Update from the Field
Update from the Field 1/27/05
With no known buffalo out of the park it's been a fairly quiet week on the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Department of Livestock agents are in town, but instead of harassing buffalo they're keeping busy plowing out their buffalo traps and taking joy-rides on their snowmobiles. Our volunteers have been enjoying the peace of keeping an eye on a handful of buffalo quietly grazing inside the park.
We've also been keeping a close eye on Helena, where decision makers have been busy laying the groundwork on a number of ill-fated anti-buffalo plans. Both Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Governor's office announced plans to quarantine Yellowstone buffalo. The FWP plan, finalized today, involves the capture,year-long confinement, and eventual slaughter of up to 200 buffalo calves. The Governor outlined his early ideas on a plan to capture the entire Yellowstone herd in a process that would leave the park, for a time, void of buffalo.
For more on the Governor's plan, please see our press release on the issue: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0405/pressrelease0405/011805.html
In light of such threats, we've been focusing on our vision of free-roaming herd of American buffalo on their native range in Montana. Our state has a unique opportunity to celebrate itself as the only place in America with truly free-roaming buffalo. The Yellowstone border does not support many cattle and rather than slaughter buffalo at the behest of Montana's livestock industry, we should encourage brucellosis-proof management practices for cattle being grazed in the heart of the buffalo's winter range.
BFC volunteers took our message to Helena today, and performed street theater with fifteen-foot-tall puppets outside the Department of Livestock and State Capitol buildings. Celebrating free-roaming buffalo makes sense for Montana, and our skits demonstrated the value of buffalo in Montana and decried the senseless slaughter that takes place every winter and spring. We will be posting photos of the puppets as soon as the crew returns from Helena.
Check here to view them: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/update0405/012005pics
We are proud to have information on BFC featured in the premiere issue of Lowbagger.org, an online journal providing a voice in the cyberspace wilderness:
* Montana Approves Quarantine Study
Despite receiving 2,228 comments from 49 states and 11 foreign countries overwhelmingly opposing the plan, this morning the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks released its decision to begin a "quarantine feasibility study," which will result in the slaughter of up to 200 buffalo calves.
The buffalo calves will be captured, starting this winter, inside Yellowstone at the Stephen's Creek trap, transported to a small holding pen at Corwin Springs, experimented upon for a full year, and promptly slaughtered. Half the buffalo will be killed over the course of the study and half at its conclusion.
A news story on the plan and a PDF of FWP's final decision are available here:
* Letters to the Editor
With the agency ignoring our comments and moving forward with it's plans, it is crucial that we flood the papers with sound arguments opposing the plan. A swell of public opposition led to cancellation of the hunt. Let's do the same to stop this insane quarantine proposal.
For tips on writing letters to the editor and addresses of key newspapers, please visit:
For more information on points to make in your letters, visit our Quarantine information page: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/quarantine.html
This week's featured letter provides a prime example of a strong and effective letter to the editor:
Idaho State Journal
January 17, 2005
Thumbs up to ISJ ... for your "Journal Views" column on Jan. 7 opposing Montana's bison "hunt." It was in response to articles like yours, and public outcry, that the slaughter was called off. But the persecution of Yellowstone bison will continue as long as Montana allows the livestock industry to control wildlife management policies. They will continue to haze and kill bison, and attempt to reinstate the hunt next year.
Montana refuses to acknowledge that the bison are native wildlife, and should be allowed to roam freely on public land. The majority of U.S. taxpayers, who share ownership of public lands with the extractive industries, would rather have bison on their property than cattle.
I realize that cowboys and free-range cattle are Western icons, but so are roaming buffalo. Montana's policy of allowing its Department of Livestock to "manage" bison is a thinly-veiled attempt to eliminate competition for forage on public land.
Taxpayers would be appalled if they knew how much of their money is spent trying to keep bison in the park. They would also be appalled if they saw how bison are being treated. Although wild bison have never transmitted brucellosis to cattle, hundreds are being hazed, trapped and killed, purportedly to prevent spread of disease.
It seems patently unfair to open a hunting season on bison. I am not opposed to hunting; I enjoy hunting deer and elk. I believe that hunting is a viable wildlife management technique, but killing 10 bison that wander out of the park is absurd!
Bison should be allowed to expand their range naturally and establish a free-roaming population. If overpopulation becomes a problem, then perhaps hunting would be a viable option. Bison are indigenous to this region and should have "equal rights" with deer, elk, moose and other big game species. And with cattle...
David Mead, President, Portneuf Valley Audubon Society, Pocatello
* Last Words
"The buffalo gave us everything we needed. Without it we were nothing. Our tipis were made of his skin. His hide was our bed, our blanket, our winter coat. It was our drum, throbbing through the night, alive, holy. Out of his skin we made our water bags. His flesh strengthened us, became flesh of our flesh. Not the smallest part of it was wasted. His stomach, a red-hot stone dropped into it, became our soup kettle. His horns were our spoons, the bones our knives, our women's awls and needles. Out of his sinews we made our bowstrings and thread. His ribs were fashioned into sleds for our children, his hoofs became rattles. His mighty skull, with the pipe leaning against it, was our sacred altar."
--John (Fire) Lame Deer
Federal Land Purchase Fails - Yellowstone Kills Solitary Buffalo
Sab the buffalo "hunt"
We just now got word from Helena that Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted 4-1 to CANCEL THE BUFFALO HUNT for this year! BFC applauds Governor Brian Schweitzer for his leadership on behalf of the Yellowstone buffalo.
We're so happy about this decision, we have to say it again: There will be NO HUNT this year! Please check our web site for updates, as more breaking news will come soon. http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
Thanks to each and every one of you who applied for a permit, wrote letters to the editor, contacted Governor Schweitzer, and encouraged your friends and family to do these things. And thank you again to Patagonia for your ceaseless support. YOU ALL MADE THE DIFFERENCE FOR THE BUFFALO!
The buffalo are not in the clear by a long shot. While the hunt is cancelled for this year, the buffalo are still under attack because the current management plan that allows for the hazing, capture, test-and-slaughter of our last wild buffalo continues. Buffalo are also threatened with a new quarantine program and a new vaccination program by the agencies who would foolishly attempt to eradicate brucellosis. Very likely, plans to hunt buffalo next year will also be underway.
Take this great news for today and give yourself a high-five! This is the first good news that has come the buffalo's way in a long time.
Stay with us, and stay strong.
For the buffalo,
All of us at BFC
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Buffalo Field Campaign
News from the Field
January 6, 2005
NEW WEB SITE! http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
Hope lies in our new Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is demonstrating that he is willing to take a stand for the buffalo. In fact, he's given us the first good news we've had in years (see below). This is far more than our past two governors, Judy Martz and Marc Racicot, can say. Racicot, who just helped Bush to reelection, and Martz, the self-proclaimed "lapdog of industry," were both avid supporters of buffalo slaughter. With Racicot currently serving as a close advisor to President Bush, there's not much help on the federal level. We look to Schweitzer's leadership to make some headway for wild buffalo.
I sent in my $3 for my bison hunting ticket and hope to burn it in my wood stove this week. I need the extra heat as temperatures dropped to minus 20 last night. The Montana DOL are hard at work here burning your tax dollars to keep warm as well. On Tuesday they came out on a morning recon to see one bull buffalo in a housing area less than a quarter mile outside of the park. They went back to their camp to get their snowmobiles and returned to find the buffalo had made his own way back to the park. It saddens my heart to see these wild buffalo get so conditioned to human interference, but it gives me hope that they will always outsmart the DOL.
Thanks to everyone for making the Buffalo Field Campaign continue to make a difference. Remember change does not happen on its own, it takes dedicated individuals and persistence to make it happen and we will be here until that change occurs.
With the Buffalo,
* BREAKING NEWS! Montana Governor on Hunt: "My instinct is to cancel it."
Tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 7, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is scheduled to draw the names of ten people who will each be given a permit to -if they choose- gun down a beautiful buffalo starting January 15. But, things may not go as planned. Scores of buffalo advocates have been applying for permits, with the promise of not using them and the Patagonia company has offered to pay for any permits that aren't used. Further, Montana's Governor Schweitzer is having some serious misgivings about this so-called hunt. He fears the hunt is poorly-timed, and it will do nothing to quell the misplaced concerns of the livestock industry. He is also convinced Montana will receive a huge black eye from the global public. Rightfully so. There is very little time - nine days from now the gunfire begins - but Gov. Schweitzer does have the power to stop it, and he needs to hear from you to know how bad a buffalo hunt would be for Montana.
PLEASE CALL THE GOVERNOR and thank him for speaking out against the hunt. Call 406-444-3111. Tell him you are opposed, and urge him to stop the hunt! If you're from out-of-state, tell him you won't set foot in Montana until this hunt is stopped, and buffalo are given room to roam in Montana.
The Full Scoop:
- Bison Hunt Opponents Seek License (Billings Gazette)
- Bison Hunt Concerns Governor (Helena Independent Record)
- Montana Public Radio Reports on Governor's Concerns About Hunt
All these stories can be found at: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/
This is BIG NEWS and has appeared on the CNN "ticker". It is critical that we keep putting pressure on Montana to stop the hunt! Please continue writing letters to the editor of Montana and other newspapers. A list of key newspapers as well as tips on writing your letter to the editor can be found at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
* Don't Let Your Guard Down
Even with the good news of Schweitzer's position, we still have to be prepared for the hunt to proceed. We have rented a place and are preparing to establish a second camp, near Gardiner, to document and lead media tours of the hunt. With patrols running in both West Yellowstone and Gardiner, our equipment will be stretched thin. We are in particular need of 2-way FM radios and Sony mini DV video cameras. If you want to make a difference for the buffalo, and help us document the hunt, please consider donating today. We couldn't be here without you.
* Comment Period for DOL Vaccination Plan Closes
The deadline for commenting on the Department of Livestock's environmental assessment to vaccinate buffalo calves with an ineffective vaccine meant for cattle closed yesterday. Thanks to everyone who got their comments in on time! BFC's official comments are available for review at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/science/vacdolcomments.html#bfccomments
If you didn't get comments in, please don't let that stop you from speaking your mind! Pick up the phone and give the DOL a call and voice your opposition: 800-523-3162. Better yet, write a letter to the editor. Check our web site for the latest news on this nefarious vaccination plan, and write to those papers and tell the Montana and national media how you feel about the DOL rounding up our last wild buffalo and injecting them with an ineffective cattle vaccine! If the idea of livestock inspectors managing and man-handling wild buffalo makes you crazy, say so. Because if you don't... who will? BFC's Dan Brister did. Read his op-ed, "Why Vaccinating Wild Buffalo is Wrong," published by the Helena Independent Record: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0405/news0405/121304oped.html
* Last Words
"What are the dying salmon telling you? And the dying forests? What lessons are whispered to you by the ghosts of the passenger pigeons, or the ghostly roll of thunder of a mammoth herd of bison? Allow these voices to inform your actions."
~ Derrick Jensen, A Language Older than Words
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
From: "Buffalo Field Campaign" firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to all who have put their name in the drawing for a buffalo "hunt" permit, all with the intention of not using it to kill a buffalo. We greatly appreciate the support from buffalo advocates everywhere who are contacting friends and relatives and others to help the buffalo in this particular situation.
SPECIAL NOTE: You do need to have a Montana conservation (hunting) license to apply for a buffalo hunt permit, and these - as well as buffalo permit applications - can be obtained at https://app.discoveringmontana.com/elicensesales/
We also have some great news: Patagonia has agreed to pay the $75 fee for every buffalo kill permit secured by a BFC supporter that isn't used. THANK YOU PATAGONIA for always coming through for the buffalo! Applications must be turned in to Fish, Widllife and Parks no later than 5:00 pm MST on January 3, 2005. The drawing takes place on January 7, 2005, and if your name is drawn, you will receive a phone call from FWP. Stay in touch with us! For FWP's information on the canned hunt visit
. To learn more about why a buffalo hunt at this time is a very bad idea, visit
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
BFC is the only group working in the field every day to defend the last wild herd of buffalo in America.
Informant: Deane T. Rimerman