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           Weekly Update from the Field May 19, 2011
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Take Action to Save the Lives of Newborn Calves!
* Update from the Field
* NEW BFC VIDEO: Buffalo Calf Hazed to Death
* TAKE ACTION! What You Can Do to Help
* Volunteer with BFC this Summer!
* WANTED: A New Work Horse Computer for Our Habitat Coordinator
* By the Numbers
* Last Words ~ Rosalie Little Thunder

* Update from the Field

Montana Department of Livestock agents haze buffalo released from Yellowstone's Stephens Creek trap, deeper into the Park. While zoomed in, this photo still looks far away because it was taken from such a long distance due to the unnecessary and enormous public closure of this portion of Yellowstone National Park. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

In the Gardiner Basin, Yellowstone National Park has continued to release buffalo from their Stephens Creek trap. Nearly 400 wild buffalo have so far been let go, but more than three hundred still remain captive. The Park Service says that they intend to release buffalo every day or every other day. We look forward to the possibility of all being released within the week. Thank you so much for your collective actions that made a huge impact on the Park's decision to set the trapped buffalo free. We are concerned about the buffalo that remain imprisoned in the Corwin Springs facility because when they are finally released they will be loaded onto livestock trailers and shipped into the Park. There are more than ten newborn calves in this group and such confinement and travel could cause irreparable harm - possibly death - to the little ones. Our Gardiner patrols are still running full-time, keeping an eye on the buffalo remaining in the trap, monitoring and documenting hazing operations, and monitoring the condition of the buffalo that have been released.

BFC went into Yellowstone, south of the Gardiner Basin, to check on some of the buffalo that had been released from Yellowstone's trap; we found a lot buffalo, and many moms with calves and there is now quite a bit of green up. East of the Hebgen Basin, however, much of the Park is still sleeping under more than a foot of snow. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

In the Hebgen Basin, along Yellowstone's western boundary, the snow is almost gone, and the ice covering Hebgen Lake has nearly melted. But, true green-up is still slow to come, and inside the higher elevation lands of the Park east of Horse Butte, much of the ground is still covered with snow. There have been minimal hazing activities this week, though the Montana Department of Livestock did haze five bull buffalo along the north side of the Madison River. While the massive war-like hazing operations on Horse Butte and other areas of the Gallatin National Forest have yet to take place, the hazing operations that have been conducted have cost the life of a newborn calf (*see new BFC video below), and have unnecessarily compounded the extreme challenges the buffalo have endured trying to survive this year's long, difficult winter.

In the Blacktail Plateau, south of the Gardiner Basin, a mom and calf enjoy their new freedom after finally being released from prison at Stephens Creek. The grass is truly green and growing in this buffalo-rich area of Yellowstone, but winter is still being strongly felt east of the Hebgen Basin, and there is little food to be found. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

In the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone, things are about to become more dire for the wild buffalo. BFC attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) meetings this week, and again walked away frustrated and disheartened because of the agencies' lack of respect for the wild integrity, ecological role, and evolutionary potential of the last wild population of American buffalo. Yet Tribal representatives to the IBMP are helping to change the dynamics of the status quo of catering to livestock interests, and are forcing the agencies to consider perspectives other than those dictated by the livestock industry. While Yellowstone reiterated that conditions in the Park are not conducive to hazing buffalo from Horse Butte and surrounding lands, the Montana Department of Livestock stated that they may begin chasing buffalo off of Gallatin National Forest by the middle of next week. These portions of Gallatin National Forest have no cattle on them at any time of year so wild buffalo should be allowed to remain as long as they need to.

A sign at the Madison Arm entrance on Gallatin National Forest warns of a grizzly sow with an injured cub. Numerous grizzly bears are inhabiting the area, dining on their critical spring food: bison and elk winter kill. Presence of the bears may help protect the ecosystem from the DOL's helicopter and other hazing activities. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

The DOL, however, may find that hazing operations are postponed regardless of how anxious they are to begin. With so many buffalo dying from the harsh winter, Yellowstone's western edge and the contiguous Gallatin National Forest lands currently host a number of grizzly bears, which are currently protected under the Endangered Species Act. While it's never been challenged before, both Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone National Park have stated that hazing operations would cease if grizzlies are active in the area, which they are every spring. Agency press releases and posted warning signs, resident reports, and BFC volunteer sightings are all testimony to their presence. Further, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a lawsuit today against the agencies, challenging the use of the DOL's helicopter in grizzly bear habitat. Please see the take action items below to learn how you can help!

Roam Free!

~ Stephany

P.S. Read this excellent Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Billings Gazette, written by a strong buffalo advocate who lives in the Gardiner Basin, and then see below for an easy link to send your own letter!

* NEW BFC VIDEO: Buffalo Calf Hazed to Death

Click the image to play the video.

On May 5, 2011, BFC patrols found the body of a newborn calf on the side of the road. BFC had been monitoring this baby buffalo since its birth on May 2. It was introduced to the world by being hazed when only four hours old, and it was hazed on all three days of its life. The agencies directly responsible for these cruel and unnecessary actions are the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. While this BFC footage is heartbreaking, it is critical that people bear witness to what the buffalo suffer, and we hope you are moved to take action. If this video disturbs you as much as we know it will, please contact Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and urge them not to allow their personnel to engage in such disgusting treatment of our nation's wildlife.

Please share this video clip far and wide, and urge everyone who sees it to contact Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Our deep thanks go to Phoenix for lending his powerful song to this video.

* TAKE ACTION! What You Can Do to Help

1. Contact Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson and demand that she enforce the Forest Service's promise to the public that "Currently, hazing operations would cease if there was evidence of grizzlies being active in the area" (IBMP EIS page 565). There are grizzly bears all over the Gallatin National Forest west of Yellowstone National Park right now, so she should not allow the DOL to engage in hazing operations there. Please insist that she allow buffalo year-round habitat on the Gallatin National Forest. TAKE ACTION!

2. Contact Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk and demand that he enforce the Park Service's promise to the public that "Currently, hazing operations would cease if there was evidence of grizzlies being active in the area" (IBMP EIS page 565). There are grizzly bears all over the Park right now, so he cannot allow the DOL to start hazing operations there. Please also thank him for beginning to release all the buffalo that have been held prisoner in Stephens Creek and Corwin Springs buffalo traps, and for taking a stand and not allowing the MT Department of Livestock to begin hazing operations while snow still covers so much habitat. Please continue to encourage him to protect America's last wild buffalo population, not cater to Montana's livestock interests. TAKE ACTION!

3. 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. 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.

* Volunteer with BFC this Summer!

As the harsh winter snows begin to melt and the life-giving grasses start to grow we can feel 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 our table in 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.

View BFC habitat coordinator's dream machine here.

* 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: 227

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: 9

2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631

* Total Since 2000: 3,939*

*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality

* Last Words ~ Rosalie Little Thunder

"We want to be related to the buffalo cause they're smart
Little trees learn to be smart from old trees, right?
The rocks are really smart too
The wind must be too

~ Rosalie Little Thunder, from her poem Takoja Timmy

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!

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Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
BFC is the only group working in the field every day in defense of the last wild buffalo population in the U.S.

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