Update from the Field
Warm, waxing sun lengthens the days and melts six months
of snow. Redtail hawks, white pelicans, osprey, Sandhill
cranes, and bluebirds return. Shoots of new green grass,
buttercups, and yellow buds on red willows spring forth.
Ice breaks on the once-frozen lakes and ponds and brings
otters out to play. Bees, ladybugs and ants come alive.
Coyotes yip in the wee hours of the night and sing fertile
songs to the waxing moon. Trumpeter swans practice jazz-in-flight.
Bears awake, aware and hungry. And the buffalo, the wild
buffalo migrate along their ancient paths as they have
done since buffalo-time began. Hundreds of these sacred
beings are blessing this landscape with their journey
for greener pastures, fertilizing and tilling Mother Earth
as they make their way. Beautiful pregnant buffalo, big-bellied
and heavy with calf, graze for two, clipping the grasses
perfectly, roots intact. Frisky young bulls dance and
spar, challenging each other's masculinity, awaiting the
rut. Energized and full of life, the buffalo play and
enjoy this vibrant turn of season. This is spring around
Yellowstone. This is a time to celebrate.
Instead, for the buffalo, it's more like a Witch-hunt
conducted by motorized cowboys. Using taxpayer money,
federal and state agencies perpetuate lies and do the
bidding of Montana's livestock interests, all resulting
in the harassment, imprisonment, domestication, and slaughter
of the country's last wild buffalo. These practices are
not supported by science or reason, but by greed, ignorance,
and a desire to tame and control the wild. Why? Because
they desire money and fear freedom. They use disease as
an excuse to keep buffalo from eating grass they think
is meant for fattening their cattle, and in doing so,
continue a malicious war against wild buffalo. Their domestic
cattle brought a disease - brucellosis - across the great
water and gave it to buffalo and other wildlife. Only
the wild buffalo have been the target of such malicious
management ever since, even though they have never - not
once - given brucellosis back to cattle. America's last
wild buffalo are the living and dying targets of the ignorant
This week was the worst the buffalo have had this year.
87 more were captured. 19 more were sent to the slaughterhouse,
six more calves are being orphaned and imprisoned in quarantine
facilities so scientists can conduct experiments on them,
and 13 more were "released" onto Horse Butte
- the same land where they are currently not tolerated
by Montana. And these numbers don't account for the 51
that were captured yesterday and currently await their
fate in the Duck Creek trap. Horse Butte is the buffalo's
traditional calving grounds, national forest land belonging
to all people and all wildlife - not the cattle industry.
There are no cattle there, besides. Not ever.
three days in a row this week, we stood witness to these
tragic events, and we documented as our sacred, shaggy
friends were run off of their ancestral lands. These
buffalo - many of them calves or very pregnant cows
- were chased for miles by agents on ATVs, snowmobiles
and horses, down snowmobile trails, along highway 191,
into the buffalo trap that is permanently placed on
the private land of Dale Koelzer. Even bulls who pose
no risk of transmission were sent to the slaughter house.
At least four buffalo who have already gone through
this torturous process - with radio collars, shaved
sides, and shoulder tags to show for it - had to do
We lost one very pregnant female to "natural"
causes, the officials say. Cody and I spent time with
her on Horse Butte on Monday. We noticed that she was
all alone, and she never got up during our whole patrol,
not even when her family members were meanly hazed by
her. We thought she was either sick or about to go into
labor. She wouldn't get up, but she was huge with calf
and alive. We had hoped to see the first red calf of
the season on the Butte; instead, the next morning's
patrols reported that they found her dead. She died
of "complications" the officials say - and
we can only surmise that the DOL's relentless hazing
activities over the past month and more caused her to
suffer in her pregnancy, and she is now dead. And do
you know what they did to her? They hauled her beautiful
body off of Mother Earth, and took her to the dump.
We cried for her and all her relatives that are lost
to us forever, all because of the livestock industry's
greed and hatred for anything wild, anything they feel
they must control. Wildlife "management" is
an oxymoron, much like government "intelligence."
Given all the sadness this week, there is one thing
that is for certain: the buffalo will come back. They
do not respect these man-made lines drawn in the sand.
They will return, and they will live their lives out
as they choose, and place themselves where they choose,
for as long as possible. They have already endured centuries
of slaughter, yet they carry on. They embody strength,
endurance, and an incredible love and respect for each
other. They are awesome teachers and we should all strive
to be more like them. At the very least, we should do
whatever we can to defend them.
Our camp was graced with the presence of a Great Gray
Owl this past weekend. She stayed with us for hours.
Alighting her feathery-bulk from tipi to tipi, checking
the woodpile for the many mice that live there. She
is a hunter in the daylight, harbinger of change to
come and usually a very elusive bird. Why did she show
herself to us? What was this winged messenger from the
Otherworld trying to tell us? Is it just coincidence
that she arrived right before the biggest week of capture
and slaughter we've had this year? Her kind have known
the presence of buffalo for thousands of years; they
have stood witness to the hard times, and realize that
more are certainly ahead, but that change is for certain.
As I struggled to write this, she appeared in the aspens
again last night and today we awoke to fresh April snow.
And just maybe her message was this:
Stay strong. Tell the world. Change will come. The TRUTH
is on the buffalo's side.
For the Last Wild Buffalo,
* Bison Quarantine - Last Chance to Comment
Please speak up for wild baby buffalo! Do not let state
and federal agencies get away with imprisoning our last
wild buffalo, making orphans and scientific experiments
of them. For wild animals, imprisonment is as good as
death. Quarantine equals domestication, plain and simple.
Comments are due tomorrow, Friday,
April 15, 2005.
If you haven't sent your comments in yet on Montana
Fish, Wildlife and Parks' "Quarantine Feasibility
Study, Phases II and III", please check our web
site for information on the plan, BFC's official comments,
information about the ill-effects of quarantining wild
baby buffalo, and contact information for where to send
your comments. Please highlight the facts, and speak
from your heart in your letters. Once wildness is gone,
it is gone forever. For more info contact bfc-advocate"at"wildrockies.org.
* All in the Name of the Buffalo
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle came to the Campaign last
week to write a story about Buffalo Field Campaign.
They spent time in the field with volunteers, and witnessed
the hazing and capture of our last wild buffalo. Here's
the story they wrote: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0405/news0405/041005.html
Thank you Nick and Erik for your awesome coverage of
BFC and the buffalo!
~ Justine & Stephany
* Call Montana's Governor Today!
Please make a phone call to Montana Governor Brian Schwitzer
and tell him to stop the buffalo slaughter NOW. Tell
him that buffalo belong wild and free in Montana, and
urge him to do what is within his power: purchase habitat,
give management authority to MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks,
bring the Indian people to the decision-making table,
respect buffalo as a wild native species in the state,
and celebrate the wild buffalo!
Remind Governor Schweitzer that he has said that wild
buffalo will enjoy "more tolerance" in Montana,
and that the DOL is "ill-equipped" to manage
our wild heritage. Remember, you helped put the pressure
on him to cancel this year's hunt - you can put the
pressure on him to stop the slaughter forever. And don't
forget to send him your buffalo nickels, telling him
to put it towards the purchase of wild buffalo habitat.
If you live in Montana, say so when you call. If you
don't, tell him that these are America's last wild buffalo,
and Montana should treasure them as a native wildlife
species and honor them as a symbol of tenacious strength
and strong family. Tell him you will not bring your
friends or family to Montana until the buffalo slaughter
has stopped once and for all. Make his phone ring off
the hook for the last wild buffalo!
Governor Schweitzer's Phone Number: 406-444-3111
* Who Will Walk with the Buffalo?
Eagle, Hawk, and Raven, Trumpeter Swan and Sandhill
Crane, Blue Heron, Pelican, and Seagull…they will
fly with the Buffalo.
Pine Tree and Silver Birch, Aspen and Willow, the Grasses
and Sage Brush, Usnia, Lichen and Moss…they will
stand with the Buffalo.
Madison River, Hebgen Lake, Duck Creek, Cougar Creek,
and the Gallatin River…they will run with the
And the Buffalo?
They will walk for you…they always have!
So, ask yourself…Will you walk with the Buffalo?
The last wild buffalo need your help this calving season.
Come on out to the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) in West
Yellowstone, Montana and walk with the buffalo in solidarity
with all that is Wild and Free!
Contact the BFC for more information and details on
how to become a field volunteer this Spring!
* 406.646.0070 * buffaloatwildrockies.org
* Week of Action - In Preparation of our Boycott
In two weeks, starting April 30, we begin our Boycott
of livestock industry products. Though we are starting
out the Boycott and highlighting it during our Week
of Action, we hope you will participate indefinitely.
We are doing this because the livestock industry - and
those who keep them in business - are, knowingly or
not, ultimately causing the death of the last wild buffalo,
the prejudice against of wolves, coyotes, badgers, wild
horses, prairie dogs - the list is sickeningly long.
Livestock production is resulting in the destruction
of our sensitive lands and riparian areas of the West,
the pollution of our waters, and the sickness of millions
of people. Consumption of livestock products perpetuates
the cycle, and puts money in the pockets of people like
the DOL and Montana Stockgrowers Association. The price:
the death of the wild.
To whet your appetite and get you started some info
is below. We will also be bringing you more each week,
including essays from BFC veterans and some of BFC's
most yummy vegan recipes that even meat-eaters love.
*Read this Book: "Welfare Ranching
- the Subsidized Destruction of the American West."
Check out http://www.publiclandsranching.org/book.htm
to purchase the book, and to get a look inside. It's
huge, and it's FULL of incredibly telling photos.
The following link has specific information relating
to buffalo: http://www.publiclandsranching.org/htmlres/wr_bison_roamed.htm.
*A Book for Kid's: "The Organic
Adventures of Tucker the Tomato" by Rex Ortego
and Amanda Moeckel. Check out http://lists.envirolink.org/pipermail/veg-parent/2003-June/000015.html
for more information.
*Check out this Movie: The Peacable
Kingdom - A Tribe of Heart Documentary. Visit http://www.tribeofheart.org
*Try this Recipe:
JEN'S CONTEST WINNING BANANA BREAD
1/3 cup margarine (try Earth Balance, or anything without
Sift 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour with:
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup broken walnuts
1 cup mashed banana
Mix well and put into a bread pan. Bake at 350 for one
Thank you for participating in the Boycott in solidarity
for the protection of our wildlife and wild lands!
Questions, suggestions and comments should be emailed
Stephany at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org
* Last Words
"Take Montana's cattle industry, for example, whining
about the supposed threat of brucellosis being passed
to their sacred cows by Yellowstone Park buffalo. What
a crock o' hooey. Everyone knows that, even if the disease
COULD be transmitted to cattle (which has never been
proven in the wild), it could only be passed by adult
female buffalo because of the nature of the virus. Yet
the Department of Livestock (aka "God") has
seen fit over the years to slaughter hundreds of bull
buffalo and calves as well. Has anyone ever asked the
~ John Potter
From "Yellowstone Buffalo, Wolves" March 26,