Update from the Field
This week on the Yellowstone National Park's western
boundary, the largest buffalo slaughter since the 18th
century continues, even after Montana governor Brian
Schweitzer promised two weeks ago that no more buffalo
would be killed this season. The Montana Department
of Livestock blatantly ignored the governor's statement,
capturing three bull buffalo at the Duck Creek trap
on Monday and shipping them to slaughter without testing
on Tuesday morning.
The continuation of the buffalo slaughter this week
by the Department of Livestock adds insult to injury,
with more than a third of the Yellowstone bison population
having been eliminated since November, with no signs
of stopping. The "historic announcement" issued
by governor Schweitzer on April 17th, allowing buffalo
more room to roam outside of the park boundaries, apparently
has no merit along the park's western boundary.
Even on the northern boundary of the park, the Park
Service still continues to haze and harass the country's
last wild and free-roaming buffalo. 289 bison are currently
being held at the Stephen's Creek trap, some having
been confined there for over two months now. The Stephen's
Creek trap has become a glorified buffalo feedlot, with
grass and hay rations fed to the buffalo in masses,
and just another factor contributing to the over-domestication
of these purely wild beings.
Pregnant female bison held in the Stephen's creek trap
have given birth to 27 new calves this week along with
2 stillborn deliveries, making a total of 53 calves
born in the trap. The Park Service is still waiting
for 'green up' to release the bison from captivity,
but the effect of captivity on the newborn calves is
yet to be seen. Wild buffalo are migratory animals learning
from a young age from the elders in their family groups
how to survive. Being born in captivity, these newborn
buffalo calves may suffer a severe disadvantage when
they must fend for themselves in the wild.
Since the governor's announcement that the Church Universal
and Triumphant and the National Park Service have reached
a compromise to allow buffalo room to roam on church
lands, things are still bad for buffalo. Bison continue
to roam out of the park to the church land in search
of winter grasses, and the Park Service continues to
haze them back. Any buffalo allowed to remain on the
church land must run the 'gauntlet' first- they must
be captured and tested, then implanted with vaginal
transmitters before the Park Service will let them graze
on church land, and then only 25 buffalo are allowed
at a time.
While the sad news just keeps coming, there is a bright
note for buffalo on the western boundary. This is the
time of year when our field patrols get to experience
first-hand the beauty of new life. With buffalo calving
season well underway, our volunteers have had the pleasure
of witnessing newborn buffalo taking their first awkward
steps into the world. It is obvious by watching these
newborns, and after their first few hours of life being
able to walk right in pace with the herd by their mothers'
sides, that buffalo are genetically meant to roam. After
a long season of slaughter this year, the first-hand
experience of witnessing new buffalo life come to this
world gives hope and determination for all of us to
continue to fight for the rights of the sacred, ancient,
Please Contact Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and
ask him why he is breaking his promise and continuing
the federal tax-payer subsidized slaughter of America
last wild, free-roaming bison.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer
Helena, MT 59620
(P) (406) 444-3111
* Volunteer with BFC this Summer!
Buffalo Field Campaign is in need of hard-working, self-motivated
volunteers starting this June to help with cabin maintenance
projects and/or to set up Buffalo outreach tables inside
Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Do You Have:
* Construction, carpentry, plumbing, cleaning, or automotive
* An outgoing personality and knowledge of the issue
with a willingness to communicate to visitors in Yellowstone?
If you have any of the skills listed here, then you
should come and join us this summer. All volunteers
will be provided with food and lodging at our main cabin
outside of West Yellowstone in one of the most naturally
beautiful areas of the country. If you have just a few
weeks or the whole summer, Buffalo Field Campaign could
use your help.
If you are interested in assisting with cabin maintenance
projects this summer please contact BFC at: (406) 646-0070
If you are interested in helping with summer outreach
projects inside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National
Parks please contact Iwi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Buffalo In the News
4/23/08 - People for the Buffalo
Jackson Hole News & Guide
4/25/08 - Montana Food Bank Network Buys Bison Meat
4/28/08 - Where the Buffalo Roam -- And Die
CNN ~ Planet in Peril
4/28/08 - The Buffalo Fight Back
Indian Country Today
4/28/08 - Officials Halt Bison Slaughter
Casper Star Tribune (by Brett French of the Billings
4/29/08 - Yellowstone Bison Population Halved
United Press International
4/29/08 - Yellowstone Bison Slaughter Halted, Meat Distributed
to Food Banks
4/30/08 - Bison Can Thrive Again
* Photo of the Week
Bull bison on Duck Creek. Three bulls were captured
at Duck Creek and subsequently shipped to slaughter
this week by Montana Department of Livestock officials.
This photo is in memory of them.
Photo credit and thanks to Price Chambers, Jackson Hole
News & Guide (WY).
* Last Words
"In 1880, [Montana] was practically uninhabited.
One could travel for miles without seeing so much as
a traveler's bivouac. Thousands of buffalo darkened
the rolling plains. There were deer, elk, wolves and
coyotes on every hill and in every ravine and thicket.
. . . In the fall of 1883, there was not a buffalo remaining
on the range and the antelope, elk, and deer were indeed
scarce. . . [T]here were 600,000 head of cattle on the
range. The cowboy . . . had become an institution."
Granville Stuart, quoted in Donald Worster, Under Western
Skies: Nature and History in the American West (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1992).