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Weekly Update from the Field April 16, 2009
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* Update from the Field
* Volunteers Needed Now & in the Summer!
* Food for Patrols: Donations Needed
* Celebrate Mothers: Human and Bison
* BFC Attends IBMP Meetings in Bozeman
* It Was a Blast! Bluegrass & Beyond BFC Benefit
* Last Words
* Kill Tally
* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

Yellowstone Rangers hazed a small mixed group of buffalo that were a few miles inside the Park border, near Gardiner, Montana. Over the past two weeks, these buffalo have been moving within the Park in the areas of Powerline Flats and Shooter Flats, the former marking the zone where management actions are triggered. We are hopeful that these buffalo will find satisfaction in the grasses a little deeper inside the Park so they are not harassed any longer.

Horse Butte is again teeming with buffalo! Everywhere we look there's a group of buffalo, grazing, playing, and enjoying their time unmolested by agents. It's encouraging to see how healthy the buffalo look, and it shows in their playfulness with one another. It has been really amazing for us to see them move the way they want to, on their own terms, coming to the Butte, disappearing in one morning only to return again a few days later with many more friends.

Not all of the buffalo that migrate towards Horse Butte have made it, however. On Saturday night and again during the dark and early hours of Monday morning, at least fifteen buffalo were struck and consequently killed while trying to cross Highway 191 on their way to Horse Butte. Astoundingly, no humans were hurt in these collisions; but people may not always be so lucky. Some of the buffalo died on impact, others survived with injuries so severe that one local resident, and agents from the Department of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife & Parks shot them to end their suffering. Patrols suspect that there are a couple other injured buffalo that have eluded the agents' gunshots to find a quiet place to die alone. We are keeping an eye out for them, but we hope their suffering is over and that they are undiscovered so, should they die, they help sustain bears, wolves and ravens, rather than being transported by officials to the local dump.

Bison are nearly impossible to see in the dark, due to their dark coats and non-reflective eyes. They do not fear and bound across the road as other animals do; they take their time to graze along the highway where, due to plowing, some of the first grasses appear after a long winter. Sometimes they even choose to bed down on the warm asphalt that has dissected their migratory path. In the dark, people never even see bison in the road until it's too late, especially traveling at high speeds, as was the case in the three separate incidents this week.

You, dear buffalo supporters, have helped us save countless buffalo lives along the highway by enabling us to purchase professional warning signs that alert motorists to the presence of bison on the road. Over the past few years, the use of these signs has prevented more bison - and possibly human - injuries and deaths than we can imagine. However, in the dark of night, the task of warning motorists is very dangerous and difficult. While BFC has been running all-night patrols, we need help from the state who must take on some responsibility to increase awareness and to help make the highway less dangerous for bison and travelers. With fewer than 3,000 bison left in the last wild population, these gentle giants cannot sustain being lost to the highways, especially with the management actions of the Interagency Bison Management Plan taking such a senseless, heavy toll.

In years past, BFC was instrumental in getting the Montana Department of Transportation to erect marquee signs that warn of bison on the highway, and we were successful in getting the speed limits lowered from 70mph to 55mph on Highway 191 from Fir Ridge to West Yellowstone, the 10-mile stretch of asphalt in the middle of the bison's migration corridors. Bison frequently cross this busy road to get to other, favored habitat. However, DOT had changed the signs to read "Animals on Highway" instead of "Bison on Highway," which is much less effective, and the speed limit has not been strictly enforced. Since the tragedy of these recent incidents, BFC has again appealed to the state's Department of Transportation, Governor Schweitzer and other Montana decision-makers asking them to increase warning signs, enforce lowered speed limits, and secure funding to implement safe passage projects so that bison and other wildlife may cross this busy stretch of road safely. A thoughtful coalition of powerful local and national groups have also sent a letter to Montana decision-makers as well as Montana's U.S. Senators urging them to take immediate action. Montana recently received over $200 million from the federal government for highway projects, and we are hopeful the state will allocate some of that money for our collective requests.

TAKE ACTION: If you are a Montana resident, visitor to Yellowstone, if you or your loved ones travel through this region, or if you simply love wild bison, your voice is critical! Please contact the Montana Department of Transportation and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, strongly urging them to make highways safer for America's last wild bison and the people who travel through this region.

Thank you for all that you do to help the buffalo! We could not be here working in their defense without your dedication and support.

Roam Free!
* Volunteers Needed Now & in the Summer!
With the buffalo's migration finally underway, we are in need of volunteers for both spring and summer. If you've ever wanted to experience the splendor of the Yellowstone Ecosystem, this is the way to do it! Whether joining us on the front lines for the first time or as a returning volunteer, we need you! BFC is looking for folks for our spring field season and for the summer months when volunteers run our outreach tables in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. We are also looking for a Maintenance Coordinator who is mechanically inclined and can help keep our vehicles and cabins in running order. There are many ways to plug in at BFC: in the field, in our offices, and around the property -- opportunities abound, and any skills you bring we can put to good use. Help bear witness and strengthen the voice for wild buffalo. It is especially helpful if you have a valid drivers license and can drive a standard. BFC provides room, board, and training and we can outfit you with necessary gear.

If you are interested in volunteering this spring field season, please contact Brock or Will, our volunteer coordinators, at volunteer"at"buffalofieldcampaign.org or call 406-646-0070. People interested in volunteering for our summer campaign, or interested in the summer Maintenance Coordinator position should contact Mike at mease"at"wildrockies.org or call 406-646-0070. See you in West Yellowstone with the last wild buffalo!
* Food for Patrols: Donations Needed
The spring has brought snow, warm days, and lots of buffalo out of the park. We are now running full patrols and people are spending between 8 and 10 hours a day in the field documenting the migration. We are also running night patrols to warn travelers of buffalo crossing Highway 191. This time of year, with the long hours, food is a needed friend for our tireless volunteers. We could use donations of coffee, hot chocolate, chocolate (dark is great!), energy bars, fruit bars, candy, hot apple cider mix, chips, crackers, jam, and peanut butter.

If you can assist us with food donations for our field patrols, please contact BFC's Kitchen Coordinator, Grumble, at kitchen@buffalofieldcampaign.org or send packages to BFC-Kitchen, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. All donations are tax deductible. In lieu of in-kind donations, you can make a secure online monetary contribution for "patrol food" by clicking here.

* Celebrate Mothers: Human and Bison
Mother's Day is a perfect time to reflect on the Earth we intend to leave to future generations. Will we "see beyond our own time" to ensure that wild bison roam free? That our children's children will have the chance to marvel at these magnificent wild creatures? This is what Buffalo Field Campaign works for, with your generous support. We will send a beautiful card to the person of your choice. This year, our popular Mother's Day card features a hand-drawn (and reproduced) original copied from a smaller, accompanying photo of mom and baby in Yellowstone. Our card is appropriate for all the nurturing relationships you'd like to honor with a gift to BFC.

The deadline for orders is Wednesday, April 22, 2009. A minimum donation of $15 is requested for each card you would like us to send. For more information, and to order, click here.

Or send a check or money order (no cash, please) to: BFC / PO Box 957 / West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Thank You!
* BFC Attends IBMP Meetings in Bozeman
On Wednesday and Thursday, a small group from BFC traveled to Bozeman to attend the Interagency Bison Management Plan meetings. Ironically, after a long discussion over improving public process and input, when BFC asked a question during public comment, we were cut off. Though two agency heads did respond to our question after the meeting, it was a case in point that the public voice is given very little, if any, weight.

Throughout the meetings the public called on the agencies to scrap the Interagency Bison Management Plan and start over with a new Environmental Impact Statement, and we highlighted the need for habitat outside Yellowstone National Park. Even the Montana State Veterinarian, Marty Zaluski, representing the Department of Livestock, stated that slaughtering buffalo as has been their practice is not sustainable. To our amazement, after years of making these requests, it seems it's finally sinking in: On the second day of the meeting, the agencies themselves brought up the idea of initiating an Environmental Impact Statement, while they also underscored the need for acquiring more habit for buffalo outside Yellowstone's boundaries. During public comment, those of us who spoke maintained that the status quo is disastrously failing wild buffalo while we let them know we were encouraged that they would consider more habitat and scrapping the IBMP to start over with a plan that responds to the changing environment, new science, and with respect for buffalo as valued, native wildlife. The lesson here is that we are making a difference and must never let up.

Many thanks to Jim, Genevieve and River of Buffalo Allies of Bozeman for once again opening your home to BFC so we could attend both days of these meetings and spend quality time with fellow buffalo advocates.
* It Was a Blast! Bluegrass & Beyond BFC Benefit
What a night! The Pour House was packed on Saturday night for "Bluegrass & Beyond: A Benefit for Buffalo Field Campaign." Sponsored by BFC and Buffalo Allies of Bozeman, the night was a success. There were hundreds of people in attendance, learning about the buffalo and dancing to the amazing music of very talented local bands: everyone there was thinking about the buffalo, and many took the time to take action, learn more, and help keep BFC on the front lines and help create a Montana where wild bison are free to roam and are cherished for their existence.

WE GIVE THANKS: To BFC volunteer Art Brown for being inspired to organize the event. To Buffalo Allies of Bozeman for co-sponsoring and supporting the entire effort, creating flyers, doing outreach, speaking, tabling, and so much more! To all the BFC and BAB volunteers who helped run our long stretch of tables. To all the BFC volunteers who stayed at camp to be with the buffalo. To the Pour House for the space provided. To all the wonderful businesses who donated terrific raffle items. To Clarence for his incredible MCing talents. To NRDC for their support and for speaking so passionately. To the talented bands who gave their time and energy to the buffalo and inspired everyone to cut a rug: Billy, Greg Keeler, Comstock Lode, Bridger Creek Boys, Thermal Grass, Jawbone Railroad, and 10 Foot Tall & 80 Proof. And to everyone who attended the event and took action for the buffalo! THANK YOU!!

View some photos from this fun event here.
* Last Words
"I don't think it's suitable for us to conduct large [bison] population reductions."
~ Marty Zaluski, Montana State Vet, at the Interagency Bison Mangement Plan meetings in Bozeman, April 8-9. BFC agrees wholeheartedly and we will hold you to these words, Marty!
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2008-2009 Total: 17
2008-2009 Slaughter: 0
2008-2009 Hunt: 1
2008-2009 Quarantine: 0
2008-2009 Shot by Agents: 1
2008-2009 Highway Mortality: 15
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
Total Since 2000: 3,698*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortalities
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Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
BFC is the only group working in the field every day in defense of the last wild buffalo population in the U.S.

Buffalo Field Campaign West Yellowstone Montana
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