* Update from the Field
Frosty bull bison. BFC file photo courtesey of supporter Kim Kaiser.
Things have been quiet here in the Hebgan Basin for the last week. Frigid temperatures (several times dropping below -30) and bone-chilling winds have put volunteers in a 'huddle-to-stay-warm' mode. Bison seem to be content with the large open areas of grass available to them inside Yellowstone National Park that would typically be concealed under several feet of snow at this time of year. Deep freezes are slowly but very steadily turning the serene waters of Hebgan Lake into its icy winter counterpart. The howls and wails of the freezing water body are heard echoing through the valley, quite a haunting sound indeed. The lack of snow maintains the availability of grass on higher grounds, keeping our shaggy bison friends safe in their summer range, away from the dangers of the hunt zone. We can't help but miss their presence in the field on our daily patrols. The contrast of wanting to be with the bison on the landscape and wanting the bison to be safe leaves us feeling ambivalent on these cold days, but the bison will come as they always have and we will be here as we always are to help tell their story.
From the Field,
* Buffalo Battle: Cast Your Vote to Keep it Going!
We hope you were able to tune in to Planet Green last Saturday for the premier of Buffalo Battle, a new documentary-style TV program about the Yellowstone bison population and the work of Buffalo Field Campaign. We have received a lot of positive feedback, as well as some constructive criticism, and we thank you so much for your input. We'd love to hear more from you, and so would Planet Green. You can help make Buffalo Battle a series by visiting Planet Green to vote for Buffalo Battle and give your comments to the station. So far, Buffalo Battle is gaining the most votes from viewers, and this could mean that Planet Green will decide to go for a series, which will help spread the word to save these herds.
A lot of you have also asked for DVDs of the program, but at the moment they are not available. As soon as they are, we will be sure to let folks know how to get them. Buffalo Battle will continue to be shown on Planet Green, so check your local listings for show times and encourage your friends and family to tune in, and vote today for Buffalo Battle to continue!
* Good News: Horse Butte Public Lands Grazing Allotments Closed!
Wild buffalo on Horse Butte last April. BFC file photo.
We have excellent news to share with you: Gallatin National Forest recently made the decision to close the public lands cattle grazing allotments on Horse Butte. The allotments have been vacant and unused for several years, but vacancy status leaves an open door for cattle to return. Now that they are closed, this helps permanently protect Horse Butte from the destructive presence of cattle, and will help efforts to open Horse Butte to wild bison year round.
We encourage everyone to please send a big thank you to Gallatin National Forest Superintendent Mary Erickson for making this landmark decision. Let her know that these are the positive steps the Forest Service should take to provide year-round habitat for America's last wild bison population. This decision will also help protect habitat for all the wild creatures that inhabit Horse Butte, including grizzly bears, wolves, western toads and the purple monkey flower.
Email Superintendent Erickson with a message of thanks and encouragement at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Take Action: Quarantined Buffalo Need Our Help
Young bison held prisoner in government quarantine study. BFC file photo.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is poised to hand over to billionaire Ted Turner 74 Yellowstone bison that were captured as calves from Yellowstone National Park, setting a negative precedent of commercializing wild bison that are protected for the benefit and enjoyment of all people. We need your help to put pressure on decision-makers to give these Yellowstone bison a chance to remain as public wildlife on lands available to all people. Please visit last week's Update from the Field for more detail and information about contacting decision-makers. Many thanks to everyone who has been making their voice heard for these captive buffalo. Read this fantastic piece by BFC Board Member Ken Cole, which gives a great overview of the current quarantine situation.
* HOPE for the Buffalo ~ Enter Essay Contest
Many of us have enjoyed Endangered Species Chocolates, as well as the contributions they make to help Earth's vanishing plants and animals. They currently have a program called It's Time for HOPE, encouraging people who care to dream and realize those dreams ... for the animals that are all too quickly leaving us, because of us. Endangered Species Chocolate's It's Time for HOPE program is welcoming 500-word essays about the thing that gives you hope. Hope can be wild buffalo roaming free, pressing on against all odds. If your essay is chosen, the organization of your choice will be given $5,000. We are hopeful that you will choose BFC, and, it's a great way to get the buffalo's story out there. Enter your buffalo HOPE essay today and see below for a beautiful example.
* Last Words
"In the nightmare, I'm on the north side of the Madison River, just west of Yellowstone National Park. A thick, gray fog obscures everything but the ground at my feet. My heart sinks as I hear the sound of high powered rifles and the pounding of heavy hooves in the distance. Suddenly, a massive bull buffalo charges from the mist and pins me against a pine tree. I'm not hurt, but am stuck between his horns and the tree. I'm helpless as the slaughter approaches, hearing and feeling the earth shake as many buffalo are killed and fall to the ground. I awake in a pool of sweat and realize that I was dreaming. Slowly, too, I realize that I am safe and warm in the lodge at the Buffalo Field Campaign. I can hear the soft breathing and occasional snores of the other volunteers sleeping around me. In reality, the senseless slaughter of the buffalo continues, but my hope lies in these volunteers. They come from all over the world, old and young alike, to answer the call for help.
Soon we will rise and head into the field, into the offices, into the schools, the courtrooms, the street rallies, anywhere that we can advocate and educate about how important these last wild American buffalo truly are. Some can only come for a weekend, others have devoted their lives, but all who have been blessed to be in the presence of wild buffalo are changed by the experience. For every volunteer who comes to Yellowstone to brave the cold and bear witness to this harsh injustice there are thousands more who work and support from afar. I am hopeful because I can see that together we are making progress. Slow, painful and bittersweet at times, but progress nonetheless. With the stubborn persistence of buffalo headed into a winter storm, our numbers grow, our collective voice becomes louder. I can feel it now, like a huge wave growing in the ocean, we are poised. Wide awake, our dream of the return of wild buffalo and justice for the native cultures that cherished them begins to take form. Together, with dedication, hard work, and a boundless hope, we will make this dream reality."
~ By Pete Leusch, BFC Board Member.
This is Pete's powerful HOPE essay submission (see above). Submit yours for the buffalo, too!
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