Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
While the western boundary is relatively peaceful, there
continues to be a large and steady migration of buffalo
leaving the park near Gardiner, Montana. For at least
the past two months there have been daily hazes and
captures of buffalo with 1,080 of them being shipped
to slaughterhouses from inside Yellowstone National
Park. As of this morning, Yellowstone and Montana Department
of Livestock officials are responsible for the deaths
of at least 1,187 wild American buffalo this season,
and the Park has so far sent 80 wild bison calves to
quarantine domestication prison.
On Sunday night about fifty-five buffalo walked out
of the park and right past the Church Universal &
Triumphant (CUT) cattle, ending up eleven miles north
of the park border. This is just what the agencies and
CUT wanted to eventually happen. The plan is to allow
a corridor from the park through CUT property to US
Forest Service land further north. The buffalo are doing
the adaptive management on their own without waiting
for agency approval and its attendant intrusive testing,
vaginal transmitters for pregnant females, and limited
It's pretty telling that the buffalo, given a chance
to "co-mingle" with cattle, walked right on
past the CUT cows. The buffalo are keeping themselves
separate from cattle all by themselves; they don't need
this nefarious government plan to force them to do what
they do naturally anyway.
The present heavy-handed management of these noble animals
is unjustified and needs to stop. The ongoing hazing,
capture, testing, and confinement of these wild animals
is stressful and stress has been known to bring brucellosis
out of remission. It is time to use common sense
and cattle-based risk management, by utilizing fencing
and vaccination for cattle, ensuring they do not come
into contact with wild bison from February to June,
when when transmission could theoretically happen. With
buffalo calving soon to begin, the National Park Service
needs to avoid a repeat of two Springs ago, when wild
bison mothers gave birth (including some still births)
inside the trap. With Wyoming's elk feed grounds
spreading brucellosis among elk we don't need the same
thing happening in Yellowstone National Park among
bison in the trap.
Once again, these kinds of government actions that exacerbate
the potential for spreading livestock diseases in wildlife
populations beg the question: is this really about brucellosis?
We maintain that the war against buffalo is about the
grass and who gets to eat it.
There is a whirlwind of activity happening, so please
read on. Discover what the Government Accountability
Office investigation report has to say about the Plan,
join BFC and Arvol Looking Horse for a prayer ceremony
for the buffalo, learn how you can get your "Let
Buffalo Roam" license plates, consider joining
us in Yellowstone this summer to table for the buffalo,
and help spark discussions by participating in BFC's
new blog. And as always, thank you for your love and
support. We would not be here without you.
~ Buffalo Field Campaign
* Agencies & Bison Plan Criticized in GAO
Finally, the report is out! Last year, the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) was asked by Congress to
investigate the Interagency Bison misManagement Plan.
After more than a year of interviewing the five involved
agencies, as well as livestock interests, conservation
groups, Native American interests, private landowners,
and others, yesterday, the report was finally released.
While it's not everything we hoped for, the GAO has
sharply criticized the agencies, finding that they and
their plan "need improvement." In their concluding
recommendations, the GAO suggests that the agencies
"... refine, revise, or replace the plan..."
In an April 2 press release, House Natural Resources
Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and Rep. Maurice
Hinchey (D-NY) criticized the bison plan as "plagued
by deficiencies" and "severely limited"
in its ability to protect Yellowstone's wild bison population.
The GAO report notes on who is footing the bill; the
bison plan is paid for by American taxpayers with appropriations
from the U.S. Congress reaching a high of $3,304,817
in 2006 (FY).
Among the key findings, the GAO report found that "...
the agencies lack accountability among themselves and
to the public, and it is difficult for the public to
obtain information without attending the meetings or
contacting each individual agency."
According to the GAO report, the agencies' decision-making
more "often resembles trial and error than adaptive
management and also lacks accountability and transparency."
The bison plan itself is lacking a "sound basis"
for making decisions according to the GAO report. There
is every indication that the agencies are proceeding
blindly with slaughtering bison without acquiring knowledge
about what they are doing. For example, the GAO reports:
"In the absence of a systematic monitoring program,
the agencies have lost opportunities to collect data
that could help resolve important uncertainties. The
plan states that all captured bison are to be tested
for exposure to brucellosis, but fewer than half of
those captured since 2001 have been tested. For example,
in early winter 2006, the agencies lost an opportunity
to collect scientific data on about 900 bison. Park
Service officials captured these bison as they attempted
to leave through the park's northern boundary. The bison
were consigned to slaughter without being tested at
the capture facility because the Park Service determined
that they would not be used for research and could not
be held in the capture pens until the spring for release
back into the park."
In plain language, the agencies failed to follow their
promise to test bison destined for slaughter - and resolve
an uncertainty in their testing which, to date, does
not determine infection or the health of bison. Eight
years into a fifteen year plan, the GAO report found
that the agencies are stuck in step one, with no timeline
on how to get out of this step: the most deadly and
intrusive one for migrating bison that has led to the
slaughter of over 3,200 bison since 2000. With no way
to measure success or failure, the agencies proceed
blindly with the bison plan.
The GAO report notes that the stated goals of the plan
are two-fold: 1) to maintain a wild,
free-ranging population of bison, and 2)
address the risk of brucellosis transmission from wild
bison to cattle. However, while it was pointed out by
BFC that harassing and slaughtering wild bison that
migrate to lower elevation habitat is *not* protecting
a "free-ranging" herd, there was no mention
of this in the report. Further, the risk of brucellosis
is addressed in the plan, in part, by forcing the separation
of wild bison and cattle, but as you read in the Update
above, the bison will keep themselves from cattle on
their own. Further, while agencies have been harassing
and killing wild bison, last May just northeast of Yellowstone,
out of the bison's current migratory path, brucellosis
was discovered in a Montana cattle herd and the bison
were not responsible. Perhaps the agencies need to stick
to what works: Yellowstone should be protecting the
wildlife in their care, while the Department of Livestock
should keep their focus on livestock and away from our
TAKE ACTION! Please
take the time to contact Congress and urge your representatives
to take proactive measures to stop the slaughter and
protect America's last wild bison population and its
habitat. Americans are looking to our representatives
and supporters in Congress to find ways to secure a
future for wild bison in Yellowstone. Millions of dollars
of American taxpayer money now used to slaughter wild
bison can buy the grass that cattle now graze on.
Write your Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Write your Representative: http://www.house.gov/
Read the GAO Report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08291.pdf
Read BFC's press release: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
Read an Associated Press article: http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2008/04/03/news/state/21-bison.txt
* April 15: Releasing of the Buffalo Spirits
Ceremony ~ Arvol Looking Horse
Buffalo Field Campaign is honored to share this announcement
of a Releasing of the Buffalo Spirits Ceremony to be
held in Gardiner, Montana on Tuesday, April 15, beginning
at 12:00 noon (MST). The ceremony is open to all, and
all are welcome. The ceremony will be led by Arvol Looking
Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf
Pipe. Buffalo Field Campaign would like to thank Rosalie
Little Thunder for making a request for Arvol's presence,
and we extend our gratitude to Arvol and his family
for making arrangements to travel to Yellowstone on
such short notice. We are honored by your presence and
help. After the ceremony, a community meal will be served
at the Gardiner Community Center on 206 Main Street.
From everyone at Buffalo Field Campaign, thank you for
your help in honoring wild buffalo.
* Releasing of the Buffalo
Spirits Ceremony Tuesday, April 15, 12:00 noon (MST)
GATHERING - Releasing of the Buffalo
RECORDINGS - Protocols will be announced
on what photos, video and all recordings of the ceremony,
if any is permitted.
WHEN - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 and
begin 12:00 noon (MST).
WHERE - Stephens Creek road and Old
Yellowstone Trail, west of the Yellowstone River, 2
1/2 miles north of Gardiner, Montana.
DIRECTIONS - From the Arches landmark,
located near the Gardiner, Montana Fee Entrance to Yellowstone
National Park, head north past the football field/local
school along the Old Yellowstone Trail County Road for
2 1/2 miles to Stephens Creek Road, that leads to the
bison trap. Please note that Yellowstone National Park
has a closure in effect from near the Fee Entrance to
Stephens Creek west of the Old Yellowstone Trail. Please
do not park off-road or block traffic. For people who
are car pooling, there is extra parking at the Arches
landmark along the gated fence.
LODGING - Accommodations in Gardiner
and the surrounding area can be found online: http://www.gardinerchamber.com/directory.asp?cat=1
TRAVEL ADVISORY - DUE TO CLOSED ROADS IN
THE PARK, it is advised that you take
the route from Interstate 90 through Livingston, Montana
to Highway 89 south to Gardiner, Montana.
* Community Meal at Gardiner Community Center
Seeds of Peace and Bear Creek Council are co-hosting
a community meal in the historic Eagles Hall Gardiner
Community Center on 206 Main Street following the ceremony.
The purpose of our community meal is to share our gratitude
with everyone who traveled near and far to participate
in ceremony honoring America's wild buffalo. We thank
the Gardiner Community Center for sharing their space,
and extend an invitation welcoming all to share in a
Contributions are welcome and will be used to acquire
food for a community meal, cover the costs of renting
a community center, medical kits, gas, lodging and travel
for honored guests. Please earmark your contribution
to "Releasing Ceremony".
Donations can be made online: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807
Please include in the Gift Information field that you
are making a donation for "Releasing Ceremony".
* Montana's New License Plate: Let the Buffalo
Wild bison advocates across the state of Montana will
be able to show their support for native wild buffalo
with issuance of a new license plate. The license plate,
featuring an image of a buffalo and the words "Let
the Buffalo Roam" is currently available at all
Montana Department of Motor Vehicles locations. Buffalo
Field Campaign will receive a donation with every set
of plates ordered. Montana residents can inquire about
getting these license plates by visiting your local
DMV or by visiting the Montana Department of Justice
Driver Services web site: http://www.doj.mt.gov/driving/licenseplates.asp.
Read a joint press release from BFC and Patagonia, Inc.:
Many thanks to everyone who helped us raise the money
to make this happen!
Special thanks to Patagonia, Inc. who has always been
a champion of BFC and wild buffalo.
* Help Keep BFC Healthy & Happy ~ Food &
Coffee 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 on food
and that leaves some gaps. We can always use donations
of organic coffee, bulk spices, 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,
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.
you for helping us defend the last wild herd of buffalo.
~ BFC Kitchen
* Mother's Day: Handcrafted Cards for the Buffalo's
Mother's Day is on the horizon, and once again Buffalo
Field Campaign invites you to send a hand-created card
to the special woman or women in your life. Our card
will feature a Yellowstone bison photo, a brief message
on our work, and a sentiment appropriate for mom, grandma,
that special nurturing neighbor...anyone you'd like
to honor with a Mother's Day contribution to BFC's work
for bison moms and their offspring.
Watch for more information and ordering details next
* Summer Volunteer Educators Needed
Dear Friends of the Buffalo,
Help us tell the buffalo's story in the season of the
largest bison slaughter since the 19th century by volunteering
as a summer educator. Our outreach in Yellowstone National
Park informs millions of visitors about the unjust and
unscientific capture and slaughter of the bison. By
educating the public on the issue, strangers become
allies and supporters. This is a wonderful opportunity
to become intimately involved with the buffalo's struggle
and to understand the egregious mismanagement of the
Interagency Bison Management Plan. The last wild, free-roaming
bison need our support, actions, and words.
We are looking for volunteers between June 1st and September
1st. If you want to experience the beauty of the Yellowstone
ecosystem and speak out for the buffalo, we want to
hear from you! Applicants should be hardworking, presentable
to the public, outgoing, friendly folks who are comfortable
camping for up to five days at a time (in the park -
what a dream!) A minimum commitment of one month is
BFC provides volunteers with food and housing and an
For more information, write to Iwi at email@example.com,
or call 406-646-0070,
BuffaLove, ~ BFC
* NEW! Buffalo Field Campaign Blog
Buffalo Field Campaign has launched a blog site! This
is a great opportunity to discuss the bison issue, get
the facts out there, share stories, photos, poetry and
information ~ anything that will help spread the word
to protect these sacred animals. Blog for the Buffalo!
Thanks to Ken Cole for setting this site up.
* Photo of the Week
A much-needed peaceful moment in the field, watching
a buffalo cross the Madison River.
Photo by Jesse Crocker.
* Last Words
"… bison are still hazed and slaughtered
every year, and livestock owners are still concerned
about the significant economic consequences if Montana's
cattle industry loses its brucellosis free status. Even
if the agencies improve their management and fully implement
the current plan through step three, we believe the
controversies will continue, in part because critical
underlying differences among agency mandates, management
philosophies, and political interests have not been
resolved. In addition, the plan lacks clearly defined,
measurable objectives to guide the agencies' bison management
actions, and the agencies are not adequately applying
an adaptive management approach in implementing the
plan. Moreover, the agencies' implementation of the
plan has remained fragmented, because no single entity
is accountable for coordinating and steering the management,
research, and resolution of these bison-related issues.
In addition, the agencies' management lacks the accountability
and transparency expected by the public and Congress.
Meanwhile, the federal government continues to spend
millions of dollars on uncoordinated management and
research efforts, with no means to ensure that these
efforts are focused on a common outcome that could help
resolve the controversies."
~ Robin M. Nazzaro, Director, Natural Resources and
Government Accountability Office