* Update from the Field
Nearly 800 wild buffalo, including newborn calves, are being held captive inside Yellowstone's Stephens Creek trap. Some have been in the trap since January. Is this how you want Yellowstone National Park to treat our nation's wildlife? BFC file photo by Good Shield. Click photo for larger image.
On Sunday and Monday, Yellowstone captured another 111 buffalo. They will be held in the Stephens Creek trap until the Park determines there is enough green-up to release them. Over 770 wild buffalo remain captive in the Stephens Creek and Corwin Springs traps. At least seventy-one calves have been born in captivity. We have been hearing some of the responses you are getting from Yellowstone, which claim they are "protecting" the buffalo by holding them captive and feeding them hay. But their actions threaten to diminish the wild integrity of these nomadic beings who are more than capable of taking care of themselves; if Yellowstone wants to truly protect the buffalo they must release them and work with others towards habitat-based solutions. Treating America's last wild buffalo population like livestock held in a feed lot is not "protecting" them; it is slowly domesticating them.
None of the trapped buffalo have yet been released though the Park continues to say they intend to set them all free. Thank you for keeping the pressure on not to slaughter! While we applaud the Park's decision not to kill, these buffalo should never have been captured in the first place and release isn't coming soon enough. The Park says that green-up is not happening as quickly as they'd hoped; indeed, it is a real winter here in southwest Montana. Agents claim that the buffalo aren't "sticking" where the agents are pushing them. Of course not; there's not enough grass in these places. Like any ungulate, they must migrate to access food. Yellowstone National Park is an incomplete ecosystem, lacking the lower-elevation habitat that is critical for winter range and calving grounds, so wild buffalo must seek it elsewhere. Why, when elk have been blamed by the livestock industry for transmitting brucellosis to cattle are wild buffalo so unjustly treated with such blatant prejudice?
These magnificent bull buffalo were only following their natural instincts, roaming to where they can find food. Before they were so rudely turned around by the Montana Department of Livestock, they treked past BFC's headquarters, while we even had a couple different groups come up our driveway for a brief visit. These poor bulls were running hard, trying to escape the agents, and they consequently used up most of the food-energy they worked so hard to find. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
While buffalo are being forced out of the Gardiner Basin where they can find green grass into areas of the Park where it is scarce, buffalo in the Hebgen Basin west of Yellowstone's boundary are having an especially difficult time. Most of the ground that's free from snow is in strips along the highways and on small portions of a few south-facing slopes. Exposed grass along Highway 287 and 191 is especially attractive, because it is basically all the grass there is right now. This has been keeping buffalo along the highways, and our night patrols very busy, as we work into the wee hours of morning warning traffic.
The government recognizes the winter hardships that elk are suffering and cater to their every need. The buffalo are no different, and yet agencies are fully engaged in harassing them. Buffalo are having a more difficult time, being stuck by politics on high-elevation lands where food is very hard to find. Just a few short miles west of the Hebgen Basin is the lower Madison Valley: open grassland, minimal snow, ideal habitat where elk thrive and buffalo are forbidden to roam.
Montana's lack of tolerance for wild buffalo makes no exceptions for newborn calves. On Monday morning, while roving Highway 287 in anticipation of a hazing operation, one of our patrols witnessed a wet baby buffalo just minutes after birth. The mom was still passing the placenta, which, once on the ground she will immediately consume. Montana Departments of Livestock (DOL) and Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) agents gathered with Yellowstone National Park and Gallatin County law enforcement, preparing to haze. They began by harassing six mature bull buffalo, running them at full speed down highway 287. A few miles into the haze, they approached a mixed group, which included the newborn, who at that time was just four hours old. Agents claim they tried to avoid this mom and calf, but buffalo are herd animals and they stick with their family groups. As they tried to keep up, the newborn calf fell down a number of times but tried with all its might to keep up. Consequently, these agents ran a four-our old baby buffalo down pavement and rocky ground for two miles. The calf's brand new and undeveloped legs suffered badly.
This little baby was only four hours old before he was hazed. His mom didn't even have enough time to shed her afterbirth. He never had the chance to build his muscles that, if left alone, would grow strong and eventually be able to carry him many hundreds of lifetime miles. Climbing this hill took everything this baby had, and a few times he stumbled, nearly rolling down the hill towards the highway. It is unknown if permanent damage was caused. After the haze ended, DOL agent Shane Grube looks on, seemingly proud of his dirty work. Patrols are keeping a close eye on this little one. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Mom checks on her injured and confused baby, who was having a heartbreakingly difficult time trying to follow her. Nearly rolling down the hill, mom had to come to his aid. These little buffalo don't know anything other than to stay with mom, keep up with the herd, do what she does and stay with her at all costs. Nothing else matters. They try with all their little might to do whatever it takes to stay with mom. What these agents put the buffalo, including newborns, through is unforgivable.
On Wednesday, while buffalo were again being harassed by agents in the Hebgen Basin, BFC patrols in the Gardiner Basin called to report that a bull buffalo had been shot. We inquired with FWP about the incident, and they reported that they had received a call from residents that there was an injured or sick bull that was unable to get up. FWP came to assess him Wednesday morning, and he couldn't move well and appeared to be suffering. FWP made the decision to put him down. They don't know if he was hit by a car or possibly one of the bulls shot by the angry resident on April 15, or if he was just unable to survive the difficult winter. His massive body was taken into Yellowstone, to the hills behind the Stephens Creek trap, to what they call "the bone yard," where he will probably become much-needed food for grizzly bears. As to the shooter who illegally fired shots into four buffalo, the Park County Attorney has yet to make a decision, but as we reported last week, that office and FWP are getting overwhelmed with calls in support of prosecution.
A bull buffalo near Gardiner shares a moment of mutual awereness with his admirers. The time will come when buffalo roam free again. BFC file photo. Click photo for larger image.
These cruel and disrespectful government actions against wild buffalo are neither justified nor sustainable. The buffalo's advocates are dramatically increasing in number and becoming more vocal, while the foolishness of livestock industry demands against wild buffalo are losing strength fast. Habitat is the answer.
* TAKE ACTION! What You Can Do to Help
It will take endless pressure, endlessly applied to help wild buffalo roam free again! Like the buffalo, we will never give up! BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
1. Contact Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk and encourage him to protect America's last wild buffalo population, not cater to Montana's livestock interests. TAKE ACTION!
2. Contact Your Members of Congress and urge them to force an end to the Interagency Bison Management Plan and re-direct federal funding towards habitat based solutions for wild buffalo. Read the letter from Members of Congress to the National Park Service, urging an end to hazing, capture and slaughter. TAKE ACTION!
3. Contact Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson and demand that she not hide behind the failed Interagency Bison Management Plan! Tell her to allow buffalo to access all available habitat in the Gallatin National Forest, all year long without harassment. TAKE ACTION!
4. Write Letters to the Editor in support of protecting America's last wild buffalo. TAKE ACTION!
Thank You! Spread the word to save these herds! Please share these action links on FaceBook, blogs, etc.
* Memorial Ceremonies Planned for barb abramo
To Friends of barb abramo:
On Sunday, May 8th - Mother's Day - There will be a small memorial celebration for our dear friend, barb abramo, who passed away on March 13. This will be a small gathering, and foot travel could be difficult, but all who would like to come are welcome. Please plan to meet at Buffalo Field Campaign headquarters at 2 pm, and we will caravan over to Horse Butte, then trek to PHILbarb Cove where we'll return her ashes to Mother Earth. Following the ceremony, BFC invites you to share a meal with us at our home.
There will be a larger celebration for barb on June 5th, when snow will be less deep and foot-travel much easier. At the beginning of the day we will have a yard sale of some of barb's things that she would prefer find a home with people who knew her, and which will help offset some of the financial challenges she left behind. This will be followed by a ceremony at PHILbarb Cove on Horse Butte, where we will spread the rest of her ashes, share stories, and remember this wonderful woman. We will finish the day with a potluck meal together.
Please contact Mike at Buffalo Field Campaign for more information and directions: 646-0070.
* Volunteer with BFC this Summer!
As the harsh winter snows begin to melt and the life-giving grasses start to green we can sense the approach of summer. We are forming our summer tabling crew and are seeking volunteers to come help us educate visitors to Yellowstone on bison issues and what we do as a Campaign. BFC provides food, lodging, camping in and near the Park, gear, and transportation to and from the park. We ask for at least a three week commitment in order to accommodate training and orientation. This is a great opportunity to get involved and advocate for the last of the American free roaming buffalo! If you are interested please contact Tony and I can answer any questions you may have.
* WANTED: A New Work Horse Computer for Our Habitat Coordinator
Buffalo Field Campaign's habitat coordinator Darrell Geist needs a computer to replace his laptop that has been a faithful work horse for four years. A new Mac with extra memory and hard drive space with software and a magic mouse is needed to keep him operational and mobile in the field.
If you can help get BFC's habitat coordinator's dream machine, please contact Darrell directly for more information.
* 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: 223
2010-2011 Government Capture: 770
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: 3
2010-2011: Killed by Angry Residents: 2
2010-2011 Highway Mortality: 5
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
* Total Since 2000: 3,935*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words
I bless you in your inborn goodness
and understanding of the unity of all beings
who share this life on our generous Mother Earth
under the loving eye of our Father Sun,
kissed by rain
pelted by hail
covered by snow
caressed by the spring winds carrying the sweet scent of new grass.
I bless you in your awareness
of your role as collaborator of the great Creator
who made us all
and still does
as do we
by our thoughts, words and actions.
Blessings to you,
my buffalo brothers, sisters, children, grandmothers, grandfathers, grandchildren.
May you always grace the word we share
with your gentle and powerful presence.
~ by Kirsten Kincaid
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to Stephany. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes, and stories you have been sending; you'll see them here!