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Weekly Update from the Field December 20, 2007
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* Update from the Field
* Front Lines Volunteers Needed
* National Elk Refuge Bison Hunt
* Crested Butte Ski Vacation Benefit Auction Starts Tomorrow
* Energy-Efficient Hot Water Heater Needed
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words

* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

Many bright blessings to all of you for the Winter Holidays!!

We wish we had brighter news to report. Eight more of the last wild buffalo in the U.S. have been killed this week in the hunt, bringing the current death toll to 20.

Patrols in Gardiner reported that a bull was killed by a woman from Kalispell on Friday. Then, on Saturday, a local outfitter, Bill Hoppe, infamous for being no friend to wildlife, led a family of two young boys and their parents to a buffalo in the Eagle Creek campground. Hoppe and the hunters spooked the buffalo out of the campground with their trucks and then the boys' mom shot the bull. That same day, two local hunters arrived and shot the companion of the old bull we reported was killed last week.

The bull who was harassed by Yellowstone National Park rangers last week was spotted again on the football field at the Gardiner school on Friday. Patrols say that he's not looking so good and his ribs are showing. Last week's hazing was no favor to that bull. Yesterday was the last patrols saw of him and it's questionable as to whether or not he'll make it through the winter. If the Park Service hazes him again, forcing him to use up essential energy reserves, his chances of survival are very slim.

Wolves and coyotes are also having a very hard time in Gardiner. Patrols have found the carcasses of three coyotes that have been killed just for being coyotes. Last week, one of them was found disgracefully draped over a street sign. The other two were found the other day, shot and left for dead. Meanwhile, up the road near the Corwin Springs bison "quarantine" facility, a wolf sick with mange has been seen by patrols and he's slowly getting worse. Magpies are now accompanying him. Gardiner, while a meca for wildlife, can be a very difficult place to be a wild creature. Teeming with buffalo, deer, elk, mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, bears, eagles, ravens, bighorns and more, North America's largest wildlife migration corridor also harbors a human element that thrives on killing wild creatures. Sadly, rather than respecting the amazing abundance and beauty of the place they have chosen to call home, wanton killing seems to be a past time for some human residents.

Here in West Yellowstone buffalo are on the move. On Saturday, however, four bulls were stopped dead in their tracks after hunters from the Salish-Kootenai tribes shot them just a few yards off the side of highway 191. Yesterday a buffalo was shot on the south side of the Madison River by a Montana buffalo tag holder.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks says that there are enough buffalo out of the Park along the western boundary now to "trigger" the issuance of additional hunting tags. FWP will issue 10 cow/calf tags to state hunters, and the same number will be split between the Salish-Kootenai and the Nez Perce. The Nez Perce, however, have not yet begun their hunt. We have also gotten word that the Shoshone-Bannock intend to exert their treaty rights and plan to come hunt buffalo very soon.

Until today, we had been told that there was a strong chance the Montana Department of Livestock was going to shut down the hunt on the western boundary to haze a large mixed group of buffalo from national forest lands along the south side of the Madison River. Many of you will recall the nightmare that followed when the DOL shut the hunt down in January of 2006, and hazed 14 buffalo onto the ice of Hebgen Lake, causing them to fall through and some to drown. Click HERE to view footage and photos of the incident.

If buffalo move out of the area where they can be killed by hunters, the DOL will chase them back into the Park, yet the "trigger" would remain in place because, as the agencies put it, the buffalo will just come right back out again. Had the DOL decided to haze, the hunt would have stayed on everywhere except for the south side of the Madison River where the haze was to take place. On one side of the river a hunt, the other size a haze. It all results in the same thing - death and harassment to the last wild buffalo. Thankfully, the buffalo have since moved back east, so the haze, at least, has been called off... for now.

What a wicked circus of mismanagement the buffalo suffer. It does not have to be this way. As Mike Mease said to the thousands who attended the Power to the Peaceful festival this fall, we must become the change we want to see in the world. So, turn up the volume, keep the pressure firmly applied, boycott buffalo-unfriendly beef, and demand that the last wild buffalo be set free from the clutches of mad cowboy disease.

Roam Free,


* Front Lines Volunteers Needed

It's nearing the end of December and the Bison hunt is in full swing. We have several feet of dry powder that is great for skiing and snowshoeing and our current volunteers have been exploring vast tracts of land in search of buffalo and other animals that we record in our online database of wildlife observations.

Keeping track of wildlife sightings and monitoring bison movements and the management actions that impact them are crucial components of our work. We have immediate openings for field volunteers to carry out this work. BFC provides room, board, and training to those who join us in this fun and effective work.

Now is a great time to explore the bison migration routes both on the northern and western boundaries of Yellowstone National Park and to play an active roll in the preservation of this truly unique herd of American Buffalo or Bison.

If you are interested, please call or email us to find out if Buffalo Field Campaign is right for you. Also please check the volunteer information on our web site and email us with additional questions.

See you Soon!

Stuart T. 406-646-0070

* National Elk "Refuge" Bison Hunt

As the body count of Yellowstone bison killed by hunters continues to increase, to the south, on the National Elk Refuge, a recently concluded bison hunt resulted in 222 dead bison. This hunt, the first conducted on the NER in over a decade and only the second NER bison hunt ever, was begun in September after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service finalized its Jackson bison and elk management plan.

After years of supplementally feeding bison during winter on the NER, the FWS decided to allow hunters to shoot the very bison who have become accustomed to being fed and protected on there. The FWS claims that the bison are overpopulated and have damaged native vegetation and harmed other wildlife species even though its own analysis links most of the alleged adverse impacts to the refuge's elk population (which is also supplementally fed). Ironically, though the FWS concedes that its supplemental feeding program was responsible for the growth in the bison population, it chose to use hunters instead of phasing out feeding to remedy its alleged "problem."

Alarmingly, the majority of federal and private scientists who examined the NER feeding program, including USDA scientists, recommended phasing out the NER feedground program to address the serious disease transmission threat that exists when large numbers of wildlife (elk and bison) are concentrated together when fed. While brucellosis is the primary disease affecting bison and elk on the NER presently, most experts agree that it is only a matter of time before far more serious diseases (like chronic wasting disease) will become established in the NER elk herd with deadly consequences that could decimate the region's elk population. FWS studies and analyses document significant benefits to phasing out the NER feedground which, in time, would result in a more natural density and distribution of bison and elk in the region as their reliance on supplemental meals dwindles and their winter distribution expands. Such phasing out would significantly reduce existing and future disease threats to the bison and elk populations. Though the FWS concedes in its own internal analyses the benefits of phasing out feeding both ecologically and as required by its own regulations, it ignored its own evidence when it decided to continue supplementally feeding wildlife with virtually no guaranteed changes to its operation.

Prior to the initiation of this year's hunt, BFC teamed with the Animal Welfare Institute on a letter to the FWS and Wyoming Game and Fish Department advising them of the illegality of the hunt. As expected, the agencies ignored the letter and their own laws and proceeded. Unfortunately, because of discriminatory policies prohibiting non-hunters from accessing the refuge as hunters are allowed to do, BFC was not able to bear witness to and document the NER bison hunt the way it does on public lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park. Efforts to reverse this discriminatory policy and to challenge the legality of the bison hunt and broader Jackson bison and elk management plan are in the works and will hopefully come to fruition before NER bison are subject to a second hunt next year.

In the interim, please let your voice be heard to calling, writing, or e-mailing NER manager Steve Kallin, National Elk Refuge, P.O. Box 510, Jackson, WY 83002; Telephone (307) 733-9212 ext. 223; Telefax (307) 733-9729; E-mail Steve_Kallin@fws.gov.

Many thanks to D.J. Schubert, wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute, for providing this information. To learn more about AWI visit http://www.awionline.org/.

* Crested Butte Ski Vacation Benefit Ebay Auction Begins 12/21.

Thanks to the generosity of a BFC supporter, Patagonia outdoor clothing company, and several Crested Butte businesses, BFC will again be auctioning off a week-long Colorado ski trip. The ten day Ebay auction will run between Friday, December 21 and Monday, December 31. Retail value is $6250 and bidding will start at $3000. 100% of the proceeds will go to BFC. Preview the auction by clicking here: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/auctions/crestedbutte.html

The winner of this auction will receive six nights of lodging in a Gold-Plus rated, four-bedroom, 3-bath condominium 500 yards from the base of the Silver Queen ski lift; eight free lift tickets courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort; $859 worth of Patagonia Ski Clothing including three ski jackets and two pairs of gloves; a $100 gift certificate to Marchitelli's Gourmet Noodle; a $35 gift certificate to the Brick Oven Pizzeria; and $50 worth of food from Mountain Earth Grocery. 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the front-lines work of Buffalo Field Campaign, the only group working in the field to permanently protect the Yellowstone bison, America's only continuously wild herd. http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/auctions/crestedbutte.html

* Energy-Efficient Hot Water Heater Needed

This week we experienced yet another minor disaster in our main cabin, the hot water heater stopped working, currently we are boiling water for dishes, but no one is able to shower. Since purchasing the cabin we have been slowly working on making it more energy efficient, and the old hot water heater was one of the biggest energy hogs in the place. We are hoping to be able to upgrade to an energy efficient tankless propane hot water heater. A donation of a hot water heater or funds to purchase one would be most appreciated by our currently showerless volunteers. If you can help, please contact Fischburne at 406-646-0070 or reply to this email. Thanks.

* Photo of the Week


This photo of five beautiful, frosty bulls in the Gardiner region was taken last week. Check out the amazing profile of the only bull not grazing. Photo by Darrell Geist, BFC's Habitat Coordinator.

* Last Words

"The livestock industry is the last wildlife-genocide program in the United States."
~ Bruce Apple, range ecologist


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