* Update from the Field
Bison bulls mourn a fallen comrade, killed in Montana's canned hunt. BFC file photo by Kathleen Stachowski.
One week from Monday, beginning November 15 and lasting through February 15, wild buffalo that migrate into Montana will likely be shot by hunters. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks are holding another hunt without habitat, a hunt for a species that is ecologically extinct in Montana. Forty-four State tags to kill bison have been issued for areas north and west of Yellowstone National Park, and if there is a normal winter migration, an additional 100 wild bison could be killed in this canned hunt. Montana's bison hunt is highly controversial. It is yet another tool Montana is using to stop wild bison from migrating into the state. This canned hunt does not replace hazing, capture and slaughter activities carried out under the Interagency Bison Management Plan, it is used in addition to it. Hunters who participate in Montana's bison hunt are being used by the Montana Department of Livestock as yet another tool of intolerance against native wild bison.
At least two First Nations - the Nez Perce and the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes - will also be hunting buffalo under treaty right, though their season will differ from that of Montana.
In addition to our year-round presence in West Yellowstone, BFC will again be present near Gardiner on the north side of the Park. Our Gardiner camp will remain active for as long as the hunt is underway, or longer should the buffalo need us to stand witness. It is critical that we are able to be the eyes and ears for the buffalo in these locations where they migrate yet it is a huge financial challenge for us to do so. If you can help keep us on the front lines we will be better equipped to stand with the buffalo and share their story with the world. During the hunt, BFC will engage willing hunters in dialogue to talk about the threats wild bison face in Montana, and how they can help take a stand to restore this magnificent, gentle giant throughout it's native range.
Since our last Update, brucellosis has made appearances in a few livestock herds, far from the current home range of America's last wild bison. Brucellosis is a bacteria that was brought to North America with the arrival of Eurasian cattle. While it hasn't been a significant human health issue since the advent of pasteurized dairy products and it hasn't been a threat to wildlife outside of livestock industry politics, brucellosis has been a driving force behind bad wildlife management decisions throughout the Yellowstone area, including the ongoing slaughter and harassment of the Yellowstone herds. Brucellosis has become a very convenient tool for livestock interests to use against wildlife, to maintain control over grasslands habitat. Livestock interests are always quick to place blame upon wildlife, rather than take responsibility for better managing livestock or even removing them from areas of critically important wildlife habitat.
Despite these efforts, three cows from a Wyoming cattle ranch tested positive for brucellosis last week. It was just a matter of time as the cattle ranch is located near ill-conceived government-sponsored elk feeding grounds. Wildlife advocates have been trying to shut these feed lots down for many years but have been met with resistance by ranchers who favor them because it keeps wild elk off of native habitat currently occupied by cattle. Shortly after this news, Montana papers responded by announcing that they intend to capture and test up to 500 wild cow elk. We have warned that it would only be a matter of time before Montana livestock interests set their sites on elk in addition to buffalo. Lastly, just the other day, one of Ted Turner's domestic bison herds was found to have brucellosis. These bison, or beefalo, came from Turner's Bozeman-area Flying D Ranch, just a stone's throw from where the quarantined Yellowstone buffalo now reside on Turner's Green Ranch. There is absolutely no chance that the quarantined buffalo, stolen from Yellowstone when they were wild calves, are the source of infection.
These incidences are more critical bits of evidence that wild buffalo are not the source of brucellosis transmissions to livestock. There has never been a single documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle, even during the decades prior to the heavy-handed tactics carried out under the Interagency Bison Management Plan. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the combined governments of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana--along with the U.S. Government--are wasting taxpayer money by focusing on containing the natural migration of wild buffalo. Phasing out Wyoming's feed grounds and acquiring habitat for bison and elk would be far more effective use of taxpayer money. Livestock production is the common denominator of trouble whether it's bison, elk, wolves, bears, water quality, grasslands health, or human health. Cattle are also the most obviously manageable element; the only reasonable solution is to shift the focus on controlling them and ensuring that they are not a threat to our wildlife and wild places.
* Big Thanks from BFC's Road Show Crew!
Mike and I are back in Yellowstone country after our month-long West Coast Road Show. It was an honor to share time with you all in support of the wild bison that call this land home. As with everything BFC does, the road show wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity and help of our supporters. In providing us with places to stay, home-cooked meals, support for our events, and so much more, the following people (and many others) made our tour a huge success:
Tom Woodbury; Rasta Dave; Arden and Sean; Ken Cole and his new iPhone; Tony; Goodshield and Phoenix; Amy; Annie, Chuck, Heather, Jennifer, Kathleen, and Kelly of the Sea Shepherd crew; Cindy, Jenny, and everyone at the Whale Museum; Luke, White Bear, Scott, and the First Baptist Church in Seattle; Traditions Fair Trade; Deane; Jesse; Rick; Alex, Audry and the kids; KBOO Community Radio; Allison Lowe; Mary and Laughing Horse Books; Judy; Andrew Rodman; Greg and all the staff at Mundo Café; Justine; Brennan; Stephany; Ron Greene; Heather; Beginnings; Munzer; Kristoff; Jakubul; Vereena, Paul, Meela, and Minoa; Greta, Scott, Owen and Clarey; Sundog, Amber, Jasper, and Cove; Susanna and Frank; Monique; Diane; Ron Hunter and everyone at the Reno Patagonia; Kevin, the David Brower Center, and Earth Island Institute; Kingman; Sampson and Crysta; the Collective for Arts, Freedom, and Ecology; Megan and the Americorps crew of San Luis Obispo; Sierra Club; Ludwick Community Center; Joey; Rudy and Foundation Press; Joe Citizen; 2HeadedHorse Gallery; Jonny; Laban; Susan, Andrea; Chipper Bro and Patagonia Headquarters in Ventura.
Thanks to each and every one of you who attended our shows for the buffalo; thank you for your time, your donations, and all you give to help the wild buffalo of Yellowstone. My words do not do justice to the gratitude I feel in having spent time with all of you. As Mike says, “You’re all part of the Buffalo Field Campaign family, so please stop by and visit us in West Yellowstone anytime.” Thanks to the wonderful musicians Goodshield and Phoenix for joining us on the road and for all that you do in your lives. Great thanks to the lessons we learn from the Buffalo!
* 2011 Wild Bison Calendars
You, your friends, family, and colleagues can celebrate wild bison 365 days a year with this breathtaking calendar featuring the photos of BFC supporters and volunteers. We are nearing the end of our supply of these calendars, so get your 2011 Wild Bison calendar today!
* Last Words
"As I dig deeper, it seems like pure economics driving the continued killing and hazing. The cattle industry is well financed and politically powerful. Buffalo grazing on "their cattle's land" is not an option (even if this land is public property.) Unfortunately, Montana's government buys into the cattlemen's argument that buffalo carry a nasty disease called brucellosis that is dangerous to their livestock. Ironically, it was the cow that first gave the disease to the buffalo and there is no reported case of the buffalo giving it back. So the ranchers win, the buffalo lose and Montana Fish and Game continue to force buffalo off cattle land. In some cases, they have the authority to kill these wild buffalo. Do you know what scares me most? What if they succeed? What if they put enough stress on this herd that not enough of them make it through a cold winter? What if the herd's numbers become so depleted that they can't recover? What if the last living remnant of that once vast herd that covered the new world disappears on our watch? Many Indians from the 1800s predicted the day would come where the white man would cover the land and destroy the buffalo."
~ by Tony Davis, from his article "Taraha'" ("Taraha" is Pawnee for "Buffalo")
Taraha appears in the October 2010 issue of "Chaticks Si Chatics," Newsletter of the Pawnee Nation (PDF). The full article is on pages 15-16 and includes photos from Buffalo Field Campaign.
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. Thank you all for the poems, songs and stories you have been sending; you'll see them here!
* By the Numbers
AMERICAN BUFFALO ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2009-2010 Total: 7
2009-2010 Slaughter: 0
2009-2010 Hunt: 4
2009-2010 Quarantine: 0
2009-2010 Shot by Agents: 3*
2009-2010 Highway Mortality: 0
*Two bulls that were drugged by APHIS on 5/4/10 were shot by DOL later that evening. One was shot by DOL on 7/13/10 for trying to free his imprisoned relatives at the Corwin Springs quarantine facility.
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
Total Since 2000: 3,709*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality