* Update from the Field
Buffalo have still not migrated into Montana. Every day patrols are donning skis and snowshoes, heading out into the field to check migration corridors and all the areas favored by buffalo, but the shaggy giants are currently absent from Montana's wintry landscape. A few buffalo hunters arrived over the week, but there were no animals available for them to kill. Montana's buffalo hunt ends in just a few weeks, at sunset on February 15. We hope the buffalo will continue to find the forage they need in Yellowstone's boundaries until then, and keep safe from the bullet.
BFC has taken advantage of this quiet time to embark on a very satisfying habitat improvement project, which will have immediate benefits for buffalo and other area wildlife. When the buffalo do begin their migration, accessing portions of their habitat will no longer be as trecherous. Please read on, watch the short video, and learn how you can lend a hand to free the land.
* Off-Fence, De-Fence: Lend a Hand to Free the Land
BFC volunteer cuts barbed wire off public land along Highway 287. BFC file photo.
On January 15th, Buffalo Field Campaign started a barbed-wire fence removal effort in cooperation with Gallatin National Forest. This extremely satisfying habitat improvement project, which we fondly refer to as our "off-fence / de-fence" effort, began with the removal of a two-mile stretch of barbed-wire fence on Gallatin National Forest lands near Duck Creek, a critical wildlife migration corridor especially loved by bull buffalo.
Eleven BFC volunteers, including two awesome individuals from the Natural Resources Defense Council, started the project last Friday. We plowed through the snow, dug up buried strands, cut the fence free from posts, and rolled it up for the Forest Service to collect and dispose of. It took just two and a half days to remove it all, and now this part of the landscape -- frequently used by buffalo, moose, elk, fox, eagles, grizzly bears, and many other area wildlife -- is finally free of the cruel fencing.
Watch a short BFC video clip of the project.
The fencing we removed was once part of a public lands cattle-grazing allotment, which has been vacant (without cows) for many years. Gallatin National Forest recently closed this land to cattle for good, yet the harmful fence was left behind. During hazing operations, BFC has often witnessed buffalo being run into this section of barbed-wire fence by the Montana Department of Livestock, and we've also witnessed other wildlife having difficulty negotiating the fence. For years BFC offered to remove it, so when we finally got the green light form Gallatin National Forest, we went right to work. Gallatin National Forest provided the leather gloves and the barbed wire pick-up, and we organized the people power. Now, when buffalo begin to migrate through this area they will no longer have to negotiate the hazardous barbed wire. We are excited to continue working with Gallatin National Forest to remove other sections of barbed-wire fence on our public lands, and we hope you will become inspired to take on similar projects around public lands in your region.
BFC and NRDC volunteer for Gallatin National Forest to remove barbed wire fence near Duck Creek.
LEND A HAND TO FREE THE LAND! Thousands, even millions of acres in the U.S. are strangled by barbed wire fencing, much of it strewn across our public lands which have been leased to ranchers for cattle grazing. Some of these cattle grazing allotments are closed, but the fence remains. Barbed wire is difficult enough for wildlife to navigate and can prevent some wildlife from accessing critical habitat, and does cause injury and sometimes death. Neglected barbed wire can be worse because it's unseen, with loose strands hiding tangled in vegetation, a veritable trap waiting to maim or kill. BFC wants to encourage everyone who can to contact their local National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management offices and offer your volunteer services to remove dangerous barbed wire fence. A quick search of the Internet may show you fence-removal projects already underway that you can participate in. It is very satisfying work and you will be making a huge and immediately positive difference for wildlife across the country! BFC will be creating an informative web page to help educate and empower people to lend a hand to free the land, but don't let that stop you from beginning your own off-fence/de-fence projects today! If you do take on this gratifying work, please share your stories and photos with us. Thank you!
* Live Auction! Bid Now on an Awesome Colorado Ski Trip
The Colorado ski trip auction is now live! The winner will receive six nights of lodging in a Gold-Plus rated, four-bedroom, 3-bath condominium 500 yards from the base of the Silver Queen ski lift, eight ski lift tickets courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, and more than 700 dollars worth of ski clothing from Patagonia. 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the front-lines work of Buffalo Field Campaign, the only group working in the field and on the policy front to permanently protect the Yellowstone bison, America's only continuously wild population.
Retail value of this package is more than $5,987.
For more information, please click here and good luck!
* High Quality Photos Needed for Buffalo Calendar
Buffalo Field Campaign is excited to announce that we have the opportunity to create the first-ever buffalo calendar, which would become available in time for the 2011 calendar year. This calendar will focus on the positive aspects of buffalo life in hopes that more people will come to fall in love with these gentle, shaggy giants and take an active interest in the issues affecting them. Knowing that many of you have spent time in and around Yellowstone with the buffalo, we wanted to invite you to submit your favorite high-quality shots. If your photos are chosen for use in the calendar, you will, of course, be given full credit.
Photo submission guidelines: Calendar photos must be stellar! We need high-quality digital photos at 300dpi, high resolution JPEG or TIFF files. Photos should be in color. We cannot accept "photoshopped", scanned, web camera, or photos taken from a web site. There should not be any dates or text of any kind visible on the photos. If you have photos that meet these requirements and you're willing to let us submit them for inclusion in the calendar, please send them to Stephany at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. You may also send a CD of photos to Stephany/Buffalo Calendar, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, Montana 59758. We can also send you a more detailed document on photo submission guidelines required by the calendar's publisher, so just email for a copy if you intend to submit photos.
* BFC Kitchen Needs a New Stove
The BFC kitchen is in need of a new stove! Our current oven has been on the fritz for a few years now and we are looking to replace it before it finally gives up the ghost. We are looking for a commercial grade 6-burner gas range with a large capacity oven. During our main season we feed anywhere from 15-40 volunteers three meals a day seven days a week, so a heavy duty, reliable range is one of our most important tools at camp. If you have this kind of a range, or know someone who does, and would like to donate it to BFC, or if you would like to help us purchase a new one, please call our kitchen coordinator, Brandy, at 406-646-0070. Thank you!
Please visit BFC's Wish List to find out about other items we are in need of. All donations - monetary and in-kind - are tax deductible.
* Last Words
"You, O buffalo, are the earth! May we understand this!"
~Lakota Sun Dance prayer
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. Thank you all for the poems, songs and stories you have been sending; you'll see them here!
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2009-2010 Total: 1
2009-2010 Slaughter: 0
2009-2010 Hunt: 1
2009-2010 Quarantine: 0
2009-2010 Shot by Agents: 0
2009-2010 Highway Mortality: 0
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
Total Since 2000: 3,703*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortalities