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Weekly Update from the Field January 22, 2009
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* Update from the Field
* TAKE ACTION! Urge President Obama to Help the Buffalo!
* Have You Ordered Your Buffalo Valentine's Yet?
* VIDEO: Citizen Walks for the Buffalo
* BFC Attends DOL Brucellosis Action Plan Meeting
* Last Words
* Kill Tally

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
There are still no buffalo within Montana's borders. Daily recons are patrolling the north and west migration corridors, looking in all the places favored by buffalo, but our shaggy friends are currently living their lives within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. Certainly it is good for the buffalo, for any who cross the imaginary line and enter Montana have hunters waiting for them until February 15. But our hearts and spirits are lonely in the darkness of their absence. We are venturing miles into the park just to get a distant glimpse of their existence. The massive slaughter last year, which took over 1,600 buffalo, coupled with a severe winter kill, ravaged this last wild population; with so few buffalo remaining, and this season's relatively mild winter, migration is slow to occur.

While we remain steadfast in the field every day, we are also using these quiet times to help the buffalo in other ways: attending meetings to speak for the buffalo, organizing events with other buffalo advocates, participating in the legislative process, making new connections with buffalo champions, raising awareness, strengthening our cause and keeping pressure applied.

You are an integral key in every measure of success. By keeping the buffalo's story in the hearts and minds of people, holding decision-makers accountable and pressuring them to take positive action, introducing the issue to those who are unaware, raising awareness in creative ways, and helping maintain BFC's presence on the front lines you stand with the buffalo from wherever you are. In solidarity for the buffalo, for the wild, we will realize our attainable goal. Thank you!

Roam Free!
* TAKE ACTION! Urge President Obama to Help the Buffalo!
The day has come: there is new leadership in America. Promising change and a new direction, President Barack Obama has the power to help the last wild population of American buffalo in numerous ways. The time is now to call on him, and we've made it easy for you to do so.

TAKE ACTION! Please take a moment to send a letter to President Barack Obama. We have provided a sample letter for your convenience, but please be sure to personalize it (form letters are frequently ignored!) and ask President Obama to help the buffalo in your own words. There is also a feature that will allow you to easily send the letter to your friends and acquaintances, so we can make a strong showing for the buffalo! Thank you so much for taking action for the buffalo!!
* Have You Ordered Your Buffalo Valentine's Yet?
Valentine's Day approaches, and with it, our offer to send a card with conscience to the recipient(s) of your choice. Your card will represent an investment in the wildest of wild bison-the Yellowstone-area herd-and our ongoing work for their well-being and freedom. How's that for a Valentine with heart?!?
Cards are only $15. The deadline to order cards is Friday, February 6. Order yours today!
* VIDEO: Citizen Walks for the Buffalo
Anyone, anywhere and at anytime can take action for the buffalo in a variety of ways.
BFC volunteer, Art, has chosen to walk for the buffalo in support of their right to roam freely, and in opposition to their harassment and slaughter. Braving cold temperatures and a dangerous highway, Art walks with courage to raise awareness. In his words, "We must understand we are only visitors here. The buffalo are wild animals, we are encroaching on their land. We must respect that."

Watch a video of Art.

We trust Art will be an inspiration to all buffalo advocates, far and wide. He demonstrates that even one person can make a difference. Thank you Art!!
* BFC Attends DOL Brucellosis Action Plan Meeting
As the two of us pulled into the Ennis Fire House parking lot, our anxiety rose. Pickup truck after pickup truck lined the rows. We were on rancher turf. With video camera in hand, we were the only wildlife advocates there to listen to and document the Department of Livestock's informational meeting about Montana's new Brucellosis Action Plan.

As we entered the packed room, Montana State Vet Marty Zaluski stated that this meeting was not about bison, but was in fact about elk. We thought it was about how the cattle industry was going to better manage their cattle by taking risk management measures against brucellosis. But cattle producers will have to take very little action, and any costs they incur will be paid for by state or federal tax dollars. As Zaluski explained the small measures cattle producers in seven counties around Yellowstone would have to take, there was question by some "Why us? What did we do? Why does the burden fall on us?" I bit my lip and forced myself not to remind people that invasive cattle introduced brucellosis to this country and infected native wildlife. Other ranchers vocalized frustration that the buffalo and elk weren't all rounded up, tested and slaughtered or vaccinated. Some ranchers called for eradication of brucellosis, which, surprisingly, most all agreed was not possible because it exists in numerous species, including domestic dogs.

MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologist, Kurt Alt, explained that brucellosis, as a disease, isn't a problem for elk and bison (they develop immunities to it, and this is what gets them killed because in blood-tests if they've been exposed, they test sero-positive due to antibodies, then it's off to the slaughterhouse). The problem lies in the politics that drive the war against these wild animals. He also noted how elk feed grounds in Wyoming were a major source for disease transmission and even Zaluski agreed with that. But, he also made note that they aren't being shut down because many ranchers make money growing the alfalfa to feed the elk, and other ranchers like it because it keeps wild elk off of "their" grass. Feed grounds unnaturally concentrate large numbers of wildlife and can (and will) perpetuate the spread of diseases far worse than brucellosis, such as tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease. One reasonable rancher raised his voice about how brucellosis isn't even a big deal, it's not a human health threat anymore, so why do we even need to worry about it? Global trade was the response from Zaluski. One more reason to boycott cattle products.

Montana is trying to regain its brucellosis-free status, so elk are now in the brucellosis-fraud cross hairs in Montana; two were shot near Gardiner last week, and in the Madison Valley a special hunt is underway to reduce their population by 3,000. FWP's Kurt Alt promised the ranchers that "we are hammering and will continue to hammer" the elk in the Madison Valley. If brucellosis were to go away, the light would be shed on the truth that this is all about grass and who gets to eat it. But, brucellosis is here to stay, and the real issue is still grass. The only way to manage the disease is to better manage cattle, or remove cattle from wildlife-rich areas, and simultaneously shut down wildlife feeding grounds, erase the imaginary lines and let wild elk and buffalo disperse and roam freely once again.
* Last Words
"The original ranch was twenty-three hundred acres out of the old Meusebach survey of the Fisher-Miller grant, the original house a oneroom hovel of sticks and wattle. That was in eighteen sixty-six. In that same year the first cattle were driven through what was still Bexar County and across the north end of the ranch and on to Fort Sumner and Denver. Five years later his great-grandfather sent six hundred steers over that same trail and with the money he built the house and by then the ranch was already eighteen thousand acres. In eighteen eighty-three they ran the first barbed wire. By eighty-six the buffalo were gone."
~ From Cormac McCarthy's 'All the Pretty Horses'
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2008-2009 Total: 2
2008-2009 Slaughter: 0
2008-2009 Hunt: 1
2008-2009 Quarantine: 0
2008-2009 Shot by Agents: 1
2007-2008 Total: 1,616
Total Since 2000: 3,683*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts

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