Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
December 15, 2005
* TODAY IS NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY!
Please Call Gov. Schweitzer, 406-444-3111
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In this issue:
1. Update from the Field
2. Today Is National Call-in Day!
3. Comments Needed on Bison Quarantine Plan
4. Last Words
1 Update from the Field
Often times we here at the BFC tend to focus on the harder
side of life. It is news and unfortunately for all of us involved a
fact of daily life. But today I want to tell a different kind of story,
one that we don't normally get to tell.
On any given day a group of volunteers will get up, get
dressed, eat and head out to stand with our brothers in spirit the buffalo.
Some of these days are as hard as any care to remember but then there
are the days when we receive a special treasure that reminds us all
why we are here. I personally have been lucky enough to see the sun
rise over the Rockies, exploding into a kaleidoscope of pink, orange
and purple. I have also witnessed herds of elk roaming across the fields,
counted not in single number, but instead by tens and even hundreds.
I have even seen days when eagles both bald and golden fill the skies
with their graceful dance. Above this all, is in a word, the majestic
buffalo and among the buffalo there is one that, in my mind, rose above
We first saw him nearly two weeks ago standing near a
hill of golden grass and crisp white show. He stood strong and bold,
fully encompassing the spirit of the buffalo but with wisdom normally
reserved for elders. When he looked to me, I could see his age. His
head hung low, and his horns were warn down to the bone. This by no
means meant that he had given up on life, for he was a healthy as a
bull half his age.
Grandfather, as some of us began to call him, had the
ability to look right through you with no more than a glance. But this
was not his way. When Grandfather would look at you it was not to look
through you but instead to say, "Come, sit close to me so I may tell
you a story of my life and of the Buffalo." He did not use words but
instead used subtle movements, feelings, and his spirit to speak.
For four days he stayed and told his story. After the fourth day he
returned to safety.
Now if I have done my job right you too will be able
to close your eyes and see the Grandfather Buffalo. See him as a young
calf running and playing in the fields. Later as a strong powerful
bull leading his heard from year to year. Then finally as an elder
sharing his wisdom to all who will take the time to watch and listen.
Let him tell you his story and when he does, keep it golden and pure.
After we win this fight, and we will win, It is my dream
to walk into a meadow of gentle green and gold on a warm spring day
to lay back and listen to the story of the Buffalo once more. It is
then that I know they will tell us all of their story again, though
this time they will be not just safe but as always Wild and Free.
To all my relatives,
P.S. For more information about what happened in the
field this week, check out our press release:
2.Today is National Call-in Day!
December 15th marks the dark anniversary of the shameful
assassination of the great leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota people, Tatanka
Iyotanka (Sitting Bull). It also marks one month into Montana's "hunt"
of the country's last wild buffalo.
Please join us today in a nation-wide call-in day to
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer letting him know that Montana's bison
hunt is wrong and should be canceled immediately. The Humane Society
of the United States (HSUS), the Animal Welfare Institute, and others
will be helping in this effort. With everyone's participation this
will be a powerful action and we'll make Gov. Schweitzer's phone ring
off the hook! Please urge your friends, family and co-workers to participate.
Also today, from 2:00-3:00 pm, BFC will be in Helena,
Montana, with other bison advocates including the HSUS and the Horse
Butte Neighbors of Buffalo, holding a press conference inside the state's
capitol building. We will offer common-sense solutions, show video
footage from the field, and deliver to Governor Schweitzer the thousands
of post cards that supporters like you have signed, urging Montana to
protect and respect the last wild buffalo.
* * CALL GOVERNOR SCHWEITZER TODAY! 406-444-3111
Special thanks to the Humane Society of the United States,
the Animal Welfare Institute, Colin and D.J. for your help and inspiration!!
3. Comments Needed on Bison Quarantine Plan
The plan to quarantine wild Yellowstone buffalo has once
again resurfaced in the form of an Environmental Assessment (EA) for
Phases II and III of the experimental protocol. Public comments are
being accepted through January 13, 2005.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) agency, in a
joint project with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS), are seeking to extend the currently approved and initiated
quarantine project for several more years, including the addition of
the breeding and calving phases of the plan. The stated goal of the
proposal is to determine if it is possible to get "certified disease
free buffalo" from the Yellowstone herd for relocation to other areas
outside the Park. If successful, the agencies intend to modify the
existing Interagency Bison Management Plan to allow full scale capture
and quarantine operations as a method of population control.
This EA seeks approval for the construction of a second
quarantine facility near Gardiner, Montana and modification of the existing
facility for use during the calving phase of the experiment. As with
the previous environmental documents on quarantine, the agencies are
claiming that the original Interagency Plan covers all of the analysis
relating to the concept of quarantine for Yellowstone buffalo and the
impacts on the buffalo themselves. This leaves only the details of
the sites selected and the impacts of having quarantine facilities on
those sites as issues for review. Therefore, the government encourages
your comments on the proposal to focus only on two issues: the inadequacy
of the facilities selected in the proposal and an indignant reproach
of the agencies decision to limit the scope of analysis to the specifics
of the sites. (But if you have thoughts about the government capturing
wild baby buffalo, stealing them from their mothers, locking them in
fenced-in areas, feeding them hay and tagging them like livestock, experimenting
on them, and perhaps slaughtering them when all the scientific "fun"
is over, you should share those thoughts.)
As to the first issue, FWP and APHIS have selected the
Slip and Slide Ranch as their preferred alternative for Phase II. They
intend to lease 60 acres on the ranch to house 50 two and three year
old buffalo in two groups within 30 acre pastures. 25 young buffalo
on 30 acres for at least one year. This amount of space is far too
small for growing young buffalo. When quarantine was initially proposed
several years ago, the agencies claimed that they would have 400-600
acres available for the buffalo in Phase II. Now, in an effort to avoid
the complaints from the hunting and outfitting communities over the
use of elk winter range for the facility, the agencies have sacrificed
the well being of the buffalo once again and want to consign them to
a mere 30 acres, just over one acre per buffalo. Cattle would not even
be raised in such confines.
As for the broader issue of quarantine in general, it
is still entirely appropriate to express disgust with the agencies for
even proposing such an inhumane and domesticating procedure for the
last and only genetically pure, free roaming wild buffalo in the United
States. The captured buffalo that survive the quarantine experiment
will have been captive for at least 4 years before release. They will
have been handled frequently by humans and accustomed to eating feed
and hay. These will by no means be wild buffalo any longer.
Additionally, the experiment will encourage large-scale
capture operations to get the required number of buffalo calves. Based
on the figures from last year, it is estimated that nearly 2,600 wild
buffalo would need to be captured and tested for the agencies to get
200 non-brucellosis exposed buffalo calves, 100 in each year. If the
agencies release the other negative testing buffalo, then only half
or 1,300 buffalo would be killed during the two-year period. If, however,
the agencies kill all of the captured buffalo because the current population
exceeds the target of 3,000 buffalo as prescribed by the Interagency
Plan, then we are looking at a two-year buffalo slaughter of epic proportions.
Public comment for the quarantine proposal will be accepted
until January 13, 2006. As is typical with these agencies, they have
released a plan during a time when eliciting comments from concerned
citizens is difficult at best. It is possible, however, to get a 30
day extension to the comment period if there is significant demand.
Additional BFC analysis will be added in the coming weeks.
TAKE ACTION! Please send your original comments including
a request for an extension to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, C/o Bison
Quarantine, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701, or via email to
BisonQuarantineEA@mt.gov, or faxed to:406-444-4952. For Montana residents,
there will be a public meeting in Bozeman at FWP Headquarters (1400
S. 19th Ave.) from 6 - 9 PM on Monday December 19, 2005. For more information
4. Last Words
"Every time a buffalo is killed here, that brings back
sharp pains of what happened in the late 1800s to our people. And,
I descend from the people that were killed at Wounded Knee, and my family
still feels that pain, that we were killed for no reason. And that's
the same thing when a buffalo is killed here. My family feels that
that mentality is still alive and well in America today"
- James Garrett, Cheyenne River Lakota
Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Email: Buffalo Field