* Update from the Field
Bull bison bedded down in the willows near Eagle Creek campground, Gallatin National Forest, in the Gardiner Basin. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.
The six-month long buffalo hunting season has resumed, with seven buffalo killed by treaty hunters this week. Officials have announced that hunting is now truly over for this season. At least this time none of the buffalo killed were pregnant females. A Montana Department of Livestock agent hazed a group of 14 buffalo away from visiting their relatives at a USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) GonaCon research facility, where captured wild buffalo are being held in captivity to be used in birth control experiments. The same agent attempted another haze on a different day, but came away with no buffalo. Two buffalo have been hit and killed on separate occasions, on Highway 89, which runs north/south from Livingston through the Gardiner Basin. The Gardiner Basin, one of North America's largest wildlife migration corridors, is always teeming with wildlife, and while most residents are used to watching out for elk, deer, big horn, and bison, with a 70mph speed limit, lots of animals are sadly struck and killed.
Buffalo migrate back and forth in the Gardiner Basin, this time heading south, into Yellowstone. Buffalo typically don't spend much time in this particular area of the Park as there is little food due to damage caused by livestock grazing before becoming part of Yellowstone National Park. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.
Wild buffalo continue to mainly roam freely in the Gardiner Basin in the hundreds, bringing joy to many of Gardiner's residents and visitors to this unique and world renowned wildlife-rich region of America. It's really hard to describe how buffalo complete the landscape, how their presence lifts the spirit while they heal the land that they have for so long been absent from. How these lands that have evolved with the buffalo nation, that have been their inherent birthright for hundreds of thousands of years, embrace their brief return. Below are a few photos that will hopefully help illustrate how incredibly awesome it is to have the mighty, gentle buffalo temporarily roaming free on a fraction of their land. If you live in the Gardiner Basin or other parts of southwest Montana, please write a Letter to the Editor of our local and regional papers and also call Montana officials (see below) and express how much you love that wild buffalo are roaming free!
The Gardiner Basin. Teeming with wild buffalo -- something to celebrate and let the world know how awesome it is! We have all worked long and hard for this. BFC file photos. Click for larger images.
In the Hebgen Basin, wild buffalo from the Central Herds are also moving west through the Madison River corridor toward Horse Butte and surrounding lands. Many look thin and tired, but very determined. Some are turning back, possibly to let friends know the living is a bit easier than up in the higher elevations.
Buffalo seem to never get a break from the human race, or the weather; still, they press on, and BFC tries to help warn traffic with one of our hot pink signs. On the right is a yellow Dept. of Transportation sign. These buffalo finally made it safely across the road, heading towards Horse Butte. BFC file photos. Click for larger images.
Highway 191 cuts through the heart of this important passage, and buffalo must cross or travel along it to access the lands that they need. On either side of the Hebgen Basin, Highways 20 and 287 also present great challenges. Here, unlike in Gardiner, wildlife on the highways face more serious challenges with extended winter weather, three U.S. highways, an enormous amount of eighteen-wheeler traffic, and cross-country travelers constantly moving through. Patrols have been busy helping warn traffic of buffalo on the highway, and so far, no buffalo have been killed. But until safe passage infrastructure is put into place, it is sadly only a matter of time. BFC is doing the best that we can, but the state needs to do more.
As we move forward, we are going to gain more and more ground for wild buffalo, so we must be ready. We humans must be willing to make changes that will allow us to coexist. There are many changes afoot, so please see below for important ways you can participate in a positive future for wild buffalo!
WILD IS THE WAY ~ ROAM FREE!
* Gardiner: Write & Call With Support for the Buffalo Today!
BFC strongly encourages bison advocates who live in the Gardiner Basin, or anywhere really, to publicly celebrate wild buffalo roaming here. Unfortunately, the anti-buffalo contingent, while small in number, is loud in voice. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is receiving negative calls, and bison advocates need to make it known to the media and government that we are celebrating the presence of wild buffalo in the Gardiner Basin! It is *critical* that support for the buffalo in the Gardiner Basin is heard by decision-makers!
We can't let the buffalo be misrepresented by the few folks who hate and fear them!
Please call today:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 3 Office: Phone: (406) 994-4042
Montana Governor Steve Bullock: 406-444-3111
Montana Department of Livestock: 406-444-0782
Please also submit Letters to the Editor to the following papers:
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Helena Independent Record
To show our appreciation for helping wild buffalo, if your LTE is published we will send you a free BFC t-shirt or calendar. Send us the link to your buffalo-friendly letter when published, your gift preference, tee shirt size, and mailing address. Thank you!
* Montana: Please Attend Important April 10 IBMP Meeting in Bozeman!
Please join Buffalo Field Campaign and other bison advocates at the upcoming Interagency Bison Management Plan meeting. The meeting is set for 8am on Thursday, April 10th in Bozeman, MT. The agenda for this meeting is loaded with important issues, including a disastrous 'bison slaughter for habitat' proposal from Montana and the announcement of a new state-federal Environmental Impact Statement which will impact both bison and elk. There will be two opportunities for public comment. We need a strong showing of solidarity at this meeting so please try to join us, bring friends, and spread the word! Meeting details, including a draft agenda and location can be found here (PDF).
* PLANET EARTH, 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!
* Buffalo in the News
Montana needs to formulate a new plan for bison
March 31, 2014: Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Interagency plan proposed for Yellowstone Bison
March 28, 2014: Bozeman Daily Chronicle
* The Buffalo Need You. Please 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,
* 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: 646
Government Capture: 359
Buffalo Released from Capture: unknown
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: 291
Poached in Yellowstone: 3
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to APHIS Research Facility: 60
Shot by Agents:
Highway Mortality: 3
Cause of Death Unknown:
Total Killed in Previous Years*
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,884
*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 ~ Protect the Wild Bison
Protect the Wild Bison. Footage from BFC, words and music by Tim Gannon.
Please send us your submissions for Last Words. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you've contributed! Keep them coming!