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Weekly Update from the Field February 21, 2008
Subscribe to our email list and receive our weekly Update from the Field
* Update from the Field
* Week of Action Wrap-Up
* BFC Needs Cameras & Walkies for the Field!
* Message from Rosalie Little Thunder
* Contact Major News Outlets
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Last night, close to 8pm, after dinner and our general meeting, we walked out of the warmth of the cabin into the frigid, clear night air, down the snowy driveway to watch the total eclipse of the Moon. She was so beautiful in her fullness, lighting up the white snow with such brightness every move of your eye caused crystals to sparkle and glitter. The full moon on a snowy landscape can make even the most practical-minded believe in some kind of Magick. Slowly, the Moon's glowing was eclipsed by the earth, her strong light fading with the creeping of a red shadow moving across her pale face. I certainly can't speak for everyone, but I think it's safe to say that, while reveling in this celestial phenomenon, each of us couldn't help but turn our thoughts to the blood of the buffalo being spilled all over the winter landscape. Even the Moon reflects the season of buffalo slaughter now full upon us.

Along the north boundary, near Gardiner, Yellowstone National Park has captured and sent to slaughter 290 of America's last wild buffalo. It is so hard to imagine the stress and horror these buffalo go through as they are captured and separated from their families by age and sex. Frightened, they run around in a panic, goring each other as they try to find a way out of this thoughtless prison. The sacred buffalo, being loaded onto livestock trailers and hauled to the dark nightmare of the slaughter house, to be processed and cut to pieces. How dare Yellowstone National Park condemn the buffalo under their care to such a fate.

Here in West Yellowstone, Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents have plowed the 610 Forest Service road that leads to the Horse Butte trap site. This morning, patrols began witnessing the livestock agents assembling the trap. According to the DOL, hazing, capture and slaughter could begin any minute now. The buffalo scattered throughout the Madison Valley and Horse Butte Peninsula are doing the best they can just to survive the winter. Now their true enemies are back in town ready to dominate the landscape and terrorize every creature that lives here. There are never any cattle on Horse Butte, at any time of year, so why must the DOL make a presence here at all? Why don't they go to their precious feedlots and cattle pastures and mind their widgets and leave the wild buffalo alone?

All this killing and preparation for killing is happening while the Nez Perce are engaging in their treaty hunt. Near Gardiner the Yellowstone River divides the types of death the buffalo are dealt: to the west, slaughter and to the east the hunt. But here along the western boundary all these actions take place on the same landscape. Will the DOL and other agencies haze and capture buffalo that the Nez Perce are trying to hunt? What conflict will this incite? Already on Horse Butte conflicts between Nez Perce hunters and state and federal agents have taken place. Hunters are none too pleased to know that a buffalo trap is being set up by the government while they are trying to hunt buffalo; their treaty rights are being infringed upon, to be sure. The response of the Nez Perce to these actions remain to be seen, but things may heat up. Yesterday, on Horse Butte, seven buffalo were taken by Nez Perce hunters; unfortunately, they killed the buffalo in the middle of the bald eagle closure, an area closed to all human activity from December through August to protect nesting pairs of bald eagles. Their thinking was that this area didn't apply to their treaty rights to hunt on the landscape. While this violation is tragic, even more telling is how the Forest Service immediately ticketed the Nez Perce, but have turned a blind eye to white hunters who have also violated the closure, and have practically ignored the hundreds of snowmobiles who have disrespectfully trashed this protected area. It's selective law enforcement, and the Forest Service even admits to it.

Either way, the buffalo lose. They are being killed by the hundreds.

More than 400 of the country's last wild buffalo have been killed just because they stepped foot into or approached Montana's borders. Always, the decision-makers try to justify their actions by touting the threat of brucellosis. Yes, brucellosis is a threat, but not to cattle. It is a threat to the buffalo because it is being used by the government and cattle interests to keep wild American bison from reclaiming their native, historic range. This is their land! It's infuriating how the industry-backed media reports how these mismanagement actions take place to prevent bison from transmitting brucellosis to non-native cattle, when it is the cattle that infected our native wildlife to begin with. And wild bison have never transmitted this disease back to cattle. There are upwards of 100 million cows in the U.S., and wild American bison number fewer than 4,300 individuals. Brucellosis is an excuse that is being used to control and kill wildlife, and give cattle interests dominion over our national heritage - it's not just bison; it's elk and wolves and bears and grasslands and water, and so much more. Cattle make the land and the people sick. The cattle industry believes their profits are more important than the health of the land, and has the government's support in every possible way, using our tax dollars to kill the buffalo.

Over the weekend we were blessed with a visit from BFC co-founder and Lakota elder Rosalie Little Thunder. See below for a special message from her. She, her sister Donna, and Donna's son Robert came to stay with us and talk about how we can bring the Buffalo Culture tribes together to make something happen for the buffalo. Rosalie reminded us that, while we may feel that change seems to never be in site, things are moving in a positive direction. It's like a pendulum, she said, and it can only swing so far one way before it must start back in the other direction. We are on the cusp of that counter swing.

Roam Free,
~Stephany
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* Week of Action Wrap-up
What a week! Thank you so much for participating in all the National Call-in Days! We really made the phones ring off the hook, and it's apparent by the reactions of the decision-makers we contacted that they are trying to hide from the shame of their part in the 21st century buffalo slaughter. They were either out of town, on vacation, hired someone else to take names and numbers, passing the buck, or shirking their responsibility in any way they could. We should all be outraged at their lack of responsiveness, and perhaps it's time to take it to Congress. Many of you already contacted your House and Senate members, and we encourage others to do the same. And, of course, keep contacting the decision-makers we called this week and let them know you are not going to go away until the slaughter stops and wild buffalo are free to roam! Contact info for everyone we called this week, as well as other involved agencies and your own members of Congress can all be found here:http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html

Our Week of Action also consisted of a rally on Saturday, the 16th (see Photo of the Week below), which was a great way for us here in West Yellowstone to draw attention to the buffalo slaughter for the Park's numerous winter visitors. It also gave us hope. We received a lot of positive response from all the tours that passed our "free speech zone" where we donned masks, held banners, chanted for the buffalo, and performed skits with amazing puppets made by BFC volunteers. We were approached by two media organizations, and were also very lucky to meet supporters that traveled from Bozeman to join us in solidarity for the Buffalo.

We must also thank the people who helped make this Week of Action a success. Here at home, Seeds of Peace joined us, cooking amazing meals for the many people who participated, and offering medical and moral support. Seeds is an amazing collective of incredible people that do everything they can to provide what the activist community needs. Learn more about Seeds of Peace:
http://www.seeds-of-peace-collective.org/

Also, the following groups were hugely instrumental in helping spread the word for our National Call-in Days, rallying their supporters to take action for the buffalo. They were able to get the word out to many tens of thousands of people. In particular, we are grateful for the efforts of the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, In Defense of Animals and the Gallatin Wildlife Association. We also thank the many bloggers who are out there, posting the information and helping to spread the word to save these special herds. Keep the pressure on! Don't let up until the slaughter stops and the wild buffalo roam their homeland wild and free!

THANK YOU ALL FOR A GREAT WEEK!
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* BFC Needs Cameras & Walkie Talkies for the Field!
One of the main reasons were are here in the field, on the front lines with the buffalo, is to document all actions made against them and thereby tell the world what is happening in order to create positive change. We can only be effective at this when we have working cameras and radios to document and communicate with one another in the field.

Currently, BFC is in dire need of video cameras, still cameras, and walkie-talkies. Without these tools, we cannot be as effective as we need to be. With hazing, capture, slaughter, and hunting happening on both boundaries, we are stretched and sometimes unable to run as many patrols as we need to.

PLEASE SUPPORT BFC by helping us get the gear we need. As we say around camp, "these are the tools we use to save the buffalo." We are specifically in need of:
* Mini DV video cameras, preferably 3CCD
* 5 (or greater) megapixel digital still cameras
* Walkie-Talkies

If you can help us with monetary or in-kind donations for these items, you will help ensure that nothing done against the buffalo will go undocumented. Help us tell their story to the world! Thank you! Contact us at gear@buffalofieldcampaign.org, 406-646-0070, or by mail at
BFC, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758.

Thank you all so much for your continued support!
------------------------------
* A Message from Rosalie Little Thunder
"Ahniyan" is a Lakota word that is difficult to translate to English. It is a transitive verb, with behavior or emotion being transferred from subject to object. Rather than having narrow meaning, "ahniyan" has range and describes emotion; from gentle to intensely aggressive. You can "ahniyan" a baby; it's smallness or softness causing one to want to gently squeeze it. You can also "ahniyan" your worst enemy; harboring a heavy desire to do violence. This is the word that comes to mind when trying to comprehend the human behavior involved in the ongoing Yellowstone buffalo slaughter. At the far dark end of the emotional scale, it's the simplest and clearest description for this whole bloody mess. It doesn't have to be logical and sensible. It's an intense, murky emotion that grips frail, undisciplined human beings and compels them to brutally and systematically wipe out millions of living beings. These Holocausts are enacted at different places and different times in history. For the last generation, we have been witness to the Holocaust of the Yellowstone Buffalo.

Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on the buffalo slaughter operation to protect so few cows that can be elsewhere. No one yet has backed up the disease accusation with the sound scientific proof that a wild buffalo ever transmitted the disease (back) to a cow. The U.S. Army brought infectious dairy cattle to Yellowstone, to the wildlife of Yellowstone. Native legend tells us that the buffaloes eat medicinal plants and heal themselves. The buffaloes show no ill effects from brucellosis and they will NOT breed with cattle. While they migrate to lower elevations for forage in harsh winters, they will return to the park long before the cattle are brought onto the cheap grazing allotments on public lands. These arguments have been made and some serious questions were raised by sensible folks within responsible agencies; Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Yellowstone National Park and so on, but those good folks are all gone now, swept away by pathological politics.

So here we are now, over a decade of the on-going "woahniyan" of a species, that still doesn't make sense, when exaggerations and lies are told without shame. The case has been made, the bigger ecological picture has been drawn, the cultural stories have been told and yet the mindlessness of humanity prevails and our woolly relatives continue to perish.

There are human beings who see the big picture, who know from deep within their ancestral memories, who have the capacity to comprehend the significance of the buffalo. They feel the energy of the Earth and they know what Sacred is. Some of them are there in Yellowstone. Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers are with the buffalo. From early dawn, they give their energy toward its survival and in the evening, they weep when they know that the buffaloes have been captured and are on their way to slaughter. But In the morning, they will get up and do it all over again. There is hope.
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* Contact Major News Outlets
Why aren't major news networks covering the slaughter of America's last wild buffalo? We must all make an effort to bring this issue to their attention, and let them know this is an issue of national, and even global significance. Please take some time to contact the various media outlets listed below and help share the story of what's happening to the last wild buffalo! Thank you!

ABC News:
http://abcnews.go.com/Site/page?id=3068843

CBS News:
http://www.cbsnews.com/
*scroll down to the very bottom of the page and choose "Contact Us." You can send messages to one or multiple news programs

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: drop him a line at nightly@nbcuni.com.
You can also send video mail if you have the capability: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19935021/

MSNBC - send them an email suggesting they cover the buffalo slaughter in Yellowstone and Montana: letters@msnbc.com

CNN - email them at ireport@cnn.com or send video mail regarding the buffalo to CNN at http://www.cnn.com/exchange/ireports/topics/forms/breaking.news.html

CNN's Larry King Live:
http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5.lkl.html

Democracy Now!
http://www.democracynow.org/get_involved/contact?to=1

Real Time with Bill Maher
http://www.hbo.com/apps/submitinfo/contactus/submit.do?title=
Real%20Time%20with%20Bill%20Maher&questiontype=realtimewithbillmaher


To contact major print news media, please visit our Letters to the Editor page at
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html

Anyone who gets a buffalo-friendly letter printed wins a FREE "Let Buffalo Roam" t-shirt! Please send a hard copy or email copy of your letter appearing in the paper, along with your t-shirt size and mailing address.
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* Photo of the Week
An assortment from our rally at the west gate of Yellowstone National Park. Buffalo advocates got the message to hundreds of Yellowstone visitors, and marched through town to draw attention to the Park's role in the slaughter of the American bison. Thank you all for a great day! Photos by Chris, Cricket and Cat.
http://gallery.buffalofieldcampaign.org/v/photo_of_the_week/actionweek_1.jpg.html
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* Last Words
"His heart was like the wind roaming over the land with a roar of might and many. And ending in a sigh of solitude and sorrow, not for himself, but for the ignorance of man".
~ Zorgreen


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