* Update from the Field
Returning to Yellowstone is always bittersweet. The soft stillness
the snowy mountain landscape is inviting and foreboding at the same
time. It's a beauty beyond words. Although one word would certainly
need to be included: cold.
Not just cold, but frigid, frozen water pipes, paralyzed cars, numbing
deep cold. Our brave volunteers faced -40 degree temperatures on
patrols earlier this week.
And yet returning to a warm cabin full of new faces melts that numbness
and inspires us to get up for another cold day to defend the buffalo.
Thank you to all of our supporters who help keep the fires burning
during these long cold winters. Whether you have made a donation,
written a letter to an official or newspaper, signed a petition,
discussed the issue with friends, organized a screening of one of
videos, asked your Congress person to support the bill, or been on
field patrol with the buffalo, your support is an inspiration to us
gives us warmth during these cold months
Snow has been falling for the last few days, covering the land in
peaceful white. Fortunately, the snow has also covered the tracks
the lone bull buffalo who had been grazing at Cougar Creek earlier
week. This same bull has been hazed three times already this winter.
And yet he would return to his spot on Cougar Creek, defiantly grazing
on our national forest. When a crew of Department of Livestock (DOL)
agents arrived this week, we feared they might try to capture the
Creek bull. But the wise bull slipped away before the DOL found him.
So with no buffalo to be found outside of Yellowstone National Park,
DOL contented itself with wasting our tax dollars plowing the 610
that leads to the site of the Horse Butte Trap and shoveling snow
the Duck Creek Trap. Maybe it will just keep snowing and keep them
on snow removal while wild buffalo quietly slip through the forests,
For the buffalo,
* GYIBC in Bozeman: Leave Our Wildlife Alone
The Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee (GYIBC)
governmental group involving the different federal and state agencies
with the stated goal to eradicate brucellosis from the area. We
continue to believe that this goal is unrealistic. To eradicate
brucellosis from the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem would require
a heavy-handed approach that would disturb all wildlife. Bison, elk,
moose, bear, coyote and other species are known to carry brucellosis.
Current discussions include plans to inoculate wildlife with unproven
vaccines using unproven methods. Before we wreak unknown havoc on
unique ecosystem, it is imperative that we balance the true risks.
Besides, wouldn't it make more sense to just vaccinate and test the
If you live near Bozeman, MT, please come out to these public meetings
on Tuesday, January 13 and Wednesday, January 14 at the Best Western
Gran Tree Inn located at 1325 North 7th Avenue (just off I-90 across
from Walmart). Usually there are opportunities to comment during the
course of the meetings, but there is also a specific public comment
period at the end of the meetings, around 4:00 on Wednesday. We'd
to fill the meeting Wednesday with wildlife supporters and send a
message to the GYIBC that wildlife should be left wild and the public's
voice needs to be heard.
We are also holding a noon hour rally for wildlife in downtown Bozeman.
If you live in or near Bozeman, please meet us on Main Street at 11:30
AM on Wednesday, January 14. Bring signs, banners, and costumes if
can. From there we'll go back to the meetings and the final public
For more information, please call Josh at (406) 646 0070.
* Support the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act!
With the extreme cold and snow that we are experiencing already this
winter, the possibility of another large buffalo migration is a chilling
reality. Back in 1996-1997, a severe winter of cold, snow, and ice
forced herds of bison out of the Park in search of winter forage.
state of Montana responded by killing over 1000 wild bison. Act now
protect the bison before another killing season threatens the
Yellowstone bison herd.
The Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act, H.R. 3446, is the first
toward realizing a future of truly wild and free buffalo herds once
again roaming the western landscape. The bill calls for a three year
moratorium on the hazing, capturing and killing of Yellowstone bison.
It expands the boundary in which bison will be allowed undisturbed
access on both the west and north sides of Yellowstone National Park.
The bill also requires the dismantling of the Stephen's Creek Capture
Facility located inside Yellowstone National Park and re-establishes
Park Service as having sole jurisdiction over bison within the Park.
The bill is currently sitting in the House Resources Committee waiting
for enough co-sponsors to call for hearings. We currently have 37
co-sponsors signed on to the bill. Please check to see if your
representative is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3446 on our website at:
http://www.wildrockies.org/Buffalo/politico/3446.html. If they have
already joined in defense of the last wild buffalo, please encourage
them to do so by calling or sending an email. Also, letters to the
editor in your local paper are a good way to encourage support for
bill and to spread the word.
* Comments Extended on Bison Vaccination EA to January 20
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has recently
released an Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding its intrusive
unnecessary plans to vaccinate members of the Yellowstone bison herd
with RB51, a livestock vaccine that has been demonstrated to be
ineffective in bison. Under the proposed plan, yearlings and calves
leave the park will be vaccinated.
The US Department of Agriculture has already determined that no
significant impacts will result from this intrusive government action,
but you still have time to comment. A copy of the Finding of No
Significant Impact (FONSI) and EA can be found on the internet at:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/es/vsdocs.html or you can request copies
of the EA and FONSI by email at: email@example.com.
Thanks to an extension requested by the Fund for Animals, you still
time to make your voice heard for the buffalo. Please write a comment
letter before January 20.
Write to APHIS and ask them to choose the no action alternative.
To assist you in preparing comments we have compiled the following
of talking points:
1. The Yellowstone bison herd is a cultural and biological treasure,
being the only herd to continuously occupy its native range in the
Vaccines, including RB51, are a tool designed for use in livestock,
wildlife. Rather than focusing on Yellowstone's wild bison, efforts
should be directed at cattle herds. The process of subcutaneously
injecting yearlings and new-born calves with the RB51 strain of
brucellosis--and the attendant stress such procedures will have on
animals--will further erode the wildness of the Yellowstone bison
at a tremendous cost.
2. The EA ignores the latest science to hide the fact that the RB51
vaccine is not effective in bison. According to a recent peer-reviewed
study*, "It was determined that RB51 did not confer significant
protection in the vaccinated animals. In terms of abortions and
infections, the RB51 bison vaccinated with three injections did not
differ significantly from the non-vaccinated bison..."
The authors of the EA admit as much on page 9 when they write, "efficacy
[of RB51] in bison has not been definitively determined."
* Davis, D.S. and Elzer, P.H., 2002, Brucella Vaccines in Wildlife,
Veterinary Microbiology (90): 533-544.
3. The vaccination of buffalo outside the Park with an ineffective
vaccine will not eliminate brucellosis from the herd. Because the
disease has little effect on buffalo and because wild buffalo have
transmitted brucellosis to livestock, efforts should be focused on
4. Bison yearlings and calves are generally only present outside the
western boundary of Yellowstone in the spring during calving season.
The EA does not discuss the efficacy or impacts of vaccinating newly
born bison within hours, days or weeks of birth. Neither does the
address the impact of capturing newborn calves, vaccinating them,
releasing them without their mothers.
5. The EA fails to adequately address the proposal's impact on Native
Americans, who have an age-old and complex relationship with buffalo.
Many Native American individuals and organizations consider the buffalo
as kin, and find the repeated capturing, testing, vaccinating, and
tagging of bison unacceptable. Such intrusive measures affect the
sacredness of buffalo by treating them as livestock.
6. Yellowstone buffalo are not domestic animals. Because neither APHIS
nor Montana Department of Livestock personnel are trained in wildlife
management, they have no place meddling with the fate of the Yellowstone
bison herd and eroding their wildness through vaccination.
Comments may be sent through the postal service or email. If you submit
them through the mail, please send four copies (an original and three
copies) to: Docket No. 03-112-1 Regulatory Analysis and Development,
APHIS, Station 3C71 4700 River Road, Unit 118 Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
Please state in the body of your comments that they refer to Docket
If you email your comments, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments must be contained in the body of your message; do not send
attached files. Include your name and address in your message and
"Docket No. 03-112-1" in the subject line.
* BFC Wish List
With all the snow and cold, we are in need of more winter gear for our
volunteers. In particular we could use:
- Cross country ski boots (preferably three pin)
- Cross country bindings (also preferably three pin)
- Warm winter boots (rated for subzero temperatures)
- Gators (to keep snow and ice out of boots)
- Mini Digital Video Tapes (Mini DV tapes)
Thank you for your support. If you have any questions about a gear
donation, please contact Amy at (406) 646 0070 or
buffaloatwildrockies.org. Donations may be sent to: BFC, PO Box 957,
West Yellowstone, MT 59758.
* Last Words
To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back
shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in, and scramble
through as well as we can.
Sydney Smith (1771-1845)
operation - December 30, 2003 -- Causing unnecessary stress on
America's last wild buffalo