* Bison Gain Ground in Court Ruling
Buffalo roam the Gardiner Basin. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Wild buffalo gained ground this week when a Montana district judge ruled in favor of allowing them room to roam in the Gardiner Basin of Montana during winter months. Judge Phillips' ruling upheld adaptive changes to the Interagency Bison Management Plan made by the state to expand the area where bison are allowed in Montana.
Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project intervened in a lawsuit filed against the State of Montana to defend wild bison against a litany of claims raised by the Park County Stockgrowers Association, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, and Park County during the severe winter of 2010-2011, when 1400 buffalo migrated into Gardiner Basin.
All ten counts of the complaint were thrown out by Judge E. Wayne Phillips in a major victory for wild bison.
Under the new changes, during winter and until May 1st, bison can occupy habitat in the Gardiner Basin on both sides of the Yellowstone River up to the ridge divide and Yankee Jim Canyon. This includes habitat on the Gallatin National Forest and on private lands where bison are welcome.
In his findings, Judge Phillips cited the testimony of local residents and Buffalo Field Campaign supporters Fred Baker and Scott Hoeninghausen as a factor in his decision to throw out the Stockgrowers complaint: "… many landowners and residents in the Gardiner Basin view the presence of wildlife, including bison, on and near their property as a significant factor contributing positively to their quality of life and the use and enjoyment of their property."
The testimony of Fred and Scott along with many others in the community who testified in favor of buffalo, were an important antidote to the complaints of a vocal anti-buffalo minority.
"This decision is a great one and I am honored that I got to participate," said Gardiner resident Fred Baker, "I am so happy to help the bison."
"It's a great day for buffalo," said Scott Hoeninghausen, also of Gardiner, " I absolutely love seeing buffalo in the area when they are not being harassed and are free to enjoy their life like they should."
Judge Phillips also found that the Stockgrowers "did not present evidence that any of their members faces an actual threat of brucellosis transmission to cattle due to seasonal bison occupancy of lands in the Gardiner Basin."
In his conclusion, Judge Phillips wrote "The Court emphasizes with the struggles some of the Petitioners' members have in encounters with bison, but as Rathbone (see last words, below) so eloquently stated that is "a consequence of living in Montana and with her abundant wildlife."
Incredibly, and for the first time, Buffalo Field Campaign stood with the State of Montana, including the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), during these proceedings. The DOL, signatory to the controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan, uncharacteristically though justly advocated for more habitat for wild bison.
Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project were jointly represented by Western Watersheds Project attorney Summer Nelson and private attorney Ted Fellman. BFC's habitat coordinator Darrell Geist oversaw the case for BFC and persistently fought for the rights of area residents to have their voices heard. Both Nelson and Fellman have served as BFC volunteers, coordinators, and board members.
"It may be a little harder fo the State actors to marginalize us knowing that when they do the right thing, we are there to support them, just as surely as we will be to call them out when their actions harm the buffalo," Fellman said.
Judge Phillips' ruling applies to Montana's actions and not those of Yellowstone National Park. The judge's ruling has no bearing on the Park's stated intent to capture for slaughter up to 400 female bison from the Northern Range and kill up to 50 bulls this winter and spring. In addition, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture APHIS has agreed to make its Corwin Springs quarantine pens available to hold 300 test-negative female bison and their calves who would be trailered from Yellowstone National Park's Stephens Creek trap. With your support and involvement, Buffalo Field Campaign hopes to stop these plans in their tracks.
While this victory provides breathing room for bison outside of Yellowstone's boundaries, it does not mean an end to the slaughter. Nevertheless, it is a cause for celebration and very heartening to see a state judge ruling in favor of wild bison over the complaints of livestock interests. This decision strengthens the resolve of BFC. We will not rest until wild bison have true sovereignty over themselves and are allowed to access their native habitat. With persistence, resistance, and endurance we shall press on until the buffalo are truly free.
Thanks to all our supporters for allowing us to defend wild bison in such a significant way and for making this victory possible. Thanks also to Summer, Ted, and Darrell for your tireless work and strong passion for the buffalo!
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
Read our press statement and the judge's decision here
Read attorney Ted Fellman's full account of this experience here
Read Summer Nelson's write up for Western Watersheds Project here
View a map of the new areas (in red) that buffalo will be allowed to use here
* Update from the Field
A buffalo faces into a blizzard. Photo by Sandy Sisti, Wild at Heart Images Click photo for larger image.
While some treaty hunting has ended in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park, other treaty and state hunts continue. This week, three more buffalo were shot by hunters near the Madison River.
BFC patrols are out every day, all day, monitoring migration corridors, seeking the gentle giants, and engaging in important conversations with those who come to hunt them. Hunters have an immense responsibility to the buffalo and could ultimately play a significant role in their protection. It is our hope that hunters will take strong, vocal action to advocate for year-round habitat for bison and an end to the Interagency Bison Management Plan. For now, though, most hunters are unwittingly helping to further the aims of Montana's livestock industry, and preventing buffalo from occupying their rightful Montana habitat.
While wild buffalo remain in this world, hope is still alive. Like Aldo Leopold, wolf-killer turned staunch and celebrated conservationist, there is enormous capacity for an individual to awaken and take necessary action on behalf of --instead of against -- the sacred creatures who so badly need our help. BFC is working to forge these critical relationships.
* Send a Special Valentine and Show Your Love of Wild Bison
Click the image for a larger view and to order now!
With Valentine's Day a little more than a month away, we are offering you a way to send a special card to the recipient(s) of your choice. Your card will represent an investment in the wildest of wild bison, the Yellowstone-area population, and Buffalo Field Campaign's ongoing work for their well-being and freedom. Can you imagine a more precious Valentine?
This year's Valentine is hand crafted by the talented artist and dedicated BFC supporter Kathleen Stachowski (visit her website here).
The 4-1/4" x 5-1/2" card features an image of two bison standing face-to-face, forming a perfect heart with their bodies.
The inside sentiment reads:
'In a gentle way, you can shake the world.'
A gentle, world-shaking gift has been made in your honor by ____________ to further the work of Buffalo Field Campaign. Happy Valentine's Day!
The card also includes a few words on Buffalo Field Campaign's mission.
Please donate a minimum of $15 per card. The deadline for ordering is Monday, February 4. Please order early! Your card will be mailed to reach your Valentine by Valentines Day, February 14th. To view the card and to order, click HERE or send a check or money order (no cash please) to the address below.
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
* TAKE ACTION! Stop Yellowstone's Bison Slaughter Before it Starts!
Even with this week's positive ruling on expanding habitat in the Gardiner Basin, the state and federal governments -- including Yellowstone National Park --are aiming to kill hundreds of wild buffalo this winter through hunting, slaughter, or both. The agencies state that they want to "even the sex ratio" and have placed a heavy target on female buffalo, wanting to kill at least 400.
Yellowstone National Park states that a "skewed sex ratio" has resulted from years of capture and slaughter operations, which have removed more bulls than cows from the population. In other words the government is saying they will slaughter more buffalo to mitigate the impact of having slaughtered so many buffalo!
to stop Yellowstone's plans to slaughter before it starts!
to help BFC prevent the slaughter of these 400 buffalo Mammas!
* Editorial on BFC Lawsuit Settlement with USDA-APHIS
In response to BFC's lawsuit against, and consequent settlement with, USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, for their failure to respond properly and in a timely manner to multiple Freedom of Information Act requests, the Montana-based Bozeman Daily Chronicle commended BFC in this editorial:
Freedom of Information Act Must be Respected
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, January 4, 2013
* BFC's Wild Bison Calendars: 2013 Still Available, Taking Submissions for 2014
Start 2013 with a Wild Bison Calendar and submit your photos and artwork for 2014! A few 2013 calendars are still left - ORDER NOW!
2014 SUBMISSIONS WANTED! BFC is getting ready to create our next Wild Bison Calendar! We are now accepting photos and art submissions for 2014. Bison quotes, poetry and interesting facts are also being accepted. We aim to go to print a few months earlier than usual, so please send us your 2014 Wild Bison Calendar submissions as soon as possible!
Submission Requirements: To meet the image size and quality of our calendar printing, photos must be high-resolution, digital images of wild buffalo of the Yellowstone area in their natural habitat (no roads, signs, people, etc. in the shot please). Photos must be at least 12.25" wide x 8.25 tall at 300 pixels per inch. Approx. a 35mb file. (This requires a 10mb camera or larger.). Please submit your raw files whenever possible. We strongly prefer your images to not be color corrected. Adjusting color in images for four color process printing is different than for other printing processes. Artists and photographers will be given full credit for any and all photos, art, images or original text.
Please email your photo submissions for BFC's Wild Bison 2014 Calendar or send a disc of photos and/or art to BFC Wild Bison Calendar, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. We can't wait to see your pictures and art!
* By the Numbers
The last wild population is currently estimated at fewer than 4,300 individual buffalo. Wild bison are currently ecologically extinct throughout their native range in North America.
Total Buffalo Killed: 61
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Held for Government Experiment:
Died In Government Trap:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 4
Treaty Hunts: 55
Unknown Hunt: 1
Shot by Agents:
Highway Mortality: 1
Total Killed in Previous Years
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,067
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway mortality
* Buffalo Inspired Last Words ~ Montana Supreme Court
"Montana is one of the few areas in the nation where wild game abounds. It is regarded as one of the greatest of the state's natural resources, as well as the chief attraction for visitors. Wild game existed here long before the coming of man. One who acquires property in Montana does so with notice and knowledge of the presence of wild game and presumably is cognizant of its natural habits. Wild game does not possess the power to distinguish between fructus naturales and fructus industriales, and cannot like domestic animals be controlled through an owner. Accordingly a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse."
~ Montana Supreme Court in State of MT v. Rathbone, 1940
cited in ruling by Hon. E. Wayne Phillips dismissing the Stockgrower's claims
If anyone has submissions for Last Words just send them to us. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you have been sending! Keep them coming!