* News from the Field
Yesterday, January 17, 2007, marked the start of the
latest phase in the Montana bison hunt.
BFC's Gardiner patrol took to the field at first light
and discovered three bull buffalo already in the hunters'
sights near the Eagle Creek campground, and our
hopes for a quiet day were shattered. With time
against us we had to choose our location rapidly but
wisely, having only one chance to sufficiently capture
the day's events.
Unfortunately, before we were able to get in position,
the telltale crack of a rifle told us that the first
buffalo had been shot. As we've seen time and
again, when one buffalo is killed his companions tend
to stay in the area rather than scatter and run.
This enabled a second group of hunters to sight in on
the second buffalo with great ease. Because of
our location, we were able to capture on film the multiple
shots needed to bring the second buffalo down.
With so many shots we lost track at five but later overheard
a conversation about seven brass casings being recovered
at the scene.
As the third buffalo looked on towards his fallen brothers
we approached the hunters and engaged them in conversation.
We discussed Montana's intolerance for bison, the nearly
perpetual hazing and lack of habitat in Montana due
to the complete failure of the Inter-agency Bison Management
Plan. While we disagreed about the merits of the
bison hunt we found some common ground in our views
of how wild bison should be treated in the state.
Although BFC disagrees with the hunt, we recognize the
power of Montana's hunting community and hope that such
dialog, education, and outreach will eventually lead
to positive change for the bison.
Later we came across a third buffalo that was shot in
the Travertine area, on the other side of the hunt zone.
We were able to document the loading of the carcass
into the hunter's truck. These hunters weren't
interested in dialogue and simply loaded up and left.
Near West Yellowstone another group of hunters, apparently
frustrated at the lack of bison in Montana and their
resulting failure to shoot one, have been untruthfully
complaining to the local game warden that BFC patrols
are chasing bison back into the park. Their frustration
would be better directed at the Fish, Wildlife, and
Parks Commission, which ignored the advice of its own
scientists and issued more permits than there are buffalo
in the state. Rather than making up false excuses
for their unsuccessful hunt, these hunters would do
better to demand on-the-ground changes in bison management
that would allow bison to flourish on Montana soil.
Over the weekend members of the Nez Perce tribe shot
three bison near Gardiner in a hunt authorized by their
government and falling outside the scope of the current
hunt administered by Montana. The Nez Perce have
hunted in the region for thousands of years, a relationship
acknowledged under an 1855 treaty with the US government.
If not for the incredible destruction visited upon the
Nez Perce, other Indian nations, and the species upon
which their cultures are based, the health and vitality
of the land and its communities--human and nonhuman--would
not be in such a state of crisis and conflict.
Unfortunately, the discrimination and lack of tolerance
that had such disastrous consequences in the 19th century
is alive and strong today. According to a story
in the January 13 Bozeman Chronicle, the Nez Perce decision
to re-establish hunting of species other than bison
doesn't sit well with members of the Montana Fish, Wildlife,
and Parks Commission. That article quotes Commission
Chairman Steve Doherty as saying, "This does give
me some pretty grave concern." According
to the same article, the Commission's concern does not
extend to bison: "The tribe's desire to take bison
drew no criticism from the commission, other than a
desire to alert nontribal hunters now in the field that
others will be joining them," the Chronicle reported.
While the Nez Perce have received lots of negative attention
for asserting their rights to hunt near Yellowstone
National Park, apparently it is ok for Montana and the
National Park service to enforce Montana's lack of bison
tolerance through the continued slaughter and harassment
of thousands of bison.
With so many buffalo being killed in the past year and
with the policies that led to such heavy slaughter still
in place, we are concerned with the killing of bison
by anyone. Aware of how much the Nez Perce have
done for Salmon recovery efforts, we are hopeful that
they will have a similar effect upon the bison who reside
in and around Yellowstone. With these things in
mind, BFC has established an open dialog with the Nez
Perce, as we attempt to do with all hunters.
James Holt spoke to us on camera about what this hunt
means to the Nez Perce. Excerpts from the interview,
which can be viewed in whole at: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org,
are included below:
"What you see here is us being able to continue
living the way we always have....the buffalo obviously
need to have habitat out here...We're here to provide
for our families, to honor the ancestors and speak to
the buffalo today...Our people are dying from diabetes.
Our people are dying from all these health problems
that we have on the reservation and many of their people
are people that had ties to the buffalo that were severed
150, 160, 180 years ago. We've seen our people
decline. We've seen our people get close to extinction
through the way we've been forced to live. This
[hunt] gives us an opportunity to strengthen how we
live on this earth. It strengthens that resolve,
that respect, that honor and that dignity that we have
to live on this earth every day. That's what that
means for us... and so if they say that
we're out here and we're helping them to slaughter,
well you know we've been slaughtered too and we're still
being slaughtered to this day by the policies
that affect our Indian people. From the poor health
care to the lack of education to the lack of housing
we have all these other problems at home and these things,
they're tied to the life of the buffalo...to the buffalo
that is ailing right now because of the brucellosis
that affects his body or the slaughtering under this
Plan. The federal management plan that affects
them is the federal management plan that affects us.
It's all about termination, control, and exercising
the power that they have because it's there rather than
because it's right. And so that's what I would
say in rebuke to those that would say we're assistant
to the slaughter. We're here forging a relationship
that was severed for us by the white man when these
buffalo were slaughtered. We're here starting
that back up so that we can understand what it means
to truly love and honor and respect our brother the
With the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign
* Send a Personalized Valentine and Support
Valentine's Day is on the horizon, and once again BFC
offers you the opportunity to send an original, hand-crafted
card to the special people in your life. Your
parents, grandparents, best friend, sweetheart, favorite
teacher, the grumpy guy next door who obviously needs
extra kindness...our card is appropriate for all relationships.
Added bonus: It lets the recipient(s) know that
you are a person of compassion and good heart, and it
raises funds for BFC, allowing us to continue the important
work of defending America's last free-roaming, wild
Two cards are available. For a $10 contribution,
a 4-1/4" X 5-1/2" bison card (copy of hand-drawn
original); for a $35 contribution, a larger hand-made
photo card featuring Yellowstone bison. Both contain
brief information on BFC and our work, and bear the
sentiment: "A gift has been made in your
honor by _________ for the love of wild bison.
Happy Valentine's Day! 'Nature never did betray
the heart that loved her...' Wordsworth"
Card orders must be received by Saturday February 3;
please order early. We'll time the mailing to
arrive by Valentine's Day.
To order, just click on this link: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807,
specify the donation amount for the type of card you
are ordering, scroll down to "Special Valentine's
Card," select the card you want, then move below
to the "Valentine Info Box" and write the
recipient's name and address as well as how you would
like the card signed. To complete, scroll down
to fill in general and credit card info into the secure
If you'd rather pay through the mail, send a check along
with the name and address of your Valentine to: BFC,
PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758.
* Last Words
At the Buffalo Field Campaign we have a wonderful tradition
at the the end of our daily meeting. Each day,
a volunteer signs up for Share Bear to share a writing,
a poem, a song, some humor or other inspiration with
the group. For my Share Bear on January 12, I
read one of my mother's poems and my related thoughts.
by Ruth Allen Siskind
Savor the kaleidoscope of living,
The jeweled colors, sparkling,
When you hold them to the light,
The rhythm of patterns, repeated,
And changing, and slipping away,
Never to come again.
the wonder or new designs,
New shapes and colors,
Coming into sight.
Look at the patterns
With the eyes of a child.
Pause awhile, and gaze,
and find delight.
©2003 Ruth Allen Siskind
I was thinking about how volunteering for the BFC is
like a kaleidoscope. Volunteers come from all over the
world. People of different religions, races, orientations,
family backgrounds, economic circumstances, ages and
communities--all come here to work for the buffalo.
Our diverse backgrounds can bring sparkle like the colors
of a kaleidoscope. Each person brings their talents,
perspectives, creativity, skills and their personal
connection to the buffalo.
Beyond our common purpose of working together to save
America's last free roaming buffalo, we also have the
opportunity here to develop a better understanding and
appreciation for the diversity of volunteers that can
add to the beauty and effectiveness of the BFC kaleidoscope.
It is my hope and prayer that coming together for the
buffalo can bring us a step closer to understanding,
tolerance, and the universal connection that we have
with each other, with the buffalo, with all of nature,
and with our world.
Marian Osher, BFC Volunteer