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Weekly Update from the Field May 1, 2008
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* Update from the Field
* Volunteer with BFC this Summer!
* Buffalo in the News
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words

* Update from the Field

This week on the Yellowstone National Park's western boundary, the largest buffalo slaughter since the 18th century continues, even after Montana governor Brian Schweitzer promised two weeks ago that no more buffalo would be killed this season. The Montana Department of Livestock blatantly ignored the governor's statement, capturing three bull buffalo at the Duck Creek trap on Monday and shipping them to slaughter without testing on Tuesday morning.

The continuation of the buffalo slaughter this week by the Department of Livestock adds insult to injury, with more than a third of the Yellowstone bison population having been eliminated since November, with no signs of stopping. The "historic announcement" issued by governor Schweitzer on April 17th, allowing buffalo more room to roam outside of the park boundaries, apparently has no merit along the park's western boundary.

Even on the northern boundary of the park, the Park Service still continues to haze and harass the country's last wild and free-roaming buffalo. 289 bison are currently being held at the Stephen's Creek trap, some having been confined there for over two months now. The Stephen's Creek trap has become a glorified buffalo feedlot, with grass and hay rations fed to the buffalo in masses, and just another factor contributing to the over-domestication of these purely wild beings.

Pregnant female bison held in the Stephen's creek trap have given birth to 27 new calves this week along with 2 stillborn deliveries, making a total of 53 calves born in the trap. The Park Service is still waiting for 'green up' to release the bison from captivity, but the effect of captivity on the newborn calves is yet to be seen. Wild buffalo are migratory animals learning from a young age from the elders in their family groups how to survive. Being born in captivity, these newborn buffalo calves may suffer a severe disadvantage when they must fend for themselves in the wild.

Since the governor's announcement that the Church Universal and Triumphant and the National Park Service have reached a compromise to allow buffalo room to roam on church lands, things are still bad for buffalo. Bison continue to roam out of the park to the church land in search of winter grasses, and the Park Service continues to haze them back. Any buffalo allowed to remain on the church land must run the 'gauntlet' first- they must be captured and tested, then implanted with vaginal transmitters before the Park Service will let them graze on church land, and then only 25 buffalo are allowed at a time.

While the sad news just keeps coming, there is a bright note for buffalo on the western boundary. This is the time of year when our field patrols get to experience first-hand the beauty of new life. With buffalo calving season well underway, our volunteers have had the pleasure of witnessing newborn buffalo taking their first awkward steps into the world. It is obvious by watching these newborns, and after their first few hours of life being able to walk right in pace with the herd by their mothers' sides, that buffalo are genetically meant to roam. After a long season of slaughter this year, the first-hand experience of witnessing new buffalo life come to this world gives hope and determination for all of us to continue to fight for the rights of the sacred, ancient, beautiful creatures.

Please Contact Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and ask him why he is breaking his promise and continuing the federal tax-payer subsidized slaughter of America last wild, free-roaming bison.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
State Capitol
Helena, MT 59620
(P) (406) 444-3111

Roam Free~

* Volunteer with BFC this Summer!

Buffalo Field Campaign is in need of hard-working, self-motivated volunteers starting this June to help with cabin maintenance projects and/or to set up Buffalo outreach tables inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Do You Have:
* Construction, carpentry, plumbing, cleaning, or automotive maintenance skills?
* An outgoing personality and knowledge of the issue with a willingness to communicate to visitors in Yellowstone?

If you have any of the skills listed here, then you should come and join us this summer. All volunteers will be provided with food and lodging at our main cabin outside of West Yellowstone in one of the most naturally beautiful areas of the country. If you have just a few weeks or the whole summer, Buffalo Field Campaign could use your help.

If you are interested in assisting with cabin maintenance projects this summer please contact BFC at: (406) 646-0070

If you are interested in helping with summer outreach projects inside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks please contact Iwi at: summer@buffalofieldcampaign.org

* Buffalo In the News

4/23/08 - People for the Buffalo
Jackson Hole News & Guide

4/25/08 - Montana Food Bank Network Buys Bison Meat
Associated Press

4/28/08 - Where the Buffalo Roam -- And Die
CNN ~ Planet in Peril

4/28/08 - The Buffalo Fight Back
Indian Country Today

4/28/08 - Officials Halt Bison Slaughter
Casper Star Tribune (by Brett French of the Billings Gazette)

4/29/08 - Yellowstone Bison Population Halved
United Press International

4/29/08 - Yellowstone Bison Slaughter Halted, Meat Distributed to Food Banks
New West

4/30/08 - Bison Can Thrive Again
Science Daily

* Photo of the Week


Bull bison on Duck Creek. Three bulls were captured at Duck Creek and subsequently shipped to slaughter this week by Montana Department of Livestock officials. This photo is in memory of them.
Photo credit and thanks to Price Chambers, Jackson Hole News & Guide (WY).

* Last Words

"In 1880, [Montana] was practically uninhabited. One could travel for miles without seeing so much as a traveler's bivouac. Thousands of buffalo darkened the rolling plains. There were deer, elk, wolves and coyotes on every hill and in every ravine and thicket. . . . In the fall of 1883, there was not a buffalo remaining on the range and the antelope, elk, and deer were indeed scarce. . . [T]here were 600,000 head of cattle on the range. The cowboy . . . had become an institution."

Granville Stuart, quoted in Donald Worster, Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

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