Update from the Field. Buffalo Field Campaign
Feb. 24, 2006
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
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:
* 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
Auction begins March 2, 5 PM EST.
To view a picture, read more about the piece, and learn how to place
*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
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
BFC is the only group working in
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