|Yellowstone Bison Slaughter
Update from the Field March 3, 2005
Update from the Field
* Live in Montana? Take Action for the Buffalo Today!
* Buffalo Nickel Premature in Light of Yellowstone Slaughter
* Three Things You Can Do for the Buffalo Today
* Last Words
Update from the Field
When you keep company with wild buffalo, especially in
winter, things are bound to be interesting. Magic
happens. Late last week, under the Full Moon, we pulled
a couple of all-night patrols out on Fir Ridge, keeping
watch over an older bull who had been too close to the
Duck Creek buffalo trap for anyone's comfort. The
night was set afire by the cool, silver moonlight, and
the knowledge that just a few yards away was this massive
bull whom we were guarding. Huddled around
our campfire, bundled in our sleeping bags and blankets,
we drank hot tea and ate frozen sandwiches, told stories,
and bonded with one another through the chill of the winter,
the light of the Moon, and the awesome company of the
buffalo. When dawn arrived, along with our a.m.
relief, we were hesitant to leave, so enriching was the
night. Thank you Sing and Warren, and the Buffalo.
It is amazing how the buffalo weave us together, and strengthen
our family ties, many times when we are least expecting
it but need it the most. Thankfully, that lone bull
is in a place where he cannot be touched by the long-arm
of the law, and so he grazes in peace among the willows.
That was nearly a week ago. In the days and nights
that followed, events both unforgettable and heartbreaking
On Saturday afternoon, 22 buffalo left the park along
the Madison River, and moved west, crossing Highway 191.
Six BFC volunteers were along the roadside with buffalo-crossing
signs, as we often are, warning oncoming motorists that
buffalo were ahead. That group of buffalo safely
crossed the road. Later that night, another
large group travelled the same route, and they, too, began
to cross the road. Again we were there; we had never
left. That night, as the buffalo were crossing,
one driver made the choice to ignore our signs, the other
cars pulled over, and our frantically waving hands --
he did not slow down. By the time he saw the buffalo
it was too late. His truck struck two female buffalo
right before our eyes. One was standing and was
able to limp away but the other was badly hurt.
The local sheriff did the thankless but necessary deed
of releasing her from her pain. She is no longer
with us, and there are no words to describe the horror
and heartache of that moment, or the anger and frustration
we felt in bearing witness to the carelessness of the
truck driver. Like the memory of that buffalo, the
sadness will never go away.
but four bulls eventually made their own way back into
the park. Yesterday, the DOL arrived and hazed the
four bulls several miles along the Madison River, and
as usual, other wildlife was disturbed including elk,
trumpeter swans, eagles, great blue herons and other animals.
The bulls, which cannot transmit brucellosis, were
grazing on National Forest lands that never have cattle
present and the nearest cattle are 35-40 miles away. This
has become a weekly occurrence here and the disruption
to wildlife is disturbing. Grizzly bears, wolves,
bald eagles, wolverines, trumpeter swans, osprey, great
blue herons, common goldeneye, otters, mallards, moose,
bison, elk, mergansers, coyotes, Canada geese, sandhill
cranes, mule deer, ermine/weasels, martens, fischers all
depend on this habitat and to have a weekly haze using
snowmobiles, ATV's, or helicopters weakens the whole system.
Hazing doesn't affect just the bison, which deserve to
be here, but it affects the whole area. Many times
we have seen these animals terrorized by the hazing and
have watched buffalo running to get away from government
agents with their tongues hanging out.
We are here in the field, and we need you there where
you are to help us tell these stories. Please
read further to learn about different ways you can stop
the harassment and slaughter of America's last wild
For the Buffalo,
~Stephany, Kim, & Ken
Live in Montana? Take Action for the Buffalo
If you live and vote in Montana, then you need to take
action today. A bill to neuter wild buffalo that
leave Yellowstone National Park is quickly moving through
the State Legislature. SB 353, which has already
passed the Senate, allows for the Department of Livestock
(DOL) to perform surgery on captured buffalo, rendering
them infertile. These neutered buffalo would then
be shipped to Indian reservations in an attempt
to gain tribal support for the current mismanagement
of America's last wild herd.
Basically, the bill offers an ultimatum: neutered,
infertile buffalo that can never reproduce, or slaughtered
buffalo, who can also never reproduce. This herd is
the last living link to the millions that once thundered
across the great plains; they are genetically unique,
and this heritage must be respected. Their life-line
must continue and be free to bring in the generations
to come. This bill stops them dead in their tracks,
and brings insult to the Indian people.
The House Agriculture Committee is expected to hear
this legislation as soon as next week, and your representatives
need to hear from you today. Representative Jonathan
Windy Boy, a Chippewa-Cree tribal member who sits on
the committee, has spoken up for the buffalo before,
and with your encouragement, can stop this ill-fated
idea in its tracks.
TAKE ACTION MONTANA! Montana
residents - and, please only Montana residents - first
and foremost should contact their House representative
and urge them to vote against SB 353. Please also
contact Rep. Windy Boy, and write a letter to the editor
of Montana newspapers, especially the Helena Independent
Record, which is read by legislators and the Governor.
There is a hearing scheduled for next Thursday, March
10, at 3pm in room 472 of the State Capitol in Helena.
Be there and speak up for the buffalo!
Call 406-444-4800 and asked to be transferred to your
House Representative. If you're not sure who your
Rep. is, check this map: http://nris.state.mt.us/gis/legislat/2005/
House Agriculture Committee: http://leg.state.mt.us/css/committees/standing/Membership.asp?
Representative Jonathan Windy Boy: Call (406)444-4800
Send a Letter to the Editor: http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
View the Text and Status of SB 353: http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/2005/billhtml/SB0353.htm
Thank you for taking action for the buffalo!
* Buffalo Nickel Premature in Light of Yellowstone
This week, the U.S. Mint issued a brand new buffalo
nickel, in part to commemorate the "conservation
success" of the American buffalo. Given the
current status of wild buffalo in this country, Buffalo
Field Campaign views this celebration as extremely premature.
Some tout a figure of 500,000 bison in the country,
yet the majority of these buffalo live on ranches and
are raised as livestock. Most contain cattle genes.
There are only 15,000 genetically pure buffalo left
in the country, and of these, only 4,200 are unfenced
and have an uninterrupted history of occupying their
native range. These are the wild buffalo of Yellowstone,
and given their treatment by Montana and federal agencies,
we find there is very little to celebrate. However,
the issuance of this new nickel gives us all an opportunity
to educate people on the plight of our last wild herd.
Please check out BFC's press release in response to
the buffalo nickel, and consider writing a letter to
the editor of any newspaper, underscoring the premature
nature of this celebration. Remind folks that
once upon a time 30-60 million buffalo roamed the land,
and now the last wild herd is subject to harassment
and slaughter. Urge Americans and others to learn
the truth about what has become of this magnificent
icon of Western America, and to take action on their
BFC's Press Release: http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0405/pressrelease0405/022805.html
Letters to the Editor tips and contacts: http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
* Three Things You Can Do For Buffalo This Week
1. Write to Montana's Governor, Brian
It is a "new Montana" as Governor Schweitzer
likes to say. Let that start with wild and free
buffalo in Montana. Share your vision with him,
and demonstrate your support for buffalo being treated
with respect as a wildlife species in Montana.
Tell him that his decision to cancel the hunt was the
right one. Urge him to find solutions that involve
better management of cattle, and giving the buffalo
room to breathe. Let him know that these buffalo
are a treasured asset, and they belong not to Montana,
but to all Americans. Finally, urge him to continue
the dialogue with BFC to find common-sense solutions
that will end Montana's livestock industry-driven buffalo
slaughter once and for all. You can reach Governor
Schweitzer at: Montana State Capitol, Helena,
MT 59620-0801 / Phone: 1-406-444-3111 / Fax: 1-406-444
5529 / E-mail: Governor@state.mt.us
2. Write a Letter to the Editor
The Yellowstone herd has been getting a lot of coverage
in the papers lately, and not all of it has been good.
Issues such as the population of the Yellowstone herd,
the recently approved plan to quarantine and kill 100
buffalo calves, the absence of a Native American voice
in any aspect of buffalo management, the Governor making
the right decision in cancelling the hunt, as well as
his ridiculous plan to rid the Park of all buffalo in
a fruitless effort to eradicate brucellosis must be
addressed with real facts, the real truth, underscored
with the heart-felt emotion these amazing buffalo inspire
in all of us. Please visit our Letters to the
Editor page for tips and contact information for some
key newspapers. We can reach tens of thousands
of people - including decision-makers - with the buffalo's
story using this medium. The time to write to
the media is now. http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
3. Donate to BFC and Bid on a Beautiful
Buffalo Gourd Mask
~ Times are hard, and we need your help to keep our
volunteers fed, housed and in the field defending the
last wild herd of buffalo in America. Please consider
making a cash donation to BFC today. It is hard
for us to ask, but the truth is, without your generous
donations, it would be impossible for us to be here
with the buffalo.
~ Right now, O'Ceallaigh Originals is offering some
beautiful gourd art for the buffalo on Ebqay along with
an author-signed copy of Buffalo Medicine by April Christofferson.
The mask is a beautiful hand-crafted one-of-a-kind with
faux fur and glass and stone beadwork.
thanks to Mel and April for your generosity.
View a photo of the mask and place a bid here:
The gourd mask will be EBay Item number 7303557668 through
Thank you for your support!
* Last Words
"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul"