone adjacent to the Eagle Creek Campground. One state tag was filled with the help of local outfitters, and the other two males were killed by Nez Perce tribal members. The remainder of the week boded well for the North Yellowstone herds, with one group moving from the football field to the park and back, avoiding harassment by park rangers. Another group has made a constant presence on the Chatman conservation easement and the Mormon Church, traveling back and forth against the sustained winds and cold weather.
This week in Gardiner ends with a cow/calf group of over 20 back in one of the danger zones. A smaller group of 14 has been grazing next to the Yellowstone River in east Gardiner. Of noteworthy mention, we witnessed over 20 eagles (bald and golden) performing pre-mating rituals above the town. The scene was incredible with the eagles literally dancing flirtatiously many hundreds of feet up. We were also blessed to be in the presence of 50-plus bighorn sheep and the elk also had quite a presence in the hills east of Gardiner, with over 200 counted on one clear, crisp morning.

That is our report for the week from both front-lines camps. Many thanks to all of you who remain in solidarity with us, for the buffalo.

Roam Free,
~Stephany, Nate, Jessie, Frankie Colors, Stan and Anathema
* Photo of the Week


A frigid, moonlit morning along the Madison River, looking west towards a small group of buffalo and the direction of Horse Butte. Photo by Jesse, the Merlyn of BFC.
* Last Words
"This carefully crafted consensus-based [Interagency Bison Management] plan has now been successfully implemented for seven years. While many people in the local and national conservation community do not support the plan, in the last five years the core Yellowstone bison population has been sustained between 3,000 and 5,000 animals, which are historic high levels for the population. In addition, the plan addresses each of the major issues regarding the risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to livestock. highlights include: For the first time ever, non-infected bison captured at the boundary (winter 2003-2004) were vaccinated against the disease and released back into the park instead of being destroyed. This effort continues to date. An Environmental Impact Study concerning the remote vaccination of interior herds was officially begun in 2004, and continues to be developed. In the past two years, 104 bison calves were removed from the population at the park boundary and placed in a research facility to devise a protocol that will allow APHIS to certify disease-free bison from Yellowstone to be used for starting new populations on other public lands, which would ultimately serve to enhance the long-term conservation interests of the species. In the winter of 2005-2006 the State of Montana initiated a "fair-chase" bison hunting season adjacent to the park. Discussions and research continue to consider additional ways to eventually eliminate brucellosis from wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Area while maintaining wild and free roaming wildlife herds."

~ Yellowstone National Park report to the World Heritage Committee, Status of key issues, January 2008

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