Update from the Field: Bison Abuse Continues
* NEW BFC Video: Buffalo Abuse Continues
* Update from the Field
* Three Buffalo Found Dead in Gardiner Basin
* TAKE ACTION! Contact Congress: Wild Buffalo on Capitol Hill
* Announcing BFC's Free Buffalo Museum!
* Volunteers Wanted!
* Opportunity: Legal and Field Internship for Fall and Summer 2013
* By the Numbers
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration: This Bias Against Bison
"Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man." ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
*NEW BFC Video: Bison Abuse Continues
Buffalo Field Campaign 5/23/13
Buffalo Abuse Continues
The tax payer funded assault on America's last, wild genetically pure and free ranging Buffalo continues this week. This week's low lights include the Montana Department of Livestock agents shooting the Buffalo with paint balls. All the agents push the Buffalo families into the fast moving Madison river. Hard on the whole herd after being hazed up to 5 miles before being forced in the river.
These images speak for themselves. Many thanks to all the BFC volunteers and supporters who make it possible for us to be in the field with the buffalo, documenting these actions. Spread the word to save these herds! Please share widely. Take action.
* Update from the Field: Buffalo Abuse Continues in the Hebgen Basin
A curious baby buffalo peeks at us from behind the safety of mom. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
After last week's brutal hazing operations, a few hundred wild buffalo migrated back to the habitat they had been evicted from in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is located at a higher elevation, so spring green-up happens later. Naturally, buffalo must travel to lower elevations to find the grasses they need. Nevertheless, hazing operations took place every day except Saturday. Sunday and Monday, the Montana Departments of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife & Parks conducted some hazing, but by Tuesday all the agencies and law enforcement were back for more large-scale operations. Because pictures can tell a thousand words and we didn't want you to have to read that many, below is another photo journey.
Monday morning brought four riders representing the Montana Department of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife & Parks back to the Denny Creek/South Fork area, where wild buffalo love to be. The agents aggressively hazed two bull bison, nearly forcing them to run into barbed wire and high-tension wire fences, before picking up family groups with numerous baby buffalo. More than 175 wild buffalo were hazed miles down the Madison Arm Road corridor, thick forests full of deadfall, and the mucky lakeshore. The haze ended west of Yellowstone National Park, letting us know that the agents would return with reinforcements. Click on these BFC photos fro larger images.
Tuesday, the agents returned in full force, to haze the buffalo that they had hazed the day before. From left to right, Interagency cooperation in wild bison harassment on our cattle-free public lands: DOL inspector Bridger Cunningham, then joined by USDA-APHIS worker Ryan Clarke riding an ATV haze a family group of buffalo. Next shown is a Yellowstone rider hazing a mom and her baby. The baby in the last photo is seen panting, though the haze had barely gone a mile. These buffalo would be pushed up to seven miles on this day, through deadfall and swollen rivers. Click on these BFC photos for larger image.
During the haze, we noticed DOL inspector Jeff Bowers (shown in first two photos riding the palomino) had a hand-gun type piece in his hands. As the last photo shows, we learned that he was shooting the buffalo with red paint balls, an utterly disrespectful action they take to mark certain buffalo. In the last photo, you can see the cow buffalo on the far left has been shot in the eye with red paint. He claimed she was "being ornrey." He had been harassing her and her family for weeks, had shot her yearling with paint balls earlier, and then shot her in the eye for being upset about it. We were to see numerous buffalo with red paint on them that day. Click on these BFC photos for larger images.
One cannot continuously abuse animals and expect there will be no consequence. Soon after that incident, one of the DOL's horses began to protest. DOL inspector Bridger Cunningham was aggressively trying to force his horse to move buffalo, but the horse wasn't having any of it. Bridger was ejected from the saddle, injuring his wrist. His unfortunate horse bolted in fear, running through the thick forest covered with deadfall, and suffered a puncture wound to the chest. Bridger was taken away in an ambulance, and the horse was taken to the vet. As this was happening, hazing halted, we could hear birds start singing again and the buffalo got a bit of a respite: a little time to graze, nurse, and get in some good wallowing. Click these BFC photos for larger images.
Five hours and five miles later, the buffalo had been run across U.S. Highway 191, east towards Yellowstone National Park. The agents pushed more than 200 buffalo towards the spring-flooded Madison River, and kept riding back and forth behind them, hooting and hollaring, to make them swim across. The buffalo would never have chosen such spots to cross, especially with their calves. Adult buffalo were having difficult times in the strong currents, and baby buffalo were being swept downstream. The adults worked together to help the exhausted calves to shore, and up onto the steep bank. Click on these BFC photos for larger images.
Other buffalo were forced to cross an even stronger river current, and the riders stood around and watched as adult buffalo worked very hard to get across, and more babies were swept down stream, struggling with all of their might to make it to shore. There were moments when we thought we were going to go swimming ourselves, going in after baby buffalo. But the moms came back into the water after them, sheltering their tired little bodies to the shore. They will place themselves up river to help break the current, or down river to block their calves from floating away and drowning. It is incredible how devoted buffalo moms are, and how strong these little buffalo are, being harassed daily and somehow -- but not always -- still having strength to keep up with the herd. Their will to live is enormous, their courage even stronger. But the haze didn't stop there. The riders, knowing how strong the current was, never crossed themselves or their horses. They rode around, up the bluffs, and came after the buffalo again, pushing them a few more miles into Yellowstone National Park. Click on these BFC file photos for larger images.
Wednesday morning, the agents gathered again near the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Sixteen state and federal workers, representing four of the five Interagency Bison Management Plan cohorts, riders, overseers, biologists and law enforcement made their plans to go find the buffalo they had so abusively treated the day before (and indeed for weeks on end now) and push them another seven miles into the Park.
Actions like these are carried out because Montana livestock interests still attempt to claim that wild bison present a brucellosis threat, or, more realistically, a threat to their cowboy culture. Millions of federal tax dollars are wasted each year to appease this "lifestyle" and abuse wild buffalo on the ground that is their ancestral birthright.
We are not powerless.
There are three things you can do today to make your voice heard and to help wild buffalo:
Over the weekend we learned that three wild buffalo were found dead in the Gardiner Basin, on private property just north of rancher and outfitter Bill Hoppe's place. Hoppe is one of two ranchers who runs a few cattle in the area. He recently put domestic sheep in the Basin, which caused alarm. It is well known that domestic sheep are dangerous to wildlife for many reasons. They can transmit pneumonia to bighorn sheep with fatal results; it can and has wiped out entire populations. They can be a tempting and easy snack for wolves and other predators, which are then killed. Domestic sheep can also carry the deadly disease malignant catarrhal fever, or MCF, which can kill bison, deer, and other even-toed ungulates.
A few of Hoppe's sheep were recently preyed upon, and wolves were blamed. Hoppe received a shoot-on-site permit to kill two wolves, and he killed one: a Yellowstone study wolf, even though there was no evidence that this wolf was responsible for taking his sheep. Having had his revenge, he relinquished his second wolf-kill permit, which was touted in the press and by officials as a "good will gesture."
There were no signs of bullet holes, trauma, or other obvious causes of death in the three dead buffalo. A person who observed one of these bison had noticed blood in the stool, which can be a symptom of MCF. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is currently investigating in an attempt to determine the cause of death. We will let you know more as more facts emerge.
It's not hard to guess why the Montana Department of Livestock would be so careless as to allow domestic sheep in the Gardiner Basin, in the heart of one of North America's largest wildlife migration corridors. But the DOL's anti-wildlife sentiment doesn't excuse the gross irresponsibility, and is quite contradictory in light of their eagerness to kill wild bison based on an unproven theory that wild bison could pass brucellosis back to cattle, something that has never happened.
Below are a few articles about the incidents.
Please take action by contacting the Montana Department of Livestock (Email) and urging them to remove their disease-spreading livestock from our wildlife habitat!
*TAKE ACTION! Contact Congress: Wild Buffalo on Capitol Hill Right Now!
Buffalo Field Campaign's Public Policy Coordinator, Josh Osher, is in Washington, DC holding meetings with numerous congressional representatives and wild buffalo advocates. This important part of our work to gain protection for wild buffalo goes hand in hand with our work in the field, legal challenges, educational outreach and media production. Another crucial element is your continued participation and answer to our calls for action. This week, while Josh is on Capitol Hill, we again ask that you take a few moments to send a message to your Congressional Representative and Senators to ask them to support wild, free-roaming buffalo.
* Limited Edition BFC Tee Shirt Available This Week Only!
We are proud to announce that we've been chosen by For Love of all Things (FLOAT) as their featured nonprofit this week. Purchase a limited edition bison tee shirt or any other item from their web site through Sunday 5/25 and $8 will go directly to BFC and our work to protect America's last wild buffalo.
*Announcing BFC's Free Buffalo Museum!
Buffalo Field Campaign is pleased to announce that we are making a transition this summer from tabling inside Yellowstone National Park to opening a Free Buffalo Museum just outside the west entrance, in the town of West Yellowstone. The museum will take you on an incredible buffalo journey, through their storied history and amazing natural lives to their current plight and the efforts of the people standing in their defense. The museum will showcase photos, artwork, images, and video, as well as buffalo items you can touch, plus BFC merchandise.
You can help make this museum the best it can be! We are looking for a few items to showcase, items of cultural and practical significance such as (but not limited to):
>> War shields made of buffalo hump
>> Buffalo hide paintings
>> Buffalo horn spoon
>> Buffalo jawbone warclub
If you have any related items that you'd be willing to allow us to showcase in our Free Buffalo Museum, please contact Mike Mease at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-646-0070. Thanks and see you there!
* Volunteers Wanted!
We have immediate openings for field volunteers to help with our front-lines patrols now through June. We are also seeking summer volunteers who can help us conduct outreach and education, representing BFC and the buffalo to Yellowstone visitors at our new Free Buffalo Museum in West Yellowstone. If you are interested, passionate, and hard-working, please email our Volunteer Coordinator.
* Job Opportunity: Legal and Field Internship for Fall and Summer 2013
BFC and ally Western Watersheds Project is seeking a legal and field intern to help document conditions in the field for several Forest Service grazing allotments in the West Yellowstone and Gardiner Basin areas, to review project files, and create legal documents. Learn more...
*By the Numbers
The last wild buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,200 individual animals, living in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wild bison are ecologically extinct throughout their native range in North America.
Total Buffalo Killed: 259
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Held for Government Experiment:
Died In Government Trap:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 25
Treaty Hunts: 218
Unknown Hunts: 5
Shot by Agents: 1
Highway Mortality: 7
Cause of Death Unknown: 3
Total Killed in Previous Years
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,253
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway deaths
*Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration: This Bias Against Bison
This Bias Against Bison ~ by Lyn Dalebout
1. My feet went walking
in another world
to discover the roots
of this bias against the Bison.
I was barefoot
walking in green grass
in high grass
under a blue sky
an infinitely high
I felt the spirit of the Bison
I was walking amongst
the ghost herds,
sixty million ghosts
of rumbling Bison.
I heard their spirit laughter:
breath of bounty
breath of trusting spirit
breath in knowing all their needs were met.
These were the chosen Bison
trusting the People
giving to the People
in their time of need
still breathing quietly amongst their kin
the whole herd
one big kin.
These Bison are returning here
as they once returned
to the spirit world
where I hear them now
It takes us here to call them back,
to welcome them home
as history, in continual reversal,
asserts itself again.
They are ready. They''ve wandered
long enough beneath perfect skies.
They want the Earth again.
They want the Earth beneath their feet again.
They seek our help.
They need our help to return them
to the Earth again.
For they are there.
I heard them in the other world.
I await their words.
2.They say they will forgive us
for their slaughter.
Sixty million dead in simply months.
They say some had to leave
for times were dark
as history spiraled to its death.
There would be no place for them,
the place they held:
of bounty and of prayer.
They would have smothered
no b r e a t h no b r e a t h
no room to breathe.
They say there are still no words,
but that we've grown used to
the downside of our species.
We think the way to peace
is bloody war.
3. "You're cracking open.
There is joy returning.
There will be too much light
for some to stay.
We want the Earth again.
We want the Earth beneath our feet again.
If you do not love the Earth
and all her bounty,
then please, remove yourselves,
do not stay.
If you do not love this place
with all your heart
then give it back to us
who fertilized Her unfailingly--
perhaps our greatest gift!--
and grunted the daily language of
and of prayer.
Our solo grunts and rumblings,
our massive tribal thunderings,
it was all applause,
for the universal bounty,
the unEarthly beauty
of this place.
You never knew, but now you know.
You always guessed, but now you know.
It was all applause,
our glad communion with the Earth."
4. My feet went walking
in another world
to discover the roots of bias
They say they will forgive us.
They would provide again
these thundering nations.
For they are there.
We need them here.
They await our word.
Please send us your submissions to Last Words. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you've contributed! Keep them coming!