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Weekly Update from the Field March 6, 2008
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* Update from the Field
* Gardiner Report
* Urge Yellowstone and Montana to Stop Slaughtering Bison!
* 2007-2008 Bison Hunt Finished
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
One of the things you notice, once you've gone on a few patrols, is how different one buffalo can be from the next. The mature cow digging with her head for grass in a meadow formed by the oxbow in the Madison River has horns that curve sharply inward. The old bull scratching his back on the lodgepole pine tree in the saddle of Horse Butte has a certain and unmistakable swagger to his gait. These differences of character and appearance also manifest themselves in the behavior of bison groups and family units. Some groups graze back and forth along the river between the park boundary and the Butte. Others seem to prefer the south facing slopes of Horse Butte itself. Still others strike off together in search of new territory.

Yesterday a group of 19 buffalo crossed the ice near the Narrows and made their way toward highway 287, which leads to the lower Madison Valley where grass is abundant and the snow less deep. After crossing the ice, the group headed west and bedded down on the frozen shorelines of Hebgen Lake, not far from Buffalo Field Campaign Headquarters. Later in the afternoon this group broke into three smaller groups. Seven bison started heading back across the ice to Horse Butte and were soon followed by a group of six. A third group lagged about a half hour behind. The leader of the group of seven, noticing that the third group was so far behind, turned around. The rest of the bison in her group followed and they and the lagging group soon joined up in the highway by the Happy Hour Bar. The second group continued across the lake to Horse Butte, avoiding the fate of their 13 herd-mates who were soon chased by Department of Livestock and Park Service agents approximately five miles to the Duck Creek trap where they were captured and shipped to slaughter. For photos of these bison and more on their story, please see the "Photos of the Week" section below.

Since February 8, 825 individual buffalo have been captured by the Park Service and the Department of Livestock. 715 of these buffalo have already been slaughtered and 110 are currently being held in the Stephen's Creek trap awaiting shipment to the slaughterhouse. Including those killed in this year's hunt and those being held in the trap, 990 bison have been removed from the Yellowstone population since November 15. In the past seven days alone, 164 bison have been captured and 209 sent to slaughter.

It is easy, when the numbers climb so high, to forget that each stands for a living, breathing buffalo and that each is a member of a greater family unit, or group. It is easy, when tallying the grim figures, to get temporarily lost in statistics and forget that each of the bison removed is a bison robbed from the landscape, a bison that will never again walk through the snowy fields along the Madison, never wallow in the Hayden Valley or kick up it's hind legs and spar with other ornery bulls during the rut, never bring a smile to the face or lighten the heart of a Park visitor who spends a blessed sunset in his presence.

BFC's presence ensures that the buffalo's stories are told. Were we not here to document and share, through words and images, what is happening the government would be the only source of information and the slaughtered buffalo would be just another statistic. As we have for the past 11 years, BFC patrols will remain in the field documenting every action against the buffalo and working hard in the policy arena for the permanent protection of wild bison and their habitat. View our video of Tuesday's capture operation on Horse Butte on the top of BFC's home page: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.

We will continue to be here to share the buffalo's story day in and day out, but we won't succeed without your help. Please read on for actions you can take to help stop the slaughter and, if you are able, please support Buffalo Field Campaign with a donation today. Send a check to the address at the bottom of this update or make a secure online donation by clicking here: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807.

for the Buffalo,
Dan Brister
Buffalo Field Campaign
* Gardiner Report
There are lots of buffalo moving all over this enormous landscape, but the cattle industry refuses to share with native inhabitants. Since last week's update, 145 more buffalo have been shipped to slaughter over here, and hazing has been a constant nuisance on Yellowstone's landscape. Not only are buffalo persistently molested, but elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, and many other wildlife species are repeatedly displaced by the Park's actions. It's ironic how the Park takes the position of "do as I say, not as I do" because any citizen caught even appearing to harass wildlife would be fined, if not arrested, while the government causes chaos on the landscape, harassing the wildlife they tell us to respect, and they get away with it scot-free. Harassing wildlife in national parks is a crime, unless, of course, you're the Park Service catering to cattle interests over wildlife.

The past few mornings we have watched the empty livestock trailers arrive at the trap to load up America's last wild buffalo and ship them to slaughter like cattle from a feedlot. Federal and state agents escort the trailers carrying the sacred buffalo so that an industry that perpetuates an invasive species can maintain control of the land. On Sunday, however, the buffalo got one in. We were watching a group of eleven bulls who were hoofing it quickly out of the park and had made it onto Church Universal & Triumphant property in what seemed like minutes. These bulls were on an ancient mission, heading out of the high country for the vast, grasslands of the Paradise Valley. But they were cut short by three Park wranglers on horseback and hazed to the southern edge of the Stephens Creek bison trap. During this haze, an amazing thing happened; from our perch over a mile away, we heard a big bang and the next thing we knew, buffalo were walking out of the trap! A group of about twenty-four buffalo managed to escape their prison! We cheered for them as we realized they had busted out, rendering that holding pen inoperable; so not only did those buffalo escape, but the eleven bulls that were hazed were not captured either. Later that day we questioned a Park Ranger who said that a big cow buffalo had been pushing at the gate, and, sure enough, she broke through. She set her family group free for a time. Such victories mean so much during this time.

On that same day while watching the trap, we saw a lot of agents on the catwalk of the corral portion. This is where buffalo are separated by age and sex and held before being loaded onto livestock trailers in the early morning hours and taken to slaughter. While we were watching through our spotting scope, we saw a DOL pickup truck leave and head up a back road behind the trap. In the back of the truck was a dead buffalo. We questioned the Park about this, and they admitted that a larger bull had gored a smaller bull so badly that the young one had to be killed. Had BFC not been watching, no one would probably ever know about this. Buffalo in the wild, even during the rut, rarely hurt each other and almost never to the point of death. But when they are confined and ripped from their social communities, they go mad with fear and aggravation, and in their panicked state they can hurt each other fatally.

From the Front Lines in Gardiner,
Arlo, Lobo, Stephany and Steve
* Urge Yellowstone and Montana to Stop Slaughtering Bison!
Please take a moment to contact Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and urge them to stop slaughtering the wild bison under their care.

These two individuals have the power to stop the slaughter. Let them know you demand it.

Suzanne Lewis, Superintendent
Yellowstone National Park
(307) 344-2002

Brian Schweitzer, Governor
State of Montana
(406) 444-3111
* 2007-2008 Bison Hunt Over
The Nez Perce closed their hunting season last weekend, bringing to an end the 2007-2008 hunt. Montana, Salish Kootenai, and Nez Perce hunters killed 165 bison since November 15. 58 bison were killed in the 2006-2007 hunt and 46 in the 2005-2006 hunt.
* Photos of the Week
These photos and captions, by BFC coordinator Darrell Geist, tell some of the story of a group of 19 buffalo who crossed Hebgen Lake yesterday.
* Last Words
"I ask the rank and file in Yellowstone; rise above the fear of job retaliation and remember why you joined the Park Service.

To cower in the closets of your Ranger Stations, maintenance sheds, and Mammoth administration buildings may secure careers, but every year of compromise means adding another year of personal slow death. Is it worth it? Lack of initiative by park administrators to have employees' concerns heard and documented lets employees know their "leaders" are more like political lemmings following Washington pied pipers. Perhaps 'political servant' is more appropriate than public servant.

For the public, I ask you to question the Park on these culpabilities. In fact question my statements. It is the best way to come up with personal conviction. Your questions means substantiating facts are disclosed. The cover up of inhumane treatment especially needs to be addressed."

--Bob Jackson, Yellowstone Park Ranger for 30 years
from: A Sickening Slaughter

Why is Yellowstone Destroying Its Bison Herd?
March 1 / 2, 2008

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