* Nine Bulls Sent to Slaughter
Yesterday we sent out a special alert to inform you
that the Montana Department of Livestock had captured
nine bull bison at the Duck Creek trap. Thank you all
for making the calls to help these bulls. Unfortunately,
the livestock interests got their way in spite of our
efforts: in the early morning hours, the nine wild bulls
confined to the Duck Creek trap were loaded onto two
livestock trailers and shipped to slaughter by the Montana
Department of Livestock.
In the face of over 1,600 killed by government management
actions alone, the lives of nine bulls may not seem
like much, but it is a lot. Every single buffalo life
is significant; each carries the future of the next
generation; each holds within itself the evolutionary
potential of this magnificent prehistoric natural wonder.
From our observations, we can tell you with confidence
that the buffalo population is below the conservation
threshold of 2,100 established in the Interagency Bison
(mis)Management Plan. The agencies can confirm this
if they want to do another aerial survey. As it is written
in the Plan, when the population falls below 2,100,
the agencies "will" take action to prevent
more slaughter of the buffalo by taking more non-lethal
management actions. It just so happened that the late
winter count on April 11 observed 1,970 buffalo, but
the agencies stuck that number into their population
matrix and out popped 2,145 buffalo. That same report
estimated 400 to 700 winter kill.
It's a fact of life that politicians lie; they'll say
anything to get elected or maintain popularity. Montana
Governor Brian Schweitzer made a statement in mid-April
that no more wild buffalo would be slaughtered. Just
days later, the Montana Department of Livestock captured
and sent three bull buffalo to slaughter. This week,
another nine were trapped and killed. People who are
calling the Governor's office to express their concern
and outrage are being immediately transferred to the
Department of Livestock; the Governor is trying to hide
from his responsibility in the bloodshed of thousands
of wild American buffalo. Toss up your hands and pass
the buck, that's the name of the game. When Schweitzer
ran for the governor's office, he campaigned on the
promise of "more tolerance" for wild buffalo
in Montana. The results of his words have been more
wild buffalo killed under the four years of his watch
than in the eleven years preceding his election. It
appears that Schweitzer does not have control of the
Department of Livestock and its livestock inspectors.
Either he doesn't care or he doesn't mind Montana's
state vet calling the shots.
But we, the global, national, collective 'we', care.
We are going to hold him accountable. Anyone can see
that the brucellosis argument is a complete fraud. It's
a political move being used by the cattle industry to
eradicate wild bison from their native habitat in order
to hoard grass for livestock. Montana and it's livestock
industry are playing lethal games with our national/natural
heritage, with ecological systems that are the life
of this planet, all to maintain a "bottom line"
and a "lifestyle" that has failed the landscape
and her native inhabitants for decades, and, indeed,
for centuries. As Mother Jones said, "pray for
the dead and fight like hell for the living!"
ENDLESS PRESSURE, ENDLESSLY
* WE DON'T STOP UNTIL THE SLAUGHTER STOPS!
* Governor Brian Schweitzer - email@example.com
* Hal Harper, Governor Schweitzer's Chief Policy Advisor
* Mike Volesky, Governor Schweitzer's Policy Advisor
for Natural Resources #406-444-7857
* Marty Zaluski, Montana State Vet #406-444-0782
* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
Bull bison are massive! Their heads are unimaginable!
And those hair do's! The thick, coarse, black hair spilling
from the top of their heads down between their horns
that protects their massive skulls from serious bull-to-bull
combat during the rut: all unique, all purely BUFFALO.
As we drove home from our p.m. rove patrol, the "boys
were back in town": Ten bulls spanned Highway 287,
walking side by side, taking up both lanes as if daring
anyone to argue against their right to roam wherever
they choose. So impressive...they own the road! At least
for the moment. Heading west toward the Madison River
Valley, there is plenty of room to roam for these bulls.
Unfortunately, agents hazed them back into the park,
once again demonstrating Montana's lack of tolerance
and appreciation for the last wild bison.
The female bison display their power through vulnerability.
Swollen in pregnancy, they choose the Horse Butte Peninsula
for its luscious spring grass and plentiful water. Many
calves are born there, dotting the Butte like ochre
colored rocks. In nature, the newborns spend most of
their time resting punctuated by short bursts of energetic
play. The new mamas replenish themselves on fresh spring
grass. The agents hazed this mixed herd of over 150
off the Butte using a helicopter, ATVs, and horses.
The 20 mile run consists of thick sage brush, steep
sandy bluffs and mud flats. The herd is scattered and
exhausted by the time they reach the park. Then they
are pushed another seven miles inside Yellowstone. Ironically,
more than 300 bison were held captive for months on
the northern park entrance because there was not enough
suitable forage for them inside Yellowstone, according
to park officials. Yet on the western boundary, bison
can't access public lands, like the Horse Butte peninsula,
and are instead hazed into the same park they are denied
on the north. Another one of the many contradictions
this mismanagement plan exhibits.
We entered the park to check on this herd exiled from
Horse Butte. Just past Seven Mile Bridge, a day after
the large helicopter haze, we spotted a small herd of
three adults, one yearling and two newborn calves, who
couldn't have been more than a few days old. One calf
was visibly struggling. Whether the calf sustained a
broken leg or was suffering from severe muscle spasms
I can't say. However, several park visitors had stopped
to observe these bison and also noted the little calf's
trouble. We informed them of the hazing operations and
encouraged folks to ask the Park Service for some answers.
A few miles deeper into the park we encountered the
large herd of about 150 buffalo. A mama had just given
birth. We stayed with the herd for the next two hours
and were rewarded when another calf was born. The mother
bison labored on the ground for some time, then stood
and released the next generation of wild bison to the
Earth. Her power, even in this delicate time, exhausted
and spent from the prior day's haze, was undeniable.
She began licking her calf clean of afterbirth and within
minutes a raven landed to check out the bounty left
by the bison. Here in nature there is no need for a
management plan. The ecosystem will take care of itself.
To see a birth in the wild has been a dream of mine
for many years. And yet this one was somewhat bittersweet.
I know the trauma these mamas and babies have sustained
and the long battle for their freedom yet to come.
Speaking of freedom, the 330 wild buffalo that have
been confined to the Stephens Creek trap on Yellowstone's
north boundary were released this week. These buffalo
have been through trauma that we cannot even begin to
understand. Chased off of their native ground, into
a trap where hundreds of their relatives were stolen
from them and sent to slaughter or domestication prisons.
Wildness confined equals madness. After being held for
nearly two months, wranglers opened the gates of the
trap and hazed the buffalo deeper into the Park. BFC
was there with the buffalo, monitoring their condition.
What we saw was not good. All the buffalo have numbered
tags glued to their bodies. One female buffalo was reported
to have a broken leg, and numerous buffalo have gore
wounds. In natural conditions buffalo rarely harm each
other. When confined, their behavior obviously changes.
It's a damn shameful thing to see the buffalo released
from Stephens Creek with numbered tags on their gored
hides. They looked like fruit marked for check-out at
a grocery store.
BFC's habitat coordinator, Darrell Geist, has been taking
friends into the Park this week, looking for buffalo
and the supposed green-up the agencies are pushing them
to. Here's what he had to report: "The interior
'summer ranges' the agencies claimed the buffalo and
their newborn calves were being forced to from Horse
Butte and the upper Madison Valley are under spring
floods, and or late winter snows. There's very little
green-up inside Yellowstone from the Madison to Firehole
to Old Faithful, and from the Madison to Gibbon to Norris.
Green up was just taking hold in the Lamar Valley from
Mammoth to Blacktail Plateau. Once again, the agencies
involved have ignored ecological conditions on the ground
to enforce an arbitrary May 15 drop dead line. There's
not one beef cow here on the west side and they will
not be trucked in until early July or late June at the
My family and I have been in West Yellowstone for about
2 weeks this time around. My eyes and senses have been
treated to wild bison, wolves, grizzly bears, moose,
golden, bald and immature bald eagles, great blue herons,
trumpeter swans, Sandhill cranes, pelicans, ospreys,
ravens, king fishers...the list goes on! The beauty
of the wild seeps into my soul again and again...and
the years go by and bison are yet to have a home in
Montana. The bison are why we see the diversity we do
within the Yellowstone Ecosystem...I just know it...I
feel it...we see it and document it 365 days a year.
To be a volunteer with the Buffalo Field Campaign is
to be in relationship with the mighty bison. And, for
me, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else!
With love for the buffalo,
BFC volunteer and board member
* "Let Buffalo Roam" License Plates
Available for Out-of-Staters!
Show your support for wild, free-roaming bison in Montana
from wherever you live! Buffalo advocates outside Montana
can acquire sample plates to display on your vehicle
or in other visible locations. These plates will only
be for show, and cannot be legally registered.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
with questions or send a check or money order to License
Plates c/o Buffalo Field Campaign, P.O. Box 957, West
Yellowstone, MT 59758.
* 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: email@example.com
If you are interested in assisting with cabin maintenance
projects this summer please contact BFC at: (406) 646-0070
* Buffalo in the News
June 2008 - Harper's Magazine - "They Shoot Buffalo,
Don't They?" by Chris Ketcham
Journalist Chris Ketchum spent a few weeks with BFC
in the field last spring, working on a story for Harper's
Magazine and, finally, his story is out! We'd love to
share it with you, but Harper's online magazine is subscription
only, so we cannot provide a link. But please be sure
to pick up a copy of the June issue of Harper's Magazine
and share it with the people you know. Thousands of
Americans read Harper's and are bound to learn about
the insane mismanagement of America's last wild bison
May 21, 2008 - West Yellowstone News - "Open Letter
to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Yellowstone
Superintendent Suzanne Lewis" by Robert Hoskins
* Photo of the Week
Wild buffalo enjoy their time out on Horse Butte, within
Montana's largest 'buffalo safe zone' the 700+-acre
property owned by the Galanis family. The Montana Department
of Livestock is itching to harass these buffalo and
force them off the land, but as yet, private property
rights are keeping the buffalo safe. Stay tuned for
a potential showdown, because livestock inspectors may
ignore the wishes of the Galanis family and change this
scene from peaceful to chaotic within the next week
~ Photo by Jesse Crocker
* Last Words
"Some environmentalists are in predictably high
dudgeon as state and federal officials began the practice
of driving Yellowstone bison back into the park from
the Horse Butte area on Hebgen Lake last week. Hazing
the bison back into the park is called for in the Interagency
Bison Management Plan adopted by state and federal officials
in 2000, and the practice has become an annual spring
ritual. But the longer it goes on, the less sense it
makes. This is an expensive, time-consuming process
that was once justified in the name of disease control.
Many of the park bison carry the brucella bacteria that
can cause domestic cattle to abort their calves if they
become infected. But there are no cattle in the area
outside the park where the bison have been roaming.
And the nature of the landowners in the same area is
changing, with many welcoming the presence of the bison.
It also must be noted that there have been no recorded
cases of bison infecting cattle with the disease in
the wild. Another important consideration is the fact
that the bison are in their most weakened state, coming
off a winter of heavy snowfall. Driving them back into
the park - much of which is still blanketed with snow
- could endanger their survival, a significant consideration
in light of the fact that more than half of park's bison
were slaughtered, harvested by hunters or winter-killed
since last fall. The plight of the park bison - and
the treatment they receive when they wander into Montana
- has attracted some very negative publicity for our
state. This, along with all of the above, begs the question:
Why, exactly, are we doing this? The environmental groups
have called on Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to convene
a meeting of the agencies that were party to the 2000
management plan and propose amendments to the plan that
will allow the bison to remain outside the park. At
the very least, they deserve an answer - one that makes
~ An unexpected and amazing opinion piece by the editorial
staff of Montana's Bozeman Daily Chronicle - Paper's
Opinion, May 18, 2008
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild
population in the U.S.
2007-2008 Total: 1,613
2007-2008 Slaughter: 1,447
2007-2008 Hunt: 166
2007-2008 Quarantine: 112
Total Since 2000: 3,678*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts