Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Since we last wrote to you, three bull buffalo have
been shot and killed on separate occasions. Two
weeks ago, a bull buffalo was on Pat Povah's cattle
ranch, located west of town near the Madison River.
Mr. Povah and his hired hands have made it clear that
they do not want to share the land with wild buffalo.
Finding this bull near their holy cows, they called
the Montana Department of Livestock and were given permission
to kill the bull, who was supposedly "threatening,"
since his kind contracted brucellosis from cattle nearly
a century ago. As we've said before, cattle brought
brucellosis to this country, bull buffalo cannot transmit
brucellosis to cattle, and no wild buffalo ever has
anyway. Below are reports from the field about
two other bull buffalo who were shot and killed for
being wild buffalo.
Wild bison, wild fires, wild people...is there a place
for them? A fire recently swept through the forests
along the south side of the Madison River. The
burn is an amazing sight to behold. Stark black,
intense rust, and bright green colors form a mosaic
from the West Yellowstone airport north to the Madison
River. These acres were the exact habitat that
the buffalo were trying to access all spring causing
the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) to set up
the capture facility there. I can't say it was
a "wild" fire as the officials in charge of
fire investigation have not yet determined the cause.
Historically, wild fires and bison have shared an intimate
relationship. Wild fires open habitat and forage
for bison and bison stimulate the growth of native grasses;
in essence, rejuvenating the burned area. James
H. Shaw, Professor in Conservation and Wildlife Ecology
at Oklahoma State University, writes, "Together,
bison-grazing and fires create shifting mosaics of grasses
at the landscape level. It is possible that the
bison's effect on the land results in an overall richness
and diversity of tall-grass species." Gary
Nabhan, Director of the Center for Sustainable Environments
at Northern Arizona University, states, "By recovering
free-ranging bison on large landscapes, they will again
influence the patch dynamics and plant diversity of
(a) region. Bison will not be the only harvestable
product from this wild ecosystem; a number of historically
important food plants will also increase in abundance
should buffalo wallows, browsing pressures, and historic
fire regimes reestablish themselves." Ecology
is an amazing circle...believe in coexistence.
This week a bull bison crossed Hwy 191, heading west
into the burn. Japhy and I saw him around dinner
time. A smile from ear to ear lit up my 11 year-old
son's face. "It's the first buffalo I've
seen since Mother's Day!" he exclaimed excitedly.
The bull traveled quickly through the burn and was found
the next morning some ten miles west on private property.
Shane Grube (Montana Department of Livestock) and Jim
Smolezynski (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks game
warden) were quick to respond with horses and shotguns.
Although the private property owners were quite clear
that they did not want any harm done to the buffalo,
their concerns fell on deaf ears. Shane claimed
that private property rights don't matter in the case
of disease management. When asked what disease
management had to do with a bull bison that cannot transmit
brucellosis, there was no response. Shane and
Jim hazed the bull off the property and then shot him
in some willows out of view of BFC cameras.
BFC volunteer Eric Stewart, who was on patrol
that morning wrote of his experience:
"This particular bull had wandered out of Yellowstone
National Park during the middle of summer. When
state and federal agents arrived to deal this creature
its sentence, it was resting, bedded down in the summer
heat and offering no one so much as a problem.
Like so many before, this bull wandered, and wandering
IS a bison's nature! Yet we continue to cut down
the very genetic untamedness of the herds. Weeding
out the smart as they learn to go to lower elevations
for food in the winter and the wild, as in the case
of those who recently made it all the way to Idaho only
to be killed there, we continue to display the typical
knee-jerk reaction applied in almost any instance in
which bison are out of the park where media attention
is minimal, i.e. not during major migrations.
We continue to slaughter an animal whose only crime,
as far as recorded history and science are concerned,
was to be the major source of sustenance for a people
we wished annihilated, a people now on their own reservations,
Let it not be so!
I bore witness. It was not done in a sacred way.
These men do not understand sacred when it comes to
the last there are, walking remnants of an ice age long
gone, and the greatest recovery effort for a wild species,
with the possible exception of the gray wolf, in the
history of this country.
Let it not be said we brought these beings back from
the brink of extinction only to push them around."
Earlier this week several reports came in that three
bulls were seen in Idaho, just across the MT state line
on Hwy 20. Then rumor had it that all three were
shot. Then we heard rumors that it was only two
bulls. We frantically called around to learn the
truth. We found no help from any Idaho agencies.
Mel Frost (MT FWP) returned our calls only to say that
she had heard nothing of bison killings. She quickly
made some calls and finally Jim Smolezynski confirmed
with her that he and Shane Grube had been "back-up"
on the killing of one of the bulls in Idaho. He
gave no indication of which Idaho agency had been responsible
for the death and no information on the other bull or
bulls. Finally, we received confirmation from
Pam Juker, Chief of Staff for the Idaho Department of
Agriculture, that the buffalo was "destroyed."
When asked why the buffalo was killed, she stated, "No
wild bison of any kind (are) in the state of Idaho."
We are unsure why she responded in such a way; there
were wild bison in Idaho and they killed one.
I can't help but wonder why these agents sneak around
in the willows, evade phone calls, and refuse to comment
on their roles and reasoning. Perhaps they feel
shame because a part of them knows the buffalo are sacred.
Here at camp life goes on. BFC is hosting Aerie
Backcountry Medicine (http://www.aeriemed.com)
out of Missoula, MT. Aerie is training 15 students,
one being BFC's Program Director, Dan Brister, who they
gifted a scholarship to attend the month-long Wilderness
Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) intensive.
At the end of the course, students will be ready to
take the national registry exam and become practicing
EMT's. Congratulations Aerie for your great contribution
to communities all over the country and globe!
Several BFC volunteer's have already become EMT's through
Aerie, in fact, two of the instructors for the current
course are BFC family! In addition, BFC's kitchen
coordinator Jesse, who is making the most amazing whole
foods for the students during their stay, is also a
certified EMT through Aerie's program. I feel
proud of our buffalo community for following the example
of the bison...service and family, first and foremost.
There's no hiding here. Instead, members of our
buffalo family will stand tall as they help to save
lives and contribute to their local communities.
Lots of love and appreciation to BFC's tabling family.
In record high temperatures these folks are out in Yellowstone
speaking for the buffalo to thousands of visitors.
Many tourists are uninformed as to the role the National
Park Service plays in the mistreatment and killing of
the last wild bison. Unabashedly, our volunteers
tell the true story, sending out ripples that will continue
to grow in strength.
Special thanks to Dave Meade, of Idaho State University,
who helped to create beautiful new tabling boards.
"It was a group project", says Stephanie Munce,
assistant BFC office and summer campaign coordinator.
"We all worked together with editing and photos
and the outcome is magnificent!"
We will continue to be the watchdogs for the buffalo.
We will continue to send out field patrols as long as
they are needed. We will continue to be a force
to be reckoned with...much like the wild. Crazy
Horse was considered a "wild" Lakota because
he lived in harmony with the natural world. It
is a honor to be named Wild and stand in such great
company...Wild Peoples, Wild Bison, Wild Fires...Wild
For the Buffalo,
BFC Board Member
* BFC Reaching out to Yellowstone's Visitors
Here in Yellowstone National Park, BFC volunteers are
afforded the opportunity to reach out to people from
all over the world and help educate them as to the situation
of the only continuously wild, free-roaming herd of
genetically pure bison in the U.S. We have had
the chance to talk to people of all walks of life and
from every corner of the globe, this park being one
of the biggest tourist attractions anywhere.
It is amazing to see (if Montana and federal agencies'
actions are any indication) not only just how many people
are unaware that the only wild bison left were brought
back from extinction only to be pushed around (a reality
we intend to alter), but the genuinely emotional concern
that this revelation inspires in people. Every
day I am in awe at the huge potential in the "average
person" to move and shake things in such a way
as to provide hope for the future of these magnificent
forces of nature. Everyone, including myself,
is excited to be a part of something that is doing such
good things, if in small, hard-fought steps.
I am humbled and, at the same time, empowered by my
experiences tabling for Buffalo Field Campaign and I
think I speak for all the others who table with me,
and the entire campaign (for that matter), when I say
thank you to each and everyone that supports us in whatever
way that you do, however small or large. On behalf
of the buffalo and those dedicated to them, I extend
the sincerest of gratitudes.
I highly recommend the experience to any and all that
would do themselves and the bison the favor of tabling
in Yellowstone National Park. If you're interested,
contact Stephanie Munce at buffaloatwildrockies.org
* Buffalo in the News
A reminder that you can take action for the buffalo
by submitting Letters to the Editor to print media.
There is so much political/industry spin, putting out
misinformation in regards to the last wild buffalo,
and it is up to each of us to help tell the truth of
the buffalo's story. Send letters to any of the
papers below, to your own chosen papers, or those we
have highlighted on our web site. Folks who get
a buffalo-friendly Letter to the Editor published received
a free BFC "Let Buffalo Roam!" t-shirt.
When your letter is published, please email or mail
us a copy (addresses are at the end of this email) along
with your mailing address and t-shirt size.
For more info and tips about writing and submitting
Letters to the Editor please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
contact Stephany at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org.
Write on for the buffalo!
7/6/07 - FWP considers paring number of bison tags,
7/6/07 - Reader gives his take on brucellosis, The Prairie
Star (a cattle/agricultural based publication)
7/12/07 - Slaughter imminent for brucellosis infected
cattle, Great Falls Tribune
7/13/07 - Letter: Why kill the whole herd (Ann
Stovall), Helena Independent Record
7/13/07 - Montana ranchers agree with slaughter payment
for infected cattle, New West
(Note: the comment section below is well worth
the read and input!)
7/19/07 - Yellowstone's bison look meek, but they might
attack those who get too close, Miami Herald
* Give to BFC by Searching the Internet with
It can be really easy to help maintain BFC's front lines
work to defend America's last wild buffalo: every time
you need to search the Internet, use GoodSearch.com.
"GoodSearch is a search engine which donates 50%
of its revenue to the charities and schools designated
by its users. Use it exactly the way you would
any other search engine."
All you have to do is go to http://www.goodsearch.com,
and before you type in what you are searching for, you
can put in "Buffalo Field Campaign" where
it asks "Who do you GoodSearch for?"
Every time you search, the work of BFC will benefit.
Many thanks to BFC supporter Cherie for helping to make
this happen! To learn more about GoodSearch visit
* Last Words
The poor old bison has no vote
Him therefore you may freely shoot
To guard the cows with pointed feet
When you will slaughter for their meat
But why not cull the elk also?
The hunters will not have it so
The world if ruled by sport and beef:
The patient bison bears the grief
~ by P. Preit, Charlottesville, VA, who visited BFC's
info table inside Yellowstone this summer, and shared
with us this thoughtful poem.