*Yellowstone Buffalo Slaughter Escalates, Park Withholding Info
A far away view of Yellowstone's Stephens Creek buffalo trap, and a grim look at what happens to buffalo while captive there. BFC photo by Stephany, and NPS photo, respectively. Click images for larger view.
The existence of Buffalo Field Campaign has never been more critical. If BFC were not here in the field, no one would know what is happening with America's last wild buffalo. Yellowstone National Park has been capturing and consigning wild buffalo to slaughter since February 7, yet, for the first time since their involvement, they have not sent out a single press release. Daily phone calls to Yellowstone officials have gone unanswered while the Park's public information officer says he has not been receiving timely or complete information. Transparency and accountability is severely lacking. We have been told by a Yellowstone spokesperson that Superintendent Dan Wenk doesn't want press releases going out. But BFC has been diligent in trying to gain as much information as possible from firsthand observations by field patrols and numerous phone calls to Yellowstone and tribes. Numerous times, BFC has also requested that the Park organize media tours to let the public see what is happening to America's last wild buffalo in the trap. We have been denied. We have asked for access to the Stephens Creek trap to document, and we have been denied. It has been frustrating and it is critical that Yellowstone feel the pressure from the American public.
A glimpse of a buffalo's head as she and some of her friends are hauled from Yellowstone's Stephens Creek buffalo trap by USDA-APHIS to the Corwin Springs facility where they will be used for experiments with the pesticide birth control chemical GonaCon. The second photo shows BFC coordinator Peter Bogusko trying to get footage of the buffalo inside the trailer. BFC file photos by Stephany. Click images for larger view.
Through BFC's observations and investigations we know that at least 275 of America's last wild buffalo have been captured for slaughter. To date, 37 wild buffalo have been sent to slaughter by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, 84 have been sent to slaughter by the InterTribal Buffalo Council, and 35 have been sent to USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service for use in research. With at least 120 buffalo still in the trap, more are bound for tribal slaughter or government research in the coming days.
Tuesday morning, BFC patrols found this lovely family group of cows and calves resting and grazing, but by Tuesday afternoon, five gut piles were all that remained after Nez Perce hunters made their kills. We didn't see sign of the remaining four buffalo, most of which were calves. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click image for larger view.
To date, 172 wild buffalo have been killed by Native Americans hunting under treaties, and 35 have been killed by hunters holding Montana tags. The Montana hunt is now over, but tribes will continue hunting through March, ending when buffalo calving season is barely a month away. This week, BFC patrols have not encountered a single mature bull, an indication that all in the Gardiner Basin have been killed by hunters. Family groups of pregnant females and calves are being shattered. Treaty hunters have been chasing buffalo out of areas that would be difficult for them to retrieve carcasses from, and pushing them into places right along Forest Service roads where it's easy. State law prohibits "group hunting," which is the chasing of animals toward awaiting rifles. This is not hunting, this is massacre.
A distant view of Stephens Creek with InterTribal Buffalo Council stock trailers lined up on the far right to take wild buffalo away to slaughter. Being kept so far away calls for a longer Nikon zoom lens, something BFC sorely needs to better document. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click image for larger view.
On Wednesday morning, BFC patrols saw livestock trailers coming in to the Gardiner Basin. As we have done, we positioned ourselves in a spot where we can view the Stephens Creek bison trap with a spotting scope -- we can't get closer due to an unreasonable seven-mile closure around the trap site. We saw the trailers lined up to the chutes, with men walking on the catwalks and loading up buffalo. We positioned our patrol to a choke point where we knew we'd meet the trailers so that we could document what Yellowstone is trying to withhold from the public.
An InterTribal Buffalo Council convoy hauls 39 wild buffalo to slaugher, escorted by the Montana Department of Livestock, USDA-APHIS, and, temporarily, Yellowstone National Park. On the left, you can see Peter in position to film the passing convoy, and on the right, a sad glimpse of wild buffalo crammed into small trailers carrying them to their doom. BFC file photos by Stephany. Click photos for larger images.
A convoy of three ITBC livestock trailers hauling 39 wild buffalo to slaughter was escorted by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement and a Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) stock inspector. We got into position to film them at the Corwin Springs bridge, before they got onto Highway 89 and took the buffalo to Big Timber, MT for slaughter. Peter, a seasoned BFC coordinator and volunteer, was determined to get footage of the buffalo inside the stock trailers so we could show the public what Yellowstone is hiding. Shown above, Peter positioned himself alongside the road where the trailers would have to slow down to make a turn onto the highway.
Peter gets a run in with a DOL livestock inspector after trying to film buffalo that are inside the stock trailers. After much discussion with a Park Ranger and Park County sherrif, Peter got a warning for "disorderly conduct." Peter's effort to get this footage was extra important due to the lack of information we have been getting from Yellowstone National Park.
This incident prompted some "discussion" with Park County and a Yellowstone Park Ranger. As Peter explained that he was attempting to get footage, we underscored the inappropriateness of Yellowstone's lack of disclosure to the public since the trap has been in operation this season. We again asked for access to Stephens Creek to document what these agents are doing to our last wild buffalo, and were denied. We again asked for a media tour, and were told we needed to submit our request elsewhere, which we have done and thus far have been denied. Wild buffalo that are captured and confined suffer injuries and sometimes death. Of course, Yellowstone doesn't want the public to see what they are doing to these gentle giants. Yellowstone used to be up front with us, but this year they are trying to hide their nefarious actions against America's last wild, migratory buffalo.
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk has never presided over buffalo slaughter before, and he is the first Superintendent of Yellowstone to withhold timely and complete information from the public. Since the signing of the Interagency Bison Management Plan in 2000, every other Superintendent has disclosed information, but not Dan Wenk. On Wednesday afternoon, after receiving a press release from Yellowstone about a youth conservation program, BFC co-founder Mike Mease contacted Yellowstone with this message: "Where is the news of your bison slaughter? Hiding the truth from the people is not your choice to make. You work for the American people not the Montana cattle industry. When you lose your integrity you lose yourself. Wake up!" Interestingly, not long after that contact, BFC started to get a few returned phone calls from Yellowstone officials, though no new information has been divulged. At the time of this writing, patrols are monitoring an APHIS trailer pulled up to the trap's chute, ready to take away more wild buffalo.
Wild buffalo are simply trying to migrate for their survival. It is their home, the land they have known for eight hundred thousand years or more. Once they walked with woolly mammoths and they survived the ice age, but it is unclear if they can survive the human race. There are lines in the sand everywhere they turn that make them vulnerable to capture and slaughter or massacre through so-called hunting. We are here on the front lines to bear witness and let you know what is happening to these buffalo; we are few in number and we need you to take this information and apply heavy pressure. Contact the decision makers below, forward and post this email to everyone you can, and please consider joining us on the front lines so we can be a more effective presence and advocate for America's last wild buffalo.
WILD IS THE WAY ~ ROAM FREE!
*TAKE ACTION TO STOP THE SLAUGHTER!
1. CONTACT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Please call Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk at (307) 344-2002, and also send him a letter to urge him to stop the 2014 buffalo slaughter that is currently underway and to fully disclose to the public what is going on at Yellowstone's Stephens Creek buffalo trap.
2. CONTACT TRIBAL GOVERNMENT: Contact the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and urge them to stop taking buffalo to slaughter.
3. CONTACT TRIBAL CORPORATION: Contact the InterTribal Buffalo Council board of directors and member tribes and urge them to end the betrayal and stop the slaughter!
4. CONTACT MONTANA GOVERNMENT: Contact Montana Governor Steve Bullock and urge him to champion wild buffalo in Montana by increasing access to habitat and ending the Montana Department of Livestock's authority over wild buffalo!
5. Visit our page to contact other decision-makers who need to hear from you and please share the links to these take action alerts on Facebook and other social media outlets. And please consider joining us on the front lines. See below for details. Thank you!
* A Buffalo Orphan's Story
A lone survivor without much of a chance, with no elder buffalo to guide and help her. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
During the last days of Montana's state hunt, which ended February 15, a group of twenty-six buffalo that we had been monitoring for months had been chased out of a safe area. Eight of these buffalo were shot by hunters and two calves were left orphaned. Traveling together and completely undone by the loss of their mothers and elders, the calves wandered up and down Highway 191. One calf was hit by a vehicle and last seen entering a Forest Service housing area. The other calf, now totally alone, made its way north, far from other family groups. We last saw this calf on Duck Creek road. We had wished for a nearby family group's presence that we could help the calf find, but there were none around. We knew of a bull group that was relatively close, but bulls don't typically accept the company of orphaned calves. While deliberating how we could help this baby buffalo, she wandered back out onto the highway and was struck and killed by a vehicle. This tragic ending is also a lesson to hunters who pay no heed to the lives they take and by their actions kill many more buffalo than with bullet alone.
* The Buffalo Need You. Volunteer or Donate Today.
If you have ever dreamed of standing with buffalo and fighting for their rights to be wild, NOW IS THAT TIME! BFC is in need of caring people to make this sacred sacrifice to help the buffalo. Buffalo Field Campaign invites you to join us on the front lines, here on the edge of the world's first national park, to defend America's last wild, migratory buffalo. State, federal, and tribal governments are in the process of capturing and killing hundreds of wild bison. They aim to reduce the already vulnerable population of America's last wild, migratory buffalo to a mere 3,000 animals.
We need more people to stand with us and protect the buffalo. Please, if you have ever thought about coming out we need help from now until the end of May. BFC provides room, board, gear, and training while the wildlife and wild lands provide incredible inspiration. Please visit our volunteer page to fill out an application or email our volunteer coordinators or 406-646-0070. Bring your passion and your ideas. See you on the front lines!
If you can not join us in person we could still use your help. Please use the DONATE NOW button below to make a tax-deductible contribution to our important work for the buffalo.
Thanks for giving us the honor of standing with these sacred beings and please come experience it for yourselves, it will change your life.
WITH THE BUFFALO,
* BFC's 2015 Wild Bison Calendar: SUBMIT YOUR PHOTOS & ART
WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FOR 2015! Help others fall in love with wild buffalo so that we have a chance to save them from extinction! If you have high resolution photos, artwork, poetry, quotes, or interesting natural facts about wild buffalo, please contact Stephany for details.
Don't miss out on BFC's 2014 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country Calendar! 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. ORDER NOW
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!
* Participate in BFC's Summer Program!
BFC is looking for at least six people to help us spread the word to save the herds this Summer. BFC is looking for help from June until the first week of September. The positions would entail working in our Buffalo Museum in West Yellowstone, Montana, tabling and camping inside Yellowstone National Park, and going to music festivals and Summer events. Each week we will have you do a different job so you would not be stuck doing one thing the whole Summer. If spending your Summer in the Yellowstone ecosystem and helping save the buffalo is something that interests you please contact Mike. I promise this will be a summer you will never forget.
*By the Numbers
The last wild, migratory buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,300 individual animals, living in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wild, migratory bison are ecologically extinct throughout their native range in North America.
Total Buffalo Killed: 366
Government Capture: 275
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Tribal - ITBC Slaughter: 84
Tribal - CSKT Slaughter: 37
Tribal - Nez Perce Slaughter:
Held for Government Experiment: 35
Died in Government Trap:
Died in Government Research Facility**: 1
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 35
Treaty Hunts: 172
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to Research Facility:
Shot by Agents:
Cause of Death Unknown:
Total Killed in Previous Years*
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,604
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway deaths
**bison stolen from the wild and placed in research facilities (such as for GonaCon) have already been counted as being "eliminated from the population" so bison that have died in a government research facility are not reflected in the total.
*Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration
"I am crushed on a spiritual and sacredness level. If the Native Americans don't stand up and fight for their most revered animal, then where is the hope for humanity? They are giving up on what bonds them together."
~ Chuck Irestone, advocate for wild lands and wild bison.
Please send us your submissions for Last Words. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you've contributed! Keep them coming!