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Weekly Update from the Field March 13, 2008
Subscribe to our email list and receive our weekly Update from the Field
In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* Horse Butte: Bison Trap or Buffalo Sanctuary? YOU Decide.
* Volunteers Needed on the Front Lines!
* Keep BFC Healthy & Happy ~ Coffee & Food Donations Needed
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words

AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2007-2008 Total: 1,014
2007-2008 Slaughter: 848
2007-2008 Hunt: 166
Total Since 2000: 3,740*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts
* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
1,014 wild buffalo have been killed so far this season. This week, Yellowstone National Park captured 11 more buffalo, and sent another 120 to slaughter from inside the Park's northern boundary. Along the western boundary, on Tuesday, the Montana Department of Livestock captured a group of 13 wild buffalo. One was a lone calf who had been orphaned during the hunt. Patrols said he gave the agents a run for their money. The thirteen were captured in the trap on cattle-free Horse Butte, transported to the Duck Creek trap, and shipped to slaughter Wednesday morning. There is no doubt that this year will constitute the biggest wild buffalo slaughter since the 19th century. Why does the American government bother trying to save a species from near-extinction only to turn around and kill it off again under the guise of "wildlife management?" If it doesn't make sense, favors industry, goes against the public's will and ecological integrity, the government is sure to enact it as a policy. Please consider contacting your House and Senate members and urge them to invoke legislation that will stop the slaughter, protect wild bison and their habitat, and also let them know about the lack of response you have been getting from all the agencies involved: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html

Yellowstone National Park still holds nearly 200 buffalo in the Stephens Creek trap. Park officials say bulls will begin being shipped to slaughter tomorrow morning. And, apparently, calves will begin being sorted, tested, and shipped to the Corwin Springs quarantine facility. It's hard to articulate, wrap your mind around, and process this buffalo genocide. The trap, with it's pens, corrals, and livestock trailers that take buffalo to slaughter, can't help but make you think that you're watching a buffalo concentration camp. Down the road, at the quarantine facility, the government harbors their wild buffalo assimilation program, where they are trying to domesticate the wild, free bison, turning them into livestock that they can control and manipulate. The government calls this "buffalo management" and "buffalo restoration."

Brucellosis, they say in unison with the cattle industry, is the purported reason for it all. The perceived fear that wild buffalo just might give it back to the cattle they got it from. It's never happened. It's only a theory based on fear. Yet elk and other wildlife that also carry brucellosis are free to roam and even co-mingle with cattle. And what should happen if the wild bison contract some other disease from cattle? What's to protect them? The cattle industry and government spin the theoretical threat of disease transmission from wild bison to cattle as a way to control the grass and who gets to eat it. Brucellosis is not the dreaded disease that they'd lead you to believe it is. Not in the least. You can eat the meat of a brucellosis-infected animal. Montana's cattle industry claims it would suffer serious economic losses if they lost their brucellosis-free status, yet states that have lost theirs, such as Wyoming, Idaho and Texas, have hardly suffered at all. Please take a moment to read this excellent piece by wildlife advocate Robert Hoskins, "The True Cost of Brucellosis": http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/the_true_cost_of_brucellosis/C38/L38/.

And what is the true cost to the last wild population of American bison? Every buffalo that is killed is unique, an individual, a family member with it's place in the herd, its life to live, and story to tell. Each buffalo is a link to both the past and the future. The buffalo that are migrating are those who have the strength to survive, who follow their instincts and move with the changing landscape to where they can find food, accessing the ancient routes their ancestors walked for thousands of years.

Out on Horse Butte, there is just one family group left. There are twelve of them, surviving in Yellowstone Village, a neighborhood that has a buffalo-friendly majority and does not welcome the Department of Livestock. In this family group, there is this one mama buffalo who is absolutely enormous. Her right horn is broken and blunted, while her left is really long and doesn't have much curve to it. She has a reddish tint to her wooly coat. She's got the stature of a buffalo who has been around for a very long time. She is heavy with a calf in her belly, and she has a near yearling with her. Very likely she is the matriarch of this group, most others being her daughters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. She carries ancient buffalo wisdom and she and her family, like all the buffalo, have a natural right to live free, to make their way in the world that is also theirs, impart their wisdom to generations to come. The other day, out on a rove patrol, we were encircled by this family while in our car, unable to go anywhere. They had us surrounded. It was wonderful. A couple of two-year olds were in front of us, butt-to-butt, the gigantic mama and her calf were right at our side, and the rest of the group was behind us. There was nowhere for us to go. So we basked in their presence, noting every detail of each buffalo. Absorbing them. Enchanted by them. How unique they all are, how they relate to each other. The way the younger buffalo can get wily and rambunctious, even rebellious, causing the adults to keep them in line; the gentle guidance and protection the mothers display; the playful nature of the yearlings, the brave hearts of the adolescent bulls and cows taking care of their kid brothers and sisters. When we are good to each other, we mirror the buffalo. They mirror us and our potential. As of this writing, this family is still alive. Is it too much too hope that at least they can be spared? It is dangerous to become attached, but it is impossible not to.

Roam Free,
* Horse Butte: Bison Trap or Buffalo Sanctuary? YOU Decide.
In 1998, the U.S. Forest Service issued a special use permit to the Montana Department of Livestock to operate a buffalo trap on America's public lands on Horse Butte for the next 10 years. The current permit expires December 31, 2008.
The U.S. Forest Service is currently accepting public comments during a scoping period on a plan to renew the livestock agency's trap for another 10 years. The Forest Service is likely to renew the livestock agency's permit through a categorical exclusion - pre-empting any analysis of the trap's environmental impacts.
The notice is available online at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin/?page=projects/horse_butte

Please comment on this plan and help us stop the U.S. Forest Service from allowing this madness to continue for another 10 years. Comments are due on April 2, 2008 and can be emailed to hebgen_lake@fs.fed.us or mailed to:
Gallatin National Forest
Attn: Horse Butte Capture Facility Special Use Permit
PO Box 120
Bozeman, MT 59771

Here are some suggested points to include in your comments:

* Why give a livestock agency a 10-year permit to trap wild buffalo on public lands?

* Conditions on Horse butte have changed significantly in the past 10 years, thus it is necessary for the public lands agency to conduct a full environmental impact statement.

* Cattle no longer graze on public or private land on Horse Butte peninsula, 24,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat and thus there is no justification for harassing, trapping and removing wild Buffalo from Horse Butte.

* The department of livestock of has been not used the Horse Butte for 3 of the last 4 years but has still successfully implemented the IBMP without it. The Department of Livestock also maintains a permanent capture facility on private land, and has used a temporary facility on already heavily impacted state owned land. If the IBMP can be successfully implemented using other capture facility sites with less of an impact, why use the Horse Butte site?

* Horse Butte is home to 3 breeding bald eagle nests. The livestock agency's trap is located within .5 miles of one of the eagle nests, and in prime foraging habitat for other bald and golden eagles that frequent the Madison River and Hebgen Lake. The Montana Bald Eagle Management Plan and the Greater Yellowstone Bald Eagle Management Plan directs that developments which may increase human activity not be permitted within .5 miles nest sites. A standard is a standard and not a loophole to permit the livestock agency to disrupt bald eagle habitat.

* Horse Butte is grizzly bear and wolf habitat. Moose, elk, black bear, coyote, a lot of wildlife depend on managing public lands on Horse Butte as wildlife habitat.

* Hebgen Lake, which surrounds Horse Butte, is critical habitat for migratory birds, including trumpeter swans.

* Increased development on private lands on the north side of Horse Butte has degraded available wildlife habitat, making the south side where the trap is even more critical for wildlife.

* The amount of livestock inspector and law enforcement vehicle traffic associated with the trap is far higher than predicted in the U.S. Forest Service's initial analysis.

* The original analysis called for the Department of Livestock to perform soil reclamation including planting native grasses on several acres impacted by the trap. This promise has not happened and degraded available forage.

OTHER ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TO PROTECT HORSE BUTTE FOR BUFFALO: If you haven't already, please join the over 20,000 wild bison advocates who have signed on to the letter addressed to the people in charge of bison management requesting that wild bison be allowed to range on Horse Butte without being harassed, trapped and slaughtered by government agents.
* Volunteers Needed on the Front Lines!
Have you always dreamed of coming to the Yellowstone area? Do you want to live in one of the world's most beautiful places with like-minded individuals? If so then you should come and volunteer with the Buffalo Field Campaign. Spring is one of our busiest seasons and we are in need of volunteers to stand in defense of the last wild buffalo. Housing is provided for volunteers in our warm cozy main lodge with four delicious meals cooked daily (we cater to most all food needs). This is the eleventh year of Buffalo Field Campaign and we could not do it with out the help of volunteers. If you want to make a difference in the way that Yellowstone treats wild buffalo then you should come. Contact Kasi, the Volunteer Coordinator to plan your arrival at Buffalo Field Campaign at (406) 646-0070 or volunteer"at"buffalofieldcampaign.org. We hope to see you here this season!
* Keep BFC Healthy & Happy ~ Coffee & Food Donations Needed
One way you can always help with defending the buffalo is by donating food to support our work in the field. We spend approximately $10 per person per week and that leaves some gaps. We can always use donations of organic coffee, bulk spices, pasta, chocolate, Luna bars, hot cocoa mix, and emergen-C packets. Every donation helps keep our volunteers on the front lines health and happy. You can donate monetarily by going to https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807 and put "food" in the memo, or you can send in-kind donations. All donations are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax deductible receipt for your in-kind donation of food, please contact the office and include a copy of your receipt. Thank you for helping us defend the last wild herd of buffalo. ~ BFC Kitchen
* Photo of the Week
BFC volunteer, Steve, perches in a tree to document the capture of 13 wild buffalo on Tuesday morning. You are looking down at the Horse Butte bison trap, seeing DOL agents, truck and trailer, and their snowmobiles. Buffalo are in the trap. Horse Butte is completely cattle-free year round. The Montana Department of Livestock should go where the cattle are. Photo by Jesse Crocker, also in the tree.
* Last Words
A letter from a wild bison advocate to Yellowstone National Park, the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana

Governor Brian Schweitzer:
"Dear people in charge of killing our nation's last wild bison. (Our bison, not yours.) Please read and heed the letter below. I have written you, Dr. Zaluski, you, Suzanne Lewis, and also the governor of Montana about my outrage and heartache concerning this unwarranted and immoral slaughter. None of the three of you has bothered with the courtesy of a reply, in fact at times emails have not even been accepted. This is not the way government employees should conduct their duties in a democracy. Perhaps you do not know, although I cannot imagine that you don't know, the thrill for people visiting Yellowstone to see the bison there in great numbers in their natural habitat. Should they step across park boundaries, what of it? Artificial park boundaries are the intruders, not the bison. I must tell you that it appears that all of you have completely sold out to the cattle interests. Whether or not that is true, that is the appearance, and the Montana Department of Livestock and all of you above appear to the rest of the country to be a bunch of rowdy and out of control cowboys. Is that the image you wish to project to the rest of the nation? Each of you that wears the park service emblem with the bison on it should at least have the good grace to remove those patches if you cannot ensure the safety of the bison. Otherwise you are also guilty of hypocrisy. I am sorry to be so harsh, but I have been begging for the lives of the bison for years, and you do not hear. Please hear the cries of the bison, and the people who love them. Thank you."
~ Myrna Fox, Wild Buffalo Advocate

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