Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
It seems that Yellowstone National Park and the MT Department
of Livestock are hell bent upon killing every buffalo
that attempts to migrate out of Yellowstone's boundaries.
The death toll is rising at an alarming rate. Family
groups are being obliterated, genetic lines lost forever,
orphaned calves being imprisoned for government studies,
and all to appease the unwarranted fears and economic
interests of the Montana cattle industry. Buffalo are
dying with no end in sight, as the shaggy giants press
on, following their migratory instincts, walking their
land, to find available grass, repeatedly entering the
war zone between the boundaries of Yellowstone and Montana.
At this rate, we wonder if there will be any buffalo
left by the time the agents are done.
Since we last wrote to you 164 more buffalo were captured
inside Yellowstone at the Stephens Creek trap and 34
wild buffalo were captured on Monday in the Horse Butte
bison trap. Today, according to the DOL, five bulls
"walked right in" to the Duck Creek trap.
Perhaps there was some fresh hay there to lure them
in? All buffalo captured by the DOL will be killed.
Currently, the total kill tally is up to 1,527 wild
American buffalo lost to the land forever. Ninety-nine
calves have been sent to the quarantine research pens.
Every day our patrols are witnessing this. Every day
we get the robot-like reports from the government saying
more have been shipped to slaughter, more have been
captured, more are being held, more are moving out from
the park's boundary. But, hey, not to blame the agencies,
they are just doing what they're told. "It's in
the plan," as they like to say. The reality of
reams of paper full of words manifested into action
on the landscape is the stuff of which nightmares are
made. They are doing what they're told to do by livestock
interests; the people have time and again called for
an end to the harassment and slaughter but our government
refuses to listen.
We just got word from patrols on the north boundary
that on the east side of the Yellowstone River, five
bull buffalo snuck past the buffalo police and the CUT
ranch, walked past two bison quarantine pastures, and
further west towards Dome Mountain. They crossed west
back over the river and continued on towards Tom Miner
Basin were they climbed a steep, mountainous hill, currently
untouchable by agents. It is uncertain what the bulls'
fate will be. They had successfully dodged the agents'
hazing efforts, so we fear they may be shot if the agents
can get to them. Here we have, yet again, wild buffalo
restoration happening naturally, on the buffalo's terms,
only to soon be thwarted by government-backed cattle
In addition to sending truckloads of wild buffalo to
slaughter, Yellowstone has begun holding some wild buffalo
in the pens at the Stephens Creek bison trap. A few
more than 100 will be held until spring green-up occurs.
Most of the animals being held in the pens are pregnant
females. One calf has already been born. These actions
go directly against the government's own so-called science
in preventing the spread of brucellosis. Confinement
of wild animals is key to disease transmission. Stressing
females during pregnancy can awaken dormant illnesses,
or can cause the mothers to abort their calves. Only
pregnant female bison can *theoretically* transmit brucellosis,
a transmission possible only during a very short window
of time. But the Park, after all the bad publicity,
is trying to pretend to be a good steward and is holding
pregnant females in the pens. Is the Park trying to
spread brucellosis among the buffalo? Further, the park
has been sending untested bulls to slaughter, non-pregnant
females, and all other age groups who test positive
for antibodies (immune to the disease) and pose a zero
threat of transmission. Again, only pregnant buffalo
can *theoretically* transmit the disease. It's only
a theory because wild bison have never transmitted brucellosis
back to cattle.
We should not forget - not let the agencies and industry
forget - that brucellosis came from invasive cattle
and our wildlife were infected with it through the carelessness
of human intervention. Cattle, the invasive species,
are being treated as queen of the land, when it is the
native wild buffalo who is the true sovereign of the
land on this continent. What safeguards are there in
place to protect our native flora and fauna from the
devastating impacts of cattle and the diseases they
More than one third of the last wild population of American
bison has been lost forever in a few short months this
winter through hunting, slaughter and quarantine. Natural
elements are taking a heavy toll as well; this winter
has been pretty severe and the buffalo are extremely
skinny. There have already been many winter kills spotted,
and more are bound to occur in the coming weeks. We
have seen too many orphaned calves who look like their
time in this world is short. On Monday, before the 34
were captured, one lone, skinny calf was hazed by a
DOL agent in his truck; the agent gave up the chase
and the calf is in bad shape, likely not to survive.
Locals have tried to help in their own way, but so far
the calf is not responding. There is also a beautiful
young bull wandering alone, too skinny, perhaps, for
survival, and far too young to be without his family
group. But buffalo are strong survivors, as they have
shown in the past 500 years of European occupation.
Exacerbating the senseless government killing, the winter
will naturally take it's toll; along the western boundary,
starvation foods are stripped clean, providing minimal
nutrition but just enough to make a belly feel full.
Spring is coming late and snow still obscures much of
the landscape here, so exposed ground harboring nutritious
spring grasses are still a bit further off. The collective
impact to the last wild population is enormous.
There is hope to be found in the steadily growing discontent,
a tidal wave of opposition is rippling out further and
further and more groups and voices are finally speaking
up against the slaughter. Had our collective voices
sounded together years ago, we may never have come to
see this day. We are grateful for the additional support
others are finally lending to the buffalo, we only hope
that it's not too little too late. While there are still
wild buffalo left, we will never give up. We will continue
to take every possible action to draw attention to this
madness and we will stop the slaughter and buffalo will
roam free again. Like the buffalo, we will carry on
with persistence, resistance, and endurance. There are
still wild buffalo and the pendulum is about to start
* Groups Make Two Powerful Emergency Efforts
to Stop the Slaughter
A collective of environmental, hunting and animal rights
groups, along with many local supporters are making
two very significant efforts to halt the current slaughter
of America's last wild bison.
Today, we filed an emergency rulemaking petition to
protect the genetic diversity and viability of the bison
of Yellowstone National Park. This petition has been
filed with the Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne.
We also call for Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to
stay out of the buffalo's calving grounds on cattle-free
Please read the joint press releases issued today:
*Emergency rule sought to stop Park Service slaughter
of wild bison in Yellowstone National Park
*Bison advocates proposes a way out of needless buffalo
slaughter - Call for Governor and buffalo managers to
stay out of calving grounds
Many special thanks go to:
Natural Resources Defense Council, Gallatin Wildlife
Association, Animal Welfare Institute, Gravelbar, American
Buffalo Foundation, Western Watersheds Project, Seventh
Generation Fund for Indigenous Development, Horse Butte
Neighbors of Buffalo, Big Wild Adventures, American
Indian Law Alliance, The Humane Society of the U.S.,
Wildearth Guardians, Karrie Taggart, barb abramo, George
Nell and Rosalie Little Thunder.
* April 15: Releasing of the Buffalo Spirits
Ceremony ~ Arvol Looking Horse
Please join Buffalo Field Campaign and Seventh Generation
Fund's Tatanka Oyate Project in person or in spirit
in Yellowstone National Park, on Tuesday, April 15,
at noon MST for a special ceremony, Releasing of the
Buffalo Spirits." Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th
generation carrier of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf
Pipe will guide us through. All are welcome. If you
cannot make it in person, consider gathering with friends
or in solitude to offer your own prayers to the buffalo
that have been so senselessly killed, and to those who
remain. A flyer for distribution, as well as a press
release with more information, directions, logding and
other important information can be found on our web
site at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.
* Mother's Day Hand Crafted Cards for the Buffalo's
Cause ~ Deadline April 25
Nature's antidote to human folly: the advent of a new
generation of wild bison. Here in Yellowstone country,
we anticipate this beautiful birthing time with hope
and renewed commitment to wild buffalo families in spite
of the ongoing season of despair. Once again, we offer
you, our fellow bison activists, an opportunity to spread
the word, save the herd, and invest in the critical
work of bison advocacy. Added bonus: you reveal yourself
to be a priorities-in-the-right-place human of conscience
and compassion! (Mom will be so proudS¹.)
Buffalo Field Campaign invites you to send a handcrafted
card to the special woman or women in your life. Our
card (4-1/4 in. X 5-1/2 in.) features an endearing mini-print
photo of a bison mom and her frisky, orange calf; a
brief message about our work; and a sentiment appropriate
for mom, grandma, that special, nurturing neighbor...anyone
you'd like to honor with a Mother's Day contribution
to BFC's work for bison moms and their offspring.
The sentiment reads:
The transfer of ancient wisdom begins here:
A tender lick, a gentle nudge, her reassuring warmthS¹
a refuge of buffalo love.
"That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love." --Emily Dickinson
A gift has been made in your honor by _________________
for the future of wild, free-roaming bison. HAPPY MOTHER'S
For a minimum donation of $15 each (more gladly accepted!),
we'll send a 2008 Mother's Day card (timed to arrive
by May 11th) to your designated recipient(s). The ordering
deadline is Friday, April 25th; please order early!
Here's how: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/aboutus/artthoughts/mothersday08.html
THANK YOU so much for your strength, love, steadfast
support, and unending dedication to freeing the last
wild buffalo. Because of you, BFC is able to be here
on the front lines with the buffalo, hold the agencies
accountable, and let the world know what is happening.
~Buffalo Field Campaign
* Get Your "Let Buffalo Roam" License
At long last the NEW MONTANA License plate is available
at any Montana DMV!
Here is a flyer with the artwork of the new plate and
information on getting them. Help us spread the word!
If you live in Montana please print up the flyer and
put up around your community. Please e-mail mease"at"wildrockies.org
if you have done this and let us know what town you
covered with the flyer.
Download the flyer here: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/plates/LicensePlateBW.pdf
Out of State help:
Buffalo advocates outside of Montana can acquire sample
plates to display on your vehicle or in other visible
locations. These plates will only be for show, and cannot
For $20 you can get a sample plate with AAA-000 on the
For $30 you can write up to 6 characters of your choice
on the plate.
Contact Mike at email@example.com
with questions or send a check for one of the sample
plates to License Plates c/o Buffalo Field Campaign,
P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758.
* Photo of the Week
Montana Department of Livestock agents capture thirty-four
wild buffalo from the cattle-free Horse Butte peninsula.
This is a view of the buffalo being forced into the
trap as we documented from a near-by tree. Photo by
* Last Words
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something
when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
~ Upton Sinclair, 1935