Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
For eight years now my family and I have been migrating
from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the home where
the Buffalo have been roaming for centuries now. And
like the buffalo, I find refuge in the banks of the
Madison, the flats along it's bluffs, the incredible
flora and fauna of this migratory paradise. In all my
travels and wanderings I have yet to find a place that
penetrates my very core in the way that this stretch
of land and her surrounding forests, rivers, mountains,
and wild inhabitants have. Here you taste the wild,
here the wild courses through your veins and remains
a part of you--it swallows you and changes you forever.
Here you feel all the possibilities and you understand
the greatness of this land before "civilization"
and "management plans." And there is something
within me that's trying to strike some balance between
outrage and understanding; that this game between good
and evil is so much bigger than me--that maybe I am
not here to save the bison but to save the WILD in me.
It seems the Wild within us has become a very faint
and distant memory, that the continual chaos of present
day culture shuts us down and turns us off.
The situation here mirrors exactly what is happening
to us. Are we not constantly being hazed ourselves?
Pay the bills! Go to work! Buy this! Take that! And
so I step out of the rat-race and plant my feet on the
swath that has been carved for centuries and journey
down the ancient migratory path that is the buffalo
on their way to their ancestral birthing grounds. I
am in the true presence of grace, of life in it's most
raw form. Singing bluebirds and chickadees dart and
flit around me, a flock of pelicans seemingly disorganized
fly in a roller coaster-like formation until a perfect
V is outlined in the sky above the river. I hear red-tailed
hawks piercing the sky with their cries and watch as
a sand hill crane takes flight-- his pre-historic call
echoes through the forest and enters my soul. I marvel
at mama buffalo tracks and the tiny heart-shaped tracks
of their newborn calves millimeters away. Amidst this
plethora of tracks and scat is the unmistakable print
of a wolf. Another wild chord is struck. Although I
have yet to see this magnificent creature, the knowing
that he or she is here is enough. This I know is how
it's supposed to be, how it's supposed to feel. Here
we are healed.
As many of you already know, spring is a bittersweet
time for this region so rich in diversity. So much life,
so much beauty, so much Wild! And then there's the "Management
Plan." The 3 million-dollar a year plan that can
turn serenity into chaos in a matter of moments. Two
thirds of this unique bison population sent to slaughter
was not enough for the government agents this year.
One of the worst winters for wildlife in almost a decade
was not enough. Three-hundred plus held in pens till
"green-up" is not enough. 77 calves born in
captivity is not enough. Close to 200 calves in quarantine
is not enough.
And so yesterday we saw the arrival of the helicopter
and numerous agents on ATV's and horses out "managing"
the Wild. Disrupting the flow of everyday life in this
bioregion so rich in diversity. It's not only the bison
that pay the price, although they receive the worst
of it. It is the migratory birds, the new plants springing
to life after finally shedding a winter's worth of heavy
snow, the elk, deer, and moose. It is the bears emerging
from hibernation, the wolves in search of food. It is
the human residents of this area who have moved here
to immerse themselves in the richness of the area and
are now tired of management plans and their machinations,
tired of having helicopters hovering over their homes.
For some ten plus hours yesterday buffalo and newborn
calves were run from their ancestral grounds well into
the park by the usual suspects. The Park has sent out
a press release stating that this may well continue
for weeks to come. Why weeks? Because as we see year
after year, no matter how many times you haze--you can
never stop a wild animal from following its migratory
instinct. This would be like trying to stop the monarch
butterfly from migrating to Mexico, like trying to stop
birds from their winter migrations. You cannot stop
the wild with out serious repercussions.
My son and I went into the park yesterday playing the
role of unsuspecting tourists and asked various employees
(folks at the booths, interpretive rangers, and law-enforcement
rangers) why this happening to the bison. All the answers
were the same. "The ranchers are bringing their
cows back. We need to get the bison back into the park
to keep them safe." I would hear them give this
same answer to the line of cars held up due to the hazing
operation now inside the park. For those of us familiar
with the issue this is a flat out lie. And when confronted
on the lack of truth to their answers, it was the usual
"pass the buck" to someone else response.
And this is what I grow tired of. It is this lack of
integrity from those entrusted with caring for our wildlife
in the world's first national park, a park established,
in part, because of the mighty buffalo! There are no
cows! There are no ranchers! There are no grazing allotments!
Chief Arvol Looking Horse says that we are "culturally
and spiritually indebted to the buffalo." Our silence
is crime against the wild. Our voices need to be heard
collectively and individually. In the way that we shut
down the faxes and phones of the Yellowstone Superintendent's
office last year, this we must continue to do until
the madness stops for good. As we learned this winter,
one small victory is not reason to lessen or resolve
and determination. The "powers that be" need
to know and feel that our persistence and resolve is
like that of the buffalo. They must be held accountable
and they need to know as well that we are here watching,
that we are here standing, that we are here listening.
So please let us begin again to flood phone lines and
faxes, e-mail and mail boxes. This is not one single
herd. This is a unique population of animals with various
sub-populations. When you kill more than 1,600 animals
you affect the genetic integrity of this incredible
species in ways which you can't understand. Extinction
is forever! Enough is enough! Please, if you are able,
come here and reconnect with your wild and stand with
With the Wild,
* Buffalo Advocates Rally in Helena
With banners and tombstones in hand, and strong hearts
that have withstood a season of tremendous buffalo slaughter,
Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers trekked to Montana's
capitol, Helena, on Wednesday, May 15, for a rally to
draw attention to Montana Governor Schweitzer's role
in the shameful slaughter of America's last wild bison.
Buffalo Field Campaign was joined by other friends of
buffalo, including local residents and members of a
newly formed citizen action group, Buffalo Allies of
Bozeman. At the end of the event, people walked into
the capitol and up to the Governor's office to present
him with the "Buffalo Bill Award." See Photo
of the Week below. See more photos and read about the
rally from the perspective of Jim Macdonald from Buffalo
Allies of Bozeman at: http://buffaloallies.org/node/42
* BFC Needs Summer Volunteers
Buffalo Field Campaign is in need of hard-working, self-motivated
volunteers starting this June to help conduct buffalo
outreach efforts inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton
National Parks and/or to help with maintenance projects
at our headquarters on Hebgen Lake.
Do You Have:
* An outgoing personality and knowledge of the issue
with a willingness to communicate to Yellowstone visitors?
* Construction, carpentry, plumbing, cleaning, or automotive
If you have any of the skills listed above, or are willing
to learn, then you should plan on joining 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 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 helping with summer outreach
projects inside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National
Parks please contact Iwi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in assisting with cabin maintenance
projects this summer please contact BFC at: (406) 646-0070
* Photo of the Week
On Wednesday, May 14, BFC and other bison advocates
held a rally in Helena, and also presented this "award"
to Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer for his role
in the largest wild buffalo slaughter since the 1800s.
This is the same governor who promised "more tolerance"
for wild bison in Montana. Of course, the Governor was
out of the office and unable to receive his token in
person, but an intern was sent out to hear our concerns
in his stead. Read more about the rally in Helena above.
Photo by Julia Vincent, BFC supporter and amazing wild
* Last Words
from Justine Sanchez (BFC Board of Directors)...
A month ago I had the opportunity to share a lunch with
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! This was the second time
that I had met with her on behalf of the buffalo...the
first being a dinner in NYC. She immediately recognized
me and asked how the campaign was going. I told her...the
truth. I was able to speak the story of the wild bison
while her cameraman documented the event. I gave her
a DVD and still hope for the opportunity to have the
buffalo story told on air. She gave away copies of her
new book, Stand Up to the Madness, signing it to all
buffalo friends. I brought the book home to my husband,
Roman, and my son, Japhy. We read and discussed the
different stories featuring people who were in fact
standing up to the madness. The next day, Japhy handed
me this poem:
Stand Up to the Madness
Do your hearts, beating blood out of veins,
humans bleeding their lives out far away from their
because of the lunatic whims of the people in power,
our "leaders" fear...
driving entire genetic lines to extinction
Children crying out for lost mothers
because millions are afraid to
STAND UP TO THE MADNESS
Our generations working everyday
to pay for our leaders' screw ups
or for a war caused by misguided fear
One ridiculous mess up after another
and they still can get away with it
kill millions of buffalo
then celebrate because 28 survived!
I wish I could just wish away my feeling
but I can't
and that is why we must battle on
that is why we must have hope
that is why we must keep faith
that is why we must
STAND UP TO THE MADNESS!
by Japhy Ryder Sanchez, age 11
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population
in the U.S.
2007-2008 Total: 1,604
2007-2008 Slaughter: 1,438
2007-2008 Hunt: 166
2007-2008 Quarantine: 112
Total Since 2000: 3,669*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts
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