Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) captured more
wild buffalo on Wednesday. A family group of five buffalo,
including a young bull, a calf, mom and two other female
buffalo who had migrated out of Yellowstone to the Horse
Butte Peninsula were hazed (forced and chased) by agents
on horseback to the bison trap located near the West
Yellowstone Airport. Like the 52 buffalo nearly two
weeks ago, they were loaded onto livestock trailers
and transported over 150 miles to the Stephens Creek
bison trap within Yellowstone National Park's northern
boundary. These five buffalo will be held in the trap
and later released into the Park.
While Montana and the Park Service pat themselves on
the back for not slaughtering, and while we are enormously
thankful that no wild buffalo have been killed during
these captures (thanks to your action!), the real solutions
continue to be ignored. Agencies insist on turning a
blind eye to the nature of wild buffalo as they hide
behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan, maintaining
that its confining boundaries are the only way to 'deal'
with bison. Agencies even stubbornly refuse to admit
that buffalo migrate. They continue to peg the buffalo
as "recalcitrant," "renegade," "stray,"
and all the other misnomers that are better suited for
the family pet or rebellious youth (as BFC's barb so
beautifully puts it in her Letter to the Editor "Recalcitrant"
posted below). These agencies and the cattle industry
simply have a fundamental misunderstanding of what WILD
means. Listen to the buffalo, and they will teach you.
There was a time when we humans believed that the Horse
Butte Peninsula, being surrounded by water, was a natural
barrier that buffalo wouldn't move past. Wild buffalo
beautifully corrected this arrogant mistake last year
by walking across the ice in the winter, and again and
again by swimming across the lake in the spring. There
was also a time when it was believed that wild buffalo
would contentedly remain within Yellowstone after calving
season ended. In all their beauty and wildness, they
have again proved us wrong, as they continue to migrate
long past the human-contrived time tables.
There is a great yet obvious lesson here: wild buffalo,
not humans, know what's best for wild buffalo. It's
one of the amazing things about these wonderful beings
- every time you think you have them pegged, they do
something different. That's what has been happening
these past few weeks, with buffalo migrations continuing
long past the time when even we expected them to cease.
While these movements into Montana so late in the season
puts them in danger, we applaud the buffalo with standing
ovations. The buffalo are representing themselves better
than any scientist, study, or opinion ever could. Much
to the chagrin of Montana's cattle industry and all
the government agencies involved in their mismanagement,
buffalo are being buffalo; roaming, reclaiming their
native land as is their natural right. Montana and Yellowstone
say this late migration is "unprecedented"
but it's just that it's time for the buffalo to let
us all know that they will restore themselves, even
in the face of severe oppression.
Wild buffalo are not going to stop migrating no matter
how many times these agencies insist on hazing, capturing,
or slaughtering. These approaches aren't just nefarious,
they're ineffectual; bison will move with the seasons,
with their will, and with their hooves that were made
Wild bison are not "park" animals, they are
migrating wildlife following instincts thousands of
years old. Montana's cattle industry wrongly views Yellowstone
as a glorified ranch or zoo and believes that bison
should "stay put" and they would like nothing
more than to see a huge fence erected around its borders.
Preventing bison migration chokes Earth's natural rhythms.
Wild, free-roaming buffalo are a blessing, not a curse,
to the landscape. These prehistoric beings are an ecologically
critical component to healthy grassland ecosystems.
Wild bison know better than any government "plan"
what works, and they are trying to get the message through
our thick skulls: the real solution is habitat.
* Buffalo in the News
6/8 - Letter to the Editor: Recalcitrant
West Yellowstone News
6/8 - Bison to be trucked into Yellowstone
Vail Daily - CO (Associated Press article)
6/9 - Park bison to be spared from slaughter
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
6/10 - Emotional animal activists, park officials to
blame for bison's fate
Prairie Star (an agriculture/livestock-based publication)
6/12 - Park releases bison from Stephens Creek Capture
AP Story / BFC Myspace posting
6/13 - Bison form 'moving road block' on way to Firehole
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
6/14 - Letter to the Editor: Bison explanation doesn't
6/15 - Agency considers new bison quotas
6/17 - Letter to the Editor: Stockgrowers group resistant
* Saying, "Thank You, For a Real Good Time!"
Thank you everyone for an incredible celebration of
Buffalo Field Campaign's Ten-Year Anniversary &
Family Reunion! What an amazing turnout and time we
After a week of intense field patrols and projects around
the cabin, we got to let loose on Saturday, June 9th
at West Yellowstone's incredible Union Pacific Dining
Hall, where we ate, drank and made merry.
We give special thanks to Seeds of Peace for cooking
amazing meals for us throughout the week, and for the
incredible dinner at the celebration. You folks are
Many thanks to Odyssey and Three-Legged Dog for making
incredible music and giving us a reason to dance! dance!
dance! through the dark hours of the night. A nod and
a wink to all the late-night jam session players. Thanks
John, John, and Wally for joining the bands during the
late-night jam session... your raps, fiddle, and sax
were amazing contributions!
To everyone who donated auction items - thank you! We
had an incredible silent auction with beautiful handcrafted
gifts, which barb and Stephanie displayed with great
talent. It was hard not to bid on every single item
there. A lot of folks walked away with objects of rare
beauty. Thank you so much for helping keep Buffalo Field
Campaign on the front lines and for creating beautiful
To all the BFC volunteers who helped organize and run
the event - how can we ever say thank you enough?! Your
energy and dedication really shined and none of this
would have been possible without your help.
It's hard to say thanks in the way that we should and
hard to let everyone know what it meant to us for you
to be with us. Those of you who joined in Spirit, we
felt your presence. BFC is so grateful to everyone for
all of their hard work and strong love over the years
and we look forward to the next ten years in which our
family will grow and wild buffalo will reclaim Montana.
Buffalo Field Campaign
* Last Words
"We dream of a continent where land is healed,
banished species return, and humanity is reconciled
with wild Nature."
~ Harvey Locke
From Wild Earth Journal, A Balanced Approach to Sharing
North America, Spring 2000