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           Weekly Update from the Field February 28, 2013
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Wake of the Buffalo, Report on Bills and More!‏
* Update from the Field ~ Wake of the Buffalo
* Barrage of Anti-Buffalo Bills Remains Alive in the Montana Legislature
* TAKE ACTION! Important Ways You Can Help Wild Buffalo Right Now!
* Align Your Life with Your Ideals: Come to Work for BFC
* Brucellosis Workshop Held in Montana
* 2013 Wild Bison Calendars Discounted to $2.99
* By the Numbers
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration

* Update from the Field

A bull bison visits buffalo remains just outside Yellowstone National Park. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

Between Thursday and Sunday, forty-four of America's last wild buffalo were killed in the Gardiner Basin by hunters with the Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes. Most of these buffalo were shot less than 300 yards from the north boundary of Yellowstone National Park, on a small area of Gallatin National Forest land called Beattie Gulch. Three of the buffalo that were shot here did not immediately fall but walked into Yellowstone, where they were not allowed to be retrieved by the Nez Perce hunters who shot them; their bodies left to the ecosystem. According to state and tribal officials, the hunters who shot these buffalo are being allowed to keep their tags to kill other buffalo. In another incident, three other buffalo were illegally shot and killed by two non-tribal members.

Two days later we watched as more than a hundred buffalo approached these killing fields.

Two bull bison mourn as they find remains of their relatives. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

They found the remains of their relatives strewn across the land like fleshy boulders left behind by glaciers. We watched in sorrowful awe as the buffalo approached the gut piles. Their tails shot up in the air as they ran from remain to remain, discovering what was left. Enormous bulls bellowed like roaring dragons, mouths agape, bodies arched, and pawing the ground. The buffalo placed their faces close to the flesh left behind, nuzzling their muzzles into the earth where the buffalo had fallen. They sniffed at fetuses still sheltered in their mother's flesh whose lives were ended before they were born. The buffalo circled and scattered, ran to each other and away again. Sparring, bumping, running, pawing and crying out in their deep emotion of their discovery. Watching, we could only think of it as a wake, a mighty wailing of the buffalo. Back and forth they ran, frantic, between the gut piles that had been their friends, their family. Like chieftains in their own right, fathers of their clans, the mature bulls lingered the longest, as the mothers and grandmothers lead the young ones on in an ancient procession, their deliberate footsteps slower in their sorrow.


Glimpses of a buffalo wake. BFC file photos by Stephany and David. Click photos for larger images.

The depth of relationship the buffalo share is timeless, intense, and far beyond most people's willingness or ability to accept or understand. Indeed, it is easier, more convenient, to ignore or pretend that it doesn't mean anything. In that blindness we deny not only to other creatures, but to ourselves, the honest power of love, the gift of respect, and the aid of wisdom. The buffalo already encompass these things, and they are patiently waiting on the brink for us to catch up.

Please read below to learn about the ways you can help wild buffalo right now, and help raise awareness by sharing this email with all of your friends and contacts.

Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
~ Stephany

* Barrage of Anti-Buffalo Bills Remains Alive in the Montana Legislature

When BFC's office coordinator Kasi interlaid the outline of Montana over the body of a buffalo, she discovered that the "kill zone," shown in red, ironically appeared in Park and Gallatin counties, where America's last wild buffalo attempt to live their lives but are faced with difficult and lethal obstacles from anti-buffalo sentiment, such as that being carried out by the Montana legislature. Click graphic for larger image.

Tomorrow, Montana's 63rd legislative session will be half over -- a mid-way point that buffalo advocates here and afar are thankful for. With your timely support and help, many of the anti-buffalo bills have been killed (for now). Thank you for taking action by contacting committees, legislators and our newly elected Governor Steve Bullock. You can stay apprised of hearings and keep involved by checking for bill updates on our web page.

Led by the Republic caucus, nearly a dozen bills were introduced impacting our last wild buffalo. You would think nothing has changed in the Montana legislature (or anywhere else) since 1995 when 81-2-120 became law -- the legislative genesis for the Interagency Bison Management Plan that has destroyed thousands of our last wild buffalo on our public lands with tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars.

But circumstances have changed. There is peer-reviewed science that migratory elk -- not migratory buffalo -- are the likely source of brucellosis infections in cattle in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. And the undisputed fact remains that even without a 'plan' wild buffalo have never infected cattle. Montana has adopted new brucellosis regulations that remove the threat of whole herd cattle slaughter, loss of the state’s brucellosis free status by treating incidents locally on a case by case basis that have effectively prevented state sanctions against Montana cattle infected with brucellosis. An economic analysis found a net benefit of $9.50-$14.00 per head for cattle ranchers affected in southwestern Montana, and an annual net benefit to cattle ranchers statewide of $5.5 million to $11.5 million.

In a time of budget cuts, why are the American people being asked to continue to pay for the on-going multi-million dollar costs of a destructive bison 'management plan' that substitutes unfounded threats and fears for traditional knowledge and science?

We the American people have made it abundantly clear that we want habitats for robust wild buffalo populations for future generations to experience. It is this legacy of native wildlife species that draws people from around the world who pass through Montana's gateway communities to Yellowstone National Park, a $332,975,000 boon for the locals according to the latest statistics.

People come to Montana to see the grizzly bear, the wolf, and the buffalo, and not the subsidized beef cattle on our public lands.
Ignorance wrapped in unfounded threats and fears and disguised as legislation continues to threaten our remaining migratory buffalo who occupy less than 1% of Montana's abundant lands. The Montana Legislature needs to start acting on behalf of “each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations” and not as the destroyer of our heritage of wild buffalo.

Please stay involved to defeat the bills remaining: SB 256 would legislatively undo Montana Supreme Court precedent that wildlife does not belong to any 'owner' by making the state liable for any private property damage or public safety hazard caused by reintroduced buffalo. Under SB 305 any buffalo reintroduced or reduced to some form of captivity would not be treated under the law as wild buffalo in Montana. HB 328 would repeal Montana's 'fair-chase' hunt of migratory buffalo by permitting state officials to identify "the actual physical location" of buffalo to be shot by hunters. And HB 396 subjects state and Tribal authority over wildlife to County Commissioner control, with a little noticed provision that our wild buffalo may be sold by the Dept. of Livestock to offset the costs of capturing, testing, quarantining and vaccinating this valued native grassland species. SB 341 would defer public decision making to private property owners, confound with liabilities, and bury in red tape any reintroduction of large predators, endangered species and game animals including wild buffalo in the state.

Darrell Geist, Habitat Coordinator

* TAKE ACTION! Important Ways You Can Help the Buffalo Right Now

1. Keep Pressure on Montana Decision-Makers. The pressure you've been applying to the Montana legislature is being felt. There are still numerous bills being considered by the Montana legislature and these lawmakers and Montana Governor Steve Bullock need to keep hearing from you! Keep writing, calling and emailing, attend hearings if you can, and keep the pressure on! YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

2. Watch & Share BFC's Public Service Announcement Videos. BFC recently created two short and powerful public service announcements (PSA) taking Yellowstone National Park and Montana to task for their driving roles in the slaughter of America's last wild bison. The more people who see these PSAs, the better chance the buffalo will have. Please watch the videos, take the actions urged in each, and then share them widely.
TAKE ACTION! Post the video links below directly onto your Facebook and other social media pages or web sites, forward them to all of your friends, encourage them to do the same, and help us get these out to the critical masses!

*Yellowstone Park Plans to Kill Hundreds of Buffalo

Bookmark and Share

Buffalo Field Campaign PSA 2/14/13

Yellowstone Park Plans to Kill
Hundreds of Buffalo

Copy and paste this link onto your Facebook or other social media page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hrJE2FZTZ6Y

* Montana is a Bad Neighbor to Yellowstone National Park

Bookmark and Share

Buffalo Field Campaign PSA 2/14/13

Montana is a Bad Neighbor to
Yellowstone National Park

Copy and paste this link onto your Facebook or other social media page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=i7EiMjfnJV4

3. Contact Yellowstone National Park Opposing their Plans to Slaughter Wild Buffalo! The Organic Act of 1916 established the National Park Service and requires the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Yellowstone National Park's maltreatment of America's last wild buffalo populations runs contrary to the intent of "this most important provision of law." Tell Yellowstone to uphold their legal responsibility to the Organic Act and to cease all plans to harass and slaughter wild bison.

4. Join BFC on the Front Lines! Field volunteers are needed from November through May, with an increased need for volunteers during the spring months. Please consider volunteering with us to bear witness and advocate for wild buffalo! Details and a volunteer application can be found here

5. Make a monetary or in-kind donation to BFC to help keep us strong and effective in the field, the policy arena and in the courts!

* Align Your Life with Your Ideals: Come to Work for BFC

Buffalo Field Campaign is currently accepting applications for our Office Coordinator position. This job, located at BFC headquarters near West Yellowstone, will open in May 2013. Applicants should be well organized, personable, and articulate. Experience with Microsoft Office is a must, as is knowledge of and passion for wild bison and BFC. For a full job description and information on how to apply, please contact Dan.

We also have immediate openings for field volunteers. Between now and June we need people to staff our frontlines patrols. In the summer we'll need education and outreach volunteers to represent BFC and the buffalo to Yellowstone visitors. If you are interested, passionate, and hard-working, please reply to this message. For more information about volunteering with BFC visit this page.

* Brucellosis Workshop Held in Montana

Yellowstone National Park and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks held a three day workshop on brucellosis this week. Brucellosis is the supposed "dreaded disease" that livestock interests claim wild buffalo will transmit back to cattle, something that has never happened in the wild. Agencies involved with the highly controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan were seeking advice and recommendations from select scientists whose expertise spanned from wildlife ecology to vaccinology. The IBMP agencies presented their stakeholder perspectives, then heard presentations from the panelists. At the core of the discussion was the feasibility of administering brucellosis vaccines to wild bison, specifically through remote vaccination (bio-bullets), something BFC strongly opposes and the agencies -- spearheaded by Yellowstone -- have been working on implementing for a number of years, even though each agency, save the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), agrees that it's not the way to go.

The DOL claimed that brucellosis was "the handcuffs" that were keeping wild bison from roaming more of Montana. The DOL aimed to push their agenda for vaccinating wild buffalo by saying if this program was carried out, wild bison would be free to roam and livestock interests would gladly welcome them on more areas of the landscape. This we already know to be false. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) reminded the DOL that brucellosis was not the driving issue, as even brucellosis-free bison were still viewed as a threat by state livestock interests and not welcome to roam free. Even so, FWP mismanages wild bison in accordance with livestock interests, and is already carrying out harmful programs targeting elk.

Nearly two days into the meetings, it had become clear that the IBMP agencies weren't actually interested in what the panel of experts recommended, but were rather hoping for validation of the IBMP agencies' plans to vaccinate wild bison. They didn't get it. After presentations and question-and-answer sessions, the panelists brought forth their recommendation to the IBMP agencies: At this time it is not anticipated that a vaccine program will improve [the risk of transmission] nor is it a more efficient use of resources. The panelists further stated that "in cattle, there was an economic motivation to eradicate the disease ... it's not the same motivation for bison."

Yellowstone National Park and FWP addressed the panelists' recommendations, basically saying they were inconvenient, don't suit them politically or socially, and requested that the panel re-word their recommendations! These two hosting agencies urged the panel to wrap things up so that the last day of meetings could end early. And these are the folks who are making the decisions about how America's last wild buffalo live and die.

Many thanks to BFC's Peter, Bob and Zeth for attending and documenting these meetings!

* 2013 Wild Bison Calendars Discounted to $2.99

2013 Wild Bison calendars discounted to just $2.99!

January is gone and we're nearly through February but BFC's 2013 Wild Bison Calendars will be current for another ten months. That leaves you with more than 300 days to celebrate and enjoy Yellowstone buffalo in all their wild beauty. We still have them in stock here in a box in our office but would so much rather have them displayed on your wall for you to enjoy. To further entice you we've just dropped the price by ten dollars from $12.99 to $2.99, plus shipping. Order yours today and get one while they last!

* By the Numbers

The last wild buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,200 individual animals, living in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wild bison are currently ecologically extinct throughout their native range in North America.

Total Buffalo Killed: 172
Government Capture:
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Government Slaughter:
Held for Government Experiment:
Died In Government Trap:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 25
Treaty Hunts: 141
Unknown Hunts: 5
Shot by Agents:
Highway Mortality: 1

Total Killed in Previous Years
2011-2012: 33
2010-2011: 227
2009-2010: 7
2008-2009: 22
2007-2008: 1,631

Total Killed Since 2000: 4,166

*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway deaths

* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration

"In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

~ Henry Beston, from The Outermost House

Please send us your submissions to Last Words. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you've contributed! Keep them coming!

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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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