Update from the Field
Horse Butte has been a flurry of springtime activity
lately. Heading out to the Butte early in the week,
I was inspired to see Akiva sitting on a platform suspended
from a 45 foot pole inside the buffalo trap. Having
witnessed many buffalo captured there, it was a relief
to know that the trap was shut down, even if only temporarily.
I sat in the sagebrush with other supporters, including
his proud mother, and shouted encouragement. Akiva was
positive, confident, pensive. The monopod rose straight
out of the trap, above the metal scar on the land, pointing
to the sky, to a higher course of action. Akiva inspired
me with his act of resistance, reminding me of the example
of the buffalo that roam wild and free, that refuse
to be tamed.
On Tuesday I returned to Horse Butte hoping to spend
time with the large herds of buffalo that have migrated
there. Unfortunately that afternoon was spent watching
a buildup of over a dozen representatives from the Montana
Department of Livestock (DOL), the US Forest Service
(USFS), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), and
local law enforcement arrive at Horse Butte to remove
Akiva. They brought in a cherry picker and pulled him
from his platform and hauled him away grinning. A small
herd of buffalo watched as they grazed above on the
slopes of Horse Butte.
Volunteers on Horse Butte also reported seeing the first
newborn calf of the year. This joyful moment is tinged
with anxiety, another reminder of the difficult weeks
ahead for the Yellowstone bison.
Sure enough, the next day the government agents returned
to harass the wild buffalo grazing peacefully on Horse
Butte. Yesterday the DOL, USFS, FWP, National Park Service
(NPS), and local law enforcement scoured the hills of
Horse Butte hazing native wildlife from our public lands.
There were at least five separate hazes pushing over
130 buffalo back into Yellowstone National Park. Another
group of about 55 was lost in the woods of Horse Butte.
This is the pattern of springtime for the last wild
bison in America--every week wild bison are forced to
march miles back into the Park, causing undue stress
during their critical calving season.
Today is no different. About 25 buffalo have been hazed
already today. During one haze, a Park Service ranger
pursued buffalo into a bald eagle closure area. This
is an area closed to all human activity to protect bald
eagle nesting sites. It is clearly marked, yet the ranger
entered the closure during a haze. Volunteers caught
the incident on video and we will be making a formal
complaint. Once again, the people entrusted with protecting
our native wildlife have proven themselves incapable
of fulfilling their duties while in the service of livestock
Akiva is back. He was released on his own recognizance
on his 25th birthday yesterday. He faces four misdemeanor
counts including interfering with a government operation,
maintaining an illegal structure, camping in a day use
area, and littering. He is doing well and enjoying hikes
on beautiful spring days. We will keep you updated when
his trial comes.
In this update you will find more information on supporting
BFC, suggestions for writing letters to the editor,
and information about our Week of Action for the Buffalo,
May 1-8. Thank you again for your ongoing support. Our
volunteer numbers have begun to dwindle in recent days,
just as buffalo activity increases. If you or someone
you know is interested in coming out to Yellowstone
to stand in the field with the last wild buffalo in
America, now is the time. Together we will stop this
senseless slaughter and see the peaceful spring days
when wild buffalo can roam free on our public lands.
For the buffalo,
* The Buffalo Field Campaign Needs Your Support
At the Buffalo Field Campaign we have no high paid staff
or frivolous expenses--just dedicated folks working
hard to stop the slaughter. With buffalo leaving the
park everyday, your support is more critical than ever.
Below you will find creative ways to help us help the
We all give presents occasionally, so the next time
you need a gift -- consider voting with your dollars.
You can support BFC's crucial work through the purchase
of creative art, pottery, jewelry, photos, music, 100%
organic cotton t-shirts, 100% recycled note cards, and
more. Just click on http://www.wildrockies.org/Buffalo/pcshop/bazaar.html.
If you have items you want to offer through our supporter-to-supporter
program -- please contact me at the information below.
Our graciously donated GMC Suburban is one of our main
patrol cars and currently needs a new transmission.
If everyone who reads this makes a small contribution
or buys a gift we can get it fixed.
Our computer cartridge recycling program has just gotten
All you have to do is go to http://www.cartridgefundraising.com/National/bfc/
to collect cartridges in support of our work. Envelopes
and boxes are easy to get and offer prepaid shipping.
The landfills receive less plastic and BFC generates
income in the process--a win-win situation. A poster
will be available soon on our website for folks to download
to share with businesses in their community about the
A big thanks to all of you for your work and efforts.
It is my honor to work with such dedicated grassroots
Together we are making a difference.
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign Programs
West Yellowstone, Montana 59758
Donations are tax deductible and go directly to front
lines work. BFC is the only group in the field 365 days
a year with the last, free roaming buffalo.
* Write a Letter to the Editor
Many papers have been printing buffalo-related letters
to the editor, and we can't thank you enough for your
energy and effort on this. Letters to the editor are
an easy and effective way to awaken thousands of people
to the buffalo crisis going on in and around Yellowstone.
Future updates will feature recently-published letters
and a link to BFC's letter writing page, with letter
writing tips and contact info for crucial papers: http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/politico04/030304writelte.html.
If you need information or tips on writing a letter
you can always reach us at
Letter of the Week:
So how do I tell you why I'm up here? How can I say
in words all that I've felt and seen? I guess I'll try
because your article ("Bison Protest Continues,
4/9/04) said nothing of this story. I'm 40 feet high
inside the Horse Butte Buffalo trap. 30 buffalo just
walked by. I don't recognize this herd. They are not
of the hundreds I saw killed in Gardiner last month.
They are not of the 18 that were captured here in February.
And I don't know if they were caught in the last three
hazes I witnessed out here.
Right now they are walking in front of Hebgen Lake.
There are no cows for many miles. These buffalo are
the most peaceful creatures I have ever known. Why people
insist on their destruction is beyond my understanding.
I don't see why they can't walk through the woods the
same way that we let elk and moose (who also carry brucellosis).
I have watched hundreds of buffalo live quiet lives
on the Madison River and Horse Butte. I've seen them
sleep and play, butting heads. I've seen them run by
me in full gallop and a few times they've stood very
close to me, staring into my eyes. They are truly awesome,
as is all of the wilderness.
It hurts so much to watch the Department of Livestock
and National Park Service freely terrorize herds of
buffalo. My conscience would not allow me to just sit
back and watch more buffalo be killed this spring for
no reason. So here I am 40 feet high on a pole, breaking
our laws. Our laws that once allowed slavery and now
allow species management will slowly change as peoples
eyes and hearts open.
Free the wild is all I can really say.
PO Box 496
West Yellowstone, MT
* Week of Action for the Buffalo May 1-8
If each of us who reads these words pledges to take
action for the buffalo, imagine the difference we would
make. During the week of May 1-8, we will concentrate
our efforts in Montana and across the nation. We will
turn our voices up to be heard, stand tall and be seen.
How effective we are will depend on you - mass action
requires a mass. If you don't take action, who will?
1. May 1-7: This is an urgent call
for volunteers to come stand with the buffalo. BFC's
campaign headquarters, located in beautiful West Yellowstone,
is awaiting your arrival. We will feed you, shelter
you, set you up with gear, and take you out on patrols
so you can spend time with the buffalo! During the week
we will hold a few workshops, give presentations, and
visit the offices of public agencies to protest the
slaughter. This will be an experience you'll never forget.
Our goal is to give you the first-hand experience --
with the buffalo and the agents who harass them -- guaranteed
to inspire and empower you to advocate on behalf of
the last wild herd. Even if you've been here before,
we need your presence now more than ever.
2. BFC has a big event planned for
Saturday, May 8th at 2:00 PM in Helena, MT. We really
need you there! We will gather on the Eastern Lawn of
the State Capitol, with the headquarters of the DOL
and FWP right across the street. Together we will stand
in silent mourning for the 277 buffalo killed this year,
and protest the continued harassment and slaughter.
The lawn will be adorned with headstones for each buffalo
killed this year. Things are coming along for the event,
but we could use some help with outreach -- can we count
on you? There is a flyer on our website that you can
print and download, then post all over town, neighborhoods,
schools, the office, libraries, community centers, etc.
and scroll down a bit to download the flyer ... and
then help us Save the Herd! Spread the Word!
3. Can't Come to Montana? You Can Still
Take Action! There are a bunch of things you can do
in your own neighborhood. A few suggestions: 1) Hold
a letter-writing party and have your friends write letters
to the editor, and letters to decision-makers; 2) Organize
a video showing in your neighborhood, school or office;
3) Find 3 stores in your town that will host a "Bucks
for Buffalo" donation jar; 4) Visit the district
office of your U.S. House Representative and urge them
to cosponsor H.R. 3446, the Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation
Act; 5) Organize a Buffalo Action Committee in your
community -- when calls for action arise, these are
the folks you know you can count on to take action!;
6) Contact your local ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN news outlets
and urge them to run BFC's buffalo footage; 7) Download
our buffalo petition at http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo/Buffalo
ESA Petition 4-1-04.pdf and see how many signatures
you can get in a week. The one who gets the most signatures
gets a really cool prize. :)
Visit http://www.wildrockies.org/buffalo for other ideas
on how you can help stop the buffalo slaughter! If you've
got suggestions, we are always listening! Send yours
* Last Words
Free the wild
free the wild,
it's locked up right now,
let me tell you how,
it's called monoculture
and the dark
of Yellowstone Park
where animals are collared and tagged
and buffalo bodies are dragged
by the rangers who kill
worried that cattle might get ill
scared to feel
what might be real
we hand our children a pill,
emotions gotten at will
Free the wild
free the wild
Forget these borders
and consumer commercial orders,
let's walk in the woods again
to feel our everlasting harmonious friend,
I feel the wind
and see no end
on the water sits a pelican
clouds float in front of the sun
and everywhere great colors run
as the day is almost done
birthing unto the night,
the wild brings my soul to a great height,
higher than cable TV,
even a fool can see
that we are raping Mother Earth
forgetting her gift of life and birth,
forgetting how much this is worth,
beauty that can't be described
so we joke and laugh to hide
searching for peace in a phat ride,
and Hollywood stars
never can compare to Venus and Mars
hanging in the evening sky,
life is breathing
and these bodies we'll be leaving
free the wild
Written by Akiva Silver from his monopod in the Horse
Butte buffalo trap.