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Weekly Update from the Field August 7, 2008
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* Update from the Field - Contact Congress!
* Bonnie Raitt Benefit Tickets Still Available!
* COMMENT! Lousy Land Deal for Wild Buffalo
* Join BFC for WoodCut Week August 28 - September 3
* Last Words
* Kill Tally

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
When the U.S. Government Accountability Office released it's report "Yellowstone Bison Interagency Plan (IBMP) and Agencies' Management Need Improvement to Better Address Bison-Cattle Brucellosis Controversy" in March, it rightfully criticized the cooperating agencies for their lack of goals, objectives, and transparency, among other things. As a result, the IBMP partners scheduled a series of seven public meetings in Montana between August and December. These meetings are the agencies' response to the well-deserved criticisms made by the GAO report. The first round of meetings began yesterday, August 6, and will continue through today. In the face of years of adverse reactions from the public towards the IBMP, and in the aftermath of the largest wild bison slaughter since the 1800s, the agencies are setting aside a whopping 30 minutes to members of the public, allotting each person a mere 2 minutes to speak.

According to BFC's habitat coordinator, Darrell Geist, who is in attendance, "The meeting process had its faults: the public could not pose questions to the presenters about what they were presenting on; and the handouts the agencies had were for themselves and not the public, though they said this would go up on the web site they are working on. One bison advocate made a good point that most of the best ideas come from the public, while other bison advocates, including Gallatin Wildlife Association and Natural Resource and Defense Council representatives did a very good job of covering the flaws, shaming the agencies, and raising their passions for wild buffalo."

In other news, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission approved the exact same bison hunt as they held last year. This makes no sense as there was a record slaughter of bison, and according to Yellowstone's own estimates, barely 2,000 wild bison are even left. And still, wild bison have zero habitat outside of Yellowstone's boundaries, and they are still being mismanaged by the Montana Department of Livestock. There shouldn't be a hunt at all, but FWP intends to move right along as if nothing ever happened. They will issue 44 tags, and should 60 or more buffalo be on the landscape at the same time, they will issue up to 100 more tags. It is expected that the Nez Perce and Salsish-Kootenai tribes will hunt under treaty right again this season, with the same numbers being split between the two tribes.

The Montana Department of Livestock has killed again! Three bull bison have been shot by members of the DOL. Two bulls were confirmed shot by DOL agents about five miles from Yellowstone's western boundary, and another buffalo was reportedly shot in Idaho, near Targhee Pass.

This past week, the regional media has been touting the Bison Quarantine Feasibility Study as a "restoration" project, making it sound like orphaning calves, penning them up like livestock, feeding them hay, ear tagging them, handling them like cattle, killing off some 'specimens' for scientific study, teaching them how to be "wild," and placing them on landscapes of human choosing is going to save the day for the American Bison. Some of the scientists working on the quarantine plan are even being touted as "bison advocates." No, this so-called quarantine plan is not doing wild buffalo any favors, it is anything but "restoration" and those involved cannot be called "advocates" of wild bison. Real bison advocates know that restoration would happen naturally. The cattle industry and government just keep getting in the way. Check out this AP story about the quarantine project.

In the face of it all, what are we to do for the mighty bison? In addition to Boycotting beef, you can start by contacting your Senators and Representative now and urging them to take a stand for the last wild bison population in the U.S.! They can make the difference, but they need to hear from you in order to act. Clearly, the IBMP agencies are choosing to ignore the public and carry on with their Draconian plans, wasting U.S. tax dollars and the lives of the sacred buffalo. Encourage your House and Senate members to look into the GAO report findings and work with their colleagues to develop legislation that will scrap the IBMP, make critical habitat outside Yellowstone's boundaries available to wild bison, bring the Native American voice to the decision-making table, and protect this unlisted yet endangered sacred species from more death and harassment as carried out under the senseless, wasteful and cruel IBMP, which sanctions hazing, capture, slaughter, hunting, quarantine and all the various forms of maltreatment towards the last population of wild American bison.

Write your Senators
Write your Representative
Review the GAO Report-PDF (and send a copy to your members of Congress)
Roam Free!!
* Bonnie Raitt Benefit Tickets Still Available!
Enjoy incredible music by the beautiful and talented Bonnie Raitt while helping keep Buffalo Field Campaign on the front lines with the last wild buffalo! The Guacamole Fund and Bonnie Raitt have generously offered Buffalo Field Campaign 20 tickets to Bonnie's concert coming to Big Sky, MT on August 27, 2008. Tickets are $200 each and include an aftershow backstage visit with Bonnie! Ticket purchases go directly to Buffalo Field Campaign.

Only 7 tickets are left! Get yours now!
* COMMENT! RTR Purchase is a Lousy Land Deal for Wild Buffalo
Your public comments are needed on the so-called land deal - a 30-year lease of grazing rights from the Royal Teton Ranch - between state and federal agencies, some conservation groups, and the Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT). If this land lease goes through, CUT will receive more millions for leasing their land for a mere 30 years so that a handful of captured, tested, and tagged bison could temporarily occupy portions of their native range outside Yellowstone's north boundary. Over the years, thousands of wild bison have been slaughtered for even looking in the direction of these lands. In 1999, $13 million U.S. tax dollars were spent to allow wild bison and other migratory wildlife safe passage through this critical corridor, but to date, bison have been repeatedly harassed and killed for attempting to access these lands. Now the agencies involved are touting it as a huge step forward, when, in reality, only 25 buffalo would have temporary access to it and only after being run through the typical buffalo torture gauntlet.
This deal is in its "scoping" phase, meaning the entities are looking at the very beginnings of the process, getting all the details in order before submitting a plan or proposal for further public comment and consideration. While BFC opposes the land deal, we have prepared some key questions for the agencies to answer prior to proceeding with the deal.

Comments are being accepted through August 11. Buffalo Field Campaign has already submitted comments, and we have provided talking points below to help you craft yours. Send your comments to:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Attn: RTR Grazing Rights Purchase
1420 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
email: RTRgrazing@mt.gov

~ The notice is deficient and lacking key information for the public to make substantive comments. We request that this be rectified by re-issuing a public notice and providing additional time for the public to review new information requested herein and contribute comments on the proposed action by the State of Montana and U.S. Forest Service.

~ Ask the agencies to provide factual information on the specific locations and extent of fencing proposed, what type of fencing will be installed, whether the new fencing will be permanently installed or used temporarily, and the duration.

~ As the fencing will be located in a known wildlife corridor, ask the agencies to provide baseline information on how migratory species including elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and buffalo could be impacted. Ask them to also provide information on how grizzly bears, gray wolves and eagles may be impacted by the proposed fencing and its impact on ungulate migration.

~ Ask the agencies to provide a map of elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and buffalo habitat and migrations for the project area. Thomas Lemke, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist mapped this area as part of the 1999 Royal Teton Ranch land agreement.

~ Ask the agencies to address and explain how the fencing impacts critical wildlife habitat purchased and conserved with taxpayer money in the $13,000,000 Royal Teton Ranch land agreement reached in 1999.
~ Ask the agencies to provide factual information on the terms of the 30-year agreement, and the sources of funding secured, pledged or otherwise sought.

~ Ask the agencies to provide information on whether the proposed 30-year lease is a stand-alone agreement, or is in part or whole the "Bison Management Plan" as called for in the Royal Teton Ranch land agreement and the Record of Decision for the Interagency Bison Management Plan.

~ Ask the agencies to provide information on how the 30-year lease will be managed "to preserve, restore and enhance the bison that utilize the Property and their habitat."

~ Ask the agencies to provide information on the status, location, and consideration of locating another buffalo trap on Gallatin National Forest lands that may be constructed as part of the lease agreement and/or the IBMP in the project area.

THANK YOU for taking action for the buffalo! Please contact Darrell, BFC's Habitat Coordinator at z@wildrockies.org with questions.
* Join BFC for WoodCut Week, August 28 - September 3
Come to beautiful West Yellowstone, headquarters of Buffalo Field Campaign, and help us gather, cut, and stack the firewood that will keep our field volunteers warm (and alive!) through Montana's long, harsh winter. Come for a day, a few days or the whole week. We need and appreciate your help! Bring friends!!
Please RSVP with barb at buffaloatwildrockies.org or 406-646-0070.
* Last Words
"Brucellosis isn't like foot-and-mouth or other highly contagious diseases," Stevenson said. "When it has been quarantined, there isn't any danger to public health, nor the health of the national cattle herd."
~ Randy Stevenson, a Wheatland, WY cattle rancher
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2007-2008 Total: 1,616
2007-2008 Slaughter: 1,450
2007-2008 Hunt: 166
2007-2008 Quarantine: 112
Total Since 2000: 3,681*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts

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