NOTE: We apologize for the delay
in getting this Update out to you. Given the events
described below, we hope you will understand.
* BFC Volunteers Wrongfully Arrested
On Wednesday, as I documented the harassment of hundreds
of bison and newborn calves near the Madison River,
I was tackled head-first into the gravel by a Montana
Highway Patrol (MHP) officer, arrested on false charges,
and had my video camera and tape confiscated.
I was out that afternoon, as my friends and I have been
for hundreds of days during the past ten years, to document
government actions against the Yellowstone bison, America's
only continuously wild herd. It was a particularly troubling
day as more than 400 bison were being incessantly run
for more than eight miles from National Forest lands
to Yellowstone National Park. As you will read below,
newborn calves and pregnant cow bison are the primary
target of these operations and one newborn collapsed
due to exhaustion and the inability to nurse while being
pursued by the helicopter. In the past we've documented
bison giving birth during the chaos of a haze, and newborns
dying due to the incredible stress of running for miles
A freelance photographer had made arrangements to come
photograph a hazing operation and on Wednesday afternoon
I escorted her into the field, with the goal of positioning
ourselves to document bison being chased by the helicopter.
We arrived on highway 191 near the Madison and attempted
to position ourselves for a good view of the operation.
We tried to set up in a few spots but were quickly approached
by Forest Service and MHP police officers and told to
move. Eventually a Forest Service officer told us we
could photograph from a gravel road that runs parallel
to highway 191 on the east side of the highway. As soon
as we'd positioned ourselves on the road with our cameras
ready bison began to emerge from the woods across the
highway and I began to film.
As I trained the lens on a group of mothers and their
bright red calves I heard screaming from the woods and
a moment later the words "my patrol partner is
being assaulted" came through my two-way FM radio.
Then I heard Pete screaming from the woods, "Get
my camera! I'm being arrested!" At this, I decided
to head further along the gravel road in the direction
of Pete's calls. As I made my way down the road a MHP
car came into view and I quickly realized Pete was in
custody in the back. I saw a highway patrolman standing
near his car and with the camera recording I asked him
why Pete had been arrested and what he was being charged
with. The officer wouldn't tell me and appeared very
uncomfortable with me filming him. I told him I had
a right to be there, on public lands, documenting government
activities. He approached me and tried to grab the camera
from my hands. I did not attempt to run from him and
he reached out, grabbed my arm, and forcibly removed
the camera and placed it on the trunk of his car. The
next thing I knew I was being tackled to the ground.
As the officer still had my arm I couldn't break the
fall and my head hit the gravel hard. The officer is
a heavy man and he dug his knee into my back with his
considerable weight behind it. As I lay on the ground
with my head in the gravel, I was handcuffed. The officer
started to pull me up by my wrists and I complained,
saying I could stand on my own. I gained my feet and
stood at the back of the patrol car with my hands cuffed
behind my back. In front of the car hundreds of bison,
being chased by agents and their helicopter, ran eastward.
Standing there with blood dripping down my face I noticed
that the glass in one of the rear windows of the patrol
car was missing. Later, in jail, Pete and I were given
our charges. Pete was charged with "Obstructing
a Peace Officer" and "Criminal Mischief,"
a felony, for allegedly breaking the patrol car window.
I was charged with "Obstructing a Peace Officer"
and "Resisting Arrest," both of which charges
I intend to have dropped. After being booked and held
in a jail cell in West Yellowstone for a couple of hours
I was fitted with leg shackles, handcuffs, and an immobilizing
belt and transported to the emergency room at Bozmean
Deaconess Hospital, where the lacerations on my face
were cleaned and my head wound closed with three surgical
With the police in possession of our cameras and video
footage, at this point it is our word against theirs.
We can only hope that the footage will be returned without
having been tampered with, as the truth of the events
was captured on film. BFC is here to stand truth to
power and despite the violence directed against us we
will continue to do so. Defending ourselves from these
charges and bringing justice for my injuries will be
a long and costly process.
If you would like to help or would like more information,
please contact dan"at"wildrockies.org.
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign
Read BFC's press release from yesterday:
* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo supporters,
What might I write that you don't already know? This
bittersweet time that is Spring in Yellowstone. Currently
I sit on the North side bluffs of the Madison River
while a helicopter hovers over the south-side and horsemen
chase a mixed group of bulls, mamas, and babies. How
many more times will we sit on these bluffs and watch
the absurdity of it all? For seven years my family and
I have travelled to stand with the Buffalo - and for
seven years the untamed beauty that is Yellowstone and
the majesty that is the buffalo has moved me in ways
that I feel words will never do justice.
We urge as many of you as possible to come and stand
with this beauty and stand with this pain as well. You
will be moved in a way that no update could ever give
you. The power of it all is undescribable. Words escape
me as well while my mind continues to grapple with the
absolute absurdity that we and thousands of others have
come to bear witness to. The "interagency"
brutality that befalls the buffalo each time they enter
Montana is beyond repugnant! Yet the wild buffalo remain
as strong as ever despite this human arrogance - which
desires to control everything within its grasp and beyond.
We have learned that you cannot control the spirit of
the wild nor can you tame it. The buffalo have shown
us this for centuries now. They have shown us that which
is within us; how true spirit can never be tamed, never
be controlled! How the wild must always be free.
The Horse Butte Peninsula is a sanctuary for the wild
- a landscape that has nurtured buffalo and their young
in her meadows, groves, the folds of her buttes from
the beginning of time. Early this week hundreds upon
hundreds of buffalo graced every nook and cranny of
this magical landscape. Eagles and hawks circled the
infinite blue, cries piercing the sky. Various herds
scattered throughout, calves and mamas feeding on the
fresh greens of spring, young bulls playfully locking
horns and wallowing on the earth. This is how it should
be, this is how its supposed to be.
Yet this week we watched as we have far too many times,
as "interagency" brutality arrived with all
their machinery and arrogance to "manage"
the wild. We watched as ATV's, trucks, helicopters,
and men on horses ran and terrorized newborn calves,
yearlings, bulls, and mamas; many with bellies still
full of life. We witnessed as this wildlife sanctuary
was violated by the thunderous clapping of helicopter
blades and as buffalo were chased by the sounds of men
on horseback whistling and shouting. Hour after painful
hour in the heat of the day.
The livestock agents even got "permission"
from the US Forest Service to violate the bald eagle
closure on Horse Butte. This is an area "closed
to protect wildlife habitat" - nesting bald eagles
- from December through August. Nothing is sacred to
the government but protecting the interests of economics,
as they clearly demonstrate time and again. Even the
so-called ban on the DOL's helicopter entering Yellowstone
is not real. As the NPS told us, it's a "case by
As I thought to myself that I could no longer be shocked
by the malice of it all, we watched as a Park Service
Agent - a man entrusted with protecting and preserving
the wildness of Yellowstone and it's beasts - repeatedly
attempt to haze an exhausted calf nursing from its equally
exhausted and radio-collared mother. This mother has
been through the wrath of man. She has likely been trapped,
been raped with the insertion of a vaginal telemetry
device, had her blood drawn, and had her family killed.
She knows enough of these men in uniforms to stand her
ground and guard her baby. How much is too much? The
NPS ranger pushed her too much.
Understandably, the mama had had enough! Protecting
her new baby, she charged the Park Ranger. Once, twice,
three times, as if to say, "Get away from my baby!"
She shook her head fiercely. The ranger finally got
the message, gave up, and resumed hazing another group.
The haze ended for us there. We stayed and sat with
three calves who dropped from utter exhaustion and lay
motionless except for their rapidly moving bellies and
shallow respirations. We prayed that they would live.
One calf in particular was looking very close to death.
For over two hours we watched as the radio-collared
mama who had charged the NPS ranger stood vigil over
her calf. She was powerful and gentle, beautiful, and
ferocious. As any mother would be in defense of her
baby. In the company of another mama and calf and two
other buffalo, she did not leave her baby's side, nor
would she even let the other buffalo get near the little
We stood watch over the exhausted calf, thinking it
would die. Our anguish was great. Our rage, our tears,
our frustration with the "economic interests of
the livestock industry" causing all of this. Responsible
for all of this madness, and the agents seeming to love
every minute of it.
The calf, resting, seemed to be dying. The mother watched.
The helicopter circled. Then, calls started coming over
the radio that a BFC volunteer had been arrested (see
above). The helicopter circled right over our heads.
We were not going to let this industrial flying machine
anywhere near these resting buffalo. More radio calls
came that another BFC volunteer had been arrested. The
helicopter kept circling. Chop! Chop! Chopping! the
blue sky with it's wicked, roaring blades, creating
the very real feel of a war zone. Metal predator-bird,
circling, circling, looking for buffalo to terrorize.
The collapsed baby falling in and out of this world.
Would the little buffalo live? It's mother was determined
that it would, and she tried everything to ensure this
would be so. Helicopter circles again. The mama looks
up, stands up over her baby, and dares it to approach.
Another radio call: blood spilt, police brutality, civil
rights violated. The wild violated. The helicopter continues
circling. We stand close enough to the buffalo to steer
the helicopter away. The winds come up. The helicopter
leaves. Our friends in the field - our family - hauled
to the jail. The baby buffalo rests in the shadow of
its' great mother and the company of the small herd.
Licking the calf, nudging it, attempting to rouse it
in any way possible. Grunting and circling around it.
Finally laying next to her baby with the warmth of her
massive body. The calf remained still. I watched as
the mother grunted and began to wallow around her calf.
Somehow this action aroused the calf and the little
baby slowly got up and wearily walked off, with it's
mama and the other buffalo, into the forest. I breathed
a sigh of relief and headed off to join fellow patrollers
covering the on-going haze and brutal arrest of long-time
Moved yet again by the strength and resilience of the
mighty bison. Thursday the peninsula remains empty of
buffalo. It feels wrong. Unnatural. The helicopter has
refueled three times and sweeps up and down both sides
of the river all around the Butte in search of any remaining
buffalo. Out of the woods from where I sit appear the
mamas and calves from yesterday. I recognize the unmistakable
collar. Today the calves, joined by yearlings, are playful
and running. They buck and jump. They wallow. This small
herd runs down the bluffs of the Madison and into the
trees, unobserved by agents and helicopters.
I smile to myself---no you cannot tame the indomitable
spirit of the wild!
With the Buffalo,
Roman & Stephany
* Celebrate Mother's Day & Wild Bison Calving
Join our group of parents and kids driving up from the
mountains of Colorado on Mother's Day, May 13, 2007.
We will honor the Wild Buffalo of Yellowstone National
Park by volunteering with the Buffalo Field Campaign
in West Yellowstone. On Mother's Day Sunday we will
set up a roadside table and large banner reading, "Free
Coffee, Free Cookies, Free the Buffalo!" Please
join us for the 3rd year of recognizing Mother's Day
as an important time for our only genetically unique
and continuously free-roaming herd of Wild Bison!
* FWP Holds Bison Hunt Meetings
On May 3, in Gardiner and again on May 8, in West Yellowstone,
officials from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP)
held public meetings to talk about the '06-'07 bison
"hunt," and upcoming plans for the '07-'08
bison border shoot. Members of the public who attended
also engaged FWP in heated discussions regarding FWP's
involvement in the Interagency Bison Management Plan.
Citizens voiced their opposition to FWP being involved
in the mismanagement of wild bison, for catering to
the whims of the livestock industry, for upholding the
brucellosis fraud, and for allowing a hunt of an animal
that is ecologically extinct everywhere outside Yellowstone,
not to mention having the Department of Livestock authorizing
a hunt of a wildlife species.
As to the hunt, there continue to be numerous flaws,
and BFC holds strong in our opposition to it, as do
some local hunting organizations such as the American
Bison Foundation, the Gallatin Wildlife Association,
and some members of the Montana Wildlife Federation.
FWP, however, maintains that they will ignore public
opinion (the public that is actually voicing opinion)
and continue putting the hunt before habitat to invest
hunters in buffalo as a big game species.
According to FWP, habit will come later. FWP has also
made some tentative plans for next year's hunt, which
- again - does not include any habitat for wild bison
in Montana. This great species, native to vast expanses
of the North American continent, remains ecologically
extinct everywhere outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Yet, FWP insists that the "hunt" will go on.
For next year, it's likely that FWP will issue 40 tags
to Montana hunters, including two issued to each of
the eight Indian tribes living within Montana's borders.
Should there be a migration of more than 60 wild buffalo,
FWP will initiate a "liberal" season, issuing
25 extra tags for each of the three periods of the hunt.
FWP says they are "concerned about bulls"
being over-harvested, so these extra 75 tags would be
used to kill cow or calf buffalo. FWP is also planning
to issue two extra tags to kill buffalo in the Absaroka-Beartooth
Wilderness, to give hunters a "back country experience."
If these hunters are unsuccessful there, they will be
able to use their tags in either Gardiner or West Yellowstone.
The Nez Perce and the Confederated Salish-Kootenai also
plan to hunt under Treaty hunts this year. The good
news is that the Nez Perce also plan to get involved
in the future of bison management; they have seen how
the state and federal government has been failing, and
will lend the wisdom of hundreds of centuries of relationship
with buffalo to help gain respect, habitat, and honor
for the buffalo. FWP has said, depending on the quotas
the Nez Perce and Salish-Kootenai plan for, they will
change the state's numbers accordingly.
While FWP holds these meetings to get feedback from
the public, they continue to ignore the public who is
giving feedback. Regardless of vocal public sentiment,
there will be no new habitat, and the DOL will maintain
it's position as the authorizing agency. One thing FWP
will do this year is let hunters know that Yellowstone
Village/Hebgen Lake Estates is an area where hunting
is not allowed.
Please stay tuned for more information and opportunities
to comment on the hunt. One thing FWP expressed to us
is that there has not been enough opposition demonstrated
to warrant significant changes. What? So, let us turn
up the volume, attend the meetings, submit comments,
and keep the pressure on if we are to help the buffalo
gain any ground in Montana. We must also pressure Montana
to pull out of the Interagency Bison Management Plan
and create a Montana Bison Management Plan that respects
the wild integrity of buffalo and provides and protects
year-round habitat for this sacred, native species.
You can also send preliminary comments to FWP Region
Three Director Pat Flowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a taste of how locals here feel, please read an
article from the West Yellowstone News regarding the
FWP Hunt meeting in West Yellowstone: http://www.westyellowstonenews.com/articles/2007/05/11/news/news1.txt.
* Hand-crafted Father's Day Cards Available!
If Dad wants another tie for Father's Day, by all means,
get him one! But while you're at it, get him something
else as well: a gift of conscience. A gift that works
for justice. A gift of compassion.
As a Buffalo Field Campaign supporter, you already know
the critical work we do to document, educate, and legislate
on behalf of America's last wild, free-roaming bison
herd. You've supported us generously both morally and
financially. And we say "Thank You" from the
bottom of our buffalo-lovin' hearts! Because you have
so enthusiastically embraced our Valentine's Day and
Mother's Day card fund raisers, this year we offer you
the opportunity to share your commitment and conscience
with the special men you'd like to honor on Father's
Day. Our card is appropriate for all relationships:
dad and grandpa, for sure, but also that favorite uncle,
and the special teacher who mentored you.
Our Father's Day card is, as always, a hand-made creation.
We're offering just one: a smaller (4-1/4 X 5-1/2) photo
card featuring a bull bison photographed in Yellowstone
(photo image is a smaller, specialty size) and embellished
with decorative papers.
The sentiment reads: CELEBRATE STRENGTH! To go their
own way, to follow their wild spirit, to persevere and
endure. Buffalo Field Campaign is there to work for
their future. A gift has been made in your honor by
_________ to further this important work. Happy Father's
"We will be known by the tracks we leave behind."
~ Lakota proverb
Please order by June 1st; we'll mail your card to arrive
by Father's Day.
Our small photo card is priced at $15.
Here's how to order: Click on this link: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807
or click on the "Donate Now" button on BFC's
home page. Make at least a $15.00 donation. Under "Donation
or Order" select "Father's Day Card."
Scroll down to the "Father's Day Info Box and type
in the name and mailing address of the card recipient
and let us know how you would like the card signed.
You can also send a check along with the above information
to the mailing address at the end of this message. Just
make sure we receive your order by June 1.
* Last Words
"We said no to bison slaughter for more than a
hundred years, but they keep on killing. The genocide
against the bison was part and parcel of the genocide
against Indians. The recovery of the bison population
in Yellowstone was to us a portent that our spirituality
and traditional way of life could be rediscovered."
~ Scott Barta, HoChunk Winnebago