* Update from the Field
A mother and calf lead the way, running to escape those who have oppressed them. Hundreds of wild buffalo have been confined in government traps since January, and nearly 150 calves were born in captivity. BFC file photo. Click photo for larger image.
By the time you read these words, Yellowstone's Stephens Creek bison trap will be empty. Most of the groups of buffalo released from Stephens Creek fled quickly from the trap and their captors, without having to be coaxed by horsemen. On Tuesday, fifty-eight adults and about ten calves were also released from the Corwin Springs trap and thankfully, they were not loaded onto livestock trailers as we feared, and no hazing horsemen needed to tell them to flee. Patrols report that the lead cow and her calf set the pace full speed ahead and the buffalo ran over eight miles south towards Yellowstone's interior.
Young buffalo just like these were not released with their families from Corwin Springs, as Yellowstone promised they would be. They remain in captivity and have been handed over to USDA-APHIS for unknown, experimental purposes. BFC file photos by Peter Bogusko and Stephany Seay. Click photos for larger images.
Unfortunately, Yellowstone didn't keep their word to release all trapped buffalo: Fifty-eight young buffalo - yearlings through four-year olds - remain locked inside the Corwin Springs trap and will not be released. Today, BFC Gardiner patrols also reported seeing a new calf in this facility. These young buffalo had to watch as their families were set free, fleeing their oppressors, while they were forced to remain behind. They have been surrendered to the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for experimental research for a contraceptive vaccine. In a May 26, 2011 press release from Yellowstone National Park, the agency states that 80 to 100 buffalo would be needed for this research, and that at the end of the experiment, none of the buffalo would be returned to Yellowstone, and any that test sero-positive for brucellosis would be slaughtered. BFC is working to learn more and challenge this betrayal. This is a sneaky, dishonorable, back-door move by Yellowstone, who gave no public notice, nor sought any public input, on a decision to hand over public wildlife to an agency known for maltreatment of wild buffalo. Below is an action alert to Yellowstone Superintendent Wenk, which addresses this point. We also suggest that people contact USDA-APHIS representative Brian McCluskey, to ask him what APHIS intends to do with these buffalo and to let him know you oppose their possession of wild buffalo and want them set free as Yellowstone promised.
Bull buffalo run at full speed, through a neighborhood near Duck Creek, after being chased by two DOL agents on ATVs. The bulls kept running even after the agents retreated, and bolted out onto the highway. The irresponsible DOL agents gave no warning to motorists that these frightened and upset bulls could be headed in their direction. BFC was immediately on the highway putting up signs to warn traffic. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo to view larger image.
On Monday morning volunteers at camp and patrols in the field were alerted to the chop! chop! chop! of the MT Department of Livestock's (DOL) helicopter. We were in position, immediately ready for a big hazing operation, but it never came and the helicopter soon disappeared after disrupting the morning with its obnoxious presence. The DOL did end up harassing some buffalo; ten bull bison were chased off of the Koelzer property, where the Duck Creek bison trap is located. The agents aggravated the bulls into a stampede, causing them to flee the property, bolt down Duck Creek Road, and run full speed onto Highway 191 where they were lucky not to be killed by traffic.
Mama buffalo, new calves, and other family members were hazed by six government horsemen on Wednesday. Initially chased off of a private hobby ranch, the buffalo were pursued for miles by agents through Gallatin National Forest lands where there are never any cattle, and where protected grizzly bears - extremely sensetive to human commotion - are trying to make a living. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
On Wednesday, DOL and Yellowstone horsemen, along with Park Service, Forest Service, and Gallatin County law enforcement hazed a family group of buffalo, including seven newborn calves, off of the Deep Well Ranch owned by hobby rancher Pat Povah; this single conflict area near the South Fork of the Madison River is a prime candidate for a fence, or a hired herder. Fence in the conflict and let the buffalo roam! The buffalo were pursued by six horsemen for over nine miles through the thick timber of cattle-free Gallatin National Forest lands into habitat where grizzly bears are currently active. Another group of buffalo, including three new calves, were also caught up in the haze. Agent riders continued hazing the buffalo north on Highway 191, across the Madison River, then into Yellowstone for nearly two more miles. Government bison hazing operations that harm buffalo and adversely impact protected grizzly bears are currently being legally challenged by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Visit BFC's home page to learn about this law suit.
Some new calves have had a little more time than usual to develop and grow strong before the government's big hazing operations begin. As calving season is still in its peak, other baby buffalo as well as nursing or pregnant mothers will not be so lucky when the Montana Department of Livestock's helicopter descends upon this fragile, wildlife-rich ecosystem. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
For this week, Yellowstone National Park has refused to allow the DOL to haze buffalo deep into Yellowstone due to lingering snowpack and flooding conditions that have slowed green-up on the buffalo's summer range. We do, however, anticipate big hazing operations to begin next week. Grizzly bears remain very active in the area, while some buffalo are still recovering from extreme winter conditions. Many buffalo have yet to give birth and calves are still being born every day. Hazing operations are disruptive to all area wildlife but they take a particularly heavy toll on on pregnant buffalo and newborn calves, even causing injury and death, as sadly demonstrated in this BFC video.
Please see below to take action for America's last wild buffalo. Your continued actions over the years have made a huge difference, and this year helped prevent the slaughter of nearly 800 wild buffalo, helped gain some new habitat access, helped force decision-makers to rethink the status quo, and helped draw attention to the senseless acts of violence against these last wild buffalo. Change is slow to come, but it is on the way. Thank you!
* TAKE ACTION!
Bull buffalo challenge one another for the opportunity to court females; wild bison advocates must challenge government agencies and livestock interests for the right of all wild buffalo to roam free. BFC file photo by Darrell Geist. Click photo to view larger image.
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. Thank him for releasing most buffalo, and demand to know why the Park surrendered 30 young wild buffalo to APHIS for experimental purposes. Remind him of the Park's responsibility to protect grizzly bears from impacts of hazing, and tell him to stay the course and not allow the DOL to haze buffalo into Yellowstone. Please also ask him to facilitate a National Park Service response to the letter from Congress. As always, continue to encourage him to protect America's last wild buffalo population, not cater to Montana's livestock interests. In addition to sending an electronic message you can call Superintendent Wenk at 307-344-2003. TAKE ACTION!
3. Contact Your Members of Congress and urge them to bring an end to the Interagency Bison Management Plan and re-direct federal funding towards habitat-based solutions for wild buffalo. If your Members of Congress are unfamiliar with this issue, urge them to contact Buffalo Field Campaign. 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.
* Spend Summer in Yellowstone with BFC!
BFC's summer tabling crew is forming, and we could use a few more volunteers. Come to Yellowstone country and help us talk with millions of visitors to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. 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 America's last wild buffalo! Please contact Tony for more information.
* BFC Wish List: Darrell Needs a New Computer!!
BFC's stellar and hard-working Habitat Coordinator, Darrell Geist, is in need of a new computer. Darrell's current computer has been a faithful work horse for years, helping Darrell craft important briefing papers, develop extensive public comments, engage in solidarity work with Tribal interests, draft legal strategies, conduct vast amounts of research, disseminate critical information to colleagues and decision-makers, and has been a critical tool in keeping wild buffalo and their need to access habitat in the face of everyone. Having given all its able to give, Darrell's computer is ready to retire.
Please help BFC's Habitat Coordinator acquire a new computer! Darrell's dream machine can be found 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 Held for Government Experiment: 30
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: 3,969*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words ~ J.R.R. Tolkein
"All things worthy that are in peril,
as the world now stands,
those are my care."
~ J.R.R. Tolkein
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!