Update from the Field. Buffalo Field Campaign
Feb. 24, 2006

Park Service sends more bison to their pointless death

On Friday, along Yellowstone's northern boundary in Gardiner, the National Park Service once again emptied the Stephens Creek bison trap.  They sent the last 30 of 266 wild buffalo to slaughter, where they have died in horror like cattle, on cold concrete, without honor, without ceremony or respect.  Yellowstone's latest kill resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of 849 wild buffalo.  Management actions and hunters have killed 903 buffalo since September.  And the Park Service has not only slaughtered wild buffalo, but they have handed over 86 wild calves to a government-funded quarantine experiment (see below, third section).  These actions by the National Park Service are criminal.  The NPS continues to ignore the public's outcry against the buffalo slaughter and when we question and challenge their actions, they only say "It's in the Plan."  They dodge our questions, ignore our protest, and shirk their responsibility to protect the wild buffalo in their care.
Just within the week, the NPS was invited to participate in two separate radio interviews to discuss their position.  A radio station in Boulder, CO (KGNU), as well as World Talk Radio's American Indian Movement Today invited the agency to explain their involvement in Yellowstone bison slaughter.  The NPS refused.  They either wouldn't return numerous phone calls or simply stated that they are "tired of discussing the issue."  This attitude by taxpayer-funded public servants tends to demonstrate their belief that they are above the law and accountable to none, a trait of the current Administration.  But, such isn't the case.  The NPS is accountable to the American people, to the citizens of this country, and we have asked them time and again to stop killing wild buffalo and start taking proactive steps to ensure their future within and beyond Yellowstone.  The NPS has chosen to become the puppet of the cattle industry.  We must sharpen our voices and cut the puppet strings.  We must refuse to be ignored.
While the Park Service turns a cold shoulder, Mother Nature responded with an arctic blast.  Throughout much of western Montana, temperatures dropped to a frigid -45.  Nevertheless, while most hunkered down within heated walls to ride the cold snap out, BFC patrols faced the temperatures and stood in the field with the buffalo.  Winters are harsh in Yellowstone country and food is scarce this time of year.  Safeguarding energy reserves can mean the difference between life and death for many animals.   Though buffalo are one of the toughest animals around, facing both blizzards and predators, they, too, can suffer the Winter's chilly grip.  As if Winter weren't challenging enough, the buffalo must also suffer the current management scheme.
On Saturday, here in West Yellowstone, eleven buffalo were spotted on the ice of Hebgen Lake.  They stayed bedded down on the ice for quite a long time.  When they rose, they stood frozen as if statues.  After some hours they began to move with slow intention over the ice, trying to make their way west out of the deep snows towards the lush Madison Valley.  For days we stood with this mixed group - calves, yearlings, young bulls, young females and pregnant mamas -  as they were faced with the challenges of highway 287, deep snowbanks, drifts and cutting winds.  Eventually they settled in an area of aspens and firs for a few short days.
On Tuesday, Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Park Service, Gallatin County Sheriff, and US Forest Service agents arrived on snowmobiles, ATVs and trucks to haze this exhausted and hungry herd over twelve miles of asphalt back to Yellowstone's boundary.  Ironically, the area where the haze began is closed to snowmobiles and protected as "elk winter range."   And elk, like buffalo leave Yellowstone because food is hard to find there in the winter, it is not suitable winter habitat for many wildlife species.  Yet, only the buffalo are held prisoner to Yellowstone's boundaries, forced to remain within an area in which it is difficult to survive.  Montana's zero-tolerance policy still manifests itself in the driving off of wild buffalo from critical winter range, while other animals are free to come and go, free to survive.
With the Stephens Creek trap now empty, the Park Service says they will "only" haze for the next couple of weeks, but they are poised to capture and slaughter again.  The DOL continues to plow trap sites on the Park's western boundary, themselves poised for capture and slaughter.  However, hope is on the horizon.  Voices are rising, outrage is swelling, more and more people are speaking out against the mal-treatment of the country's last wild buffalo.  Momentum is building within Indian country, as more Native voices are rising in defense of the buffalo.  All of us, together, will create the change.   That change feels urgent and far away when we're faced with so much slaughter, so many buffalo being harassed and killed.  But, patience is a lesson that the buffalo teach us.  They are strong survivors.  Like the buffalo resist being fenced in by politics, we must resist the status quo fed to us by the government and cattle industry.    The "bottom line" is not theirs, we do not accept their ultimatums.  The government does not have the luxury of ignoring us, of pushing their own agenda, destroying wild freedom in an effort to create a controlled, "manageable" environment to appease the economic interests of the cattle industry.  Our persistence is making a positive impact.  Keep the pressure on and refuse to be ignored.

Please continue to contact these decision-makers:
Please, also, incorporate these solutions into your messages:

Spread the word ~ Save the herd!  Thank you for being with us and for being a strong voice for the last wild buffalo.
With the Buffalo,

* Hold the Park Service Accountable!

On Wednesday March 1, Secretary of the Interior, Gail Norton, will be appearing before the House Interior Appropriations Committee.  Secretary Norton will be answering questions about her agencies' expenditures and requests for the coming year.  Issues relating to the National Park Service and particularly the buffalo slaughter in Yellowstone are sure to come up in the hearing.  If one of the following Representatives is from your district, please take the time to write or call.

Secretary Norton must be held accountable for the slaughter of nearly 900 wild buffalo at the hands of the National Park Service. Even if your Representative is not on the Interior Appropriations Committee, please call or write asking them to co-sponsor HR 2428, "The Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act", and to support future legislation to protect wild buffalo.  For information on how to contact you Congressperson, visit our web site at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html under the heading "Congress."

House of Representative Interior Appropriations Committee
Charles H. Taylor, NC (R - Chairman)         
Norman D. Dicks, WA (D - Ranking Member)
Zach Wamp, TN (R)        
James P. Moran, VA (D)    
John E. Peterson, PA (R)    
Maurice D. Hinchey, NY (D)    
Don Sherwood, PA (R)    
John W. Olver, MA (D)    
Ernest J. Istook, Jr., OK (R)   
Alan B. Mollohan, WV (D)    
Robert Aderholt, AL (R)    
John Doolittle, CA (R)  
Michael K. Simpson, ID (R - Vice Chair)

* Last Call for Quarantine Comments - Due February 27

Last Thursday in Gardiner, BFC attended a public meeting the quarantine plan.  The meeting, which we requested, was hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  There was a large turnout and when it came time for the public to give their comments, not a single person spoke in favor of quarantine.

The current quarantine facility is just miles north of Yellowstone National Park, across the road from Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT) lands.  Anyone can pull over to see the baby buffalo prison, where "science" is "helping" the buffalo, while right across the road cattle roam free.   The wild buffalo calves are surrounded by two layers of tall electric fence.  They are tagged like livestock.  They are fed hay like cattle.  They will be run through tests and handled by scientists.  They will breed for these scientists to do more tests.  More than half will be slaughtered.  Those that "graduate" will be transplanted to unknown lands.  This is the governments idea for "restoring" wild buffalo to the landscape.  They want to "clean" them up, but they violate the wild buffalo.

The government made statements like "training them to be wild" and "it's a lot like ranching."   They want us to belive that it's this way or no way at all.  They cannot see that they are essentially domesticating the buffalo, and that the people have other ideas for how buffalo might be restored.  How about naturally?  How about fencing in cattle, focusing efforts on cattle-based risk management, opening habitat for wild buffalo and resisting the human desire to manipulate and control?    The spokesmen for the quarantine plan are proud of their goals and objectives.  They truly believe that their intrusive, degrading science is the only way to "bring back" the bison.  They really couldn't understand why people are so against such a "great" effort to "restore" wild buffalo!  But the government doesn't get it.  We certainly have fundamental and philosophical differences.  Ours is to live and let live, while the government's is control and manage, dissect and experiment.  The Mystery of life is lost on them, and they cannot see the forest for the trees.  The buffalo don't need that kind of "help;" what they need is the respect to live their lives freely.  Wild buffalo are doing for their species what science could never do.  The buffalo are restoring themselves, and the government is getting in the way.

Monday, February 27th is the final day for sending in your comments about the quarantine plan.  Please let the government hear from you and speak strongly and from the heart.  Contact information as well as the truth about quarantine can be found at: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/actionalerts.html.

* BFC Supporter and Artist to Auction Award-winning Work for BFC
This one of a kind gourd bowl was created by me, Melanie Kelley. When I started it I fully intended to create a piece that was simply to show off my talents.  It was never my intention to try to sell it.  I needed a show-stopper in my booth. I needed a piece to enter into the many contests that occur in the art shows that I do.  The kind of piece that folks would simply marvel at but never purchase. It did it's job very well and I won several awards with it.  Now, it is time to put it to better use.... to help save our beloved Yellowstone buffalo.

Auction begins March 2, 5 PM EST.

To view a picture, read more about the piece, and learn how to place a bid:

*A BuffaLove Thank You!

Thanks to the generosity and beautiful hearts of BFC supporters, our Valentine's Day card fund raiser brought in over $1,100 for the defense of America's last wild and free-roaming bison herd.  Watch this space for a similar opportunity to donate for Mother's Day...we'll send a card on your behalf to the special women in your life.

Many heartfelt thanks to writer and artist Kathleen Stachowski, for her wild and talented heart at work for the buffalo!

* Last Words

"We are doomed as a culture if we cannot learn to nurture our natural environment with compassion and reverence.  Unnecessary persecution of wild bison is as rampant today as it was when we wiped them off the plains 125 years ago.  The only thing that has changed is the excuse we make for killing them."
Don Woerner, DVM

Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT  59758
[email protected]

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