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Update from the field 2/6/03

Buffalo Field Campaign

News from the Field

February 6, 2003

In this issue:

* Update from the Field

* Ask Yellowstone National Park to Protect Wild Bison

* Make your conservation dollars double!

* Propane Heaters Needed

* Last Words


* Update from the Field

Dear friends and supporters...

The cold has returned after some unseasonably warm weather began melting much of the snow up here the past weeks. This morning the temperature dropped to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. A fitting chill to accompany another bull buffalo being hauled to slaughter.

Yesterday, about ten Department of Livestock agents (DOL) with help from the usual gang, including Yellowstone National Park rangers, game wardens with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and local law enforcement hazed and captured a bull buffalo. It took the government agents at least an hour to find the lone bull grazing along Duck Creek. Eight snowmobiles then hazed the bull across the highway and into the Duck Creek Trap. Eight snowmobiles to capture one bull buffalo-our tax dollars hard at work.

I called the DOL yesterday to ask about the fate of the captured bull. The response I got from their public information person was that it would go to slaughter. When I asked whether it tested positive for brucellosis, she responded that they were not testing it. They claim that the last bison count found 3700 animals in Yellowstone. Since 3000 is the number they are using as a manageable herd size for Yellowstone, they appear to be primed to kill around 700 wild bison this season. Which begs the question as to why the Department of Livestock, an agency with no wildlife management experience, is managing wild bison. And so it goes. Sometimes they test, sometimes they don't. They don't even need an excuse anymore to kill wild bison.

This was the 7th bull killed this season. The pattern of weekly captures and kills continues to confound anyone paying attention. Bull bison are considered to pose a "low risk" of brucellosis transmission by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency responsible for determining a state's brucellosis free status. Not that there is any cattle in the area this time of year anyway.

And what is the cost to the only continuously wild herd of buffalo in America? These are the strong, wise bulls that are being killed, the elders of the herd that will lead the rest of the buffalo through the seasons and teach the young bulls. This is the lifeblood of the herd that is being drained, the strength of the wild buffalo.

For the buffalo,



* Ask Yellowstone National Park to Protect Wild Bison

This season we have watched the National Park Service get more directly involved in the hazing, capture and slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the US and remains the gem of the national park system. So why is it that a park founded to conserve the unique flora and fauna of the Yellowstone ecosystem is now actively involved in the slaughter of the largest single population of genetically pure bison remaining in the United States?

A few years back, Yellowstone Park officials took an active stance against the slaughter, going so far as to speak out against it on national news and attend prayer ceremonies for the buffalo. But now they are muted about the issue. Now they participate in buffalo hazing and help when the Department of Livestock disrupts all types of wildlife just outside the National Park.

Call or write Yellowstone National Park's superintendent and ask her to take a stand against the slaughter of the Yellowstone bison. You can contact her at:

Suzanne Lewis

Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park

PO Box 168

Yellowstone Park, WY 82190

(307) 344-2002

In your communications, feel free to make some of the following points:

The Yellowstone bison herd is the largest single population of genetically pure bison remaining in the United States. The herd survived the mass eradication of the 19th century by taking refuge in the remote Yellowstone backcountry. Yellowstone NP was founded to protect wildlife such as buffalo.

Buffalo are not livestock. How can the Park Service assist the Department of Livestock, an agency with no wildlife management experience, control the fate of wild animals that are under their protection? The national forests where buffalo roam in winter and spring were originally established as buffer zones for wildlife in Yellowstone NP. Ask the Park Service to fulfill their mission and protect wild bison.

Show us the science! Government agencies have claimed that Yellowstone NP can only sustain 3000 buffalo, but have so far failed to prove the validity of that number. If there really are 3700 buffalo in the Park currently, and their management number is accurate, we should be seeing a mass exodus of buffalo from the Park or higher death rates inside the Park. In reality, we are seeing the same migrations that we have seen every season since we have been out in the field. If the buffalo slaughter is about population control, then the DOL is the wrong agency for the job. Ask the Park Service to stop hiding behind Montana politics and find an ecologically sound way of managing animal populations. When the DOL haze buffalo they affect endangered bald eagles and trumpeter swans, as well as elk, moose, grizzly bears, wolves, and other wildlife. Ask the Park Service to do their job!

Ask the Park Service to pull out of the Inter-Agency Bison Management Plan. If any agency signed on to the Plan drops out, then the Plan would have to be scrapped and the issue of management of the Yellowstone bison herd would be opened once again to public debate. That means public scoping and comment would be required again, and we would have another opportunity to show the country what is happening to our only continuously wild herd of buffalo.

As always, if you get any interesting responses, please let us know. Thanks.


* Make your conservation dollars double!

Greetings Friends of the Buffalo!

I wanted to take a moment and tell you about a wonderful opportunity that we have. Our allies at Earth Friends have offered an impressive $1750 matching grant for the important work that we do.

Yellowstone's buffalo are the only wild, free roaming buffalo left. If they are not protected, that wildness will be lost. Buffalo in this ecosystem are the last remnant of the more than 60 million buffalo that once roamed North America. They are the most distinct and unique herd of buffalo on the planet and a critical reservoir of genetic diversity. As a keystone species, essential to the maintenance of native biodiversity within the Yellowstone ecosystem, they have immense ecological and evolutionary importance. By protecting this habitat, all the species that live here will benefit.

Over 1500 volunteers have walked through our doors. We have trained, outfitted, fed and housed them all. Each goes forth to other endeavors (many to other non-profits) with great skills and integrity. We frugally stretch each donation--last year we fed the 350 volunteers that joined us healthy food for about 36 cents a meal! We have also been very successful in informing the public about the issue, and more importantly, what they can do to help affect lasting change. We follow up on our daily monitoring with successful "big picture" strategies such as litigation that holds public agencies accountable for their actions and scientific research to help secure a future for these majestic creatures and the ecosystem that they live in. We couldn't do it without support from concerned folks all over the country!

So if you can help out, your donation will be leveraged and doubled. Please consider making a donation! You can donate online at our website:

or send your donation to:

POB 957

West Yellowstone, MT 59758

**** Please note: write "MATCH" in the memo

All donations are tax-deductible and we thank you for your support! We couldn't be here without you! Grassroots activism really does work--no fancy offices or high paid staff--just passionate individuals joining together!

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

For the Buffalo,


As an additional incentive, ten CD's are being offered to high donors. The CD's "Beauty in the Feast" were donated by the artist, Eldorado Gene. He describes the music as "an album of epic ballads." You can find out more about the CD at:


* Propane Heaters Needed

Our office spaces are moving into the new millennium. We have created a more open usable space in our media cabin, which will hopefully allow us to get more volunteers involved in our video work. Part of our renovations involved pulling out the wood stove and replacing it with a propane heater. The heater we are currently using, however, is an antique itself, so we are looking to find something more reliable.

If you have a modern, direct vent heater suitable for a 250 square foot cabin that you are no longer using, consider donating it to BFC. Our space is limited, so we would like something relatively small with the capability to heat the space. Call us at (406) 646-0070 first so that we don't get more heaters than we have space. We are hoping to extend the propane lines to our office and perhaps other spaces as we test the efficiency of propane heat.


* Last Words

Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snow in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.

-Henry David Thoreau

Buffalo Field Campaign

PO Box 957

West Yellowstone, MT 59758

(406) 646-0070