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Weekly Update from the Field May 8, 2008
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* Update from the Field
* Buffalo Field Campaign Needs Summer Volunteers
* Upcoming Events for the Buffalo
* Montana Food Bank Speaks to Bison Meat Acquisition
* Documentary: The Bison Haze: A Yellowstone Controversy
* Special Thank You
* Last Words
* Buffalo Kill Tally

* Update from the Field

The road through Yellowstone is now open to cars. In years past, during this season, on a drive through the park you would be hard pressed not to see several hundred buffalo and many newborn calves. This season, people who have taken this drive have felt as if they were in a ghost town. As barb, BFC's office coordinator, reports: "Darrell and i spent many hours [last Friday] in Yellowstone driving from the west gate to Old Faithful, counting buffalo. The news is not good. In that 30 mile stretch we saw fewer than 200 buffalo total! In 14 years of living in Montana and spending lots of time at this time of the year in the park, I've never seen less than several hundred buffs in the meadows at Mary Mountain trail head; [Friday] we counted 41 with only 4 calves ... and that was the largest herd we saw all day."

On April 11, the Park Service estimated that there were fewer than 2,145 bison left. This figure does not account for winterkill, which is ongoing and will continue through most of May. Just yesterday we learned that Yellowstone captured once again. Another seventeen bull buffalo are in the Stephens Creek trap. Under the Interagency Bison Management Plan, when the bison population reaches 2,300 animals, they "may" slaughter, but when it reaches 2,100 animals they "shall" cease to slaughter. Given the April estimate and winterkill underway, it is critical to ask the Park what population threshold they are operating under. We can save the lives of these bulls. Please call the Park and ask them to do so: 307-344-2013.

Yellowstone officials are currently touting the fact that seventy-five calves have been born in the Stephens Creek trap in Yellowstone. These babies have been born in captivity, and the family members they are with are being treated like livestock, being fed hay and having to wait to eat fresh green grass until the humans in charge deem it ready. In the reports we get from the Park there is almost a celebratory tone when announcing the births of these captured babies. To date, 328 wild buffalo are still being held in the trap.

In West Yellowstone, migration is afoot! Cattle-free Horse Butte hosts numerous buffalo who have been left alone by agents for the past few weeks. Baby buffalo born on the Butte are enjoying peace and quiet with their moms and families now. However, the Horse Butte trap is still up. The trap has a temporary permit, and is supposed to be down by the end of April. While it hasn't been used in a few weeks, it still remains. Patrols did observe two DOL agents taking down the police tape from around the trap, but it is unclear when they will take down the trap itself. Just today patrols reported a DOL agent on an ATV reconning the Butte. We expect agency actions to wreak havoc on the landscape next week.

Also in West, buffalo are on the roads. While warmer temperatures are finally melting the snow, some of the most available grass is right along the roadside. BFC patrols have been busy on the roadside all day and long into the night, placing our "Buffalo Ahead" and "Buffalo Crossing" signs up for various groups of buffalo. These signs are amazing! We cannot thank you enough for helping us purchase these. Though we did lose two buffalo to vehicle collisions this week, in the middle of the night, there is no doubt that numerous lives--both human and buffalo--have been saved thanks to the vigilance of our volunteers and these extremely visible signs.

We have been with two moms and two babies along one stretch of highway for over a week now; one baby we had been very concerned about. The little one is really small, taking frequent naps, not nursing much and many times being left behind or on the opposite side of the road from its mother. Likely, its mom has been doing the best she can to simply survive the winter. We were thinking the worst might come, but thankfully, yesterday patrols said that the baby was nursing and doing much better.

Spring has finally, really and truly, come to Yellowstone! There is still a lot of snow in various locations, but the grass is revealing itself, and many beautiful creatures are appearing. The mornings are full of amazing birdsong and the nights are mild. Volunteers are experiencing the wonders of this magical ecosystem and the changing season fills us with inspiration. Just yesterday, one patrol had the good fortune of seeing a wolf! Later they watched an osprey (sea hawk) catch a fish and then get chased by two bald eagles! The wonders of nature are discovered here on a daily basis on the front lines in the land of the last wild buffalo.

Roam Free,

* Buffalo Field Campaign Needs Summer Volunteers

Buffalo Field Campaign is in need of hard-working, self-motivated volunteers starting this June to help conduct buffalo outreach efforts inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and/or to help with maintenance projects at our headquarters on Hebgen Lake.

Do You Have:
* An outgoing personality and knowledge of the issue with a willingness to communicate to Yellowstone visitors?

* Construction, carpentry, plumbing, cleaning, or automotive maintenance skills?

If you have any of the skills listed above, or are willing to learn, then you should plan on joining 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 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 helping with summer outreach projects inside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks please contact Iwi at: summer@buffalofieldcampaign.org

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

* Upcoming Events: Celebrating Bison Calving Season & A Rally in Helena

Please join Buffalo Field Campaign mothers and kids this Mother's Day, May 11, from 11am-3pm in West Yellowstone. Come to the day-use-area at the junction of Rainbow Point Road and Hwy 191 for free coffee & cookies and good dialogue on how to free the buffalo! Bring the whole family and celebrate part of what makes West Yellowstone so special…wild bison calving on the Horse Butte Peninsula! For more information call Justine at 406.646.0070.

Join BFC and other wild bison advocates on Wednesday, May 14, from 12pm-2pm in Helena, Montana at the State Capitol, 1301 East Sixth Avenue. Come to the capitol to hold Governor Schweitzer accountable for the largest slaughter of wild buffalo since the 19th century. There will be speakers, street theatre and fantastic food by Seeds of Peace. Hold Governor Schweitzer accountable for crimes against wild buffalo and help remind him that extinction is forever! Please help spread the word by downloading a poster and posting it in your community: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/events/helenasm08.pdf.

* Montana Food Bank Network Speaks to Bison Meat Acquisition

According to the Montana Food Bank Network, they did not purchase any meat of slaughtered buffalo, as the media reported last week. The buffalo meat was donated, save for a 42 cent per pound processing fee. While the meat isn't being purchased, processing fees are being paid to someone, so someone is making a little money. But the Montana Food Bank Network should be cleared of all misconceptions regarding any purchase. This organization provides much-needed food to families and individuals. We wanted to share with you their story because we feel it's important to set the record straight. While we do disagree that the DOL is not making any money off of the slaughter of the buffalo, we do agree that there was unfair reporting that could have caused the Food Banks to receive unnecessary negative publicity.

Read what the Montana Food Bank Network had to say:

* New Documentary: The Bison Haze: A Yellowstone Controversy

Michael Van Laanen, of MVL Films, LCC, has released a documentary he produced about the ongoing war against the wild bison of the Yellowstone region. This three-part film gives a brief yet thorough glimpse at the issue. You'll hear from livestock producers, government agents, wild bison advocates, and you'll meet some of the country's last wild buffalo. Some footage is difficult to watch, but important to see. Check out the film on http://www.lifeonterra.com/episode.php?id=152. Michael has spent many hours in the field with BFC and has attended numerous meetings and events to help tell this story. He hopes that an edition of this film will be picked up by Montana PBS later in the year. Many thanks to Michael and his amazing film crew for helping spread the word about these special herds.

* Special Thank You

Buffalo Field Campaign would like to extend a special thank you to:

~ The Guacamole Fund and singer/songwriter Jackson Browne for their generous donation of $5,000 for BFC's front lines bison defense work. The Guacamole Fund helps coordinate events for organizations working in the public interest, and Jackson Browne - well, he's a living legend who's music says it all! Learn more about Guacamole and Jackson Browne at http://www.guacfund.org/.

~ Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist, for being such an inspiration to people around the world, and for always "looking a challenge straight between the eyes," reminding us to never give up even when it seems we are working against all odds. Jane recently met with BFC's Mike Mease to talk about the wild buffalo, and a wonderful relationship has been formed. We look forward to working together with this amazing woman. Thank you, Jane, for all the work you do to protect the Chimpanzee, and for believing in us and our vision of a future where wild bison roam free once again. Many thanks to Robert White Mountain for helping organize this meeting of the minds. Learn more about Jane's incredible work at http://www.janegoodall.org/

* Last Words

"I came upon the Plains so vast that I did not reach their end, although I marched over them for more than three-hundred leagues... on them I found so many bison it would be impossible to estimate their numbers for there was not a single day until my return that I lost sight of them."

~ Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, 1541

* AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2007-2008 Total: 1,607
2007-2008 Slaughter: 1,438
2007-2008 Hunt: 166
2007-2008 Quarantine: 112
Total Since 2000: 3,669*

*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts

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