Update from the Field
The ice of Hebgen Lake is now half melted in front of
our cabin. Herds of buffalo continue to leave the Park
in their spring calving migrations to Horse Butte. Yesterday
was another day of senseless harassment for the last wild
buffalo in America. The Department of Livestock (DOL)
hazed hundreds of wild buffalo off of our national forests,
stressing one calving buffalo into a stillborn birth.
The DOL hazed a herd of buffalo with two calves through
an occupied campground with no warning. They also trespassed
onto a buffalo supporter's property to continue harassing
buffalo that fled the haze. Late yesterday afternoon some
of our volunteers, including one of our youngest buffalo
warriors, came upon two dead buffalo calves on Horse Butte.
Six year old Japhy and his mom, Justine, came across both
a test fetus used for brucellosis studies and the stillborn
calf from the morning's haze on their afternoon patrol
hike on Horse Butte. The dead baby has forced all of us,
regardless of age, to bravely confront some of the most
appalling evidence of the DOL's inhumane treatment of
the last wild bison in America. Our press release is included
I write, the DOL and other government agencies are hazing
more buffalo with newborn calves. Our prayers are with
the buffalo herd in this time of new birth, and our
hopes are that some day buffalo can live wild and free
on our public lands.
For the buffalo,
Montana Hazes Hundreds of Wild Buffalo; Haze Disrupts
Birthing Bison Whose Calf Dies
For Immediate Release: May 1, 2003
West Yellowstone, MT -- Montana Department
of Livestock (DOL) agents hazed around 200 wild buffalo
from national forests west of Yellowstone National Park
yesterday, disrupting a calving bison and leading to a
stillborn birth. The Montana Department of Livestock has
spent over $3
million since 1996 on bison management operations that
have killed 2,064 wild bison. Montana's justification
for the ongoing buffalo slaughter has been the threat
of brucellosis transmission to cattle. There has never
been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from
to cattle. Yet the DOL continues to haze hundreds of wild
buffalo during their calving season.
"This is what happens when livestock agents manage
wildlife," commented Scott Williams, a Buffalo Field
Campaign (BFC) volunteer who witnessed the event. "The
DOL's inhumane treatment of buffalo during calving season
further underscores their poor management of America's
last wild bison." Williams was in the Gallatin National
Forest on Horse Butte
documenting the DOL haze a group of around 80 wild buffalo,
including two calves. The buffalo migrate onto public
land on Horse Butte every spring to give birth. There
are no cattle present this time of year. Williams noticed
a pregnant cow buffalo bed down and strain in what appeared
to be the start of birthing. Soon two livestock agents
on horseback pushed the calving buffalo into the herd
that they were hazing. "After hazing the buffalo
away, the agents returned, circled
around the spot where the buffalo was calving, and pointed.
I knew that I had to return after the haze to see what
When Williams returned later that day he saw Montana
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) agents
accompanied by one of the DOL agents involved in the
haze. They were removing a dead calf. "If the DOL
really believes that brucellosis transmission from 'infected
fetus, birthing material or afterbirth' is possible,
then why are they using management tactics that could
increase that risk by hazing wild buffalo when there
are no cattle present?" remarked Williams. Nearly
every week in April the DOL repeatedly pushed the same
herds of wild
buffalo miles back into the Park. The cumulative stress
of repeated hazes on pregnant buffalo ready to calve
could have already caused premature stillborn births
or calf deaths that have not been documented. Today
the DOL is again hazing wild buffalo and their calves.
Last week the US Forest Service announced that it had
transferred the only cattle allotment on national forest
land on Horse Butte to another public land allotment
in Idaho. The allotment had already been cancelled last
summer pending further environmental assessment. Until
May 15 the management plan requires that a temporal/spatial
separation be maintained between wild buffalo and cattle.
Cattle aren't even moved to the sole private ranch on
Horse Butte until June when the buffalo have returned
to Yellowstone National Park. "Why is Montana wasting
tax dollars to harass wild buffalo on our public lands?
Where are the cattle that are supposedly threatened?"
The Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working
in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's
wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their
traditional winter habitat and advocate for their protection.
Daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they
choose to be on and document every move made against
Thanks for the Support
Here we are half way from Spring Equinox to Summer Solstice
and I am amazed and inspired by the passion and dedication
of our grassroots family! The new buffalo calves that
are entering the herd are supported by strong allies that
make their protection inevitable. The Campaign has been
busy on many fronts. We are preparing for the DC Rally
to introduce the ESA petition listing that we have been
working on for years, as well as requesting that the buffalo
be acknowledged as the national animal. A Hearty Thanks
go out to all the folks that are pulling together so that
national legislators know that this issue is important
to the public. Thanks to all the Representatives and Senators
who have scheduled meetings with our volunteers to discuss
the issue. A special thanks goes out to the speakers who
will take time out of their already busy lives to join
our new 25 foot buffalo balloon and speak out at the Stampede.
To our allies at The Fund and HSUS - thanks for your dedicated
efforts! Sheepy - wish you were in Yellowstone but you
are rockin' DC! We are especially grateful to all of our
grassroots family that wrote letters and will make calls
to support this endeavor -together we will make a difference.
We, of course, are still busy in the field
documenting and defending the plight of the last wild
buffalo. I am constantly inspired by the long hours and
focused passion of the volunteers living in frugal and
often crowded living conditions. It's a difficult "job"
to watch the majestic
buffalo be treated disrespectfully - words to properly
express thanks to these dedicated individuals who put
their lives and families "on hold" to be with
the buffalo are hard to find! Last week members of BFC
also attended the GYIBC and APHIS meetings. These lengthy
meetings are often bogged down with agency double speak,
but it is critical for us to monitor them, lend our guidance,
and help them remember the power of a wild ecosystem.
The Earth Day tables at the Buffalo Exchange
stores last Saturday were a great success (see below).
Dedicated volunteers and Buffalo Exchange staff went the
extra mile to do outreach. New folks found out about the
issue and how they can get involved and make a difference.
The folks that gave up their Saturdays to speak for the
buffalo are too numerous to name - please accept our heartfelt
gratitude for all your efforts. And to Buffalo Exchange
(& Michelle) that set all this up - what can we say?
those of the BFC family that can't be at Camp - your
letters and care packages (& girl scout cookies
~grin~) are such a morale boost that it keeps it all
going! It is humbling to see how the buffalo gather
together such strong folks that cooperatively can make
an impact. Again, May will be a busy and hard month.
If you can make it to Camp - we can plug you in. With
all the extended efforts we have incurred additional
expenses. If you are able to help us out with a donation,
be assured that it will be put to good use! We are frugal
and stretch every dollar as far as we can. If it's been
a while since you made a contribution or you've been
meaning to - every dollar helps!
You can give securely online at our website: www.wildrockies.org/buffalo.
Or you can send a check to us here at: Buffalo Field
Campaign, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Let
us know if you need a tax-deductible receipt.
Most important is the respectful energy that is gaining
momentum. Together we are making great strides. Blessings
to all that send prayers to the buffalo...and prayers
for those who make decisions about their future generations.
With awe and respect for all that's wild and free,
BFC Program Development
Buffalo Stampede Thundering Ahead
are busy here on the western boundary of Yellowstone as
the end of another field season approaches. Last night
a story including the Buffalo Field Campaign aired on
NBC Nightly News. Unfortunately we found out too late
to alert you in this update, but hopefully some of you
saw it. It was a long time in coming, but at last we're
getting more national attention.
And the timing couldn't be better. With
our Buffalo Stampede thundering to our nation's capitol
next week, we are primed to put the buffalo struggle in
the national spotlight. We now have nearly 60 appointments
with senators and congressional representatives in Washington,
DC. On May 9, in Washington, DC, our 2nd Annual Buffalo
Stampede on Capitol Hill will deliver a petition with
letters of support demanding that the Department of the
Interior list the Yellowstone bison under the Endangered
Species Act (ESA). For more information on the petition:
to all of you who wrote letters of support.
The Buffalo Rally will include special guest speakers
Winona LaDuke and Rosalie Little Thunder, both strong
native voices for the buffalo. If you will be in the area,
please come join us! Bring banners, puppets, masks and
costumes! We also now have a new tool that will appear
buffalo saving events--a 25 foot buffalo balloon that
will be making its debut in Washington.
our message to Washington is an exciting and hopeful
opportunity for the last wild bison in America. However,
it has cost us more money than our usual field efforts.
The Buffalo Stampede will cost us around $3500 in travel,
copies, videotape, and other expenses not even including
the 25 foot buffalo balloon. Please consider making
a donation to our efforts to help protect the last wild
bison in America.
You can send a check to us here at: Buffalo Field Campaign,
PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Or donate online
at: www.wildrockies.org/buffalo Once again, thank you
for your continued support of the last wild buffalo
BFC Campaign Coordinator
Bill 395, the bison "hunting" bill, has passed
through the Montana Legislature and is headed for Governor
Martz's desk. Thanks to all who wrote or called their
legislators and Governor Martz to oppose this atrocious
bill. In all likelihood the bill will soon become law.
However, don't expect a bison hunt to start next fall.
Many options still exist to oppose this new hunt. We will
keep you up to date on any new developments.
Several BFC representatives recently attended GYIBC (Greater
Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee) and APHIS
(Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services) meetings
last week in Jackson Hole, WY. The GYIBC is still committed
to the goal of brucellosis eradication by 2010 even though
their own scientific research suggests that this goal
is impossible to achieve. APHIS likewise seems committed
to eradicating brucellosis from the Greater Yellowstone
Area (GYA) and is in the process of developing a new plan.
Last week's meeting was a pre-NEPA (National Environmental
Policy Act) "information sharing" session that
included statements from Undersecretary of Agriculture
William Hawks and Deputy Secretary of Interior Paul Hoffman.
The public was allowed a meager three minutes each to
comment with 9 out of 10 opposing eradication as a goal.
Most believe that risk management should be the focus
for addressing brucellosis and that APHIS should slow
down on any new plan. Although billed as an opportunity
for the various government agencies and the public to
share information about brucellosis in the
GYA, it is clear that APHIS has already decided to bring
forth a new brucellosis eradication plan. The "official"
NEPA process for the new APHIS plan will likely begin
For the buffalo,
Spring Campaign Continues!
May is the time to volunteer with the BFC!
Hundreds of wild buffalo are migrating out of the Yellowstone
National Park's west entrance to their historic calving
grounds on adjacent public lands. Department of Livestock
and Forest Service agents relentlessly push them back
Park. We need volunteer help now more than ever. Come
to West Yellowstone, stay in our lodge, enjoy our scrumptious
food, and experience the majesty of the last wild buffalo.
BFC directly for more information at 406-646-0070 or buffaloatwildrockies.org
Thanks to All who Helped with the Buffalo Exchange Benefit
Walking with our last wild buffalo family
as DOL and Forest Service agents pushed them off our public
lands back into the Park, my thoughts and voice reflected
the support and dedication of all who participated in
last Saturday's Buffalo Exchange benefit for the BFC.
I made sure to
let the agents know that I represented hundreds of people
who were tired of their devastating management plan. Thanks
to all of our BFC volunteers, Buffalo Exchange employees,
and supporters who came out on Saturday. We are empowered
in the field and feel the dedication and work of our extended
Buffalo Field Campaign family. The success of the Buffalo
Exchange event is testimony to the power of the people
and the buffalo. It is because of all of you that we are
able to be effective in the field, in the media, and in
the political arena. Thank you to
the Buffalo Exchange and the BFC volunteers! Together
we WILL stop the slaughter!
For the buffalo,
BFC Volunteer Coordinator
"The sale itself went great, we talked to
one girl who had brought $95
to spend and was NOT leaving til she had spent it
all at the dollar
racks. The employees working at Buffalo Exchange were
-Charles Erickson, Sherwood, OR
"The people who work at the Las Vegas Buffalo
Exchange store are truly
dedicated in their efforts to help the BFC. I saw
them go the extra
mile to raise money, educate the public and fill as
many petitions as
possible. As a longtime activist I can vouch for the
fact that it is
rare to meet such committed and hard-working group
of people, and my son
and I were truly inspired and heartened by their energy
Both my son and I consider it a privilege and an honor
to have been
involved in this event."
-Myrna Lefferts, Las Vegas, NV
Where did they go?
They say there were once 30 million or so.
Taming of the new found land
Made all that was native and wild disband.
As the weeping Native People watched their brother bison
We escorted them to their new land, a reservation.
No taming of the Native Spirit.
The Native People survived, and the last 23 bison got
--Mike Mease, BFC Campaign Coordinator