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Weekly Update from the Field November 15, 2007
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* Update from the Field - Opening Day of Montana's Bison "Hunt"
* THANK YOU! Montana Gets "Let Buffalo Roam" License Plate!
* BFC Wish List:  Hard Drives for Video Storage & iMac Computer Needed
* ACTION:  Help Protect Wild Buffalo Under the Endangered Species Act!
* Buffalo in the News
* BFC Visits Our National Elk (& Bison) Refuge: A Glorified Game Farm
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Today marks the opening day of Montana's buffalo "hunt." Montana has issued forty-four tags to gun down members of the last wild American bison population.   It's certain death for wild buffalo to step across this imaginary line between Yellowstone and Montana that dissects a landscape where they once roamed free.  A landscape that was once contiguous and whole, teeming with wild buffalo.  This is a hunt without habitat, run by cattle interests who want to ensure this native wildlife species remains ecologically extinct in Montana.  The hunt will run from today, November 15, 2007, through February 15, 2008.  Montana's bison hunt is authorized not by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), but by Montana's Department of Livestock.  Clearly, this is a conflict of interest akin to putting the fox in charge of the hen-house. 

Please contact MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Governor Schweitzer to demand year-round habitat for wild bison and help divest the Department of Livestock of bison management authority: 
FWP Director Jeff Hagener (406) 444-3186, jhagener@mt.gov;
Governor Brian Schweitzer (406) 444-3121, brianschweitzer@mt.gov

With any luck, it will be a good day for buffalo. BFC volunteers have been conducting frequent recons around Gardiner and West Yellowstone, and, so far, it appears that the mild weather is enabling buffalo to continue accessing the plentiful forage on their higher elevation habitat within the Park.  Buffalo will be buffalo and there's no certainty in predicting their migration.  They will go where and when they want for their own reasons; part of their beauty, mystery and charm.

Yesterday, volunteers learned that the Department of Livestock and other government agencies were going to remove the bison trap that had been put up near the Yellowstone Airport last spring, and used to capture and transport over 50 buffalo from West Yellowstone to the Park's northern boundary lands.  Today, the trap is gone.  It is as yet unclear if this particular bison trap will be reconstructed on this site later in the year. Apparently, the airport intends to construct a large fence around their property that will keep bison and elk safe from the dangers of grazing along the airport's runway - a boon to both wildlife and travellers.

BFC patrols are underway, monitoring wild buffalo migration and preparing to document all actions made against them.  We will also be conducting a lot of hunter outreach again this hunt season in an effort to help engage conservation-minded hunters in the restoration of wild bison in Montana.  We are up and running with our camp in Gardiner again this year, too.  BFC expects a solid showing of front lines buffalo defenders this season.  We need your help to keep the campaign running!  It takes a lot for us to ensure that these selfless wild buffalo warriors are fed, sheltered, kept warm and dry in the field, and have all the gear and equipment needed for telling the buffalo's story and advocating for their lasting protection.   If you are able to make a monetary or in-kind donation to Buffalo Field Campaign, we can use your help now. 

Please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org and click on the "Donate Now" button to make a secure online donation, send a contribution through the mail to the address at the end of this email, or see below for our Wish List.

There's lots of other news in this Update so please read on!  Thank you all for being with us and for the buffalo.  BFC would not exist if it weren't for you believing in us and ensuring our presence in the field.  Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for everything you make possible.

Roam Free,
* THANK YOU! Montana Gets a "Let Buffalo Roam" License Plate!
Thanks to you, Montana's new Let Buffalo Roam license plate will be available in January 2008.  The winner of Montana's new license plate is...  http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
* BFC Wish List:  Hard Drives for Video Storage & iMac Computer Needed
As we come into a new season there is one thing that is certain no matter what else happens, we will shoot lots of video.  In order to get that video out to the world we have to first get it onto the computer, and we are nearing the end of our storage space on all of our hard drives.  In  order to show the world what the state of Montana is trying to hide we are going to need several new hard drives.  If you can help we are in need of new or used firewire hard drives 100GB or larger.

barb, our hard working office coordinator has been having computer troubles of her own lately. Right now she is using an 8 year old iMac that has started randomly losing emails and is to slow to work with newer software.  To keep barb doing all that she does for the buffalo we need at least one newer apple computer (G4 or newer).

Thank you for your continuing support of the bison and our volunteers. To see BFC's complete Wish List please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/aboutus/wishlist.html.  In-kind or monetary donations can be mailed to the address at the end of this Update. 

Please call or email us with any questions:  406-646-0070 or buffaloatwildrockies.org.

* ACTION:  Help Protect Wild Buffalo Under the Endangered Species Act
America's last wild buffalo - the so-called "Yellowstone" population - has a chance to be protected under the Endangered Species Act as a Distinct Population Segment. 

Please download, print and circulate widely this petition to help build strong public support for protecting the Yellowstone buffalo http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/science/buffaloesapetition.pdf
Send completed petitions to Buffalo Field Campaign, to the address at the end of this email.

And please SEND YOUR COMMENTS to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in support of James Horsley's petition to protect the Yellowstone bison under the Endangered Species Act as a Distinct Population Segment.  Urge the U.S.FWS to do adequate research to identify the bison's native historic range and to reconsider their current position not to protect wild bison and their habitat under the Endangered Species Act. 

For more information contact Darrell at z@wildrockies.org.

Send your comments to:
Michael Stempel
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Suite 645
Lakewood, CO 80228
(Phone) 303-236-4253
(Fax) 303-236-0027
* Buffalo in the News
11/10/07 - Horse Butte land sale may give bison safe haven, Bozeman Daily Chronicle

11/09/07 - To the Editor:  Private Property Rights (Ann Stovall!), West Yellowstone News

11/09/07 - Board rejects disease split, Jackson Hole Star Tribune

11/08/07 - Department of Livestock rejects split state for brucellosis management, New West

11/07/07 - Livestock board rejects brucellosis management zones, Helena Independent Record

11/07/07 - Panelists nix split zone for cattle, Billings Gazette

11/7/07 - Madison valley landowners get tough with Montana DOL, New West

11/3/07 - Bison Management: Radio Interview (BFC & Gallatin Wildlife Association)
Home Ground w/ Brian Kahn Yellowstone Publi Radio (10/23) & MT Public Radio (11/3)

11/1/07 - Two tribes say they have right to hunt bison near park, Billings Gazette (Matt Brown)
* BFC Visits Our National Elk (& Bison) Refuge: A Glorified Game Farm
In response to several calls from local citizens, representatives of Buffalo Field Campaign visited Jackson Hole, Wyoming to interview National Elk Refuge supervisor Steve Kallin about the the start of the bison hunt which began on September 15, 2007. 
Bison have been hunted on Bridger Teton National Forest, but this is the first year bison have been hunted on the National Elk Refuge. So far 53 bison have been killed in the hunt.

Buffalo Field Campaign was also in touch with local residents that witnessed bison being shot from a main road or from their property. These residents opposed bison hunting on the refuge and called for national media coverage.
A little bit about Jackson.

In the late 1800's, ranchers moved in and occupied historic wildlife range to graze domestic livestock. Without winter range, the native elk population experienced several severe winter kills which led to the establishment of a game reserve in 1905 in Jackson and supplemental feeding of elk to limit starvation during the winter. 

Hunting of elk began on the refuge in 1943 and is now in play to reduce the Grand Teton-Jackson bison population to 500 animals.

Today's elk population is artificially maintained - to the benefit of outfitter and hunter guides -  and fed 2,400 tons of pelletized alfalfa at an annual cost of $400,000.  The refuge also irrigates fields to increase the availability of forage. The refuge is not distributing alfalfa pellets during the bison hunt but once in production the feed line is distributed over a mile.
5,000 elk winter on the refuge, and Wyoming Game & Fish has a target goal of 11,000 elk in the Grand Teton-Jackson region. Bison learned how to exploit the refuge's feeding grounds beginning in 1980 and now number around 1,200.
The first bison established in Grand Teton National Park came from 22 Yellowstone National Park bison but nearly all those animals were destroyed when brucellosis was discovered in 1963 and repopulated with bison from Teddy Roosevelt National Park and Fort Niabrara. Bison bulls have migrated to Grand Teton for the rut, and returned to Yellowstone. One female-led bison group from Yellowstone is known to have migrated to Grand Teton and stayed.

The National Elk Refuge publicly states that hunting bison on the refuge is justified to keep the population in check (which is artificially kept high through the feeding program) and contain the spread of disease (which is fostered by artificially concentrating the animals on the feed grounds).  Though brucellosis is widespread in both elk and bison, chronic wasting disease, a fatal ungulate disease with no known treatment is spreading and was documented 100 miles from Jackson Hole. Barrels for hunter deposited elk heads are kept on the refuge to check for chronic wasting disease.
Montana should take note of the dire situation in Wyoming. Domestic livestock ranching has severely depleted winter range for native wildlife.  Attempts to artificially sustain an elk population has altered wildlife behavior, unnaturally concentrated wildlife, and fostered the spread of disease. Without habitat, there is no end in sight to the devastating costs borne by America's native elk and bison in the name of population and disease control.
* Last Words
"When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them."
~ Attributed to Chief Seattle

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