* Update from the Field
Baby buffalo with mom. Photo by Lyle Wood, BFC supporter.
Along Yellowstone's western boundary, BFC has been basking in the natural phenomenon of buffalo migration these past few weeks. More than 300 wild American buffalo are completing the landscape with their graceful and critical presence; healing the land, lifting our spirits, helping make whole the break in the heart of the earth. With no agents harassing the buffalo yet, we have been thoroughly enjoying time with the wondrous gentle giants. This morning, patrols were given an extra special gift with the first sign of the next generation of buffalo: little tiny footprints out on Horse Butte. Patrols didn't get a chance to spot the newborn calf itself yet, but these perfect baby tracks are the harbinger that calving season is finally upon us! Welcome to the world, buffalo! But, what kind of world awaits them? For now, the world they know is one of relative peace, time to grow strong, rest fully, play and learn how to be self-willed buffalo, walking and napping next to their protective mothers, following in the footsteps of their families.
Unfortunately, the chaos of government harassment will soon descend upon the buffalo, shattering this stillness, disrupting the sacred. The Montana Department of Livestock has said it is only a matter of time before they make their notorious efforts with their government partners to rid Montana of the last wild buffalo. On Wednesday and Thursday, BFC attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan meetings; a grueling eight hours of listening to talking heads making decisions that have dire impacts on the buffalo and all who share their landscape. The agencies have stated that as soon as enough snow melts, hazing operations will begin. These harmful and unnecessary operations, in which buffalo are chased, captured, and slaughtered, are insisted upon by Montana's livestock industry due to the unfounded fears of the livestock industry that wild bison will transmit brucellosis to cattle that aren't even here.
DOL agent hazes mother buffalo and her calf. BFC file photo.
Along Yellowstone's northern boundary, near Gardiner, Montana, BFC has been running full patrols once again. The groups of buffalo that were hazed by Yellowstone National Park last week have maintained their presence on the landscape, but have not been harassed again since we last wrote. We are keeping a close eye on these buffalo, and we are also in a bit of a bind: our base of operations in Gardiner is no longer available to us until next season, and if the buffalo decide to push the Park's man-made boundaries they will be in dire trouble and we will need to be there with them. Camping is not an option due to our video and radio needs, so we may need to set up in a hotel if the buffalo need us there. Please help us prepare by donating here.
Also in Gardiner, bull buffalo are currently being harassed and drugged as the USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has begun their bull bison study, despite the lack of public support or scientific necessity. So far, since Monday, seven adult bull bison have been darted with tranquilizer, probed, and tested. After APHIS takes what they want from the bulls, they are marking them with blue paint. BFC has been documenting the incidents and we will soon share this footage with you.
Bull buffalo. Photo by BFC volunteer Seamus.
Though cattle interests and the government that backs them are currently dominating the buffalo's lives and landscape, the tides slowly but surely turn. Native Americans, including the Nez Perce, the Confederated Salish-Kootenai, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council (previously the InterTribal Bison Cooperative) are now fully seated at the Interagency Bison Management Plan table, and they are lending the wisdom, respect and vision for the buffalo that these U.S. and Montana government agencies so badly need. A Nez Perce representative, Larry Greene, reminded the agencies that one of the stated goals of the IBMP is to "conserve a free-ranging, wild population of buffalo" and that it is this fundamental issue to which the agencies must return. The Tribal voice will be a strong one, and buffalo advocates can expect positive change to come from First Nations who are finally represented equally in issues affecting the last wild population of buffalo.
Your voice will also count as Montana begins to look to the future for wild buffalo in Montana. You can help shape that future no matter where you live by taking part in this brief bison survey from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Please lend your voice, your heart and your vision to the future of wild buffalo roaming free on the lands that are their birthright.
Thank you all for being with us, for the buffalo. We would not be here with the buffalo without your support. You are Buffalo Field Campaign. Thank you.
* Only One Week Left to Order a BFC Mother's Day Card!
Buffalo Field Campaign's original, hand-colored Mother's Day cards are selling fast. These beautiful cards make the perfect Mother's Day gift. For a minimum donation of $15 per card, we'll send one to the recipient(s) of your choice, timed to arrive before Mother's Day. Your purchase of a Mother's Day card helps Buffalo Field Campaign continue fighting for wild bison and their rightful place on the land.
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 is Thursday, April 22nd.
* Going Fast! Special Jackson Browne Tickets Benefit BFC
Buffalo Field Campaign supporters have a special opportunity to see Jackson Browne with David Lindley on August 3 at Montana State University in Bozeman. Proceeds from these special tickets to some of the best seats in the house allow you to meet Jackson Browne in person after the show. For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here for more information and to purchase your tickets.
* Volunteer with BFC this Summer in Yellowstone Country!
As the days progress in our winter/spring field season we are all aware that glorious time with the bison will soon be over. The cowboys on horseback, ATVs, and helicopter will obliterate the tranquility of the "western management area" which is, incidentally, home to many people and animals. The thought of pregnant mothers and newborn calves being chased for miles and miles for the benefit of the few livestock producers in the area is a constant reminder for us to be organized and prepared to document these occurrences. It is also a reminder of how we need to continue our summer tabling program to inform and educate the public on what is happening to these sacred animals. We have received several emails from prospective volunteers, but WE NEED MORE HELP. Please if you are able to dedicate three weeks of your time to the buffalo, have an interest in educating the public and camping in Yellowstone and Teton Parks this summer, get in touch. If you are not able to commit that time with us maybe you know people who could and are not currently aware of what is happening to the bison. We welcome all interest. Please call 406-646-0070, or email volunteer"at"buffalofieldcampaign.org. Let's continue to work together to create positive and lasting change for wild bison. Thank you.
Buffalo Field Campaign
* BFC Wish List: Winter-Ready Tipis
Where some of us live at Buffalo Field Campaign. BFC file photo.
Buffalo Field Campaign stands with the buffalo in one of the coldest climates in the Continental US, the high country of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Many of our long-term coordinators and volunteers have sacrificed the common comforts to live both frugally and peacefully on the landscape by taking our shelter in tipis. This may sound crazy, but it is an extremely efficient and cozy way to live here. Our tipis have stood the tests of time and extreme weather, but they can only take so much.
BFC needs a couple of 14 or 16 foot, treated canvas, winter-ready tipis for our long-term volunteers and coordinators. If you can help, please contact Mike at mease"at"wildrockies.org or 406-646-0070. Thank you so much for enabling BFC to be in the field with the last wild buffalo! Visit BFC's Wish List to see about other items that help keep our campaign strong. All donations, monetary or in-kind, are tax deductible.
* News Story Gets Bison Issue Right
A great article on the Yellowstone bison has been making the rounds of alternative journalism news sites. First appearing on AlterNet, then on TruthOut.org, and now on Counterpunch, this in-depth look at the mismanagement of Yellowstone bison reminds us of how one-sided most bison-related stories are. Please check this story out and pass it on to your friends, post it to your blogs, FaceBook pages and other places that will help spread the word about the issue. Thank you!
* Last Words
"Bison are a symbol of human mismanagement of nature and getting our relationship right with nature is one of the preoccupations of the 21st century."
~ Harvey Locke, Trustee with Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation in Banff, who hopes Banff National Park (Canada) will re-establish bison populations.
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 mortality