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Weekly Update from the Field December 18, 2008
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* Update from the Field
* BFC Badly Needs Snowplow & New Computers
* Last Words
* Kill Tally

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,

Everything is frozen now. This week temperatures dropped to about twenty below zero. Some snow came with the cold snap, but not enough for us to get out on skis and snowshoes. Despite the deep freeze, patrols are out every day monitoring buffalo migration, but as of this writing there are still no buffalo inhabiting Montana.

BFC and other buffalo allies attended a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission meeting last week, where the Royal Teton Ranch land lease was on the agenda. When the public had opportunity to comment, the vast majority were in opposition to the lease. Some of the Commissioners themselves also cautioned against approving the plan because there was too little information for too serious a consequence. Other Commissioners were anxious to expedite the process, regardless of the reality for wild buffalo and the waste of taxpayer money being spent on a temporary corridor to nowhere. A vote was taken and, shockingly, due to the opposition of two of the Commissioners, the land lease failed! We had won a victory! The people had prevailed! The Commissioners called a short break and when they reconvened the news changed. The Commission decided to revisit the land lease, even though they had just voted against its approval. An FWP lawyer in the audience assured them that this was a legitimate action. Backing away from their original vote, the Commissioners chose to delay their decision until they could tour the Royal Teton Ranch lands in question and would make a decision over conference call. The next morning, with little public notice, the tour was given, and late that very afternoon over a conference call, the FWP Commission agreed to allocate their portion of funding - $300,000 of Montana Habitat money - and approved the Royal Teton Land lease.

Though being touted as a "good first step" by government agencies and misguided conservation groups, this decision is in reality a devastating blow to wild bison. It simply maintains the status quo of the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Our friend and a strong buffalo ally, Glenn Hockett of the Gallatin Wildlife Association, describes it best:
"Perhaps the biggest concern with this proposal is it gives credence to the current Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), which was designed by livestock agents with no interest of ever really seeing a wild, free-ranging year round bison herd in southwest Montana. The specifics of this deal are quite troubling. Only 25 bison will be allowed to walk a narrow and fenced two mile corridor through the 640 acre Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT) Ranch property, on an area where we already own a public right-of-way. But first they must be hazed, captured, tested, found to be sero-negative (to brucellosis exposure) and thus likely separated from their family members who will be slaughtered for having been exposed and potentially immune to brucellosis, then vaccinated, vaginally implanted with a locator transmitter if they are female, monitored round the clock, and confined west of the Yellowstone River in a small basin above Cutler Meadows and south of Yankee Jim Canyon where they will likely be shot anyway. If they or additional bison that might enter the area "untested" don't "behave", which means they must stay within a small area west of the Yellowstone River and don't eat too much, the deal reverts back to square one the next year. Regardless, [under this plan] there will never be more than 100 bison in Montana and as of tax time each year (April 15), just before or during spring bison calving season all the bison must be rounded up and hazed back into the Park, captured and hauled back into the Park, or killed on site despite the fact no cows are in the area and they present virtually no risk to livestock. Furthermore, whenever the ceiling of bison numbers is reached, the "corridor" will be closed and government hazing, capture, confinement and/or slaughter of wild bison attempting to migrate to Montana from Yellowstone will continue unabated.

This deal perpetuates the fallacy that wildlife can and should be "cleansed of disease" and that brucellosis can somehow reasonably be eradicated from all the wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Area. It is also a very temporary and expensive ($3.33 million dollars) add-on to an already expensive ($13 million dollar) conservation easement that has proven to be a non-solution for buffalo. The deal isolates and continues to treat native bison as a "diseased exotic animal" in the State of Montana. FWP proposes to spend $300,000 of Montana Habitat money - taxpayer dollars allocated to purchase habitat - for this boone-doggle. Yellowstone National Park is allocating $1.3 million U.S. tax dollars, and a handful of so-called conservation groups are footing the rest. This is a very bad deal for Montana wildlife. Bison need habitat and there are no solutions within the restricted confines of the failed bison plan."

As you read this, BFC will be in the field with the buffalo, and also in Bozeman, Montana, attending the last in a series of Interagency Bison Management Plan meetings. When it is time for the public to be heard, we will speak for the herds. We will be there to remind the agencies what they are doing is wrong, that their plan is failing, and that there are solutions that don't involve driving America's last wild bison to near extinction. As always, we will share with you everything we learn so you can continue to be an empowered voice for wild buffalo.

Roam Free!
~ Stephany
* BFC Badly Needs Snowplow & New Computers!
As the freezing cold weather comes, so does the downfall of many of our functioning necessities. Just in the last week, we've lost the one computer that most of our coordinators use daily to communicate with supporters, volunteers, and donors. And now that the snow has finally started to fall, the plow for our plow truck has cracked and is out of commission. If you have either of these items and would like to donate them, we promise to put them to good use defending the bison. And if you don't but would like to help us acquire them, please DONATE NOW.

Please help BFC acquire either of these two tax-deductible items:
* Snowplow for a 4x4 pick up truck
* Apple computers (laptops or desktops) with OSX

We will gladly accept them and provide you with a tax receipt for your in kind donation, along with many heartfelt thanks!

BFC is always in need of various items that help keep our office running, our cabin efficient, and our field patrols warm, dry and well-fed. Please visit BFC's Wish List to learn about the tax deductible in kind donations you can make to help keep BFC functioning on the front lines! THANK YOU!
* Last Words
"I've said it before, I'll say it again: this is not about buffalo, it's not about brucellosis, it's about grazing."
~ Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commissioner Victor Workman.

Victor was one of two commissioners (Willie Doll being the other) who originally voted against the Royal Teton Ranch land lease, causing it to fail passage. He pleasantly shocked us with this pro-bison statement during the public meeting last week. Unfortunately, frustrated with the cattle-based politics surrounding wild bison management in Montana, Victor is stepping down from the Commission.
* 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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