* Update from the Field
Two female buffalo relaxing in Yellowstone, near Gardiner, MT. BFC file photo.
Buffalo are beginning to move with the spring tide. Along Yellowstone's western boundary, a few very small groups of buffalo are slowly approaching Montana. There is a very special family - a mother, daughter, and their two calves - who have done an amazing job of keeping themselves alive and unnoticed in Montana since last season. We couldn't tell you about them before because it would have drawn undesirable and possibly fatal attention to them. Mike Mease, BFC's co-founder, will share a special telling of their incredible story in a future Update.
Soon the migration will begin in earnest, as buffalo make their way to their calving grounds on and around Horse Butte and other areas of the Gallatin National Forest. With the natural phenomena of buffalo migration comes the dangers of them having to cross Highways 191 and 287. BFC will be a visible presence on the road with our hot pink "Buffalo Crossing" signs, helping warn motorists. If only signs were enough to keep the Montana Department of Livestock away from the buffalo. Patrols have seen DOL agents out on snowmobiles looking for buffalo, and they have also been seen numerous times working on the Duck Creek buffalo trap. No doubt the quiet times will soon be over.
Along Yellowstone's northern boundary buffalo have been mostly absent since the three bulls were killed by Nez Perce hunters near Gardiner two weeks ago. The Nez Perce's hunt ended on Monday, March 15.
BFC spent time in the Gardiner area's amazing landscape last week, but our full presence there has been short this season due to the minimal presence of buffalo and the financial constraints of keeping two camps open without dire need. While we were there in this massive wildlife migration corridor, we were blessed with the opportunity to see big horn sheep, pronghorn, elk, mule deer, coyotes, and three lovely buffalo. Our BFC family in Gardiner has been keeping an eye on these three gorgeous females who have their own secret strategy of moving between areas where they are safe.
While in Gardiner, we also got a first-hand look at the ridiculous fencing project being developed for the Royal Teton Ranch buffalo "corridor to nowhere," west of the Yellowstone River; a wasteful project that maintains the status quo of treating wild buffalo like livestock. The fencing will also make life more difficult for other ungulates in the area, including Yellowstone's only population of pronghorn, which is hanging on to existence by a thread. At the same time, Yellowstone National Park and Gallatin National Forest are embarking on re-vegetation projects in this immediate area, which further fences in scores of acres for the next 20 years, to help restore native bunch and buffalo grasses. Prior to being protected as public land, years of cattle ranching nearly killed these once-rich grasslands. It's encouraging that re-vegetation is finally taking place, but it would be far wiser to allow the buffalo to help with such a project, since they can heal the wounded land. A few miles north of Yellowstone's boundary, we visited the poor buffalo who remain in the Corwin Springs quarantine facility. They were clearly unhappy with our presence, showing immediate signs of fear and agitation, rare things to see in buffalo, but a stark indicator of mistreatment. We can only imagine the horrors they go through being kept in confinement, treated like cattle and routinely handled by scientists. Those now locked away on Ted Turner's land will also continue to go through five more years of such treatment.
In spite of more than a century of government and livestock industry efforts to domesticate and control wild buffalo, the buffalo continue to persist, resist, and endure and BFC will be here to help them every step of the way.
* Only 3,000 Wild Buffalo Left in Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park yesterday released their 2010 buffalo population estimate. Sadly, only 3,000 wild buffalo currently exist, according to the survey. Before European settlement and westward expansion, tens of millions of buffalo coexisted with First Nations. These 3,000 wild buffalo are the nation's last continuously wild population of American bison. Confined by politics to Yellowstone's ecologically meaningless boundaries, American buffalo remain ecologically extinct. Even so, livestock interests still believe 3,000 buffalo is too many. Yet the U.S. is infested with nearly 100 million invasive cattle, occupying and destroying the native buffalo's historic range. Yellowstone National Park has issued documents stating that the Park can sustain 6,200 buffalo, a number buffalo have never been allowed to reach. With surrounding Gallatin National Forest lands, and private lands that welcome buffalo, the landscape could easily support tens of thousands in the immediate area. Instead, livestock-driven government actions cut them down and continue to threaten these unique and sacred herds with extinction.
Read a short article and please consider writing a Letter to the Editor.
* BFC on Capitol Hill: Appropriations Hearings Underway in U.S. House
Buffalo Field Campaign's Josh Osher has been in Washington, DC for the past several weeks drumming up support to protect the buffalo and reinvigorating members of Congress to take action.
Appropriation hearings are underway for the Departments of Interior and Agriculture including American taxpayer funding for the Interagency Bison Management Plan under which over 3,200 wild buffalo have been slaughtered by Yellowstone National Park and the Montana Department of Livestock.
We encourage all buffalo advocates to contact their Congressional Representatives to support habitat based solutions for wild buffalo to roam free. Look for an upcoming special alert on how to help redirect your tax dollars that are funding the slaughter of America's last wild buffalo to purchase habitat forever.
It is up to all of us to let our representatives in Congress know that we want buffalo and their native habitat protected. Working the Hill to develop a grassroots lobby is an additional expense to our already extended budget, yet is vital to our broader campaign to protect the buffalo. Your financial support of our efforts on the front-lines and in the nation's capital would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
* Buffalo Field Campaign Needs Your Help
As you can tell from this week's Update, we have been extremely busy on the frontlines, in the legal arena, and in the halls of Congress. With the buffalo poised on the brink of their annual Spring migration, we will literally be working around the clock to protect them. With more than 70% of our operating funds coming from our incredible network of individual supporters, we are not beholden to corporations, large foundations, or anyone else. But we are dependent upon you. While Spring always brings BFC's heaviest workload, it is also one of our slowest seasons in terms of donations. If you care about wild buffalo and believe in the work of Buffalo Field Campaign, please support our work with a tax-deductible contribution.
Donate HERE or send a check to: BFC, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758.
Buffalo Field Campaign
* BFC Heads to Hollywood
Buffalo Battle, a special TV documentary featuring the work of Buffalo Field Campaign and produced by Planet Green, has been nominated for a Prestigious Genesis Award. BFC Campaign Coordinator Mease will be in Los Angeles this week to attend the ceremony and will host a special reception on Friday night. If you live in the area, or know people who do, please join us for front-lines stories, exclusive footage, and exciting clips from Buffalo Battle. Vegan Hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served. $5 suggested donation.
Friday March 19, 7:00-10:00PM
1770 Glendale Blvd Echo Park
For more info and to download a flyer about the event click here
* Last Words
"A 400-page United Nations report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that cattle farming is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases. The production of cattle to feed and clothe humans is assessed to be one of the top three environmental problems in the world on a local to global scale. The report, entitled Livestock's Long Shadow, also surveys the environmental damage from sheep, chickens, pigs and goats. But in almost every case, the world's 1.5 billion cattle are cited as the greatest adverse impact with respect to climate change as well as species extinction. The report concludes that, unless changes are made, the massive damage reckoned to be due to livestock may more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases. One of the cited changes suggests that intensification of the livestock industry may be suggested, since intensification leads to less land for a given level of production."
~ From "Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options." Published by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006.
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: 4
2009-2010 Slaughter: 0
2009-2010 Hunt: 4
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: 3,706*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortalities