* Update from the Field
It is a great pleasure to see these bulls roam freely north of Yellowstone's boundary in the Gardiner Basin. The new habitat access begs the implementation of wildlife safe passage, to keep buffalo and motorists out of harms way on the highway! BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Thanks to your tireless support and countless actions over these many years, wild buffalo are gaining a little of their native ground back. Last week, Montana and Yellowstone National Park announced that they will finally allow Yellowstone buffalo to roam portions of their native Montana habitat that they have been refused for too many generations. Buffalo are already benefiting, and have been using this newly accessed habitat for the past few weeks. According to the agencies, the plan is ultimately to allow an unlimited number of buffalo - bull groups and family groups - to use this landscape.
While this development is certainly a positive step, it is not a perfect solution. The buffalo will only be allowed upon these critical lands from January 1 through May 1. Outside this four-month window, buffalo will be aggressively hazed back into Yellowstone. National Forest lands within this zone of tolerance will be open to hunting, and the number of hunting tags will be greatly increased.
Buffalo baffle? BFC was there to witness how this group of bull buffalo would react to this newly installed cattle guard at the southern end of Yankee Jim Canyon on Highway 89. As we learned, it was not something that they were willing to cross, but where there's a will, there's a way. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Cattle guards and fencing have been and will continue to be put in place to try to keep buffalo from migrating further north than Yankee Jim Canyon, which could prove dangerous--to buffalo and other wildlife. Yankee Jim Canyon is what Governor Schweitzer calls the "drop dead zone." Montana has stated that there will be no hazing of buffalo that make it north of this new line: they will all be shot.
Even with a cattle guard, buffalo are not so easily fooled, and they quickly found a way around the cattle guard. BFC volunteers were highly concerned that these mighty bulls would be shot if they ventured further north into the "drop dead zone," so we gently persuaded them to change their direction and they lived to see another day. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
North of Yankee Jim Canyon is the Tom Miner Basin and lush Paradise Valley of the Yellowstone River - lush valley lands perfectly suited for buffalo. While these changes bring benefits to buffalo, they bring challenges as well. The agencies are hosting an open house tonight, and we are hoping to learn more details then, which we will share with you.
No girls allowed? These two buffalo cows are a little upset that they and their family members are constantly harassed and pushed off the same land that bulls are now allowed to roam. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
For the time being this new habitat access is only open to bull buffalo. Mixed groups - cows, elder matriarchs, yearlings, and other youngsters are being denied their right to roam. Family groups have been hazed by the hundreds every day for the past week.
These two DOL agents were unable to haze this large group of wild buffalo the way they wanted to. The buffalo had their own ideas of what their day was going to entail, and being hazed was not one of them. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
This week, the Montana Department of Livestock has been doing most of the hazing without help from Yellowstone National Park, who nearly always participates. Two DOL agents attempted to haze nearly 300 buffalo into Yellowstone Wednesday morning, but the buffalo were feeling the good spring grasses and giving the DOL a well deserved hard time. When we asked one DOL agent why the Park Service wasn't involved, he simply said "they're
busy doing other things."
Here, DOL agent Mark Anderson makes a call on his cell phone while hounding a very pregnant buffalo. We heard him say words like "emergency buffalo situation!" and "buffalo not cooperating!" The DOL were on their own today, and the buffalo gave them a great challenge. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
While things are certainly moving in a more positive direction for some buffalo, there remain nearly 660 wild buffalo trapped inside the Yellowstone buffalo trap, and their fate remains uncertain. Yellowstone officials are currently stating that they intend to release the buffalo later in the spring, but slaughter is still a possibility, and calving season is barely two weeks away. With calving season only a couple weeks away, some baby buffalo will undoubtedly be born into a world of captivity.
BFC patrols are keeping a close eye on the buffalo, documenting hazing operations, monitoring the traps, talking with locals and visitors, roving the highways, and warning traffic of buffalo in the roads day and night. As the spring tide flows and the days lengthen, volunteers are working overtime in the field, in the policy arena, and on the legal front. We are making slow but steady progress for the buffalo because of you and your never-ending support. Thank you for staying the course; the buffalo are gaining ground.
* Send a Mother's Day Card to Help the Buffalo
Buffalo Field Campaign is happy to announce the return of our immensely popular Mother's Day card fundraiser. With the recent passing of barb abramo, BFC's Office Coordinator and one of two women who gave incredible amounts of time, energy, and passion to make this project possible, we weren't sure if we would be able to offer cards this year. But when Kathleen Stachowski--the artist whose vision and dedication gave rise to this popular fundraiser--told us that she wanted to make a special card this year, we knew that it would be the perfect way to honor barb's memory.
For just $15 Buffalo Field Campaign will send one of these beautifully designed and hand-colored cards to the recipient of your choice. Please use this link to view and order cards and remember that the deadline for ordering is Monday, April 25. We will send the cards to arrive by Mother's Day, May 8.
* TAKE ACTION NOW! Please Keep the Pressure On!
1. Please contact your Members of Congress requesting that they co-sign a letter to National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis encouraging Yellowstone National Park to find habitats for wild buffalo to roam. Take Action Now!
2. Ask Governor Schweitzer to Veto Bad Buffalo Bills. Several bills that would cause great harm to wild bison and bison restoration efforts in Montana have moved through the Montana Legislature. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has hinted that he may veto these bad bills. Americans everywhere should contact Governor Schweitzer asking him to veto HB 318, SB 174, SB 184, and SB 212. Take Action Now!
3. Don't Let APHIS Harm More Bull Buffalo! APHIS has not returned to the West Yellowstone area for nearly two weeks. Please keep the pressure on them to leave bull buffalo alone! If you haven't contacted APHIS yet, please learn more and take action, and help us spread the word!
Watch BFC's video
Contact FWP's Wildlife Chief Ken McDonald and urge him to revoke APHIS's permit
Contact Becky Frey, APHIS, and tell her she is not welcome to molest bulls buffalo on our public lands or anywhere else!
* 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 3,600 individual buffalo.
2010-2011 Total Buffalo Killed: 221
2010-2011 Government Capture: 659
2010-2011 Government Slaughter: 0
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: 5
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
* Total Since 2000: 3,932*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words
“It’s a native species, for God’s sake. You cannot be more Montana than the buffalo.”
~ Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, as quoted by the Associated Press this month.
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!