Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC). News from the field. Feb. 10, 2005

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)
News from the Field
February 10, 2005
WEB SITE! http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

In this Issue:
* Update from the Field
* Department of Livestock Approves Vaccination Plan
* Last Words

* Update from the Field

It was a hard week for five of our buffalo friends.  You'll recall that two weeks ago, four massive bulls were unkindly forced back into the Park.  Tired and shaken, they took their time migrating back to their chosen grazing location along the Madison River inside the Gallatin National Forest.   That is where they want to be, need to be, and so is where they ended up again. Rightfully so; buffalo migrate, and this is their land.  In doing so, they are breaking someone else's selfish "rules", yet boundary lines and interagency management plans mean nothing to them.  This weekend, the four bulls were joined by another bull, and they all appeared content to be where they were within each other's company, doing what buffalo do.  As it should be.  Unless, of course, you're seeing things through livestock-tainted glasses.   

Yesterday, the five bulls - who pose zero threat to the cattle that aren't anywhere in sight - were once again chased off their ancestral grounds and run through snow and ice back into the confines of Yellowstone National Park.   But the agents didn't just haze the buffalo; a herd of nearly 50 elk were caught up in the chaos, as well as a great blue heron, not to mention the bald eagles, trumpeter swans, wolves, moose, and numerous other wildlife species that all live in the area and are negatively impacted by the DOL's insistence that wild buffalo not roam. The buffalo will be back, and things may very likely be much worse for them the next time.  But we will be with them and all the world will have a chance to know what Montana is doing to America's last wild buffalo.

Yesterday while our five friends were being harassed, a crew from BFC headed to Helena and attended the Montana State Senate Natural Resource Committee's hearing on SB 353, a bill to allow for the neutering and quarantine of wild buffalo, all in an effort to start herds on Tribal lands.  This outlandish bill adds insult to injury, and even its author, Senator Pease, realized how ridiculous it sounded. Nevertheless, it's up for the Committee to decide.  No one at the hearing, however, testified in favor of the bill.  The Committee heard some powerful testimony from a varied lot, and BFC was honored to read a statement written by Marty Fire Rider and Joseph Red Bear of the American Indian Movement.  And we really have to thank everyone who took action by contacting the Committee members - your voice is being heard! We overhead several members say they had received "a stack of emails from one side of the country to the next." NICE WORK! Thank you for taking action for the buffalo!  If you haven't contacted them yet, it's not too late as they have yet to vote (see Tuesday's special alert for contact info).  They seem extremely receptive to comments, and it sounds like a few are really doing their homework.  Let's keep the pressure on!   Power to the people for the buffalo!

In closing, I thought this was worth sharing:  On the drive to Helena, we headed along 287 through the Madison Valley.  This stretch of land is incredibly beautiful; after passing through a relatively tight canyon, you come around and down the mountain and then the land opens up like a great, vast sea of grass stretching for miles and miles and miles.  A true aspect of America's Serengeti.  It is prime  buffalo habitat, yet it is utterly void of their presence.  We could imagine how it once was, and should be again - herds of hundreds or thousands of buffalo, grazing alongside vast herds of elk and pronghorn, dotted with stalking wolves and rambling grizzly bears.  But today it is empty of buffalo.  The emptiness is painful.  And we couldn't help but notice the absence of cattle; we travelled more than 40 miles before we ever saw one heifer.   So what, then, are the buffalo supposedly threatening?  The grass the cowboys think is there for fattening their cattle? Hmmmm... there's some food for thought.

For the Buffalo,

* DOL Approves Vaccination Plan

The Department of Livestock went ahead and ignored public opinion (again) and approved their plan to vaccinate buffalo that are captured on the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park.   Buffalo calves and yearlings - ages 4 to 24 months - will be subjected to injections of RB51, a brucellosis vaccine that was designed for use in livestock, and is not 100% effective on either cattle or wild buffalo.  So, after already being scared to death from being hazed and captured, and separated from their mothers, they will be put through even further duress.  Welcome to the world.

The DOL claims that vaccinating wild buffalo (with an ineffective vaccine, mind you) will help "reduce the prevalence of brucellosis within the bison herd and to reduce the risk of transmission of brucellosis from bison to cattle."  To date there has never been a documented case of a wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis to cattle.

The DOL's press release announcing that they had approved their vaccination plan stated that they received only 66 individual comments, and that only 10 comments were received on behalf of organizations.  This number has been seriously deflated because when we ask you to comment on something, and you do, they lump all of these together -likely thousands of comments - as one. This underscores the need for us to speak from the heart, and personalize our thoughts, whether writing to decision-makers or the media.

It's also important to note that the DOL claims to have hazed 1,500 buffalo back into the Park during the last two seasons, and they claim to have hazed 132 buffalo this year.  This is a lie. There have not been that many buffalo coming out of the park, the DOL is simply hazing the same buffalo over and over and over again.  They are relentless and they fabricate the truth to suit their own purposes.

Think about these calves and yearlings who will be separated from their mothers, separated from the herd, all in the cattle industry's wicked effort to hoard the grasses of our public lands for fattening their cattle.   After pondering this, and armed with everything you know to be true, consider contacting the DOL and letting them know how you feel.  You can reach them at:
Montana Department of Livestock
Box 202201
Helena, MT 59620
Director Marc Bridges
Spokeswoman, Karen Cooper
1-800-523-3162; ext. 3
Email:    OR  

For information on why vaccinating wild buffalo is a bad idea, please visit our web site http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/science/vaccprogram.html 

* Last Words

STATEMENT, to be read by the Buffalo Field Campaign before the Montana Legislature:

It is a sad day for all Americans when there are only 4000 of the worlds pure genetic free roaming buffalo and they are treated as a pariah that have to be removed or exterminated for the protection of cattle that populate the entire planet.  What will you tell your children someday when they ask why buffalo are only in museums in the extinct section?

Buffalo are a gift from the creator as are all living species. They are the symbol of the freedom that is inherent in all that America represents in the world. To destroy this last herd would not only bring shame on the great state Montana, but also destroy a symbol of American pride, freedom and tenacious strength.

The decisions that you make from this day forward affect not only Montana, but your children and their children, including all America. How do you want to be remembered in this life time as a person of  preserving our American heritage or contributing toward its destruction.

The legislators attempts to roundup, slaughter, neuter, hunt buffalo, especially the attempt to allow Indians to hunt only by traditional methods was an affront to all Indians. Montana´s insensitivity and methods toward the buffalo is reminiscent of the policy towards the Indians. The attempts to find any excuse overt or covert, legal or illegal to remove Indians for the express purpose of taking their land. If that policy was enforced against another human race, well it does not surprise me that a similar policy is in place against the buffalo. For greed is the great motivator of self indulgence.

If you are Christian or a traditional spiritual Indian, our creators are the same God. However, God never gave man the authority to destroy the earth and all living things upon it. Remember these Indian words always; For what befalls mother earth, befalls the children of humankind.´

Marty (Fire Rider) Hiles, co-host American Indian Movement Today Show on World Talk Radio, Worlds largest American Indian Talk Radio show.

Joseph Red Bear, President, American Indian Movement San Diego

Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT  59758