* Update from the Field
These three bulls are, sadly, no longer part of the herd. This photo was taken inside the western edge of Yellowstone National Park, less than 1/4 mile from where the bulls were shot by hunters on private land. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
The holiday season proved to be a quiet time for our friends the buffalo. For a little while, peace on Earth was extended to these gentle giants. Unfortunately it was not to last. On Saturday, three massive bull buffalo that we had been keeping an eye on for nearly two months were killed by hunters. These bulls had at most times been a solid trio, then would have the company of another bull or two, then be a trio again. For weeks they moved through the Duck Creek area, in and out of the invisible and manmade boxes that determine private, forest, and park lands. This is a favorite migration corridor for buffalo, particularly bulls.
On Yellowstone's western edge, where Duck Creek flows from the park, is a narrow strip of Gallatin National Forest land that you could literally throw a stone across. On the other side of this strip of Forest Service land is the private land of the Koelzer family. The Koelzers have, as many of you know, been infamous and cruel players in the war against wild bison, in large part because they have leased their land to the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL). This is where the DOL runs the Duck Creek bison trap, and the basement of the Koelzer house is used by the DOL and other IBMP agencies as their headquarters when planning hazing and capture operations in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park.
This photo, looking towards Koelzer's, was taken from the small strip of Gallatin National Forest that lies between Koelzer's and Yellowstone National Park, the Park being behind the photographer. From the angle in this photo, the Duck Creek bison trap is just out of vew to the left. In the very far distance, you can see portions of Horse Butte. BFC file photo by Kevin Snyder.
Saturday morning, three men with state bison tags got permission from either the Koelzers or the DOL and killed these three bulls. Had they been a mere 50 yards to the east, the bulls would have been safe inside Yellowstone National Park. There is no resident population of wild bison in Montana, so when buffalo step over the line from Yellowstone into Montana, hunters react desperately. To make matters worse for the few buffalo in Montana, the state legislature last year passed a bill that enables state officials to tell hunters the locations of buffalo. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) set up a "bison hotline" that hunters can call to learn the exact positions of buffalo. For two months the hotline told callers that a small group of buffalo -- these bulls -- were moving in and out of the Park. It was only a matter of time before hunters caught them on the killing side of that line.
BFC is running full patrols in both the Hebgen and Gardiner Basins, west and north of Yellowstone. We are ramping up efforts in opposition to this canned hunt, and strengthening our communication to let hunters know they are participating in a bison extermination plan, not a legitimate hunt. We have apparently expected too much from bison hunters, assuming they would do as other conservationists have done, and take responsibility to ensure a viable future for wild, migratory bison in Montana. This is their duty, their obligation. We will be here to remind them of that, every step of the way.
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Horror Witnessed: APHIS Tortures Bison, Killing One
While watching operations at an Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) controlled bison trap north of Gardiner on Tuesday, I personally witnessed the horror that is our government's complete mismanagement of America's last wild, migratory bison. What I saw included 20 or so bison being violated, one being injured and one put to death.
The APHIS-run bison trap I speak of is part of a highly controversial bison birth control program. APHIS, the federal livestock overseer, is sterilizing bison stolen from the wild, with the chemical pesticide GonaCon. Some cow bison are having their ovaries removed as well. This is a disastrous birth control experiment that will further push wild, migratory bison towards extinction.
Each of these bison were subjected to a violent intrusion of their body, which included the shoving of two arms up their rear ends, being stuck with one or more big needles, and the harassing manhandling while being forced into a small holding pen that allowed these disgusting violations to happen. One of the bison, while exiting the small trap and running for it's life, had one of it's horns partially ripped from it's head, leaving the horn a bloody mess.
As sad as all this was, it only became more sad. I did not see how or why but one bison ended up on the ground and unable to get up. I saw this beautiful animal struggle to rise several times without success. After the last bison had been violated and ran back to its family, the agents approached the downed bison and ended it's life.
Senseless experimentation is no justification for the captive violation of such a unique population of wildlife that is Yellowstone's bison. Today the results were injuries and death. Tomorrow will be the same. The horrific handling and mismanagement of these animals is an absolute wrong and must not continue.
USDA-APHIS intends to acquire more wild bison from Yellowstone, possibly during capture operations this year, should they occur. Don't let Yellowstone hand over any more wild bison to this dark and dangerous agency.
Please Take Action now!
For the Buffalo,
* Wild & Scenic Film Festival to Honor BFC!
We are excited to let you know that two films highlighting wild buffalo and the work of Buffalo Field Campaign have been accepted into the Wild & Scenic Film Festival! The Wild & Scenic Film Festival takes place January 9-12 in Nevada City, CA, and kicks off the Wild & Scenic On Tour, which travels to more than 100 communities across the country.
The well-known film festival will feature Buffalo Battle, an exciting film by Tom Rogan, and Buffalo Wild which is an incredible collaboration between BFC co-founder Mike Mease and Native musicians and activists John Trudell, Goodshield Aguilar and Mignon Geli.
Mike, John, Goodshield and Mignon will be attending the Festival, and Mike will also offer a workshop on guerilla media and will speak about the buffalo films.
Attend, learn more, or check out the Wild & Scenic On Tour.
* TAKE ACTION to Stop Capture, Torture and Slaughter of Wild Buffalo!
1. Yellowstone National Park Enlists Tribes to Slaughter Wild Buffalo
Urge the National Park Service Director to Rescind Buffalo Slaughter Contracts and to Pull Out of the IBMP
2. MT Department of Livestock Plans to Capture, Vaccinate & Slaughter Wild Buffalo
Urge your members of Congress to Stop the DOL's Plans & Cut Off Funding for the Interagency Bison Management Plan
Contact Montana Governor Steve Bullock to Stop the Department of Livestock Before they Start!
Thank you so much for taking the time to raise your voice for America's last wild buffalo! Please spread the word to save these herds!
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Wild Bison Calendars! 2014 in Stock; Accepting Photos, Art, Poems for 2015!
Oh yes! 2014 is here and if you don't yet have a 2014 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country Calendar, you don't want to miss out! This is likely our best calendar yet, with absolutely stunning photos of wild buffalo in their native habitat, incredible artwork, and inspiring quotes, facts, and poetry.
WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FOR 2015, so if you have high resolution photos, artwork, poetry, quotes, or interesting and natural facts about wild buffalo, please contact Stephany for details.
Thank you to everyone who has made our Wild Bison calendars such a huge success! This is one of our favorite projects as it allows all of us to celebrate wild buffalo 365 days a year!
*By the Numbers
The last wild buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,600 individual animals, living in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wild bison are ecologically extinct throughout their native range in North America.
Total Buffalo Killed: 58
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Held for Government Experiment:
Died In Government Trap:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 7
Treaty Hunts: 51
Shot by Agents:
Cause of Death Unknown:
Total Killed in Previous Years
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,314
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway deaths
*Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration
"The successes of the [Endangered Species] Act include the recoveries of bald eagle, American alligator, whooping crane, and humpback whale. The story has not been so great for those in direct competition with us, like gray wolf and American bison. Recovery of wolf and bison will allow wild community on a scale we have yet to embrace. More than the establishment and protection of designated wilderness areas, recovery for wolf and bison depends on the completion, or wilding, of human beings."
~ Meg, Extinction Witness
Please send us your submissions for Last Words. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you've contributed! Keep them coming!