Thursday, February 24, 2011

Contact New Yellowstone Superintendent

Update from BFC

This beautiful cow buffalo stops to look back towards members of her family, during a hazing operation conducted by Yellowstone National Park, Montana Department of Livestock, USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, and US Forest Service agents.  BFC file photo.  

  Dan Wenk has started in his official capacity as Yellowstone National Park's new Superintendent.  He enters his office at a critical time for the buffalo and needs to hear from you!  Please take a moment right now to contact Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, welcoming him to Yellowstone and urging him to take action to protect the buffalo.  Please share this link with everyone who you think might be interested in helping protect the wild buffalo.

Over 500 wild buffalo are still captive inside Yellowstone's Stephens Creek bison trap.   Many of the females in the trap are a month or less away from calving.  Yellowstone's own bison biologist has admitted that confining buffalo during this time can exacerbate increased prevalence of brucellosis among buffalo.

The buffalo in the trap are being fed alfalfa, a livestock food that is not natural for wild buffalo, and  in large quantities can cause complications for pregnant mothers, including calf deaths.  Injuries and death are also very common for buffalo that are confined.  Yellowstone has not announced what they intend to do with the buffalo in the trap - if they will hold them there, or let them go.  Other wild buffalo have suffered hazing operations nearly every day along the west side of the Yellowstone River, as they attempt to migrate out of deep snow into lower-elevation lands where they can find the grass they need to survive the winter.   A few times during hazing operations, BFC patrols have witnessed the trapped buffalo stampeding while their friends on the outside are being chased by agents.  At other times, we've seen buffalo in the trap try to walk along side of their relatives on the outside, who have come to pay them visits, only to bump into the fence, unable to follow their migrating brethren.

Wild buffalo are relentlessly forced to flee their winter range.  Hazing operations like the one shown here are taking place nearly every day on critical habitat north of and inside Yellowtone National Park.  BFC file photo. 
These wild buffalo naturally migrated through the Royal Teton Ranch land easement corridor, only to be hazed back into Yellowstone National Park.  Millions have been spent for buffalo to be able to use these lands, yet they are still refused access.  BFC file photo. 
Further hazing operations belie the failure of the Royal Teton Ranch land lease experiment, which in early January saw twenty-five buffalo forced through a $3.3 million corridor to a small section of Gallatin National Forest, where agents hoped they would stay for a couple months.  Agents said they wanted to see how they might use the landscape.  The buffalo showed them that wild buffalo use the landscape by migrating, so the agents shot two and have the rest in the trap.  On Monday, a group of about forty buffalo used that exact same corridor, naturally migrating there own their own, yet six riders on horseback from Yellowstone, the Montana Department of Livestock, and USDA APHIS, along with US Forest Service law enforcement, chased them all back into Yellowstone. 

The Montana Department of Livestock has also been conducting some curious activities along Hwy. 89 near Gardiner.  On numerous occasions last week, patrols monitored DOL agents driving nearly 100-mile round trips to the Gardiner area in big pick-up trucks towing horse trailers, gathering with National Park Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Park County Sheriffs, and US Forest Service law enforcement, as if poised for hazing or shooting buffalo; yet, instead of witnessing actions against the buffalo, patrols saw the agents stand around and chat it up, go to lunch and leave town.  Great for the buffalo, but extremely wasteful with U.S. tax dollars.  A further demonstration of the extreme waste of funds allocated to the Interagency Bison Management Plan.  These funds would be much better spent on habitat-based solutions.

Since we last wrote, twenty more buffalo have been killed by hunters.  Sixteen bull buffalo were taken by the Nez Perce within four days on Gallatin National Forest lands outside of the Park's northern boundary.  Another four buffalo were taken by Nez Perce and Umatilla hunters off of public lands west of Yellowstone.  There are very few buffalo left for hunters to take.

Snow keeps falling, and wild buffalo will continue to migrate as their survival instincts dictate.  BFC remains steadfast on the front lines with the buffalo around Gardinder and West Yellowstone.  We sincerely appreciate all the actions you have been taking for the buffalo, and all the words of support you have been sending our way.  All of you are Buffalo Field Campaign, and together, we will press on, as the buffalo do.


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