* Update from the Field
A young bull watches us, watching him. BFC file photo by Peter Bogusko.
We are sad to report that two of America's last wild buffalo have been killed by hunters. A lone and injured cow buffalo was shot by a Montana hunter on Horse Butte, and a solitary bull was taken by a Confederated Salish-Kootenai tribal member. Both buffalo were killed in Montana just outside of Yellowstone's western boundary.
Some hunters believe that by shooting buffalo they are helping to mitigate hazing, capture, slaughter and quarantine. But this is not so. The hunt in no way replaces or lessens any of the other harmful activities sponsored and carried out by the U.S. government and Montana cattle interests. The hunt adds to the buffalo death toll as an additional tool - created and hailed by Montana's livestock industry - to prevent the natural restoration of wild buffalo in Montana.
Just this morning in Gardiner, along Yellowstone's northern boundary, eight bull buffalo were hazed off of their chosen ground while still inside Yellowstone National Park. Four government riders pushed the bulls from their lower-elevation migration path, up into the deeper snows of the hills. When we approached the Yellowstone National Park wranglers to ask them why they harassed buffalo that never even left the Park, we were told they were "just doing what they're told." When I asked why they were hazing buffalo when there was a buffalo hunt going on (something sure to upset hunters and also an illegal activity with respect to other huntable species), one of the Park Wranglers looked at me as if I was crazy, asking "what hunt?"
Not even in Yellowstone National Park are buffalo safe from harassment or slaughter. BFC file photo by Stephany.
When we first encountered these handsome bulls - some very mature and strikingly impressive, others smaller and growing into their bull-hood, learning from their older and wiser companions - we felt fairly certain that the Park would just let them leave Yellowstone's boundaries allowing hunters to shoot them and do their dirty work for them. We also thought, with a little luck, the bulls might take their sweet, slow time, or even circle back and stay relatively safe, out of firing range. But in the Park or out there really is no safe place for buffalo. Buffalo are harassed or killed just for being buffalo. And BFC is here to challenge these unjust actions against them every step of the way.
We are currently running patrols in both Gardiner and West Yellowstone, and are in need of experienced volunteers (see below). This season will very likely be a difficult one. We have been told as much by government officials and the weather and the animals have their own way of letting us know. We shudder at the thought of another season like 2007-2008, when Yellowstone and Montana killed over 1,600 of America's last wild buffalo. We will fight to prevent it from happening ever again.
Please, before more wild buffalo are lost to senseless government actions, consider joining us on the front lines, and also take a minute to contact your Members of Congress - call, write, email, visit - and strongly urge them to protect America's last wild buffalo population now. Don't just help stop the buffalo slaughter, don't even let it start!
* Experienced BFC Volunteers Needed! Come Home to Buffalo and Snow
As BFC volunteers are making our daily rounds to scout for bison approaching the park border, we can't help but feel an apprehension for the season to come. With heavy snowfall already on the west and north sides, and the park's summer population estimates at 3900 bison, the constant threat of hunting, harassment and slaughter to our woolly friends seems more and more likely. What we do know for sure is that like our wild teachers - with their scout bulls plowing routes and their majestic matriarchs leading the youth - we, too, need the experience of our family.
If you have been to BFC and have experienced the plight of the last wild bison, please come home and help guide our new volunteers. We have an amazingly dedicated and energetic, group of volunteers who want to stand for and with the bison. Your past experience and guidance for our new volunteers in the field will help ensure that the world sees any and all violations against our nation's last "free-roaming," wild buffalo. Thank you for all you do and please come home to the land of buffalo and snow!!! Contact me at volunteer"at"buffalofieldcampaign.org or 406-646-0070.
BFC Volunteer Coordinator
* Holiday Gift Idea: 2011 Wild Bison Calendars
Celebrate wild bison 365 days a year with this breathtaking calendar featuring the photos of BFC supporters and volunteers. These calendars make terrific gifts, so get your 2011 Wild Bison Calendar while they last! Order today!
* Who are the "Yellowstone 60"?
Many of you have been forwarding us an alert you recently received from Defenders of Wildlife regarding the curiously named "Yellowstone 60." We have asked Defenders a couple of times for specific information and have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. It appears that Defenders wants you to believe that some of the buffalo held in the Corwin Springs quarantine facility are in eminent threat of slaughter, but this is not the case. We do know that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is threatening to hold these buffalo in this domestication facility for a full year longer than promised. The next group of buffalo, according to the agencies in charge, were promised to tribes and were set to be released to them this month, but Fish, Wildlife & Parks is standing in the way of that decision, apparently as a form of punishment for our lawsuit against them. Make no mistake that our litigation is specific to the privatization of the buffalo that went to Ted Turner, and has nothing to do with the buffalo that remain in Corwin Springs. To our knowledge, the buffalo that do remain in Corwin Springs are not being threatened with slaughter, as Defenders would have you believe. We will continue to monitor this situation and will certainly inform you as soon as we receive new information.
* Buffalo in the News
Test Case: State employs new rules for managing brucellosis
New confirmed case of brucellosis in Park County [Wyoming]
CBS 4 Denver
Brucellosis policy shifting to reflect role of elk
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Northern Arapaho seek to restore historic link to buffalo
Casper Star Triune
(NOTE: Contrary to information in this article, buffalo at Wind Cave are, indeed, believed to have cattle genes, making the Yellowstone population unique as being the only wild buffalo to maintain their identity as a wildlife species.)
* Last Words
"Jean Yellowbear, an Arapaho woman with a gentle voice and manner to match, tells with assurance where the buffalo have gone. "'That's why you see that Milky Way in the sky. That's all the buffalo that went home.'" So maybe it stands to reason that each time a falling star lights up the night, a buffalo calf is born."
From an excellent news article that appeared on 11/28/10 in the Casper Star-Tribune article, written by Tom Mast. Read the full story, Northern Arapaho seek to restore historic link to buffalo
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.
2010-2011 Total: 2
2010-2011 Slaughter: 0
2010-2011 Hunt: 2
2010-2011 Quarantine: 0
2010-2011 Shot by Agents: 0
2010-2011 Highway Mortality: 0
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
Total Since 2000: 3,711*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortality