* Understand, Defend and Celebrate WILD American Buffalo Every Day!
A bull buffalo beds down, waiting out a snow storm. BFC file photo by Stephany.
Some groups have declared today National Bison Day. Here at Buffalo Field Campaign, every day is bison day. As the noble buffalo will rightly be celebrated across this nation that once teemed with tens of millions of the gentle giants, we are reminded, in the words of Rick Bass, "[The buffalo are] the dark force of the plains--the living muscle of our history. Perhaps no other animal represents so well that richness which we once had, and which we so savagely squandered and mutilated."
While it is often said that bison represent the greatest success in conservation history, it is anything but a sure success. All but about 4,500 of today's half a million bison have been stripped of their wild integrity, robbed of their migratory instincts, contaminated with cattle genes, fenced in, culled, and diminished. Game farming, in which bison wind up wrapped in plastic and sold at the local grocery, is not conservation. Nor, save for Yellowstone, can the public herds scattered about the country be touted as successful wildlife conservation, as these herds are also confined by fences or geologic features, culled and managed as livestock.
Far from the heartland of their home in the Great Plains, wild buffalo do remain. It is only in and around Yellowstone National Park where fewer than 4,500 wild American bison still hold their identity as wildlife. These are the last continuously wild herds that have existed here since prehistoric times. Still conveniently unrecognized by the federal government as an endangered species, the global position does acknowledge that wild bison are, indeed, threatened with extinction and are ecologically extinct throughout their native range. In a nation that begins to dedicate one day of the year for bison, it would seem reasonable that such an iconic and ecologically, spiritually, and culturally important animal would be afforded protection. Instead wild bison suffer hazing, capture, slaughter, canned hunting, quarantine and other atrocities under the Interagency Bison Management Plan, developed by livestock interests, and carried out by Montana and federal agencies.
On this first National Bison Day the best thing you can do to defend wild buffalo is to help keep BFC on the front lines by contributing to our urgent work. Please make a tax-free contribution right now or support us with the purchase of a 2013 Wild Bison calendar or other unique merchandise.
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Community Coming Together to Help BFC with "Yurt Raising"
One of the most rewarding aspects of our work for the buffalo is the incredible community that it has given rise to. Like buffalo breaking trail for one another in the deep snow, protecting each other from predators, or even mourning the loss of a herd member, we are always here to help one another.
For more than 15 years now, hundreds of buffalo-minded folks have been gathering at BFC headquarters every winter and spring to volunteer for patrols and defend the buffalo. Incredible connections have been made and communities formed from this magic. People who met at Buffalo Field Campaign have gone on to start families, communities, and businesses together.
Long-time volunteers Vince Godby and Hays Daniel, inspired by some early structures they made at BFC to house volunteers, went on to start a small business called Shelter Design. Expert craftsmen, they build beautiful yurts that can be lived in year-round. Thanks to their generosity and commitment to the buffalo, we have the opportunity to have one of their yurts set up at BFC headquarters to house volunteers this season.
They are donating, at no cost to Buffalo Field Campaign, a 20 foot diameter, 314 square foot, fully insulated, "eco yurt." They'll be coming to set it up as soon as we build a deck on which it can sit. The materials for this platform, if we want to make it insulated (important for West Yellowstone winters where temperatures can plummet below minus 40 degrees), will cost approximately $1400. An uninsulated platform will cost about half as much.
Another long time volunteer, Jesse Owen, has agreed to donate $250 to help cover this expense if we are able to raise the remainder, about $1150, from you our supporters. Having this structure will help keep our main cabin from being overcrowded and will give some hard-working volunteers who commit to being with us all winter a bit of personal space and a warm place to rest and recuperate from the stress and sore muscles of patrols.
Please make a donation today so we can get our new yurt set up before the heavy snows start to fall. If enough of you pitch in, we will build the insulated platform. Otherwise, we'll make do with an uninsulated one. Any funds raised in excess of the cost we will use to fund our ongoing efforts to protect the buffalo.
Please donate now and write "yurt" in the "additional information" box. If you'd rather send a check, please mail to Buffalo Field Campaign, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758.
You can view similar yurts made by Shelter Designs by visiting www.shelterdesigns.net
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign
* 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 4,300 individual buffalo. Wild bison are currently ecologically extinct throughout their native range in North America.
Total Buffalo Killed: 33
Government Capture: 10
Buffalo Released from Capture: 7
Held for Government Experiment: 3
Died In Government Trap:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State & Treaty Hunts: 28
Shot by Agents: 3
Killed by Angry Residents:
Highway Mortality: 2
Total Killed in Previous Years
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,008
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway mortality
* Last Words--Buffalo Inspiration
"In life and death we and the buffalo have always shared the same fate."
~ John Fire Lame Deer, Mineconju-Lakota Sioux
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!