Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer has appointed four new members to the board that oversees this state agency that has been so hostile to bison. In the Buffalo Field Campaign’s report below, there finally be some signs the DOL might change. Should we get our hopes up? Read story. Read also about it in the Western Watersheds Project blog. The big news (see story elsewhere) is that House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands is holding a hearing March 20 on the wild bison of Yellowstone, so persecuted by Montana and now the Bush Park Service.
Here is part of BFC’s latest report.
Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
March 15, 2007
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In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* BFC to Testify Before House Parks Subcommittee
* Earth in Motion: What the Buffalo are Teaching Us
* March 18: Drumming a Sacred Circle for Life!
* Last Words
* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Spring has snuck up on us, arriving nearly a month ahead of her usual time. Throughout the Yellowstone region temperatures are rising, melting the snow and soaking the earth. Warm sunshine, little green shoots and a chorus of bird song make evident the changing of the season.
In West Yellowstone, there are still no buffalo outside of the Park. The few far-away bulls we were monitoring are out of sight now, with portions of the Park closed to all human activities to protect waking grizzly bears. Anxious for the buffalo’s company, we await the annual spring migration of mamas heavy with calf, accompanied by yearlings, young bulls and cows, who will head to cattle-free Horse Butte to calve and enjoy the nutritious grasses this massive mound of south-facing earth has to offer. Mothers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, aunts and young uncles will welcome new members to the herd in the next couple of months.
The northern boundary, near Gardiner, has calmed down a bit. On the west side of the Yellowstone River, the Park’s day-after-day hazing of wild buffalo has ceased for the time being because the buffalo have decided to remain deeper within Park boundaries. Park wranglers on foot hazed two old mama buffalo for about three miles. One mama has been dubbed “Little Miss One-Horn” as she’s missing her right horn. She’s a pleasure to observe and has a special way of holding her head up just so, sniffing the air, sniffing her relatives, and slowly chewing the grasses she finds. She and her elder companion struck off from their group and have been content to go it alone in the past week. We are hopeful that the early spring is enabling the buffalo to find new grasses that will sustain them for now, and protect them from government harassment.
Along the eastern side of the Yellowstone River, up near Eagle Creek, the Nez Perce resumed hunting once again. Five buffalo were taken from a large mixed group: three young bulls, a cow, and her calf. We have been told that the hunt is really over now.
On Tuesday, a group of BFC folks headed to Helena to attend a Board of Livestock meeting at DOL headquarters. It was intense if not nerve-wracking to be in a room full of cattle producers who want to keep Montana empty of buffalo. Governor Schweitzer has recently appointed four members to the board, and we may have been witness that day to some early signs of change. While we heard a lot of off-the-wall and seriously misinformed comments, as well as a few empty threats, the interesting and unexpected thing was, we found that there is some willingness to open dialogue. Buffalo advocates know we can maintain Montana’s prized brucellosis-free status while allowing wild buffalo to recover their native range, but the cattle industry has never budged nor considered the integrity of America’s last wild bison or any other species. The industry has never been willing to admit that cattle are the source of brucellosis, nor have they been willing to give an inch to the buffalo, always making the native roamers carry the burden.
Our disagreements run deep, but it appears that the general consensus is that we have to do something different and that requires communication; the status quo is not sustainable, especially not for the last wild buffalo. Misinformation and politics have dominated the issue, while the industry has called the shots and refused any other point of view. Typically, the cattle industry has been inflexible to the needs of wild buffalo and many other native wildlife species, but maybe the new board members will ease the pressure a bit. There was potential in that room that day. It’s going to take some give on the cattle industry’s part, including a change of attitude towards native creatures, but if maintaining Montana’s brucellosis-free status (and not grass) is really and truly the issue, solutions are right there for the taking. For a list of BFC’s “Solutions to the Slaughter” please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/solutions05.html.
Now we set our sites on Washington, DC, where this coming Tuesday, Josh and Darrell will represent the wild buffalo before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. The Government Accountability Office investigation of wild buffalo mismanagement continues, and the people of wild buffalo country will gather in Livingston on Sunday to help awaken the human spirit to the necessary and beneficial movement of North America’s largest land mammal, the mighty bison.
* BFC to Testify Before House Parks Subcommittee
On Tuesday, March 20, BFC’s Josh Osher and Darrell Geist will present testimony to the House Subcommittee for National Parks, Forests and Public Lands at the Oversight Hearing on Yellowstone National Park Bison. Also invited to testify are representatives from the National Park Service, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, the Humane Society of the United States, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, National Parks Conservation Association, and Utah State University. An eclectic crew, to say the least.
We will make BFC’s testimony available to you as soon as possible. Information about the hearing, including a link for viewing the hearing live on the Committee’s site can be found here: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=36
If you live in the home district of one of the Committee members please contact her/him on behalf of the last wild buffalo! Contact information for each member of the House subcommittee is listed below or here:
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) [Chairman], 202-225-2435, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), 202-225-3611, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), 202-225-2726, firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna M. Christensen (D-VI), 202-225-1790, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Rush Holt (D-NJ), 202-225-5801, http://holt.house.gov/contact.shtml
Dan Boren (D-OK), 202-225-2701, http://www.house.gov/boren/emailsignup.shtml
John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), 202-225-4016, http://sarbanes.house.gov/IMA/issue_subscribe.shtml
Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), 202-225-6416, N/A
Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY), 202-225-6335, http://www.house.gov/hinchey/contact/zipauth.shtml
Ron Kind (D-WI), 202-225-5506, http://www.house.gov/kind/contact.shtml
Lois Capps (D-CA), 202-225-3601, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Jay Inslee (D-WA), 202-225-6311, http://www.house.gov/inslee/contact/email.html
Mark Udall (D-CO), 202-225-2161, http://markudall.house.gov/HoR/CO02/Contact+Mark/Contact+Mark.htm
Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), 202-225-2801, email@example.com
Heath Shuler (D-NC), 202-225-6401, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Rob Bishop (R-UT) [Ranking Member], 202-225-0453, http://www.house.gov/robbishop/contact/
John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), 202-225-5435, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Christopher Cannon (R-UT), 202-225-7751, http://chriscannon.house.gov/email.htm
Tom Tancredo (R-CO), 202-225-7882, http://tancredo.house.gov/contact/contact_contacttom.shtml
Jeff Flake (R-AZ), 202-225-2635, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Rick Renzi (R-AZ), 202-225-2315, http://www.house.gov/renzi/email.shtml
Steve Pearce (R-NM), 202-225-2365, http://www.house.gov/formpearce/emailtemplate.htm
Henry E. Brown, Jr. (R-SC), 202-225-3176, http://brown.house.gov/writebrown/
Louie Gohmert (R-TX), 202-225-3035, http://gohmert.house.gov/contact_louie.htm
Tom Cole (R-OK), 202-225-6165, http://www.house.gov/cole/contact.htm
Dean Heller (R-NV), 202-225-6155, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Bill Sali (R-ID), 202-225-6611, http://sali.house.gov/contactform/
Doug Lamborn (R-CO), 202-225-4422, http://www.house.gov/writerep/
* Earth in Motion: What the Buffalo are Teaching Us ~ by Monica RavenHeart
A great phenomenon is happening in our little part of the world: the animals are assuming the role of teacher. It is no longer possible for them to wait for humans to get it right. In their annual exodus from the confines of Yellowstone Park, the last genetically wild bison are teaching us that movement is a sustainable, and inevitable, means to the revitalization of the earth…