* Update From the Field 5/3/02
* Volunteer words
*Update From the Field 5/3/02
Dear friends and supporters,
This past week seemed to contain ten days instead of the standard seven. There has been an incredible amount of activity in the field and within the legal system.
Last week the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) suspended brucellosis testing for captured bison. Over 100 bison have been sent to slaughter since then, without a single one being tested for brucellosis. A handful of newborn calves and their mothers were released after a traumatic day of hazing and a night crammed into the steel cage. One calf was orphaned and died near the Duck Creek trap.
According to the Yellowstone Bison Management Plan, the government can slaughter any bison outside the Park if the total population exceeds 3,000. They claim there are now 3,300 (less the 171 they've killed so far this winter), and legally do not have to test for brucellosis.
The permit for the Horse Butte bison capture facility expired on Tuesday. On Thursday, DOL began hazing bison back to Yellowstone with a helicopter, horses and ATVs. Agents chased over 75 bison, mainly pregnant females and newborns, back into Yellowstone. Operations were held nearly simultaneously at Grayling and Duck Creeks, on Horse Butte, along an 8 mile stretch of the Madison River, and along the South Fork of the Madison. The DOL helicopter flew several miles into Yellowstone, traumatizing all wildlife in its path. This area is blessed with bald eagles, trumpeter swans, sandhill and whooping cranes, blue herons, elk, moose, deer, wolves, grizzly and black bears, mountain lions, otters, beavers, and a multitude of other wildlife. Why is a state agency allowed to run roughshod over the world's first National Park?
Four BFC volunteers were arrested and numerous others physically and verbally harassed this week under intense and selective law enforcement. The State and Federal agencies have bolstered their control of public documentation of their activities by arresting witnesses and confiscating video footage. It is a violation of the Montana Constitution and the Media Shield Act for law enforcement officers to demand the surrender of video tapes.
By far the most shocking moment from this past week's activities was the extremely cruel treatment of a newborn bison calf in the Horse Butte capture facility by DOL agents. The calf was hit with a piece of lumber, dragged by the neck and finally pinned behind one of the large steel swinging doors. The footage from this incident has been picked up by the National Humane Society as well as two of the national networks. Be sure to check your local newscasts and papers for this story, and send us a copy if a story runs in your local newspaper. It is crucial that we spread the message about the environmental destruction, animal abuse, and heavy-handed police tactics that are employed here on a regular basis.
As we look to the coming weeks, it is expected that the DOL will attempt to patch up their poor press by shifting their operations to hazing: forcing large numbers of buffalo--many of which are pregnant--to run more than five miles into the Park. As the May 15 deadline rolls around, however, it is feared that they will revert to their strategy of slaughtering all bison outside the Park boundaries.
We would like to issue another call for field volunteers and especially legal assistance as we move into this most challenging part of the season.
Thank you so much for your help.
* Volunteer words
A volunteer who was with us for five months read the following poem during our meeting the night before she left camp:
You were by my side when 15 bison hit the barbwire fence and landed on top of each other.
You were in the tree above me when Shane beat the buffalo with the wooden sign.
I held you close when the first trailer of frightened buffalo drove into Duck Creek.
And I stood with you on the snowbank when they released the raped and collared females at Horse Butte.
It was your blood that felt like my blood running through our fingers inside the lockbox.
When I went to jail, you said thank you.
When you went to jail, I did the same.
Together we watched the bald eagle circle overhead, drop down to the lake, catch a fish and eat it on the ice flow at sunset.
Together we recognized the sound of bison crossing the river through -40 F. ice fog.
Together we saw the mama buffalo nurse her baby, the red tailed hawks doin' it in the air, the full moon rise over the eastern mountains as the sun set over the western ranges.
So many sunrises, so many sunsets, so many rainbows, so many beautiful buffalos.
Today is sad.
Tomorrow will be sad too.
But at least I am not squished inside the cab of a giant pickup truck between Rob Tierney and Judy Martz.
I am here with you and sometimes we fight, but we share this understanding, we share this beauty and this pain and I am thankful.
I will miss you and I love you.
A huge thank you goes out to all the folks who made the Buffalo Exchange fundraiser on April 20th a success !!!! Over $15,000 was raised and 2,600 petition signatures gathered. Volunteers did a great job in helping to raise awareness of the issue as well. Many thanks to Michelle Livingston of the Buffalo Exchange and the employees of the participating stores for organizing and making this event such a success!
Buffalo Field Campaign
(formerly Buffalo Nations)
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
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