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Weekly Update from the Field May 15, 2008
Subscribe to our email list and receive our weekly Update from the Field
* Update from the Field
* Buffalo Advocates Rally in Helena
* BFC in Need of Summer Volunteers
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words
* Buffalo Kill Tally

* 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 the buffalo.

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 maintenance skills?

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: summer@buffalofieldcampaign.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 bison advocate.

* 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 families
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
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

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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