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Weekly Update from the Field May 4, 2005
* Update from the Field
* LIVE for the buffalo
* Call the Governor!
* Week of Action - Underway with our Boycott
* Volunteers Needed for Summer Tabling Positions
* Last Words - by Roman Sanchez

* Update from the Field
Like a waterfall with a need to tell the river it's powerful stories, I thought what happened this week would just come pouring out. Instead, this is hard to put to words. How do you put wild buffalo into words, anyway? There is a great challenge in trying to relate to you what is happening to them and why it is so critical that we join in solidarity to stop the sheer madness from continuing.   

When time is spent in the company of wild buffalo, lives are touched, changed forever. We say we are trying to save them, but maybe they are saving us. Look into the eyes of the wild buffalo. Pick up a tuft of soft hair and take in their earthy, musky goodness. Walk in their footsteps: huge tracks, or incredibly tiny tracks, and everything in between, they are simply perfect in their tear-shaped, heart-shaped roundness. The buffalo are like mountains of wisdom in motion. Every time it's like glimpsing the Unicorn. The buffalo are that amazing, that magical. If there is something close to perfect in this world, to most who have experienced them, it is the wild buffalo. These are the last of their kind.

Experiencing this perfectness also means experiencing incredible anger, frustration and sadness when we witness state and federal agencies putting everything they've got - with your tax dollars - into to protecting a handful of domestic cattle that aren't even here. They turn their backs on the wild, on compassion, and instead fight for profit and economy. This week was no exception to the bittersweet emotions and flat-out pain and frustration that countless volunteers have withstood for nearly a decade. We are documenting. It is the buffalo who truly suffer. But, as Justine said to the DOL agents yesterday, "the wild buffalo will survive!"

As the last wild buffalo are trying to live out their lives, wild and free, they are faced with numerous and ridiculous challenges. In these troubled times, as they migrate to lower elevations in search of food - something they have done since buffalo-time began - wild buffalo must cross dangerous man-made obstacles. Boundary lines, government plans, barbed wire or high-tension fences, highways and attitudes. Each of these pose serious threats.

BFC volunteers have left their former lives to help the wild buffalo, standing in their defense, giving everything they've got. Getting up at 4:00 am, going to bed close to midnight, volunteers are now working nearly 20 hours a day. This week, volunteers witnessed the magical events and the dark ones, too. Volunteers experienced the ecological phenomena of wild buffalo migration, mothers on the move to Horse Butte where they choose to give birth; the absolute joy of brand new baby buffalo, the hope of the next generation of the wild. The magnificence of enormous bulls, sparing, bucking, butting heads, their bulk extremely agile and graceful. Flip the coin: on Sunday six buffalo were killed at once while they were attempting to migrate, violently struck at night by a semi that never hit it's brakes. The buffalo were simply trying to cross highway 191- a road that dissects a critical migration corridor. But signs warning motorists of their presence are lacking. On Sunday and Monday, a total of seventeen wild bulls - who cannot transmit brucellosis (the supposed reason for this insanity) - were captured, and sixteen of them were sent to slaughter without ever being tested. We tried to stand between some of them and the fence that leads to the trap. But, they could hear their family members who had already been captured, and they looked as us and pondered our intentions for a bit, but just kept coming and went to join their brethren.

During the week, we witnessed the buffalo's own "trail of tears" again and again as they were pushed and forced off of their native habitat, their ancestral grounds, into a box where the government thinks they should stay put: Yellowstone National Park. New born babies and pregnant moms are shown no mercy; they are run for miles to exhaustion. Little legs trying to keep up with mom, mouths open because they are so out of breath. Cruel and relentless livestock agents "whistling while they work." It is a heartbreaking scene. Yesterday, a volunteer stood with a magnificent bull bison who was severely injured after being struck by a vehicle, the local Sheriff was too busy aiding the hazing of buffalo to come end his suffering. It took him three hours to get there. We documented as the DOL sent in a helicopter, disrupting the ecosystem, looking for buffalo, aiding the agents in locating buffalo and pushing them off of the national forests, deep into Yellowstone National Park. We documented as this obtrusive helicopter hovered over a subdivision, sending up clouds of dust, frightening neighbors, pushing out two bulls that had previously been marked and tagged - a sure sign they had been through this madness before - the chopper hard on their heels, may as well have landed on their backs. Hovering and hounding these two bulls nearly to death, but certainly to extreme exhaustion. One finally escaped into the forest. The other was forced back into the Park. This is the second week they've sent out the helicopter, and thankfully, the scientist who are studying grizzly bears in the Park are none to happy about it either. It's truly a war zone here. Karen Cooper, the DOL's spokeswoman, was cooly escorted about yesterday, from haze to haze so she could see what her macho DOL agents are up to in the field each week. As a woman, we have to wonder what she felt as she saw wild buffalo mothers and their new born calves being hounded by helicopters, run by horses, chased by ATVs, back into Yellowstone National Box. Did she feel an ounce of compassion for the buffalo? Any regret for her participation in this? No one with an ounce of integrity can watch such a thing and not want to fight against it tooth and nail.

Utter lunacy, senseless madness based on fear and greed, as some of Mother Earth's most sacred beings suffer at the hands of mere (yet powerful) livestock agents and their state and federal puppets. Remember, this is all being done - supposedly - to "protect" a handful of cattle that aren't even here. The livestock industry says they fear the transmission of brucellosis, the loss of their brucellosis-free status, but wild buffalo have NEVER transmitted the disease given to them by domestic cattle, even where they have co-existed for decades. Wild buffalo are the only animals not allowed to leave Yellowstone National Park. This battle is less about disease and more about control. To date, 97 buffalo have been sent to slaughter, 17 killed by motorists, and 17 yearlings are being held in a domestication prison.

You, dear friends of buffalo, have a stake in this. You have a voice that must be used in defense of the last wild buffalo before all of these events become so common-place that they are ingrained in the culture. How much longer must the buffalo continue to suffer - must the wild continue to suffer - for the sake of cattle and economics? Take the steps to demonstrate that enough is enough!

For the Last Wild Buffalo,

P.S. Please check out Jesse's incredible photos from recent weeks:

On top of keeping us amazingly fed and healthy, he's a wiz on the computers, a stellar photographer, and an all-around Merlin of sorts. Thank you, Jesse, for everything you give to the buffalo!
LIVE for the buffalo
by: Justine Sanchez
"Would you die for the buffalo?" This is a question a reporter from NBC asks me as we wait at the capture facility site on the Horse Butte Peninsula. We wait...hoping this haze will happen and the news crew will get "the story". Hoping the haze never comes and the pregnant mothers, newborns calves, yearlings and bulls are allowed to rest at least one more day on their chosen calving grounds. The question rings in my ears, scrambles my mind..."Would you die for the buffalo?"

There comes a time when living and dying are hard to distinguish. Would I bear the pain and violation of a vaginal transmitter and the accompanying radio collar? Would I persevere through the abuse and injury of hazing and capture? Could I overcome the sorrow of the loss of a child, stolen from me while in captivity or chased for miles by an enemy? Dying almost seems a blessing when the life inflicted upon these Last Wild Bison is so consistently painful. "Can I LIVE for the buffalo?" seems the more appropriate question.

The Pride and Dignity of the herd is evident even amidst the insanity of the current heavy handed "management" plan as dictated by the MDOL. The strength and courage of the Mother Bison and their Newborn Calves fills my heart and enlightens my soul. In their hardship, they continue to Give the Gift of Life. The Mothers embody the heart and soul of the herd. They shield their babies with their large bodies, still recovering from the birthing process, from the incessant buzz of ATV's and a helicopter. I watch and document this "trail of tears" of mothers, mostly collared, tagged and marked, and babies, their tiny, heart shaped hoof prints dotting the landscape, and I know I will continue to live my life for the buffalo. I cannot look into the eyes of these Regal Mothers and not pledge myself as their ally, their sister...a two-legged mother standing with her four-legged sisters.

This Mother's Day, Honor the Last Wild Bison Mothers and Newborns who, Right Now!, need all the love and support we can give. This Mother's Day, celebrate with Wild Mothers of all species! This Mother's Day, ask yourself and your family to Live a Day for the Buffalo!

View footage and photos of wild buffalo mothers and their newborn calves:

Read an amazing essay by buffalo warrior Kathleen Stachowski about celebrating wild buffalo mothers this Mother's Day: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/aboutus/artthoughts/stachowski.html
* Call Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
Please take a moment right now and make a call for the last wild buffalo: 406-444-3111
Tell Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to stand in defense of the last wild buffalo now. Tell him to do what is within his power to do: remove management authority from the Montana Department of Livestock, secure habitat where buffalo can roam wild, free and unmolested in Montana, celebrate the last wild buffalo as a native wildlife species. Tell him to listen to sound science, and not hyperbole. Tell him that Montana should be PROUD to co-exist with this last living link to the great herds that once thundered across the country. Tell him to stop disrespecting the Indian people in offering them sick ultimatums of slaughter or quarantine. Tell him that all of America is watching as Montana's livestock industry wreaks havoc on these gentle, shaggy giants and the wild ecosystem in which they live. Tell him the wild buffalo belong to the land, not to Montana's livestock industry. Tell him the truth is on the wild buffalo's side.
Please make the call now for the nation's last wild buffalo: 406-444-3111
* Week of Action - Underway with our Boycott
We are well into our Week of Action that begins the Boycott of the livestock industry and their products. Thanks to all who are participating! We are doing this not for our health, but for the last wild buffalo. The livestock industry and the state and federal agents who do their bidding are calling the shots, controllng the land, harassing, domesticating, and slaughtering America's last wild buffalo. Not buying into their business is the least we can do to take a stand against their actions.

Boycotts work when people participate. Please consider making yours permanent. Do it for the wild! A big THANK YOU to everyone who is standing with us in solidarity for the last wild buffalo.
Please visit BFC's "Boycott the Livestock Industry" web page for recipes, information, essays and updates: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/weekofaction05.html.

Check out an incredible essay by BFC's Josh Osher on the Wild Buffalo and the World Trade Organization:

Read this book:
"The Mad Cowboy - Plain Truth from a Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat"
by Howard Lyman
* Volunteers Needed for Summer Tabling Positions
Please contact Katie at buffaloatwildrockies.org

Volunteers needed to table at Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park
Available Dates June 10 to Sept. 5

Need 3-4 people who are well-versed on the buffalo issue, and enjoy meeting and talking to folks about it

Need to commit to a minimum of one month intervals
Outgoing personality
Professional appearance
Comfortable camping out up to 5 days at a time
Willingness to work hard
Get along well with others
Small stipend provided
Room and board provided
Experience the beauty of the Yellowstone ecosystem
* Last Words
AWAKENING by: Roman Sanchez
I Arose this Morning
to the chilly stillness
of predawn air-
to a sliver of Moon
hanging in the Western Sky,
to the final twinkle of
Night-time Stars.
I Arose this Morning
to walk the human boundary
that separates
life from death
serenity from chaos
wildness from domestication
to wrap my arms around
grandmotherly old growth
to dig my fingers into
deep thick bark
breathing in
centuries of
synthesized light
I Arose this Morning
to painted Mountain tops
Colored by a sun I have yet to see
to orange-red clouds
in an endless sky
to Sand Hill cranes breaking
the chilly silence
of Morning Air
to the Awakening
of the Winged Ones
I Arose this Morning
to witness the loading
of 16 of America's Last
Wild Bison (once 60 million strong)
off to slaughter...
to the sounds of men yelling
Metal clanging
Bobcat tractor engine blaring-
to Geese frantically honking
Wings of Ducks
beating upon cold creek waters
to my Partner shouting,
"Wild & Free!"
"Sacred!" and
"Honor Buffalo"
I played my flute
over the madness
fought back tears
and wondered WHY...CAN'T I
the pain I feel is deep.
I Arose this Morning
to watch a convoy
of trucks and trailers
drive off to the Slaughter House
with no explanation
(Here they're only allowed on Nickles and Badges,
on Postcards and Flags)
And I am left with the
Song of Meadowlark and Robin
ice crystals on blades of grass
an Eagle circling the trap
And the tears that have yet to come.

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