Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)
News from the Field
March 24, 2005
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In this Issue:
* Update from the Field
* Comments Needed on Buffalo Quarantine Proposal
* Buffalo Wars Part II - BFC to Appear on American Indian Movement Today
* Gimme Five! Ways You Can Help the Last Wild Buffalo
* Last Words
* Update from the Field
It has been a trying week for buffalo near the west boundary of Yellowstone National Park and the BFC volunteers working to protect them. Four buffalo have been killed since last Thursday: three bulls at the hands of Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents and one who was struck and killed by a truck in the darkness Tuesday night. Our volunteers, too, have been the victims of violence.
For the past several weeks DOL agents have been baiting buffalo onto private land adjacent to the park boundary where they operate the Duck Creek buffalo trap. Shoveling sweet-smelling hay around and within the trap, the agents have gotten the buffalo used to venturing between the park and the trap's steel walls for daily meals. The same group of six bulls has been doing so for days on end. This routine was suddenly broken on Monday morning when the agents rushed out and slammed the trap's gate shut with all six buffalo inside feeding.
Anyone acquainted with this issue knows that bulls can't transmit brucellosis, but the DOL is not an agency to be deterred by mere facts. They tested the bulls for brucellosis antibodies and sent those to slaughter that tested positive. Never mind that there are no cattle within dozens of miles and that there won't be for three more months or that there has never, in history, been a single documented instance of wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis to livestock. Forget that the test used to determine the buffalo's fate doesn't detect whether they are actively infected. None of these facts matter to the agents who bait America's last wild buffalo out of the world's first national park and slaughter them to protect imaginary livestock from an unsubstantiated threat.
Of the six buffalo captured Monday, three tested positive for brucellosis antibodies. Like any adult human who had chicken pox as a child, these adult buffalo were exposed to brucellosis at some point in their lives. It is highly unlikely that any of the three was still infected. Yet they were loaded into a cattle trailer and shipped to slaughter. The three negative testing buffalo were held in confinement for three days and two nights, loaded onto a trailer, released on the Horse Butte Peninsula, and incessantly chased--again for no reason--for miles by men riding snowmobiles.
But the DOL is not content with the irrational capture, slaughter, and harassment of six bull buffalo. The agency also stubbornly insists on removing every last buffalo from every acre of federal public land outside the park, a practice which its agents zealously engaged in for the better part of Tuesday and Wednesday. By the agency's own accounting, it hazed 127 buffalo back to the park from Horse Butte on Tuesday (view footage at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org) and another 47 on Wednesday. What you'd never learn from the DOL's figures is that the 47 buffalo hazed Wednesday were some of the very animals hazed Tuesday. Buffalo know where they want to be and waste no time getting (or returning) there. Attempting to keep buffalo within the arbitrary bounds of Yellowstone is like trying to stop the tide.
Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers were in the field to witness all of these activities, as we are every day of the year when buffalo are outside the park. We have been here now through eight winters, and will remain until the buffalo are safe. Our perseverance has earned us the overwhelming respect of the local community. We were commended this week by countless passersby and representatives of the fire department for our work in helping to warn motorists of the presence of buffalo in the roadway.
And still there are those who, for some reason, begrudge us or the work we do. One of our volunteers was assaulted this week and someone loosened the lug nuts on three of the wheels of one of our patrol cars. The car was full of volunteers on their way home from patrol when a wheel started wobbling and making noise. Fortunately, they had slowed down enough by the time the wheel fell off and no one was hurt. On Tuesday someone in a blue truck pulled up to our car patrol at Duck Creek, rolled down the windows, and shot paintballs at our car.
Our work is to keep the public up-to-date on the buffalo's plight and informed and involved in decisions affecting the herd. We will not be deterred by threats or acts of violence
Some of you have written us to recommend that we take a more positive approach, that we look more on the bright side of things, even that we take a moment to celebrate the buffalo's "conservation success" being celebrated with the reissue of the buffalo nickel. Our job is to share with the world the truth of what we live through with the buffalo, not to sugar-coat or paint a gloss over the difficult reality faced by the buffalo. We will remain true to our mission and keep you up to date on all actions taken against the buffalo. While what we report may not always be pretty or easy to bear, it will always be real.
Please read on for concrete ways in which you can help us help the buffalo and if you haven't supported our work with a tax-deductible contribution, please do so today. We couldn't be here without the support of people like you.
For the Buffalo,
* Comments Needed on Buffalo Quarantine Proposal
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) in cooperation with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a notice of intent to produce an Environmental Assessment (EA) for Phases II and III of a "bison quarantine feasibility study." The agencies want to create two more facilities north of Yellowstone National Park to continue their science experiment and find out if they can manufacture brucellosis free buffalo out of calves that survive Phase I (approved in January 2005). Phase II is described as the breeding phase where the surviving buffalo females will be "bred" with some of the surviving males. Phase III is the calving phase where it will be determined if the buffalo remain brucellosis free after breeding and calving. Any surviving buffalo would then be transferred to a "predetermined release site" and held behind a fence for one more year as part of a "soft release protocol". If all goes according to plans, buffalo that survive the quarantine experiment, after four years of captivity, repeated testing, controlled breeding, vaccination, supplemental feed, and other tools of domestication would be touted as wild buffalo restored to their native range. The whole experiment would be considered by the agencies a grand success of the "North American Wildlife Conservation Model". Consequently, the truly wild buffalo that remain in Yellowstone National Park without access to Montana's public lands would be even more expendable in the agency perspective and may be subject to an "industrial strength" version of test, slaughter and quarantine for years to come.
Speak out against this attempt to domesticate wild Yellowstone buffalo. Let FWP and APHIS know that these buffalo are not available for their science projects. The solutions to restoring wild buffalo to their native range are rooted in the restoration of migratory corridors where buffalo can re-inhabit the ancient lands of their ancestors at their own time and pace. If Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wants to help restore buffalo, then let them work to create habitat within the Greater Yellowstone Area for the expanding wild herd. These buffalo are not domestic cattle. Quarantine is simply not appropriate or acceptable for the last wild, genetically pure buffalo in the U.S. Visit our web site at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/bisonquarantine.html for more information including the agency's notice of intent and the EA for Phase I. FWP will be accepting comments on the proposal until April 15, 2005. Email your comments to [email protected]
or send them to Bison Quarantine EA, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701; fax: 406-444-4952. Contact BFC's Josh Osher with questions: [email protected]
* Buffalo Wars Part II: BFC to Appear on American Indian Movement Today
The American Indian Movement's San Diego Chapter has been a good friend to the Buffalo Field Campaign. We appeared on their World Talk Radio program "American Indian Movement Today" in December 2004 for "Buffalo Wars Part I", where we debated the Montana Department of Livestock's spokesperson Karen Cooper. Karen met her match that day. You can listen to a recording of that particular program by visiting our web site: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.
Tune in on Wednesday, March 30 for "Buffalo Wars Part II." Representatives from Buffalo Field Campaign will be back on the air to talk about the latest battles the Yellowstone buffalo herd is facing. The show airs at 4:00 Mountain Time. You can listen in from your computer (you need the latest version of Windows Media Player). All shows are archived. Tune in by going to http://www.worldtalkradio.com/show.asp?sid=141
Marty Fire Rider and Joseph Red Bear, co-hosts of AIM Today, are stellar buffalo advocates, helping to spread the word about the plight of the last wild buffalo. They provide their listeners (30,000 strong) updates from the field, they are circulating our petition to list the Yellowstone herd as a "distinct population segment" under the Endangered Species Act, they have been handing out BFC newsletters at various powwows and gatherings, they submitted a powerful statement that BFC read before Montana's House and Senate Agriculture committees that heard testimony on the buffalo neuter bill, and they continue to be good friends and a powerful voice for the buffalo. Joseph and Marty are are vocal warriors who tell the truth about the domination of the livestock industry and their wanton destruction of our public lands, and how it effects wild buffalo, wild horses, and prairie dogs. THANK YOU Joseph and Marty!!
Learn more about AIM's San Diego Chapter and their outstanding radio program AIM Today: http://www.aimsandiego.org/
* Gimme Five! Ways You Can Help Wild Buffalo
It's Spring and that means it's the busiest time for BFC and the buffalo. Buffalo are on the move, and volunteers, funding, and action are badly needed. Below are a few simple but utterly critical things you can do to directly help the buffalo and keep BFC financially strong and in the field. Other ways you can help can be found on our web site.
1. SEND US MONEY! Without your generous donations, we would not be here. We need your help now. It costs us about $40 to keep one volunteer in the field for one week, and we average about 30 volunteers at any given time. All donations are tax deductible and go directly towards BFC's grassroots efforts to document the actions taken against the buffalo, and advocate for their lasting protection. You can make a secure on-line donation at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/pcshop2/bazaar.html.
2. VOLUNTEER WITH BFC! Buffalo are migrating in very large numbers and it's brining them across the human-drawn line in the sand, into the wicked arms of danger. Please consider coming to West Yellowstone and spend time in the field with the buffalo. We need field volunteers from now until the beginning of June. Volunteers are provided with room and board. All that we ask is that you come to one of the most beautiful places in the world, and stand in defense of the last wild buffalo. Contact Stuart, BFC Volunteer Coordinator, at [email protected]
3. SAVE THE HERD - SPREAD THE WORD! Earth Day celebrations and gatherings, pow wows and festivals are being organized all over the country. You can help the last wild buffalo by setting up an information table or handing out BFC's newsletters at events in and around your community. BFC will send you the materials. Please contact Stephany at [email protected]
if you are able to spread the word about saving this special herd!
*Anyone out there near Albuquerque, New Mexico? We've just learned about a huge pow wow, the Gathering of Nations, that would be an awesome place to talk with people about the Yellowstone buffalo. If you have the time, we've got the materials. Gathering of Nations: http://www.gatheringofnations.com/
4. BOYCOTT THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY: All of the wild buffalo harassment and slaughter and the degradation of their native range is due to the greed of the livestock industry. BFC will conduct a Week of Action that targets the livestock industry and their products. We'll provide information about the history of the cowboy mafia, impacts of cattle ranching, the link between grocery store purchases and what's happening to the buffalo, alternative foods, suggested reading, and much more. We are just about to set the dates, so stay tuned, but don't wait for us; you can begin your Boycott of the livestock industry's products today! Ideas and suggestions, including web site, books, recipes, etc. should be sent to Stephany at [email protected]
5. MAKE CHANGE WITH BUFFALO NICKELS: Give Montana's governor your five cents on the buffalo issue! If you are the proud carrier of any buffalo nickels, please consider sending them to Governor Brian Schweitzer, and urge him to purchase habitat in Montana for our last wild buffalo. More information can be found at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/actionalerts.html.
* Last Words
"I've heard a lot of talk about bison are the problem in this country. I don't feel like the bison or the elk or any of these other animals are the problem. I feel like the problem in this country is the overpopulation of cattle and domesticated animals, what we consider exotic animals. ... And we see overpopulation of cattle in this world. We're seeing rain forests cut down in this world to accommodate cattle, you know, and everything is centered around accommodating all these domesticated animals, and all the wild animals and all the indigenous species are being squeezed out. And, you know, that upsets me; that upsets my people also. And, you know, they're the cause, all these domesticated animals. ... And you know, as far as bison and other wild animals being the problem, I don't see that as the problem. I see the introduction of cattle, domesticated animals, sheep, I see that as the problem, and it just keeps growing. They just keep multiplying and multiplying."
~ Danny Sam, Picuris Pueblo, New Mexico, in a tribal consultation meeting with Yellowstone National Park, June 5, 2003.
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758