* Update from the Field
Impressive bull buffalo that used to roam the Gardiner basin. Bulls like this magificent giant have been heavily impacted by the hunt. BFC file photo.
One hundred and ninety-nine of America's last wild buffalo have been killed in the hunt. This marks the largest number of wild buffalo killed by hunters since it was reinstated in 2005. Two First Nations are still hunting under treaty right - Nez Perce and Umatilla Confederation - and will continue to hunt buffalo through March.
The wild buffalo of the Greater Yellowstone region are the last continuously wild population left in America. Fewer than 3,700 exist, and because of politically-driven mismanagement schemes that block them from accessing available habitat, they are ecologically extinct throughout their native range. Winter herself has yet to reveal the toll she will take from this last wild population. March is one of the most trying months for the buffalo, as they have now used up most of their stores of body fat, while the grass they seek remains deeply covered in snow and ice, or else is wrongly off-limits to them.
This is one of the last wild bull buffalo patrols encountered in the Eagle Creek hunt area; he and many other bulls have all been killed by hunters. BFC file photo by Peter.
Near Gardiner, all of the bulls that had been wintering in the Eagle Creek area of Gallatin National Forest - the main area for hunting buffalo north of Yellowstone - have been killed by hunters. Massive, handsome, feisty, graceful, powerful and wise ... they are all gone. Near West Yellowstone, along the Madison River, this rich riparian corridor in the Hebgen Basin was once teeming with multiple family groups of the gentle giants. Now there is nothing left but their ghosts. For the first time this winter, since the buffalo began to migrate and the buffalo hunt began, patrols have found these migration areas empty of buffalo.
Just the way Montana's cattle interests want it.
Five hundred and twenty five wild buffalo remain in captivity inside Yellowstone National Park's Stephens Creek buffalo trap. One would-be buffalo mother has recently lost her calf, likely due to the stress of confinement and the intake of unnatural feed. The Park says they have no plans to ship any of the buffalo to slaughter, nor any plans to capture more. Our attorneys with the Montana office of Western Watersheds Project are pressing forward with an appeal to our emergency injunction, legal action that - along with your many calls and letters to Montana and Yellowstone - has helped keep these buffalo alive. These efforts seek not only to prevent slaughter, but release them from the trap. Yellowstone officials also say they are still trying to interpret the meaning of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's executive order which halted the Park's plans to transport wild bison to slaughter through Montana. Yellowstone's Superintendent Dan Wenk is scheduled to meet with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer on March 8th.
Wild buffalo badly need your voice. Below are nine things you can do to help. With endless pressure, endlessly applied we will set the buffalo free.
* Update from the Trap
A wild buffalo inside Yellowstone's Stephens Creek bison trap. BFC file photo.
The situation regarding bison in Yellowstone National Park remains the same.
In light of the Governor's recent Executive Order and the ongoing legal situation in which you are involved, our approach to bison management remains unchanged.
We continue to temporarily hold somewhere on the order of 525 bison in the fenced pastures at Stephens Creek. We are feeding between 5 and 6 tons of hay a day. There is water piped into the pastures.
Several hundred bison remain in the park between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction. We have not observed any significant movement of animals toward the park's northern boundary.
During the time we've been holding bison at Stephens Creek, I understand there has been one bison fatality and one abortion event. I do not have any further details.
Upon request, we are assisting the Montana Department of Livestock with hazing mixed groups of bison from outside the park's northern boundary back inside the park. Hazing operations have been occuring regularly, but not
We have had no capture operations for several weeks. There are no plans to ship any bison to slaughter.
As you may have seen reported, Dan Wenk, our new Superintendent, is scheduled to go to Helena next week to meet with Governor Schweitzer. The subject of bison management is one of the topics he intends to bring up
during this, his first meeting with the Governor.
~ Yellowstone National Park, March 1, 2011
* WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Contact Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk and welcome him to Yellowstone, tell him to set the trapped buffalo free, pull out of the Interagency Bison Management Plan, stop harassing and killing wildlife and work towards habitat-based solutions for America's last wild buffalo! Take Action Now!
2. NEW! Please contact Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson and ask her exactly what the Forest Service is doing to fulfill their legal mandate to provide year-round habitats maintaining wild buffalo populations. Hundreds of thousands of acres of National Forest habitats exist for wild buffalo contiguous to Yellowstone National Park's north and west boundaries. These critical public lands are a small part of the buffalo's ancient migrations to wintering range and spring calving grounds in the Paradise, Gallatin and Madison river valleys. Please ask Supervisor Mary Erickson and the U.S. Forest Service to manage habitats to support these gentle, nomadic giants. Supervisor Mary Erickson needs to stand up to the state of Montana and no longer allow the state to dictate where and when buffalo are allowed to roam our National Forests. Ask her as Supervisor of the Gallatin National Forest to reallocate habitat permitted for grazing cattle to support the keystone ecological roles migratory populations of wild buffalo fulfill on land that is their birth right. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 406-587-6758
3. Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to intervene with the Park on your behalf and to support federal funding to protect America's last wild buffalo and their habitat. Ask them to support the re-direction of funds wasted on the Interagency Bison Management Plan towards habitat-based solutions that honor the wild integrity of our national heritage. Write your Representative Write your Senators
4. Contact Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and THANK HIM for the 90-day stay of execution, tell him he did the right thing. Please also remind him that wild buffalo must be allowed to access habitat in Montana. Brucellosis is not the issue, but habitat for wild buffalo is the solution. Remind him that until Montana embraces and respects wild, free-roaming bison, the state will continue to be globally shamed by these actions against America's last wild buffalo! Remind him that tourism sustains Montana. email@example.com 406-444-3111
5. Sign BFC's Petition to National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis urging him to abandon the failed Interagency Bison Management Plan. Sign the petition.
6. Write Letters to the Editor to newspapers in your region to help raise awareness and bring an end to the unjust treatment of America's last wild buffalo. Write on for the buffalo!
7. Vote for wild buffalo and all wildlife with your money by Boycotting beef.
8. Volunteer with BFC by joining us on the front lines! volunteer"at"buffalofieldcampaign.org 406-646-0070
9. Watch & Share This Video to inspire yourself and others to Protect the Wild Bison
THANK YOU! Please spread the word to save these herds by telling everyone you know what is happening to the country's last wild buffalo and what they can do to . Knowledge is power!
* Elk Are Next
"The blood testing only indicates if an animal has been exposed to the disease and does not mean the animal is necessarily infected and can spread the disease."
~ Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Accurate words. But, this truthful statement was made in regards to elk, not buffalo, even though the exact same holds true for both animals. When the government or cattle industry mention buffalo and brucellosis together, you would think the world was about to end. Buffalo that blood-test positive for brucellosis are shipped to slaughter. End of story. But with Montana's elk herds - which bring the state a lot of money through hunting - they don't want any negative publicity. Tell the truth for the animals you like, spin lies about the animals you don't. So, with elk, brucellosis is really no big deal, but with buffalo - according to the government - the cattle industry would crumble. Baloney.
Since the livestock industry is blaming elk for actually transmitting brucellosis back to cattle, Montana FWP is bowing to the cattle lords, allowing elk harassment and eventual slaughter to begin. But they are being very careful about how they do it, so as not to ruffle any elk hunting-interest feathers. They are even going to double-check their blood samples to make sure there were no false-positives.
Click for larger image
Over the next five years, FWP will attempt to test up to 500 elk in for exposure to brucellosis. BFC was present - and documenting - during the first round of testing that took place in the Ruby Valley. Above are a series of FWP photos from this first round of testing. As the first photo shows, elk were tranquilized, netted and wrapped in a tarp, then flown by helicopter to a testing site. The downed elk had their blood taken, and were then fitted with radio collars and vaginal telemetry devices for further tracking, then they were released. No bull elk will be captured since these impressive fellows are coveted by trophy hunters. Eventually, FWP will kill some of the elk if they keep testing sero-positive for brucellosis exposure.
We'll have some exclusive video footage to share with you soon, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, let's think about some - just a few, mind you - of the thick hypocrisies in the brucellosis argument:
* There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis back to cattle. Elk have been blamed for transmitting brucellosis back to cattle.
* Wild bison are not allowed to migrate into Montana due to unfounded fears that they will transmit brucellosis to cattle and are hazed, hunted, captured, slaughtered and quarantined for entering Montana; elk, however, migrate freely throughtout the state, even within cattle pastures where cattle are present.
* Bull bison are shipped to slaughter, hunted, or molested due to unfounded fears of brucellosis transmission; bull elk are absolutely left alone by Montana, so they are around for hunters in the fall.
* Bison are rounded up like livestock, blood-tesed and shipped to slaughter if they test positive for brucellosis antibodies; elk are tranquilized in the field, tested, and released regardless of test results.
* The bacteria brucella exists in the reproductive tissues, yet elk, bison and deer are hunted every year, and hunters leave gut piles all over the landscape. If brucellosis was such a threat, wouldn't this be addressed? People who eat wild game from the Greater Yellowstone region eat brucellosis-exposed meat without their health being in any danger.
While elk may be getting off easier than the buffalo in these cattle industry-driven wars against wildlife, it is nonetheless unnecessary, harmful and disrespectful treatment of our nation's native fauna. Cattle are invasive species that have brought disease and destroyed habitat, they are the manageable element, and they must be carefully managed in order to protect our wildlife.
* By the Numbers
AMERICAN BUFFALO ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S. The last wild population is currently estimated at fewer than 3,700 individual buffalo.
2010-2011 Total: 205
2010-2011 Government Capture: 525
2010-2011 Government Slaughter:
2010-2011 Died In Government Trap: 1
2010-2011 Miscarriage in Government Trap: 1
2010-2011 State & Treaty Hunts: 199
2010-2011 Quarantine: 0
2010-2011 Shot by Agents: 2
2010-2011 Highway Mortality: 2
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
* Total Since 2000: 3,916*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words ~ Healing Wishes for BFC's barb abramo
This Last Words is a little different, as we wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that one of our dear family members is quite ill. If you have written a letter, sent a donation, ordered BFC merchandise, or dropped us an email, you have likely been in touch with BFC's Office Coordinator, barb abramo. Our beloved barb - who prefers not to capitalize her name - is currently in the hospital, in the intensive care unit. We are not sure exactly what is wrong, but it sounds potentially serious, though doctors say it is not life-threatening. She will be looked after by doctors for at least the next few days. It would make barb feel really good to hear from you. If you have a moment, please consider dropping barb a note. Emails can be sent to buffaloatwildrockies.org or mail can be sent to: barb abramao, Buffalo Field Campaign, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Thank you!
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes, and stories you have been sending; you'll see them here!