* barb abramo, 1943-2011
Beautiful barb in a ballerina pose. She and Darrell were in Yellowstone, hanging out with rutting wild buffalo and powerful wild winds. Photo by Darrell.
Most of you are aware that our dear friend, barb abramo, passed away on Sunday morning. She was surrounded by eight members of her buffalo family, and her parting from This World was gentle and quiet. She is now reunited with the love of her life, Phil Morton. We thank you all so very much for the many heartfelt prayers, emails, cards and phone calls you have sent and continue to send. barb was loved and respected by so many people, and an inspiration to us all. A Brooklyn-raised Sicilian, barb always gave voice to what she believed in, and she was a tenacious advocate for wild buffalo. barb will be with us and the buffalo always; every time we look into the eyes of a buffalo, she will be there; in the wind that moves the bull's thick, shaggy hair, she will be there; in the dance of a buffalo calf she will be there.... and in all our passion, courage and strength as we press on for the buffalo, she is with us always. Donning her favorite color purple, with her gorgeous mane of long silver hair, she will toss back her head, her laughter echoing through the valleys and plains when the buffalo again roam free.
In response to our email last week, asking for prayers for barb, BFC supporter Eleanor July sent this beautiful photo so that this bull could help watch over barb.
* Update from the Field
Massive and handsome, this bull was relaxing on the Gardiner school football field. Photo by Stephany.
On Thursday and Friday, over sixty wild buffalo that were captured in Yellowstone National Park's Stephens Creek buffalo prison Wednesday morning, were crammed into small livestock trailers and transferred to another jail: the vacant fenced-in areas of the Corwin Springs buffalo quarantine facility, where they will remain until the government hazes them back into Yellowstone after Spring green-up. BFC volunteers in Gardiner followed the livestock trailers north along Highway 89 as they carried our shaggy friends to their new prison.
This particular group of buffalo, moved from the Stephens Creek trap to the Corwin Springs trap, was in Stephens Creek for a very short time, yet many of them sustained injuries from their captivity and rough human handling. Photo by Stephany.
As the trailer doors opened, the buffalo fled. We were shocked at the condition of these buffalo who had been in the Park's trap for no more than 48 hours. They were soaking wet and muddy, visibly frightened, and some were showing large areas of red skin, where their wooly hide should have been. Each of the buffalo displayed an oval-shaped, white tag with a number. One group of about twenty buffalo - mostly young ones - were put into a small, muddy corral, where there is no grass at all.
In the wild, buffalo rarely, if ever, cause injury to one another. These kinds of wounds are seen when the government traps and tortures them. Photo by Stephany.
The Stephens Creek buffalo prison still holds captive over 560 buffalo. Many of these buffalo have been in the trap since late-January. Already three buffalo have died in the trap, and one buffalo suffered a miscarriage. With the condition of the buffalo we saw coming away from Stephens Creek after two days on the inside, we are extremely concerned about the welfare of those who have been there for almost two months. BFC has been pressing Yellowstone National Park to let us in to see the buffalo and how they are fairing in there. After weeks of repeated requests, Yellowstone finally complied, and today, March 17, the Park will allow a media tour of the facility and BFC will be there. Simultaneously, The Longest Walk - a group of powerful Native Americans walking a 5,000 mile journey through the country to raise awareness of diabetes - will be travelling through Gardiner, to visit the buffalo, pray for those who are confined, and share some time with BFC. We will walk in solidarity with The Walkers, for healing that can come through the respectful return of the buffalo.
This bull stands guard over his fallen comrade, showing another face of the strong family ties buffalo have. Photo by Stephany.
BFC volunteers weren't the only eyes on the tragic situation of the buffalo inside the government traps. Some Nez Perce tribal members were also bearing witness, and frustrations are clearly growing. Nez Perce hunting parties were in the area for the last weekend of their buffalo hunt, but for days there were no buffalo available to harvest, and as hunters looked towards the traps, they knew the main reasons why. On Sunday, however, seven bulls walked up into the hunt zone, and six of them were taken by hunters. The seventh bull that was left broke our heart; he was younger and he stood by his fallen comrade, and later bedded down next to him while he was still whole. The Nez Perce hunt is now over for the season. BFC Gardiner patrols had the honor of sharing an evening with a couple of Nez Perce Conservation Enforcement officers over the weekend, and we watched our DVD and talked about all things buffalo. Handfuls of BFC footage went back with them to be shared with other tribal members. Change is coming.
This bull group has been walking the land without any trouble from government agents. Times are slowly changing. Photo by Stephany.
Bull buffalo north of Yellowstone's boundary, as well as those that have been captured, are being shown a little lenience from government officials. At least six adult bulls were released from Stephens Creek last week, and the Park has said they will "opportunistically" release others. A handsome lot of bulls that have not been trapped have been fascinating residents and passers by as they roam around some lands north of Yellowstone, and they are being left alone. Change is definitely afoot for the migratory giants. The talk between Yellowstone and Montana over habitat north of the park for buffalo is moving forward, though there still haven't been very many details disclosed. One of the very sensible things being considered include stronger fencing for the few area cattle herds. The government is finally talking about opening lands north of the Park out to Yankee Jim Canyon, about ten miles from Yellowstone's boundary, but it will include fencing and cattle guards to prevent wild buffalo - and likely other migratory wildlife - from migrating further north, into what Governor Schweitzer likes to call the buffalo's "drop dead zone." One cattle guard has already been put in place on Highway 89. This small opening of habitat will offer some reprieve for the buffalo. Buffalo will roam, and they will definitely continue to push the man-made boundaries, and BFC will continue to press on for their right to do so.
barb, you are forever with us every step of the way!!!
* WHAT YOU CAN DO
If only the buffalo could set themselves free like this calf did, but they need your voice! Take action to set the buffalo free! There are many things you can do that will make a big difference for our shaggy friends. Photo by Stephany.
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! Please also tell him to have the Park set up a web cam at the Stephens Creek buffalo trap so that we can keep an eye on our friends. 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: email@example.com 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. firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
* 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: 219
2010-2011 Government Capture: 630
2010-2011 Government Slaughter:
2010-2011 Died In Government Trap: 3
2010-2011 Miscarriage in Government Trap: 1
2010-2011 State & Treaty Hunts: 211
2010-2011 Quarantine: 0
2010-2011 Shot by Agents: 2
2010-2011 Highway Mortality: 3
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
* Total Since 2000: 3,930*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words
Her heart beats now with Buffalos’ sound,
They are as one—their Spirits bound.
The love she feels in past and now,
Gives extra strength, you hear her call?
As hooves like thunder give the word,
She joins to help---the call is heard.
She follows now, along with hooves,
Protecting those---she cannot lose.
She gave her heart, her love, and life,
To help each Buffalo, out of strife.
And when you see---- the Buffalo run,
You know she’s there---her job is done.
We miss her voice, her work, her ways,
But know she’s there!—and there she stays.
You’ll hear her voice, as Buffalo run,
A time of hope------------now has begun.
~ Dakota Wallace, for barb with love
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!