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17 January 1999 Issue

News From Buffalo Nations

January 12, 1999

Dear Buffalo Supporters,

The events of the last few days have saddened us greatly, it has been hard to
watch 8 of our buffalo friends captured and trucked to slaughter. Still, though, it
has strengthened our resolve to make sure that the killing can go no further.
I remember last year when the DOL killed buffalo that I felt an overwhelming
sadness, loss, and shock that anyone could kill these animals that felt as close
as brothers and sisters, or my own children. But this year something has
changed, I see that beyond these feelings of senseless loss that we have done
everything in our power to prevent these deaths.

Right now we have people camped outside the capture facility to keep vigil and
make sure not one more buffalo is caught. Many stay up all night, sleep a few
hours, and then go out to the buffalo again. And still there are smiles, laughter,
music, and the hugs that keep us all going.

I will never forget last Thursday morning, January 7, when we found out that the
DOL had hazed buffalo into the facility the night before. One of us on the patrol
snuck into the pen with a captive bull and opened the gate. Before the buffalo
could escape the outermost pen and we could get the last gate open, a DOL
security truck drove up. There was an incredibly long moment when we didn't
know whether the buffalo would be caught again. The buffalo looked at the truck,
looked at us on the other side of the fence, and then made his choice to jump up
and break through the closed gate to freedom.

We have watched how the buffalo take care of each other when one of their
friends is in trouble. One buffalo whose legs were wounded in the hazing
process was limping and struggling to walk. The other buffalo circled around
him and nudged him into the willows where the DOL could not find him.
That is our work too for our buffalo friends, to keep them away from the
capture pen, to find them a path where they are free to walk. In turn they give
us the joy of seeing them graze in an open field, of calves who run and jump
through the snow with their mothers, or just the quiet moments when we can
watch as the wind plays along their thick fur as they sleep.

Right now we are seeing the potential for some political headway. The DOL
will be meeting in the middle of this month to consider greater leniency towards
bison that the federal Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) considers
a low risk for brucellosis transmission. APHIS has repeatedly told Montana that
the state will not lose its cherished brucellosis-free status if it tolerates the
presence of yearling calves and bulls who have a low risk of transmitting
brucellosis. The disease can only be transmitted if cattle come in contact with
brucellosis contaminated birthing materials. Of the eight buffalo killed so far,
seven were bulls, who obviously are not pregnant. The ultimate decision to
continue the slaughter rests with Governor Marc Racicot, who oversees the DOL,
and it's up to us to let him know that we hold him personally responsible for the
needless deaths of wild buffalo.

Our moonlit ski down to the capture facility is a well worn path, our skis can
almost follow it on their own. It is part of our commitment to be here all winter,
the tangible proof that we will continue to speak for the buffalo, to defend the
lands that their ancestors traveled each winter in search of the food they needed
for survival.

If you feel in your heart that you want to take direct action to prevent the deaths
of these buffalo come to West Yellowstone and help first hand. We provide food
and a space in our warm cabin for all who volunteer.
Contact us at (406) 646-0070 or buffalo@wildrockies.org

If you are unable to come in person you can support our work in other ways.
Any donations you make will be put to good use in defending the buffalo from
such senseless slaughter. Many of our volunteers have given months or years
of their lives to this work. Your financial support allows us to feed, house, and
send these dedicated people out on patrol.

Help us turn up the heat on the one person who is directly responsible for the
current situation.
Let Gov. Racicot know that you find the slaughter unacceptable!
Call him at 1-800-332-2272 or (406) 444-3111
or email him at: mailto:csiegner@mt.gov and mailto:msimonich@mt.gov
Call the DOL's acting director Marc Bridges from in state at 1-800-523-3162
ext. 3 or (406) 444-2023.

Thank you all for your support. Knowing that there are many out there who
cannot be there but are with us in spirit gives us the strength to keep working.
Keep in touch and keep speaking out for the buffalo at this crucial time.

Sue Nackoney
and all of us here at Buffalo Nations

Buffalo Nations
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
406-646-0070 phone
406-646-0071 fax
buffalo@wildrockies.org

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