Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
As if trying to survive a Northern Rockies winter wasn't
difficult enough, buffalo in both Gardiner and West
Yellowstone have had a rough time this week. In West
Yellowstone, eight more buffalo were killed in the so-called
hunt, bringing the current total to a enormously sad
seventy. Meanwhile, hazing has begun near Gardiner.
On Saturday, Gardiner patrols witnessed Yellowstone
Park Rangers hazing a mixed group of 76 buffalo that
had merely approached the Park's boundary. Because the
Park Service has agreed to protect cattle interests
instead of the wildlife in their care, the rangers chased
them off of their migratory route, deeper into the Park
and away from the grass they need to survive the winter.
A small group of pronghorn antelope was also caught
up in the haze, which unfortunately happens nearly every
single haze conducted along this portion of the Park.
Yellowstone's only population of pronghorn numbers fewer
than 250 animals and is therefore considered a species
of special concern. Interesting that the Park would
condone and participate in their displacement. During
the haze, the pronghorns circled up clockwise around
the buffalo, then, seeing the wranglers, they circled
back counterclockwise around the front of the group
of buffalo and back around until they saw the wranglers
again, when they switched directions yet again, half-circled
the herd clockwise and then headed up into the surrounding
hills. So even in Yellowstone National Park the buffalo
don't get to roam, and the pronghorn antelope's play
is continuously interrupted by the public employees
who are charged with protecting them. The park rangers'
haze - better termed harassment - ended in the foothills
above a place called Powerline Flats, close to the famous
Yellowstone arch. The buffalo will likely soon resume
their route to better forage close to or outside of
the Park's boundaries, and more harassment by National
Park rangers is guaranteed. It could be just a matter
of time before the cattle interests of Montana convince
the park to start capturing and slaughtering wild buffalo.
In West Yellowstone, blood, snow and ravens contrast
on the landscape. There is far too much buffalo blood
being spilled here. One by one the bullet drops the
buffalo. With every bison that dies, a part of their
genetic integrity is lost, their family groups disrupted,
calves orphaned, matriarchs with all of their wisdom
snuffed out forever. With every buffalo taken, the last
wild population is being chipped away. It's too much,
too fast, with nothing in it for the buffalo whatsoever.
There should be give if there is take, but here on the
Yellowstone boundary there is only take. Those who harvest
these buffalo have a serious responsibility to help
ensure their future. BFC patrols are doing our very
best to talk to the hunters we encounter, urging their
help in advocating for habitat in Montana and an end
to the Interagency Bison Management Plan. But, so far,
while we've made some good connections, only death has
resulted. Hunters have a very strong voice in Montana
and it's time they use it for the buffalo.
Thankfully for the amazing buffalo who are built to
handle it, extremely cold temperatures have helped to
keep most hunters away for a good stretch of days this
week. We had a lot of snowfall early in the weekend,
and then Sunday night the sky cleared up and temperatures
plummeted. Monday's low was close to -26, and Tuesday's
dropped down to -40. This morning was around -20, and
the mercury is still below zero in the "heat"
of the day. These frigid temperatures are felt just
after sunrise, meaning morning patrols are right in
it, feeling it, and braving it for the buffalo. The
dedication of BFC volunteers is strong and we stand
with the buffalo regardless of the weather. The Photo
of the Week (see below) is testament to the boundless
love that we have for the shaggy giants who still roam
the earth. It is crucial that our volunteers are prepared
to enter the frequent arctic blasts of this region.
Exposure to this kind of cold can mean instant frostbite,
or hypothermia, so patrols must have the proper gear
or we cannot go out. It is critical that patrols are
well-equipped with warm hats, serious mittens, face
protection, and the variety of gear that enables us
to survive exposure and stand with the buffalo.
Please contact our gear coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
/ 406-646-0070 or visit BFC's Wish List to see what
items you can donate that will help keep volunteers
not just warm, but safe and alive in the field
The third and final phase of Montana's hunt began yesterday.
The state hunt ends just after sunset February 15. The
Salish-Kootenai's buffalo hunt is due to end January
31, and the Nez Perce are just now getting ready for
their hunt, which will likely last through March. And
when the state hunt ends, the buffalo will suffer other
forms of taxpayer-funded-cattle-protection-madness.
As we've shared with you, the agencies are threatening
to be tough and aggressive on the buffalo this season
immediately following the end of the hunt. At a recent
Board of Livestock meeting in Helena, Montana, this
was again underscored. America's last wild buffalo population
is being mistreated and sacrificed for fewer than 300
year-round invasive cattle in Gardiner, and a smattering
of summer-pasture cattle (also invasive) in West Yellowstone.
It's time to rearrange priorities and get the Park Service,
the Forest Service and the MT Department of Fish, Wildlife
& Parks to protect the ecological integrity of America's
native wildlife over livestock profits. Please contact
Yellowstone's Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, Gallatin
National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson, and Montana
Governor Brian Schweitzer and urge them to stop the
harassment and slaughter before it begins and provide
year-round habitat for wild bison in Montana now! Contact
them today and every day until the buffalo roam free.
contact them now.
* BuffaLove 2008 ~ Valentine's Day Cards Available!
Why send candy, flowers, or trinkets when you can send
a beautiful Buffalo Valentine? Order now and Buffalo
Field Campaign will send a hand-crafted photo Valentine
in your name to the person of your choosing. Show your
love and protect the buffalo.
For more information and to place an order, visit
Order Now! The deadline is Sunday, February
* ALERT! Yellowstone's
World Heritage Comments Due Tomorrow!
Yellowstone National Park is deceiving the world about
current threats to the bison within Yellowstone. We
need a strong public outcry to force the National Park
Service to tell the truth. We do apologize for the last-minute
action, but we have provided a sample letter that you
can personalize and send to make things quicker and
easier for you.
Many thanks for taking action for the last wild buffalo!
TAKE ACTION NOW: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/worldheritage.html
* Photo of the Week
Fearless in the frigid morning air, warmed by their
dedication to the cause and essential gear, Jesse and
Will (he's the frosty bearded one) brave extreme cold
to stand with the buffalo. Photo by Jesse, the Merlyn
* Last Words
"The sight of hundreds or thousands of buffalo
on the rolling prairie or on a vast expanse of level
plains was something few men could forget. Imagine yourself
standing on a high ridge, perhaps 200 feet above a grass-covered
prairie somewhere in central Kansas one hundred or more
years ago. The warm breeze, blowing up from the south,
from Indian Territory and from the Staked Plains of
Texas, brushes past your face. From your vantage point
you can see for nearly fifty miles in any direction.
As you turn your head from the southeast to the south
and southwest there are buffalo - hundreds, thousands,
perhaps millions of the shaggy animals. Below the ridge,
perhaps half a mile away you can see the individual
animals, their brown, almost blackish bodies slowly
moving as they graze on the pale green buffalo grass
which has almost turned a light brown under the hot
August sun. Here and there you can make out a cow with
a calf, some nursing, others playing. But as you look
farther away the buffalo blend together. A mile or so
away you cannot make out the individual animals nor
can you see the prairie under their feet. There is only
a blanket of dark brown stretching to the cloudless
horizon. You know you are seeing buffalo, yet it is
an unbelievable sight, one that must be seen to be believed."
- David A. Dary, The Buffalo Book