Buffalo Field Campaign News from the Field
In this issue:
* An Update from the Field
* Thank you to Our Supporters
* Call DOL Director Mark Bridges!
* An Update from the Field
Since the last writing four wild buffalo and five activists who
performed civil disobedience to protect them have been arrested and
confined. The buffalo, one calf, two yearlings and a mature female,
were captured on Wednesday afternoon following a blockade of Forest
Service Road 610, which accesses the Horse Butte bison trap.
Activists Blockade Access to Horse Butte Bison Capture Facility
West Yellowstone, MT: At 9:30 this morning, as state and federal
officials were preparing to capture bison, a man identifying himself
as "Coyote" blocked Forest Service road 610 to the Horse Butte bison
capture facility. The man effectively closed the gate at the head of
the road by locking his arms into two 55-gallon barrels on either
side of the gate. A large banner stating, "Bison Belong on National
Forests" was unfurled near the blockade.
Montana Department of Livestock, U.S. Forest Service, National Park
Service, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agents were in the area
preparing to haze and capture bison at the Horse Butte trap. At
least sixteen law enforcement officers from the agencies were on site
at the blockade. Officers closed the area to the public and the
press and prohibited anyone from viewing the blockade or from coming
within twenty feet of the 610 road.
BFC spokesperson Peter Leusch said of the blockade, "National Forest
lands surrounding Yellowstone were originally set aside as wildlife
habitat. The Horse Butte peninsula is perfect winter range for
bison, and they should be able to use it."
The Horse Butte peninsula is also important winter habitat for many
other species including elk, moose, bald eagles, wolves, and
trumpeter swans. Bison management activities are potentially life
threatening to wildlife as they disturb this habitat during the
deadliest time of the year.
According to Leusch, "Every bison management operation not only puts
the bison in jeopardy, but kills the other wildlife as well. The
agencies are squandering our tax dollars, terrorizing our wildlife
and placing the entire Yellowstone ecosystem at risk."
As the blockade was being cleared and Coyote arrested, agents on
snowmobiles began a hazing operation along the Madison River. The
agents attempted to haze six bison that were grazing along the river
about a mile outside of Yellowstone over 5 miles to the capture
facility at Horse Butte. Agents ran snowmobiles through tributaries
and side channels of the river as the bison attempted to elude them
during the operation, which lasted for several hours. At one point a
snowmobile became submerged in the main channel of the Madison, while
attempting to chase the bison that were fleeing south across the
Today's operation violated the Gallatin Forest Plan by using
snowmobiles off designated trails along the Madison River. According
to the Forest Plan's provisions for protecting fish and game,
"Motorized vehicle use will not be permitted during the period
December 1 through May 1, except on designated routes" (Forest Plan,
Gallatin National Forest, III-44). BFC volunteers have repeatedly
videotaped such violations.
Four Women Protest Bison Slaughter in Helena, Montana
Helena, MT: Four women who locked themselves together in the office
of Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) executive director Marc
Bridges in a protest against the slaughter of wild buffalo were
Abbi Dunlap, Emily Kodama, Julia Piaskowski and Jennifer Schneider
called for a moratorium on the slaughter of the last wild buffalo.
They demanded that the DOL end their role in buffalo management
because of their failure to uphold basic environmental protection
"The DOL has consistently shown that they will not obey the rules
they helped to write and they refuse to be honest with the public
about their actions. I am fed up," wrote Kodama in a statement.
"These are the last wild buffalo in America and if the government
won't do its duty to protect the buffalo, then I believe we have a
moral obligation to act on their behalf."
To keep Montana cattle free of the abortive disease brucellosis,
which some bison may carry, the DOL hazes them if they leave
Yellowstone National Park. The hazing is allowed under the Interim
Bison Management Plan agreed to by state and federal agencies.
Bison that will not return to the park are captured and tested for
the antibodies of brucellosis, and some are slaughtered. This winter,
26 bison have been killed. Nineteen of these were bulls, which the
U.S. Department of Agriculture says pose a low risk of disease
Critics of bison hazing note that there is no evidence of the
transmission of brucellosis from bison to cattle under natural
conditions. Cattle are not in the area during the winter and spring
months, the peak times when bison migrate out of Yellowstone in
search of food.
Last month, the DOL captured and slaughtered the first pregnant bison
of the year. A group of nine yearlings and pregnant females was
captured and five were killed. The activists say no attempt was made
to move them back into the park.
"The DOL is clearly demonstrating its intention to slaughter as many
buffalo as it can. This causes great concern as the spring months are
approaching and major migration of the mixed herds is imminent," said
"I have tried writing and talking with the DOL about the
bison/brucellosis issue. They don't care what I have to say,"
Piaskowski explained. "They have lied to me and disregarded my
concerns. All I have left is my body and my convictions and I feel
deeply compelled to take nonviolent action to prevent the bison
slaughter. My hope is that by locking my body in the DOL's
headquarters, they can no longer ignore their shameful role in
* Thank you to Our Supporters
Thank you to everyone who responded to our plea for radio equipment.
Within two weeks we received enough donations to get our base station
repaired and operational. We also were able to purchase two new
hand-held Fm radios with chargers, extra batteries, six new
Walkie-Talkie units, and a battery charger and rechargeable batteries.
Thanks again to John Humphrey at twosocks.com for his donation of a
hand-held Fm radio, charging stand, and spare battery.
We appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped us out. Radio
communication capabilities at camp have been transformed from a
desperate situation to an all time high. Be assured that we are
investing your donations for radio equipment as wisely as possible.
*Call DOL Director Marc Bridges!
Marc Bridges wants to here your concerns. Why not give him a call at
406 444-7323 and ask:
- Why DOL have captured bison without first attempting to haze them
back to the park and then lied about it in their press release? "When
bison leave the Park and enter the State of Montana, the first action
in the Plan is to move the bison back into Park boundaries." ( DOL
press release 3/6/02)
- Why DOL agents use intimidation, verbal and physical abuse to keep
press, witnesses and non-violent protesters away from their
- Why DOL releases calves after sending their moms to slaughter,
effectively killing the calves as well?
Don't forget to tell Marc that these bison are a national treasure
and should be treated as such. If his agency is worried about
brucellosis transmission to cattle they should use the $1.5 million
of taxpayer dollars they are spending per year to develop a new
vaccine for the cattle or keep them off public lands. Tell Marc to
quit treating wild bison like livestock,they are wildlife and have a
right to roam!
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
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