Buffalo Field Campaign update from the field-
- Gallatin National Forest Approves Horse Butte bison trap, WTF!
- Montana begins killing elk to appease livestock interests-
Although BFC is on my blogroll (down in the right column of the blog), I haven’t posted one of their “updates from the field” lately. Here is a slightly abridged version. Ralph Maughan
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Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
January 15, 2009
In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* Montana Delegation, Schweitzer, to Ride in Obmama Parade
* Order Your Buffalo Valentines Today!
* Buffalo in the News
* Last Words
* Kill Tally
* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
A study was released this week that determines what we’ve known all along: the risk of brucellosis transmission from wild bison to cattle is extremely remote. The study, “Wildlife-Livestock Conflict: the Risk of Pathogen Transmission from Bison to Cattle Outside Yellowstone National Park” was conducted by A. Marm Kilpatrick, Colin M. Gillin, and Peter Daszak, and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. In summary, the study states, “… We have shown that the quantitative risk of transmission of [brucellosis] …is highly variable in space, time and frequency. We believe that this variability offers great potential for focused adaptive management efforts that will reduce the costs of brucellosis management, reduce the need for hazing of bison, and maintain very low risk for the cattle industry of Montana.” You can learn more about the study’s findings under “Buffalo in the News” below.
Nevertheless, livestock interests are running rampant with power in Montana. This has been an incredible week of war against wildlife, even though the field remains quiet with no wild buffalo migrating out of Yellowstone National Park.
Just yesterday, further catering to cattle interests, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) began killing elk in the name of brucellosis risk management. Two cow elk that FWP had previously captured and collared were captured again yesterday near Gardiner. They had tested positive for exposure (not infection) to brucellosis, and were consequently killed after leaving Yellowstone’s boundary. Likely, these elk carried antibodies that make them resistant to the cattle-borne disease. Ranchers have been blaming elk for the loss of Montana’s brucellosis-free status, but the tests placing the blame on elk are inconclusive at best.
Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson announced approval for the Montana Department of Livestock’s (DOL) request for a permit to set up the Horse Butte buffalo trap located on Gallatin National Forest lands along Yellowstone’s western boundary. This permit will be good for the next ten years. It is alarming that the Forest Service approved the permit, because the public was largely against renewing it, Horse Butte is cattle-free at all times of year, and the Interagency Bison Management Plan agencies recently decided to allow buffalo to have access to Horse Butte until May. The renewal of this permit is conflict with local sentiment and residents who oppose the DOL’s bison trap, and it is in contradiction to the Forest Service’s role and responsibility in the Interagency Bison Management Plan to “provide habitat for wild bison.” Supervisor Erickson’s decision is a slap in the face to every member of the public who has long advocated allowing wild bison to occupy the wildlife rich Horse Butte Peninsula.
Buffalo Field Campaign attended the Montana Board of Livestock meetings in Helena on Monday and Tuesday. During the meeting, the Board approved Montana’s Brucellosis Action Plan, a document that aims to help regain Montana’s coveted brucellosis-free status. It doesn’t amount to much in the way of ranchers taking responsible action to prevent brucellosis transmissions between cattle and wildlife. The plan focuses on seven counties within close proximity to Yellowstone National Park. The plan does not require ranchers to vaccinate against brucellosis, it does not require ranchers to construct game-proof fencing, it does not require ranchers to test aborted cattle fetuses. The only requirement is for ranchers to test breeding-age, reproductively intact cattle 30 days before they are shipped out of any of these seven counties to other locations. It is a very flexible, insubstantial plan. Any costs that are incurred, including testing requirements and fencing, would be paid for by either state or U.S. tax dollars. The plan is temporary and will dissolve once Montana regains its brucellosis class-free status. Ranchers who run cattle operations in areas where elk are known to concentrate would still have to undergo some testing requirements.
At the meeting, the Board of Livestock also approved the DOL’s signature on the IBMP’s Adaptive Management Plan. While buffalo advocates realize that these changes amount to very little on the ground for the buffalo, the cattle industry acts as if they are bending over backwards to appease wildlife interests. Board member Janice French asked for assurance that these changes were “the end of the road” for wild buffalo and that they would not be allowed to expand their range in the future. The state vet, Marty Zaluski, gave her that assurance, and further communicated to the board that everything is based on the buffalo’s behavior, and if the buffalo step out of line and trigger management actions, then the whole thing would be revoked by next year. We hope the DOL will be handing out maps and behavior check-lists to wild buffalo so they understand the human limitations placed upon them. In our public comments, we reminded the board that this was not the “end of the road” for wild buffalo, but just the beginning of gaining them their right to access their native habitat.
And finally, there is a bill floating through the Montana legislature demanding that an active cattle rancher have a seat on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission! Perhaps, then, in all fairness, wildlife advocates should be appointed to the Montana Board of Livestock.
Montana’s cattle industry assumes an amazing sense of entitlement to their self-assumed exclusive (mis)use of the land. If anything gets in the way, it should be killed. If any sensible responsibilities cost them an extra dime, then taxpayers should pay for it. Never forget that we hold the power: every time you or I purchase food, we have a choice whether or not to support this industry. Make the choice for wild buffalo and elk.
* Montana Delegation, Schweitzer, to Ride in Obama Parade
We have just learned that Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Senator Jon Tester (MT), Senator Max Baucus (MT), and Representative Denny Rehberg (MT) will ride horses in President-elect Barak Obama’s Inaugural parade this coming Tuesday. They will ride carrying the myth of Montana’s romantic cowboy on their shoulders. But, these four horsemen carry much more; they carry the future of America’s last wild buffalo population and they have shown them no mercy. The celebrated Hollywood cowboy is an illusion; the reality is barbed wire fences as far as the eye can see, coupled with dead wolves, coyotes, buffalo and native grasslands. If Montana’s governor and Congressional delegation are going to participate in a parade that is to celebrate the election of a candidate for change then they too should agree to change the part of America that they govern (Montana) starting with its despicable and disastrous bison management policies.
TAKE ACTION! If you or anyone you know are going to be present at the Inaugural Parade, please consider creating banners, posters, or signs to highlight the way Montana is treating America’s last wild buffalo! Montana may celebrate cattle and the cowboy image as part of their recent heritage, but the buffalo is North America’s heritage, preceding the cowboy by thousands of years. The whole world will be watching the Inauguration. It is a perfect opportunity to draw attention to Montana’s actions against wild buffalo. Tell Montana to stop slaughtering our national heritage and let wild buffalo roam free!
* Order Your Buffalo Field Campaign Valentines Today!
Buffalo Field Campaign is once again offering to send the special people in your life a hand-crafted Valentine. This year’s card (4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″) features two bison peacefully grazing on a snowy landscape, watched over by the Great Buffalo Constellation (embellished with a shiny heart). The inside sentiment reads:
” ‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.’
“A gift has been made in your honor by ____________ to help us change the world. Happy Valentine’s Day!”
The card also includes a few words on our mission.
To view an image of the card, for more information, and to order online, please click here.
The deadline for ordering cards is Friday, February 6. Please order early! Your card will be mailed to arrive close to Valentine’s Day.
To order through the mail, please send a check or money order (no cash) to Buffalo Field Campaign/PO Box 957/West Yellowstone, MT 59758. We must receive your order by Friday Feb 6 and please remember to include the name(s) and address(es) of your Valentine’s recipient(s) and indicate how you would like the card(s) signed.
* Buffalo in the News
Please consider responding to these articles with a Letter to the Editor. Buffalo-friendly letters that are published win you a FREE BFC t-shirt! For tips and contact info for key papers, please click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If your letter is published, send us a link or mail a hard copy to BFC-Media, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758, along with your t-shirt size and mailing address. Write on for the Buffalo!
Montana releases plan to regain brucellosis-free status
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bill would put active rancher on Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission
Helena Independent Record
Study of disease risk suggests ways to avoid slaughter of Yellowstone bison
Letter: Here’s something you can do for the bison
West Yellowstone News
Where the buffalo roamed: A buffalo hunter looks hard at the history of the dwindling herd
Star Tribune (St. Paul, Minneapolis)
Bison at the edge
Friends of Animals Magazine
* Last Words
“In Wyoming, it’s fair to ask, if brucellosis is such a serious threat to cattle and the industry, then why don’t ranchers support closing the elk feedgrounds? After all, the feedgrounds are the source of continuing brucellosis infection in Greater Yellowstone wildlife and were the cause of Wyoming losing its brucellosis free status in 2004. But ranchers absolutely refuse to countenance feedground closure. Why? Grass and cattle AUMs. Feedgrounds prevent elk from migrating to traditional winter range now “reserved” for cattle. Closing feedgrounds means allowing elk to get to their old winter range, but that would require a radical revision in AUM allocation from cattle to elk. Ranchers regard AUMs as private property, not a revocable privilege, and actually use AUMs as collateral for loans and other financial instruments; ergo, ranchers demand that the feedgrounds remain open to keep elk off the range. Brucellosis has nothing to do with it.
In Montana, the question is even simpler. Ask the ranchers, should brucellosis be eradicated from Yellowstone bison, if bison would then be welcome in Montana. The answer, of course, is no.
Why? Same reason as in Wyoming. Grass and AUMs.
In short, here’s the brucellosis fraud narrative: Ranchers and the livestock industry are using the alleged brucellosis problem–control of disease in bison and elk–to cover the actual goal of eliminating competition for forage between wild ungulates and cattle. That is, the true purpose of “disease” control is “bison and elk” control.”
~ Robert Hoskins, GRAVEL BAR
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2008-2009 Total: 2
2008-2009 Slaughter: 0
2008-2009 Hunt: 1
2008-2009 Quarantine: 0
2008-2009 Shot by Agents: 1
2007-2008 Total: 1,616
Total Since 2000: 3,683*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts