Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)
News from the Field
January 27, 2005
NEW WEB SITE http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

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In this Issue:
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* Update from the Field
 
Snow has been eluding us here in West Yellowstone, much like that arctic blast we had expected.  Temperatures have been fluctuating between being unseasonably warm and very cold, and much of the snow has melted and frozen solid.  These conditions have caused the snow to form a crust inches thick, and in many places  - like the big hill at Fir Ridge - it has completely turned to ice.  Skiing has been quite treacherous in these conditions, and this morning, we had to rescue one injured volunteer from the field.
 
Volunteers were blessed by the presence of six bulls that had migrated out of Yellowstone National Park, along the Madison River corridor, in search of good winter forage.   This is one of the most beautiful places in the world, frequented by a vast array of wildlife such as moose, elk, wolves, ravens, eagles, and otters.  The buffalo love this place and their presence makes it complete.  But, although it is public land that was originally set aside for their use,  the fear and greed of Montana's livestock industry dictates that our last wild buffalo not be tolerated on the Gallatin National Forest, or anywhere outside the confines of the Park.  Unfortunately, the cowboy games were afoot in full force this week.
 
On Tuesday, while Mike, Josh and Dan were in Helena gathering with BFC board members and representatives of Patagonia, to prepare for a meeting with Montana's new governor (see below), agents arrived to harass the buffalo.   Three agents from the Department of Livestock, three agents from the U.S. Forest Service, and two National Park Service agents donned their battle gear, straddled their snowmobiles, and headed for the Madison to find the buffalo.  Of course, the county sheriff was there to "help" as needed.  As the hazing operation was underway, patrols documented the crimes against the buffalo.   The six innocent bulls were utterly disrespected, displaced from their winter range by greedy cowboys and their federal puppets.  Half of the snowmobiles were ridden by agents who are supposed to be protecting wildlife and wildlands.  Contrary to their mission, Park "Service" rangers further aided the harassment by firing off cracker rounds to scare the buffalo. The buffalo were chased through the hard, crusty snow up steep bluffs, across the highway, and into the park.   As this haze ended, we got word that the motorized cowboys were heading to a lone bull that had been relatively hidden in the willows between Duck and Cougar Creek.  They intended to capture him, but he escaped the path they were attempting to force him down, and they eventually had no choice but to push him back into the Park.  By the time he crossed the boundary, he was seen by our patrols stumbling and panting with exhaustion.  Every move the agents made against the buffalo was captured on film by our volunteers, and will be used against the agents to let the public know how they are wasting our tax dollars to harass and slaughter our last wild buffalo.
 
Out here in the field, it was a very hard day.  The haze was a first for many, and emotions ran high.  We did have some trouble communicating in the field, due to our very old radios, yet in spite of this audio challenge, it was amazing how everyone pulled it together for the buffalo. These people are dedicated, and we are bound together in action for the buffalo.  And strong hope remains.  Around the time these hazings ended, six BFC folks were in Helena, inside the office of Governor Brian Schweitzer.  These amazing people had a first-time opportunity to share with Montana's governor the vision of wild, free-roaming buffalo.   That story is below.
 
For the Buffalo,
~Stephany
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* BFC Meets with the Governor of Montana
 
Thank you Mike, Dan, Josh, Flo, Darrell, Ron and Jim!  The Governor's meeting was very successful, and powerful!
 
The news media saw the Governor's schedule for the day and showed up in force: AP-Helena, Bozeman Chronicle, New West (a new online magazine), KUFM Public Radio, the state's news pool photographer, and a reporter from Lee Enterprises.  Public radio carried a 2-minute piece with a great quote from Ron Hunter Patagonia. The reporter said Governor Schweitzer was willing to protect winter range for the buffalo in West Yellowstone and work towards restoring Yellowstone bison to tribal lands. Four or five aides showed up including their policy and communications people.
 
Our six-person presentation was strong (and high tech as the Governor noted). The Governor listened and asked questions. He was particularly moved by the video shown of what its like to be a wild buffalo in Montana these days. That video got to him - I saw it in his eyes. There is definitely an open line of communication we've never had before to the Governor's office.  And there is definitely a window of opportunity that we've opened to change his thinking.
 
My hat is off to each and everyone of you for pulling this off - thank you! I count myself as very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to speak for wild buffalo to roam free on their native range again, and very lucky to do so with such great people who are committed to this vision.
 
My Best,
Darrell
 
See pictures from BFC and Patagonia's amazing meeting with Governor Brian Schweitzer:  http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/update0405/012505pics.html
Listen to a radio interview with Patagonia's Ron Hunter:
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
Read an article about Schweitzer getting advise on buffalo:
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0405/news0405/012605.html
 
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* A Message from Patagonia
 
Greetings from Ron Hunter and Jim Little of Patagonia. For those of you unfamiliar with our company's many environmental efforts, Patagonia encourages its employees to volunteer with environmental groups for up to two months with full pay and benefits. We've chosen to brave the Montana winter for a 10-day stint with BFC - one of our favorite, on-the-ground, grassroots groups. Here at BFC camp for about a week now, we joined some 32 fellow volunteers from all over the country (and Germany) committed to protecting America's last remaining herd of wild buffalo. We've been out patrolling daily on skis and snowshoes, as well as helping out around the cabin by shoveling snow, washing dishes and helping to devour some truly inspired cooking. It's been unseasonably warm (we're told), with daytime temperatures up to the low-40s.
 
Down at this end of Yellowstone National Park, the buffalo remain safely inside park boundaries - for the moment. Nevertheless, agents from Montana's Dept. of Livestock are here lolling menacingly about at taxpayer expense, busying themselves behind the wheels of their trucks, blowing snow and standing about with little to do. As winter progresses, however, the buffalo will start to move toward park boundaries in search of forage. When they unwittingly cross that arbitrary line, the DOL comes to life, chasing them back into the park on snowmobiles, trapping and killing them. This is the time volunteers are especially needed. So if you find yourself with some down-time this winter or spring, have never experienced the beauty of Montana and would like to engage in a meaningful volunteer opportunity with some wonderful folks, join the BFC on the front line and see what it's all about. Thanks for reading!

 
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* Thank You Patagonia

You have kept us warm and dry with years of generous gear donations.  You have also been extremely giving to us financially.  In the past two weeks, we were very lucky to have Jim and Ron here with us.  It was awesome being out in the field with you, seeing the beautiful buffalo through your eyes, sharing the vision of buffalo all over Montana and beyond.  Our combined efforts are making a difference.  You helped us put serious pressure on Montana, so that the buffalo hunt was cancelled.  You put up the funding for our rooms in Helena, so we would be rested and ready for our meeting with Governor Schweitzer.  You joined us in that meeting, and spoke from the heart about the importance of the Yellowstone herd, and what it means to your millions of customers that the slaughter stops.  You have been there for us and with us a thousand times.  BFC could never thank you enough.   But, we'd like to try.  Here's a small token of our appreciation - from all of us at BFC to you, Patagonia.
 
Thank you, Patagonia, for really making a difference!  http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/patthankyou.html

 
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* Three Things You Can Do For Buffalo This Week
 
1.  Write to Montana's Governor, Brian Schweitzer:
It is a "new Montana" as Governor Schweitzer likes to say.  Let that start with wild and free buffalo in Montana.  Share your vision with him, and demonstrate your support for buffalo being treated with respect as a wildlife species in Montana; for the Department of Livestock to remove themselves from buffalo "management"; urge him to scrap his unrealistic plan to remove all the buffalo from Yellowstone and place them in quarantine, and urge him to find solutions that involve better management of cattle, and giving the buffalo room to breath.  Let him know that these buffalo are a treasured asset, and they belong not to Montana, but to all Americans.  Reassure him that his decision to cancel the hunt was the right one.   Finally, urge him to continue the dialogue with BFC to find common-sense solutions that will end Montana's livestock industry-driven buffalo slaughter once and for all.  You can reach Governor Schweitzer at:
Montana State Capitol
Helena, MT 59620-0801
Phone: 1-406-444-3111
Fax: 1-406-444 5529
E-mail: Governor@state.mt.us
 
2.  Write a Letter to the Editor
The Yellowstone herd has been getting a lot of coverage in the papers lately, and not all of it has been good.  Issues such as the population of the Yellowstone herd, the recently approved plan to quarantine and kill 100 buffalo calves, the absence of a Native American voice in any aspect of buffalo management, the Governor making the right decision in cancelling the hunt, as well as his ridiculous plan to rid the Park of all buffalo in a fruitless effort to eradicate brucellosis must be addressed with real facts, the real truth, underscored with the heart-felt emotion these amazing buffalo inspire in all of us.  Please visit our Letters to the Editor page for tips and contact information for some key newspapers.  We can reach tens of thousands of people - including decision-makers - with the buffalo's story using this medium.  The time to write to the media is now.  http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
 
3.  Donate to BFC
Times are hard, and we need your help to keep our volunteers fed, housed and in the field defending the last wild herd of buffalo in America.  Please consider making a cash donation to BFC today.  It is hard for us to ask, but the truth is, without your generous donations, we would not be able to be here with the buffalo.  Thank you for your support!

 
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* Last Words
 
"First time around we took care of all the easy stuff - Indians, buffalo, hills filled with gold - but this time we're getting serious"
- George C. Custer, IV
 
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Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT  59758
406-646-0070
bfc-media@wildrockies.org
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

BFC is the only group working in the field every day
to defend the last wild herd of buffalo in America.