Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grizzly Lawsuit May Help Wild Buffalo

View this email in your web browser

Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field
and in the policy arena to protect America's last wild buffalo.

Buffalo Field Campaign

Yellowstone Bison
Update from the Field
July 21, 2011


* Update from the Field
* Join BFC for Wood Cut Week September 5-11
* Lawsuit: Helicopter Hazing of Buffalo Harms Grizzly Bears
* BFC's Wild Bison 2012 Calendar Now Available
* Please Respond to APHIS' Claim of "Protecting" Wildlife
* By the Numbers
* Last Words

* Update from the Field

  A graceful and gentle giant, this bull buffalo grazes among the summer flowers, shedding his winter wool.  Photo by Barbara Magnuson and Larry Kimball, used with permission.  Barbara's and Larry's photos are featured in our Wild Bison 2011 and 2012 calendars!  Click photo for larger image.

Many thanks to everyone who contacted Dr. Marty Zaluski of the Montana Department of Livestock about the agency's unnecessary lethal action against a bull buffalo on Independence Day weekend.  It is crucial that the Livestock Department hears from people and is kept aware that we are all paying close attention to and actively opposing their every move against America's last wild buffalo population.

Last week BFC joined with our powerful allies Western Watersheds Project to intervene in a lawsuit by Park County and the Park County Stockgrower's Association.  These two anti-buffalo entities seek to prevent wild buffalo from accessing temporary habitat in the Gardiner Basin, north of Yellowstone National Park.  BFC and WWP hope to help Montana move forward with this long-overdue plan to allow the buffalo a little bit of room to roam north of park boundaries.   Read the full press release.

The Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) agencies will be holding meetings on August 4-5.  For the first time ever, the meetings will be held on tribal land and hosted by the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes.  It will be very interesting to see how the typical arrogance of the U.S. and Montana government agencies might change as they discuss their issues in the presence of a First Nations buffalo culture.  The two-day meeting will be organized with a field trip one day and a full day of discussions the next.  The field trip will be particularly important, as the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribe has the longest stretch of wildlife safe passage highway infrastructure in the lower 48, on Highway 93, which we hope can be put in place on highways that wild buffalo must navigate in their migration corridors.   BFC will be at the meetings and you can come, too.  Check here for the agenda, times, and location.  If you can't make it in person, rest assured that we will give you a full report.

  This young buffalo has found a nice place to rest its head, while contemplating admirers inside Yellowstone.  Photo by Tim Springer used with permission.  Tim's photos are featured in our Wild Bison 2011 calendar!  Click photo for larger image.

The buffalo are enjoying the peace and abundance of summer and BFC is focusing on our outreach efforts.  As America's last wild buffalo are being admired by millions of Yellowstone visitors, many of those visitors are stopping by BFC's information table at Tower Falls to talk with our field volunteers and learn about the buffalo and the work BFC is doing in their defense.  You can help do the same thing in your very own community; we have thousands of newsletters on hand and can really use your help in getting them out across the country.  If you would like us to send you some, please contact Elizabeth with the number of newsletters you'd like and where you'd like them to be mailed.  If your address has recently changed or if you'd like to be added to our mailing list for the first time, please let Elizabeth know that as well.

Thank you so much for being with us for the buffalo and for helping us spread the word to save these last wild herds!

Roam Free!

* Join BFC for Wood Cut Week, September 5-11

The heat of summer makes the cold grip of winter seem almost like a faraway dream, but it is a frosty reality that will return in a few short months.  BFC Headquarters is located in one of the coldest climates in the lower-48 states, with temperatures averaging well below zero, and snowfall averaging 5-10 feet.  Our volunteers rely on wood heat to stay warm in our cabin, tipis, and yurt, and the time is coming to gather, cut and stack that wood.

Please join BFC for our Annual Wood Cut Week this coming September 5-11, 2011.  Meals will be provided.  Extra friends and chain saws are welcome!  Please contact Mike if you are able to join us.  See you then!

* Lawsuit:  Helicopter Hazing of Buffalo Harms Grizzly Bears

  This grizzly bear is probably thinking twice about trying to eat this massive bull, but winter-killed bison as well as the rarely unguarded young or injured serve as an important part of the grizzly bear's diet.  Sharing the same habitat, grizzly bears are also heavily impacted by the war-like helicopters that come to chase the buffalo out of Montana every spring.  Photo by Kim Kaiser, used with permission.  Kim Kaiser's photos are featured in our Wild Bison 2011 and 2012 calendars and many other BFC publications.  Click photo for larger image.

On July 14 Public Interest Defense Center attorney Rebecca Smith filed suit in federal court on behalf of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies to stop buffalo harassment by government helicopters in threatened grizzly bear habitat.

The complaint details how several Interagency Bison Management Plan agencies are in violation of environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act for illegal take of grizzly bears and their habitat and for failing to consult and properly consider impacts in a scientific biological opinion, the National Environmental Policy Act for failing to properly analyze cumulative effects to grizzly bears, the National Forest Management Act for violating Gallatin National Forest Plan grizzly bear standards, and the Administrative Procedure Act as the above acts and omissions by the government agencies are arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.

Defendants include the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, who provided $525,000 in U.S. taxpayer dollars to fully fund the Montana Dept. of Livestock's operations targeting bison that migrate into Montana.   The livestock department is also named as a defendant along with the U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In 2010 Buffalo Field Campaign videotaped the Montana Dept. of Livestock helicopter disturbing a grizzly bear feeding on bison winterkill on the Gallatin National Forest near the Horse Butte Peninsula.  In records discovered through the Freedom of Information Act, Yellowstone National Park also admitted in 2010 that "during several hazing events in YNP the helicopter flew over grizzly bears and wolves."

Grizzly bears co-evolved with buffalo and once numbered up to 100,000 ranging across the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains. Like the buffalo, the grizzly was pushed to the brink of extinction and extirpated from 98% of their original range. Breeding individuals in the subpopulation of Yellowstone grizzly bears numbers around 100 today.

Malnourished bears emerging from winter denning - a fast lasting 5 to 6 months - are dependent on winter killed ungulates to nourish newborn cubs and restore their health.

The suit is before U.S. District Court Judge Charles C. Lovell who has made several adverse rulings that have harmed the buffalo and their habitat. Buffalo Field Campaign is assisting the Public Interest Defense Center with video and documentation.

Stay Tuned!

* BFC's Wild Bison 2012 Calendar Now Available

  Rave reviews are in!  We are getting extremely positive feedback from folks who have already ordered their Wild Bison 2012 calendar.  Order yours now by clicking on the image or go here.

Connect with the buffalo through Buffalo Field Campaign's brand new 2012 calendar.  Filled with eye-catching and awe-inspiring images of wild buffalo on their native habitat in Yellowstone country, this year's calendar is a beautiful tribute to this amazing species.

Wild Bison 2012 is a positive celebration of the last continuously wild herds of bison in America.  This year's calendar features photographs submitted by BFC supporters or shot by volunteers.  Each month offers a seasonal perspective on wild bison and highlights their natural history.

With a limited print run of just 5,000 calendars, be sure to order yours as soon as possible.  Why not order one right now?!

* Please Respond to APHIS' Claim of "Protecting" Wildlife

We just came across a recent blog post by USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian Jack Rhyan titled "APHIS Veterinarians, Protecting our Nation's Wildlife Populations."  Huh?  APHIS, as you know, is the dark force behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan.  They are the agency that initiated the bison quarantine (read: domestication) study.  They are the agency that has been molesting bull bison to study their semen.  They are the agency that recently stole 53 ecologically extinct wild buffalo to conduct birth control experiments on.   APHIS likes to treat wild buffalo like livestock and there is not a single thing we have seen from them that could be remotely considered "protecting" wildlife.  Dr. Rhyan notes that one of the "coolest things" he's ever done is radio collar wild buffalo, while further stating that his "work....impacts how wildlife is managed."  Yes, we know that all too well.

We thought it would be fun for you - and actually, very important - to respond to this blog.  Dr. Rhyan, who probably admires buffalo in his own way, should be reminded that these are not "Yellowstone" bison, but America's last wild population, and that brucellosis is not a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them, and that to truly love a wild and free creature, it is important to let them be wild and free and learn from them on their terms.  There are a lot of points in this post that could be addressed, and we're sure you'll find them.

Here's the link

* By the Numbers

AMERICAN BUFFALO ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S. The last wild population is currently estimated at fewer than 3,600 individual buffalo.  Wild buffalo are ecologically extinct throughout their native range of North America. 

2010-2011 Total Buffalo Killed: 227

2010-2011 Government Capture: 770
2010-2011 Government Slaughter: 0
2010-2011 Held for Government Experiment:  30
2010-2011 Died In Government Trap: 3
2010-2011 Miscarriage in Government Trap: 1
2010-2011 State & Treaty Hunts: 211
2010-2011 Quarantine: 0
2010-2011 Shot by Agents: 4
2010-2011: Killed by Angry Residents:  2
2010-2011 Highway Mortality: 11

2009-2010 Total:  7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631

* Total Since 2000: 3,972*

*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality

* Last Words

"It's amazing the effect one species, the wolf, can have on the entire ecosystem," says William Ripple, at Oregon State University, co-author of an international report on the profound and cascading impact large animals have on ecosystems.

He and his colleagues say the demise of lions, wolves, bison, sharks, great whales and other large animals is part of the "the sixth mass extinction" now underway, and that their disappearance affects everything from wildfires to the spread of disease.

"The loss of these animals may be humankind's most pervasive influence on nature," the team of 24 scientists from the United States, Europe, Africa and Canada are reporting Friday in the journal Science.

~ From Margaret Munroe's article "Wolves show 'sixth mass extinction' can be fought," Post Media News, July 14, 2011.  Read the full story.

Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to Stephany.  Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes, and stories you have been sending; you'll see them here!


Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758

BFC is the only group working in the field every day
in defense of the last wild buffalo population in the U.S.


Join Buffalo Field Campaign -- It's Free!


Take Action!

     ROAM FREE!   

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BFC & WWP Defend Bison's Room to Roam

Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project File to Intervene
in Lawsuit to Defend Bison's Room to Roam Beyond Yellowstone National Park

- July 14, 2011

Press contacts:
Darrell Geist, Habitat Coordinator Buffalo Field Campaign: 406-646-0070;
Jon Marvel, Executive Director Western Watersheds Project: 208-788-2290;

Lewistown, MT:  Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project filed today to intervene in consolidated lawsuits by Park County and the Park County Stockgrowers Association to stop a plan by the state of Montana to permit bison some room to migrate within Gardiner Basin outside Yellowstone National Park.

The groups say Gardiner Basin provides critical winter habitat and is a key corridor for the migratory species to roam in Montana.

"This reconnection of buffalo and the land on which they belong is a long overdue first step," said Daniel Brister, Executive Director of Buffalo Field Campaign.  "Local Montanans welcome the buffalo's migration, have learned to live with buffalo, and desire to see the wild species return."

Gardiner Basin encompasses a small portion of the bison's northern winter range originally reaching 40 miles beyond Yankee Jim Canyon into Paradise Valley along the Yellowstone River.

Park County residents who filed affidavits in state court say the bison need a break from wasteful taxpayer funded government hazing, capture, and slaughter operations that harms their interest in co-existing with the wild species in their native range.

"Yellowstone is one of a very few nearly intact ecosystems on the planet and is considered a world treasure," said Fred Baker, who owns property the bison migrate onto along the Old Yellowstone Trail. "To not support free roaming Bison in my opinion is an American travesty."

"I found this winter very special in viewing bison up and down the Gardiner Basin," said Gardiner, Montana resident Scott Hoeninghausen. "A limited amount of tolerance created an unlimited amount of beauty."

The plan agreed to by Montana would permit some bison to temporarily occupy some winter range in the Gardiner Basin.

Bison migrating beyond Yankee Jim Canyon would be subject to shooting by state officials, an action which the groups and residents deplore.

"It is long past time for bison to be able to return to their historic range in Montana," said Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. "WWP welcomes the opportunity to support the State of Montana."

District Court Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown has scheduled a hearing for the consolidated cases in which BFC and WWP seek to intervene in the fall of 2011.

Judge Phillips replaced Park County District Court Judge Nels Swandal who was removed from the case after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks petitioned for a new judge.

Before he was removed from hearing the suit, Judge Swandal granted a temporary restraining order to the stock growers and the county thwarting Montana participation in the new agreed upon plan.

Help fishers and wolverines: Your Comments Needed!

 The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission has tentatively approved "business as usual" with FWP allowing for the continued trapping of Montana's fishers and wolverines, two extremely rare species that are highly vulnerable to trapping and already struggling for survival.

Please send a comment to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission requesting the closure of the fisher and wolverine trapping season. Also, please support the reduced quota of bobcat trapping in districts 3 (400 to 300) and district 7 (800 to 600). Please write your comments into the form at the link below:

The deadline for comments is Monday, July 18th at 5 p.m.

Talking points to support the end of trapping of fishers:

·         Montana is not only the only state in the lower 48 that allows trapping of fishers but it is also among the few remaining states that do not have a mandatory trap check!

·         Fishers in Montana are not connected to populations in Canada, and given their low numbers in increasingly isolated mountain ranges across western Montana, the mortality from the proposed trapping quota of seven individuals, may not be sustainable.

·         The wolverine is listed as a Species of Concern in Montana, and is likely at risk for extinction due to limited and/or declining numbers, range, and/or habitat.

·         Though fishers still remain in five drainages in Montana, their status is unknown; however, the decline in fisher numbers is clearly due to logging and trapping.

·         Historic data indicates that fishers were extirpated from Montana by 1920 due to over-trapping and they had to be reintroduced!

36 individuals from British Columbia were caught in live-traps and translocated to Montana in 1959. Another 110 fishers lost their homes in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 1989 and 1991and were translocated to Montana. After that, the trapping season was reopened in Montana in 1983. The statewide quota for fishers then was 20, then it was reduced to ten and now seven individuals can officially be killed for the entertainment of trappers.

Talking points to support end of trapping of wolverines:

·         Montana is not only the only state in the lower 48 that allows wolverine trapping but it is also among the few remaining states that do not have a mandatory trap check!
·         Given the low numbers of wolverines in increasingly isolated mountain ranges across western Montana, the mortality from the proposed trapping quota of five individuals, may not be sustainable.
·         The wolverine is listed as a Species of Concern in Montana, and is likely at risk for extinction due to limited and/or declining numbers, range, and/or habitat.

·         Wolverines are struggling for survival due to various threats, including habitat fragmentation and loss, and climate change. Yet, trappers can kill them for trophies!

·         Researchers estimate that a total of 400 breeding pairs are needed for the long-term survival of this species while the total number of wolverines in the US appears to be only 500 individuals with a large part of the population non-breeding subadults.  [USDI 2008/Cegelski et al. 2006, pg. 197; Inman 2007a]

·         Trappers kill wolverine outfitted with radio-collars, in fact, trapping has impacted expensive and difficult research studies to the point where researchers are unable to collect sufficient data to meet their objectives.

·         One research study (Squires et al. 2007) found that between 2001 and 2005, 64% [9 of 14 individuals] of known mortality was attributed to trapping. The same study showed that trapping was the primary factor for decreased survival of wolverines in Western Montana.

·         Trapping is an outdated hobby of few and causes our wildlife to suffer. It is time to end this kind of commercial and recreational exploitation of Montana's wildlife. Not trapping but wildlife is our heritage!

While we don't know if the Montana FWP Commissioners consider our public comments, we nevertheless need to let them know that we as citizens concerned about our wildlife, are watching their actions. Trappers can only continue to do what they do when we don't speak up!

Please send a comment. Again, the deadline is July 18.


Your friends at Footloose Montana