* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Wild buffalo are amazingly resilient creatures.
In the face of harassment and death, they continue to
demonstrate that Nature has no borders and that the
livestock industry is not the owner of the land; this
land is the buffalo's land. After centuries
of abuse and slaughter by the government and livestock
interests (is there even a difference?), wild buffalo
are still here and still walking the land the cattle
industry tries to shut them out of.
This week the DOL's helicopter has been flying all over
our public lands, circling low, trying to scare buffalo
out of the woods so the government cowboys can herd
them with their horses deep into Yellowstone.
This week, FWP fish biologists helped from a boat, after
agents hazed the buffalo into Hebgen Reservoir.
The hazing is happening again today as I write.
Buffalo moms and babies, yearlings, aunts, big brothers
and sisters - the whole buffalo family - are being shoved
around, pushed out of Montana. The helicopter
again got permission from Yellowstone National Park
to fly into the Park. It's terribly difficult
for the buffalo, but even more so for the brand new
babies who's little legs are strong enough for moments
of rambunctious play with other calves, but not for
being hazed nearly 10 miles in fear, without rest or
the ability to nurse. As we've seen before, these
cruel operations can spell their doom. It's hard
to imagine how the buffalo moms must feel, trying to
shelter their calves while fleeing from hounding horsemen
and helicopter. But buffalo are strong survivors.
One day they will be free to roam - the cattlemen will
have to go home and tend to their livestock.
While BFC field patrols were up and out with the buffalo
before the rising of the sun this morning, preparing
to document another day of government wildlife harassment,
those of us who remained at the cabin were rudely awakened
by the DOL's helicopter, purposely flying low over our
headquarters at 7:40 this morning. Given the recent
breaking news, the DOL is probably not in the best of
On Friday it was announced that brucellosis had been
found in Montana cattle. There has been
a lot of speculation and very little factual reporting
on the source of this infection. The good news
is that the buffalo are not responsible. Even
Governor Schweitzer says the chance of buffalo being
responsible is "remote." But, of course,
the livestock industry is certainly trying to place
the blame on them or elk, which would make things easy
for the cattle industry and APHIS. It's convenient for
the industry to blame wildlife considering that brucellosis
wasn't in North America until the arrival of European
The infected cattle herd was from Bridger, MT, at least
70 miles northeast of Yellowstone, far from the buffalo's
migratory path. Some of the cattle in the Bridger herd
spent time in Emigrant, MT, (about 25-30 miles north
of Yellowstone) where buffalo have not been allowed
to roam for at least a century. Either way, the
brucellosis test results on these Emigrant cattle have
come back negative. Eyes return to the Bridger
cattle. Wild buffalo are not to blame, but that
isn't going to stop livestock interests from pointing
the finger at them. Yellowstone-area elk are not
known to move that far north either, so perhaps cattle
will be determined to be the source of infection.
Brucellosis is a disease that invasive cattle brought
to North America's native wildlife, and this is finally
being reported by the papers, as is the fact that -
even where they coexist - wild buffalo have never transmitted
brucellosis to cattle. It's high time the cattle
industry takes responsibility for infecting our native
wildlife with cattle diseases and manage their livestock
so as not to continue harming wildlife.
Governor Schweitzer has some sensible cattle-based solutions
in mind, including zone management, meaning that ranchers
in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) could have
their grazing leases bought out, or they could switch
to brucellosis-proof livestock such as steers, or they
could undergo rigorous and costly testing if they insist
on hosting brucellosis susceptible cattle within the
GYE. Under zone management practices, if
cattle within the GYE were found with brucellosis, the
entire state would not lose it's prized brucellosis-free
Montana's cattle industry cries that it has spent millions
to acquire and maintain its brucellosis-free status,
and that losing it would cause an economic blow.
But those costs could never compare to the price native
flora and fauna have paid since the coming of the cattle
industry. Cattle ranching is an extremely harmful
industry whose practices are responsible for water pollution,
diseases, degradation of native grasslands, thousands
of miles of barbed wire fencing, millions of acres of
mismanaged landscapes, destruction of riparian areas,
and poisoning, trapping and slaughtering of native wildlife,
along with many other nefarious things including human
While it remains to be seen what will happen next, this
brucellosis incident demonstrates that Montana's cattle
industry has been foolishly targeting wild buffalo while
failing to focus on cattle-based brucellosis risk management.
Maybe if DOL's livestock inspectors had been doing their
jobs rather than wasting our federal tax dollars by
repeatedly harassing and killing wild buffalo, this
brucellosis incident could have been prevented.
Ultimately, cattle ranching is not conducive to the
health of this vast and delicate ecosystem. The GYE
is one of the last wild places of it's kind, still home
to the amazing wildlife that was once found in abundance
throughout North America. For now, the cattle
industry has a stronghold on the land and how it is
used; but the industry is not sustainable and is feeling
the pressure of it's slow decline. As the cattle
industry fades, the buffalo will again roam and will
help restore the land.
* Buffalo in the News
With all the harassment (hazing) of Yellowstone buffalo
going on, coupled with the incident of brucellosis being
found in Montana cattle (not from buffalo!), the papers
have been teeming with stories. Below are some
links to recent buffalo news.
Letter sent by BFC and the Animal Welfare Institute
(AWI) to the Interagency Bison Management agencies,
requesting humane treatment of wild buffalo as well
as elements of cattle-based risk management: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/press0607/pressreleases0607/052307.html
Recent news about wild buffalo and also brucellosis
being found in Montana cattle:
An opinion editorial by BFC printed in the West Yellowstone
Please write on for the buffalo by sending in Letters
to the Editor to your local, regional and national papers.
Contact info for targeted media, as well as writing
tips can be found at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html.
When your buffalo-friendly letter is printed, please
send us a copy along with your t-shirt size because
we will send you a free "Let Buffalo Roam!"
t-shirt. Printed letters can be sent to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org
or to the mailing address at the end of this email.
* Photo of the Week & Slideshow!
The Photo of the Week is testament to the absolute adorableness
of wild baby buffalo!
Here's a slide show that is sure to make you fall in
love with buffalo! Browse these beautiful pictures from
Yellowstone and witness the very first steps of this
wild roamer, while the loving, protective gaze of a
proud mama watches her closely. Many thanks to Elizabeth
Laden and John Losch for sharing this amazing photo
journal entry with everyone. http://web.mac.com/ipnews/iWeb/Site/BabyBison.html
* Honor Father's Human & Wild ~ Handcrafted
Father's Day Cards Available!
Gifted maker of BFC's Mother's and Valentine's Day cards,
Kathleen Stachowski, is creating handcrafted cards
for the special men in your life. BFC is now offering
handsome handcrafted Father's Day cards! This
Father's Day, give the gift of conscience, justice and
compassion. Give the gift that honors fathers
both human and wild. Give a handcrafted buffalo bull
photo card that helps support BFC's work to defend the
We're offering just one: a 4-1/4 X 5-1/2 inch 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 Father's Day 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.
Email barb at buffaloatwildrockies.org
* Flyer & Invitation: BFC 10-Year Anniversary
& Family Reunion
We are honored to invite you to celebrate BFC's ten
years of frontlines bison defense with us here in West
Yellowstone, MT. Email Mike Mease (mease"at"wildrockies.org)
or click on the link to our event flier for more information:
* Last Words
I sit here with tears
Running down my face
As I read how the buffalo
Are treated with disgrace
In this place called Montana:
Persecution is the thing
In this place called Montana
Where cattle ranchers are king.
Buffalo mothers are calving:
They can't catch their breath
Because men with big machines
Run them nearly to death!
Baby is fallen!
Mother stands by
Defending her baby:
Will baby live, or die?
Nudges her fallen calf.
Baby finally arises, revived at last!
Two brothers are arrested
For breaking NO LAW!
Just for taking pictures
Of abuse going on.
Here in America!
Handcuffed like slaves!
In "The land of the free
And the home of the brave."
Land of the free?
Not if you're a buffalo!
Men with machines tell you
Where you can and can't go.
You long for wild freedom
Of days long gone by.
If you go to Montana,
Chances are, you might die!
On Montana license plate.
Of the Buffalo's fate
If cattle barons and the DOL
Continue to have their way,
There won't be wild buffalo left one day!
Abusing these gentle giants!
Your atrocities scream!
In this place called Montana
Where cattle are king.
~ Robin Hummingbird Songs, 5-12-07