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           Weekly Update from the Field March 27, 2014
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BFC Update: Buffalo Freely Roam Gardiner Basin!‏
* Update from the Field
* TAKE ACTION! Tell Montana's Governor, "No Slaughter for Habitat."
* Video: Blackfeet Chief, Earl Old Person
* The Buffalo Need You. Please Volunteer or Donate Today
* BFC Represents at Boise's Treefort Music Festival
* Participate in BFC's Summer Program!
* By the Numbers
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~

* Update from the Field

Breath steams from this young bull buffalo as he tests certain scents in the air. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

This past week was a really good one for wild buffalo. No hunting has taken place since March 16, so it seems that this over-long, late-season hunt is finally over. And the buffalo seem to know.

A beautiful scene made complete with the presence of wild buffalo! This is Cutler Meadows, the most northerly area where the buffalo roam the Gardiner Basin. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.

The Gardiner Basin, near Yellowstone's north boundary, is currently teeming with hundreds of wild, migratory buffalo! Patrols, many locals, and even some government agents have been ecstatic. From the high hills of Eagle Creek all the way north along the Yellowstone River to Cutler Meadows, wild buffalo are roaming everywhere. And they are being left alone. It is hard to put into words how wonderful it is to see these gentle giants using this landscape without danger from traps, bullets, or horsemen. We give deep, heartfelt thanks to you, because this awesome sight is a direct result of seventeen years of BFC's hard work -- made possible by your unrelenting support -- and the recent court ruling that gave wild buffalo the right to access habitat in the Gardiner Basin. We now bear witness to the direct results of these efforts, and, though temporary, it is awesome to behold. These are the moments that we live and work for!

Buffalo enjoy some freedom! One cool evening, as the sun was just starting to descend, Noah, Mike and I were blessed to see over one hundred and fifty wild buffalo running and playing and just feeling good in Cutler Meadows. It was hilarious and one of the most amazing buffalo sights any of us had the pleasure to enjoy. BFC file photos by Stephany. Click photos for larger images.

Spring is beginning to take full hold in the Gardiner Basin. Buffalo, able to finally stretch their migratory legs, are feeling the pull of the warming tide and friskily expressing themselves. We have been honored to spend time with them as they romp and play, run for the fun of it, kick up the dust, soak up the sun, and enjoy the first new shoots of spring grasses.

Handsome and impressive mature bull bufalo. It is truly a gift to be in the presence of North America's largest land mammal. BFC file photos by Stephany. Click for larger image.

Massive bull bison have joined in the Gardiner Basin party as well! It's been such an intense pleasure to see these enormous, shaggy bulls make appearances. It seemed that for most of the long winter, bulls had been taken out early by hunters while others were laying low, out of sight. Sometimes it's hard to believe that these big boys are real, they are such an impressive sight and seem to command respect everywhere they go. We are awestruck by them.

A view of Horse Butte from the north bluffs of the Madison River, 2011. The south-facing slopes, shown in part here, are still snow covered but will soon open. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.

In the Hebgen Basin, about thirty miles to the southwest of Gardiner as the raven flies, and a few thousand feet higher in elevation, snows are still deep, though the ground is starting to open up. Some family groups are beginning to make their way to Horse Butte. Calving season is just a few weeks away and the buffalo seek out the south-facing slopes that offer early grass, and perhaps other plants the buffalo are aware of that aid in birthing. Patrols are busy morning through night, monitoring the buffalo and helping to warn traffic as they migrate through the Basin, having to cross Highway 191. Winter hasn't given up her cold grip here. The next few weeks will be trying times for the buffalo that made it through; they need all the ease and food they can find. For now, nature is the only one in charge and buffalo roam with a little freedom.


* TAKE ACTION! Tell Montana's Governor: No Slaughter for Habitat!

While the fewer than 4,000 buffalo that make up America's last wild herds are enjoying a respite from hunting, slaughter, and harassment, Montana government officials are working on a plan that would set things way back. Montana's buffalo slaughter for habitat proposal is a dirty compromise between Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Montana Department of Livestock and Board of Livestock. This proposal shows how cattle ranchers have completely corrupted the public decision making process and management of the public's buffalo. If this proposal is put in place, wild buffalo would only be given year-round habitat if the populations are reduced and maintained at 3,300 animals or fewer. The higher the population, the less habitat they can access, and the more slaughter and hunting will be used to kill them.

TAKE ACTION NOW to tell Montana Governor Steve Bullock: No Buffalo Slaughter for Habitat!

Broad public support for year-round buffalo habitat - almost 120,000 public comments received by Montana - has been corrupted by the Department of Livestock and their allies and turned into a buy-in for slaughtering buffalo.

All of the people who rallied to support the alternatives in Montana's plan are now in the position of having to agree to slaughter buffalo as a necessary condition for year-round habitat, at most, 0.4% of Montana's 94,208,000 acres - 147,200 square miles. BFC did not support any of Montana's alternatives because they failed to address sound wildlife management practices for year-round habitat, for both sexes, in the Gardiner and Hebgen Basins. The vast majority of the habitat under consideration - over 90% - is public land managed by Gallatin National Forest and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Montana's buffalo slaughter for habitat proposal exemplifies the corruption of cattle ranchers in charge of wild buffalo. Without MCA 81-2-120 on the books, cattle ranchers and their surrogate, the Department of Livestock, would not be in a position to corrupt wildlife management of native, migratory buffalo. The echoing silence from Governor Steve Bullock's office demonstrates how pervasive this corruption has become. The people of Montana -- and all Americans -- must rally and repeal livestock authority over wild buffalo and restore integrity for care-taking our natural heritage before it is too late.

CONTACT MONTANA'S GOVERNOR: Contact Governor Steve Bullock and urge him to champion wild buffalo in Montana by rejecting the proposed "buffalo slaughter for habitat," and ending the Montana Department of Livestock's authority over America's last wild buffalo.

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!

* Video: Blackfeet Chief, Earl Old Person

In this new BFC video, Earl Old Person--official Chief of the Blackfeet Nation--speaks about the importance of the Buffalo to his people. He tells a story, sings a buffalo song, says a prayer, and honors the people working to save the buffalo.

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Buffalo Field Campaign 3/27/14

Earl Old Person, Chief of the Blackfeet Nation
Earl Old Person official Chief of the Blackfeet Nation speaks about the importance of the Buffalo to his Nation. He tells a story, sings a song, says a prayer and honors the people working to save the Buffalo.

* The Buffalo Need You. Please Volunteer or Donate Today.

Join us on the front lines, or contribute to keep us in the field. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.

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.

Mike Mease

* BFC Represents at Boise's Treefort Music Festival

BFC and the Buffaloon represent! BFC file photos by Ken Cole and Brett Netson, respectively. Click for larger images.

Last weekend Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers inflated our giant Buffaloon near the main stage of Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho. The crowd was blown away. Children gazed in amazement while adults came to us wondering what was going on. Ken Cole, Pat Richardson, Comfrey Jacobs and Demmi Netson were all present to speak on behalf of the buffalo. The crowd was very receptive and generous. T-shirts saying, "Let Em' Roam" and "I'm a buffalo, I do what I want," were soon spotted all throughout the crowd, and, in between the rockin' tunes, our supporters grew. Huge thanks to Eric Gilbert for providing this opportunity and all the lovely people who stopped by to chat. We couldn't continue our work to help the last wild bison without our amazing supporters. Keep on rockin' and keep it wild!

~ Demmi Netson

* 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 4,000 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: 631
Government Capture: 450 (+/-)
Buffalo Released from Capture: unknown
Government Slaughter:
Tribal - ITBC Slaughter: 157
Tribal - CSKT Slaughter: 101
Tribal - Nez Perce Slaughter: 0
Died in Government Trap:
Died in Government Research Facility**: 1
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 31
Treaty Hunts: 310
Unknown Hunts:
Poached in Yellowstone: 3
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to APHIS Research Facility: 60
Shot by Agents:
Highway Mortality: 1
Cause of Death Unknown:

Total Killed in Previous Years*
2012-2013: 261
2011-2012: 33
2010-2011: 227
2009-2010: 7
2008-2009: 22
2007-2008: 1,631
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,869

*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway deaths
**bison stolen from the wild and placed in APHIS 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 ~ Kim Kaiser

"Yesterday, I was working outside of my place here in Gardiner........and a big ole bull came sauntering down the highway, right down the center, he had no fear, just doing his thing, kinda like Clint Eastwood in his movies when he walked down the street, people backed up and gave him his way. He was MASSIVE. I am about 6 foot and as he came by, I estimated his hump at higher than 6 foot.

What's funny is that people were kinda coming out, checking him out, kids were trying to get in front of him to get picture, he never wavered, just slowly made his way to the bridge. It seems no matter how many times you see a bison, it doesn't seem to matter, but when one of those big ole guys come down the street, they just command and demand respect and attention. Made my day!!"

~ Kim Kaiser, Gardiner resident, business owner, photographer

Please send us your submissions for Last Words. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you've contributed! Keep them coming!

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Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
BFC is the only group working in the field every day in defense of the last wild buffalo population in the U.S.

Buffalo Field Campaign West Yellowstone Montana
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