* Update from the Field
Buffalo move along Horse Butte, facing into a spring blizzard. BFC file photo by Stephany.
Intense spring blizzards haven't stopped BFC from engaging in a celebration of wild buffalo. Horse Butte and the upper Madison Valley are teeming with the prehistoric shaggy giants, and patrols have been basking in the glory of their company after a long, lonely winter. It is hard to put into words how complete the landscape feels with the buffalo's presence. Ravens, too, are celebrating their return, flying with the herds, performing acrobatic stunts, diving in and out of family groups, and cawing out in joyful jubilation.
Lovely young female on Horse Butte looks back towards her approaching family. BFC file photo by Stephany.
We have had some fantastic, and unintentional intimate encounters with the buffalo. Patrols perched in rock outcroppings at the top of Horse Butte were watching a group of about 100 buffalo when some family groups of about 20 buffalo began to make their way toward us. To prevent spooking them, our only choice was to sit still and quietly let them know we were there. Buffalo of all ages surrounded us; we met yearlings, young bulls, adolescent cows, and gorgeous adult females heavy with calves. They were so curious at our presence, stopping to lock eyes and sniffing the air to gather our scents. They gently walked along, grazing the early grasses, and after about two hours, they walked back towards the larger group. You can view more of these photos on BFC's FaceBook page.
Thankfully, buffalo crossing the road to reach Horse Butte haven't collided with vehicles. BFC has been out putting up our Buffalo Crossing signs, and we were successful in getting the MT Department of Transportation to turn on the "Animals on Road" highway signs and lower the speed limit from 70mph to 55mph, which the periodic presence of a MT Highway Patrol has been enforcing.
The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) has not yet taken any actions against the buffalo, but it is only a matter of time. The weather is currently staving off management operations, as ground conditions, blizzards, and extreme winds are preventing the DOL from using their usual vehicles of harassment. For now, all is as it should be: wild buffalo roaming free on portions of the lands that are their birthright.
But what is the future of wild buffalo in Montana? You can help determine it. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) wants to hear from you about your ideas and perspectives on restoring fence-less populations of wild bison in Montana. It is important that wild bison advocates everywhere participate in this survey. The survey asks your opinions on the pros and cons of wild bison restoration. Pros to consider can include ecological, spiritual, cultural, and tourism benefits; just speak from your heart. Give FWP your vision of having American buffalo roaming wild and free, without fences, in Montana. They also ask about the cons: challenges from the livestock industry, highways, and agricultural lands are a few, but these can be met and mitigated. Imagine wild buffalo roaming out of Yellowstone, no DOL to stop them, no traps to kill them; buffalo walking where they want, filling the plains back up, coexisting with humans, humans making every effort to develop solutions to the challenges. Buffalo wild and free all over the land. It can happen. Together, we will make it so.
Share your vision with FWP and help restore wild, fenceless populations of bison in Montana!
* Big Thanks from Mike for L.A. Hospitality
I would like to thank and honor the following people for making my trip to the Genesis Awards in Los Angeles possible. First to Matt Testa who never stops fighting for the buffalo and whose documentary Buffalo Battle earned us the nomination that was the reason for the trip. Matt and his partner Hallie hosted me as their guest my entire visit.
I also owe great thanks to Tom Rogan and Authentic Entertainment for taking the chance on BFC, donating cameras, computers, and even buying my ticket to the awards ceremony. You are truly a bright spot in Hollywood.
Jonny & Kristine Vasic have, from the start of this project, been there for Buffalo and Buffalo Field Campaign. You helped with every aspect of this production and have become true friends for life. Jonny even arranged a spectacular last minute benefit that covered all my travel costs.
And speaking of the benefit, thank you Laban Pheidias and the 2 Headed Horse for the use of your space and your great work and Prabhat Gautam of Positive TV, Cruzers Pizza and Michelle Sassy, Bettina Rosmarino and Billy Hulting for the beverages.
Many of our supporters attended the benefit and helped out everywhere. Especially helpful were Dr. Lorin Lindner and her new husband Matt; Zach & Janae Galanis; Lucas Short; Bridget Schack; and Ali, our new Summer Outreach Coordinator. Each of these people put in hard work to make the benefit a success.
Although I felt out of place in the big city, you all helped ease the pain. It was wonderful to have a family-like feeling from all of my new and old friends. Thanks again to all who made this happen. Now I think it is time you all come to Montana and let me return the favor.
With the Buffalo,
* Buffalo on Capitol Hill: Make Local Contact with Your Members of Congress
BFC's D.C. policy coordinator Josh Osher reports that while Congress is in recess for the spring (until April 11) it is key for buffalo advocates to visit local offices of your representative, make phone calls, and communicate your strong support to:
1. Stop using your tax dollars to fund Montana Department of Livestock and Yellowstone National Park operations that harm or lead to the slaughter of wild buffalo.
2. Use your tax dollars wisely by purchasing livestock grazing rights on land adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, which will open habitat for wild buffalo and other native wildlife forever.
Josh reports there is support in Congress for purchasing grazing rights - a solution to a no-end-in-sight conflict that has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and forever removed 3,200 wild buffalo from land that is their birth right.
Buffalo advocates: Contact your member of Congress and urge them to support habitat based solutions for America's last wild buffalo to roam free. Visit the link above, check the appropriations roster to see if your member of Congress sits on one of two subcommittees that oversee how your tax dollars are spent. If you don't see them listed there, contact them through this link. For more detailed information on how to persuade Congress, you can review BFC's comments to House members who oversee taxpayer funding affecting America's last wild buffalo.
Thank you for supporting the buffalo and BFC's efforts on Capitol Hill!
* Limited Hand Crafted Mother's Day Cards Available from BFC
Buffalo Field Campaign is honored to present beautiful, original, hand-colored Mother's Day cards. These cards are suitable for all the nurturing women in your life. Our card-maker has committed to 150 original artwork, hand-colored cards with the possibility of exceeding that if she's able; to ensure that your special recipient receives a BFC card, please order early. Your purchase of a Mother's Day card helps Buffalo Field Campaign continue fighting for wild bison and their rightful place on the land. For your minimum donation of $15 per card, we'll send one to the recipient(s) of your choice, timed to arrive before Mother's Day.
To place your order, click HERE or send a $15 check or money order (no cash please) to Buffalo Field Campaign, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Remember to clearly state the name and address of the person/people you'd like us to send the card to as well as any message you'd like us to write in the card. Deadline for placing orders (assuming supplies last) is Thursday, April 22nd.
* Jackson Browne Offers Special BFC Benefit Tickets
BFC supporters will have a special opportunity to see Jackson Browne with David Lindley perform on August 3 in Bozeman, Montana. Purchasers of these tickets intended to share the music and support BFC's efforts will also get to meet Jackson Brown in person after the show! Get your tickets and find out more. See you at the show!
* What Are You Doing this Summer? Volunteer With BFC!
IT'S A GO!!! We have found a good friend and past volunteer to coordinate our summer program of information tabling. So we are currently looking for volunteers who can make at least a three week commitment with the campaign. Tabling starts June 15th and runs through Labor day weekend. It will involve talking to and educating visitor in beautiful Yellowstone and Teton Parks. You will be trained when you get here and there is information you can read and learn now to help better prepare you for the program. If you are personable, energetic and would like to spend time this summer making a real difference for wild bison please contact me at volunteer"at"buffalofieldcampaign.org.
Buffalo Field Campaign
* Last Words
"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another"
~ Juvenal, Roman Poet (Circa late-first, early-second century, CE/AD).
This quote can also be found in BFC's beautiful Mother's Day cards, available now. Honor the nurturing women in your life and support the work of BFC. Hurry though: only 150 cards are available!
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