Wild Buffalo Under Assault in Hebgen Basin
* Thank You for Making Give Local Missoula so Successful for BFC!
* Update from the Field
* This Week's Video
* TAKE ACTION! Keep the Pressure on Montana's Governor
* Thank You Goodshield & Mignon
* Keep it Wild with the Buffalo & BFC This Summer!
* By the Numbers
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Buffalo Wild! (Music Video)
* Thank You for Making "Give Local Missoula" a Huge Success!
A huge thanks to everyone who stepped up and contributed to BFC for Give Local Missoula! In just 24 hours BFC received 120 separate donations for a total of $7613. And that's before the matching funds or prizes are applied. Thanks to you, we earned more than any other participating organization! Thank you for stepping up and supporting BFC's work to protect America's only continuously wild bison population in such a huge way!
* Update from the Field
On the left, a beautiful view of bulls along the Madison River with Horse Butte out in the far distance, on the right, a baby buffalo who was born on the Butte after his mom and family made the long journey there. BFC photos. Click for larger images.
Over the weekend we got to celebrate a little: beautiful spring weather, a cabin full of passionate new and returning volunteers, no agents out harassing wild buffalo, and not too many buffalo in harm's way along the highways. Horse Butte and other areas of the Hebgen Basin are now teeming with about 350-400 of the gentle giants, and though these are smaller numbers than we are used to seeing here this time of year, each day these herds bring more new gifts of baby buffalo into the world. We relished these quiet days with the buffalo because we knew that they would not last.
A peaceful scene of mostly pregnant female buffalo grazing the rolling hills of the Denny Creek area. BFC photo. Click for larger image.
On Monday, three Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents harassed wild buffalo off of habitat in the Denny Creek/South Fork area of the Basin, proving that brucellosis is not the issue. Nearly sixty wild buffalo, mostly female-led family groups, have been here for weeks, on private lands that won't host cows until mid-June; interestingly, this day, the agents set their sights on six bull bison. This bears mention because the purported "reason" Montana uses to harass and kill wild buffalo is the invasive livestock disease brucellosis -- but no wild buffalo has ever transmitted the disease back to cattle, and bull bison pose zero threat, while cow/calf groups barely pose a theoretical threat. This weak theory has unjustly placed a death sentence on female buffalo. The point is, brucellosis is an already weak argument, growing weaker still. If the DOL was seriously concerned about brucellosis from wild buffalo, they would have gone after these family groups in earnest when they migrated into this area more than three weeks ago. And if they were serious about brucellosis at all, they would be setting their sights on elk -- not bison -- because elk have been implicated in transmitting this cattle-born disease back to livestock. These cowboys are fondly habituated to harassing wild buffalo, so, regardless of sound science or logic, that's where they set their sights. For now.
When Monday's haze began, the bulls (left) were having none of it. The agents ran back and forth, hooting and hollering, throwing out their lassos trying to get these bulls to move, making little progress for quite a while. Once the haze got going, more buffalo were targeted. On the right, DOL inspector Bridger Cunningham harassing wild buffalo on our public land. BFC photo. Click photos for larger image.
Monday's hazing operation began with three DOL inspectors on horseback attempting to move six enormous bulls off the Povah's Deep Well Ranch. Eventually the bulls took off with the agents chasing to catch up. After the bulls crossed the South Fork of the Madison River, with three shouting agents hot on their heels, they encountered a family group with some newborn calves, who were also caught up in the haze. The agents chased them all down Gallatin National Forest's Madison Arm Road, cattle-free public land and critical wildlife habitat where wild bison should have precedence over livestock interests. The two tiny calves tried desperately to keep up with their moms and family. As the haze proceeded, the agents picked up more buffalo, pursuing them down muddy roads, over felled trees splaying branches, and through thick, mucky areas along the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake. The agents wouldn't think of making their horses move through some of the areas they tried to force the buffalo through.
One of the massive bulls the DOL picked on (left); a stand off at the lakeshore (middle); the bullied bull decides he's had enough (right). BFC photos. Click for larger images.
The buffalo were resistant to hazing, losing patience with these pesky humans and growing tired. Calves desperately needed to stop, nurse, and rest their tiny new legs. But these cowboys are relentless. DOL inspector Shane Grube broke off from the haze for some "fresh ones," to "liven things up." He went after two enormous bull buffalo that were minding their own business, and well within legal habitat, pushing them into the group with the intent of getting the moms and calves revved up and moving. This plan backfired. At the water's edge the agents were hoping to push them across the lake but the buffalo were finished being chased. The two bulls they had just forced into the water placed themselves between the agents and their family. It was a standoff and no matter how much the agents yipped and yelled, the buffalo were determined not to be pushed any further. At one point, one of the "fresh" bulls decided he'd had enough harassment, made a lightning-quick about face and ran through the horsemen and away. The agents soon decided to call it quits for the day.
Buffalo flee across the South Fork of the Madison River, running from horsemen before they got close. On the right, a very pregnant buffalo falls behind, heavy with calf, trying to escape the horsemen in the background. BFC photos. Click for larger images.
On Tuesday they came back with reinforcements. Six government-funded cowboys were in the field, five from the Montana Department of Livestock and one game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The haze again started at the Denny Creek/South Fork area and as soon as the buffalo saw the horsemen coming for them, they bolted. Sadly, most of the buffalo alive today have known hazing all of their lives. Three separate family groups with newborn calves and one pregnant buffalo who was lagging behind the rest, were far ahead of the agents, running for all their worth to escape the bullies trying to close the distance.
Mama buffalo tracks, with baby tracks so close, and then horse shoe tracks tell of a hazing operation (left). A mama tries to defend her very tired baby against a bully cowboy (middle). Over 90 buffalo with many new born calves are forced to cross the mud flats of the Madison Arm. BFC photos. Click for larger images.
Tuesday's haze went much like Monday's, with many of the same buffalo being harassed again through the same areas. BFC stuck close to the agents, covering all bases and documenting everything, even though we were soaked through with rain and snow. Mama buffalo were rightfully getting more aggravated with the agents, trying to defend their babies, and a few threatened bluff charges when agents wouldn't allow the calves to stop and nurse. A thick fog set in as the haze reached the lakeshore, and this time, the agents were more aggressive, eventually forcing these tired buffalo -- about 90 adults and sub adults with twelve newborn calves -- to cross the mucky delta of the Madison Arm. The resolve of these little babies to keep up with their moms is at once humbling and heartbreaking. The agents ideal plan is to push them all over to Horse Butte, so that when Montana's end of "tolerance" comes on May 15, the buffalo are in a single location, easier to manipulate. That's the agents' mistake, assuming buffalo will behave like livestock; and that's the beauty of wild buffalo -- they aren't livestock. They are self-willed wanderers and they are never lost, knowing well the path to return to their chosen ground.
Today the agents are gone, and aren't likely to be back until next week, when it will all begin again.
WILD IS THE WAY ~ ROAM FREE!
* This Week's BFC Video
Buffalo Field Campaign 5/8/14
With spring comes the buffalo with their new generation, both in belly and on hoof, outside of Yellowstone Park and into their native Montana. These buffalo families have come home to the lands their families have always roamed, seeking the green grasses of new life. In their path are great challenges: a busy highway and the injustice of zero tolerance across human made lines. Watch Buffalo Field Campaign patrols take you on the buffalo journey of the beginning of spring migration. We bear witness, documenting government actions against the buffalo and advocating for their protection. Your federal tax dollars paid for this abuse of America's last wild buffalo - so you have a voice to help stop it.
With spring comes the buffalo with their new generation, both in womb and on hoof, outside of Yellowstone Park and into their native Montana. These buffalo families have come home to the lands their families have always roamed, seeking the green grasses of new life. In their path are great challenges: a busy highway and the injustice of zero tolerance across human made lines. Watch Buffalo Field Campaign patrols take you on the buffalo journey of the beginning of spring migration. We bear witness, documenting government actions against the buffalo and advocating for their protection. Your federal tax dollars paid for this abuse of America's last wild buffalo - you have a voice to help stop it.
* TAKE ACTION! Tell Montana's Governor: No Slaughter for Habitat!
Even if you have already done so, it is critical that everyone who cares about wild buffalo contact Montana Governor Steve Bullock and urge him to change the status quo of hazing, capture, and slaughter. Tell him to end Montana's intolerance, stop the livestock industry from hijacking the public process, and to champion the world's most important bison herds, the Yellowstone population.
* Thank You Goodshield & Mignon
Goodshield Aguilar (right) and Mignon Geli (left) playing music in front of Buffalo Spirit. BFC photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.
Drums, flute and guitar have been filling up the evenings here at camp. We've been blessed to have our dear friends and amazing buffalo warriors, Goodshield Aguilar and Mignon Geli, here with us this week. For many years, Goodshield himself, and now this dynamic duo, have been traveling with BFC co-founder Mike Mease on our West Coast Road shows, and also playing year-round, sharing their beautiful, inspirational music and helping tell the story of the buffalo. These guys have been busy while here, taking out a German media team for a few days, working on video, playing and recording music, and spending quality time with the buffalo. Goodshield and Mignon treated us to a few awesome private concerts in our new yurt (image), while also helping bring in folks to Buffalo Spirit (image), a wonderful buffalo-friendly shop in West Yellowstone that has graciously been hosting a BFC information and outreach display, where we will be spending a lot of time this summer (see below). Mike, Goodshield, and Mignon are already pulling together this coming year's West Coast Road Show schedule which promises to be another awesome string of fantastic events. Goodshield and Mignon are leaving us today, heading back to California to continue playing music to spread the word and save the sacred herds. The German media team they spent time with here will be bringing them to Deutchland soon for a concert. Thank you, Goodshield & Mignon, we love and honor you! For a sweet sample of their music, check out Last Words below and check out their facebook page to keep up with what they're doing.
* This Summer Keep it Wild with the Buffalo & BFC!
Comfrey admires a huge bull bison who approached us and walked on by during a Montana "April Shower." Shortly after this storm ended, we noticed a mama buffalo with a brand new calf. Join BFC this summer and keep it wild with the buffalo and some of our awesome family, Pat and Comfrey! BFC photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.
We're excited to announce that we're gearing up for our Summer program (June 1st until Labor Day weekend) and have started accepting volunteer applications. This summer we'll be doing a variety of community and public outreach including tabling at our new Free Buffalo Information Center located inside the Buffalo Spirit Trading Post in the town of West Yellowstone, camping and tabling inside Yellowstone National Park, and attending festivals in the area with our giant inflatable buffaloon and spreading the word about the herds. If you're interested in coming out for the summer we ask for at least a two week commitment. If you have any questions or would like to apply feel free to give us a call at 406-646-0070 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
*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: 647
Government Capture: 359
Buffalo Released from Capture: 41
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:
Shot by Landowner: 1
Highway Mortality: 3
Cause of Death Unknown:
Total Killed in Previous Years*
Total Killed Since 2000: 4,885
*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 ~ Buffalo Wild (Music Video)
Buffalo Field Campaign 5/9/13
A poem by John Trudell, put to music by Good Shield and Mignon Geli and video produced by Mike Mease of Buffalo Field Campaign. A powerful anthem to the wisdom of the buffalo.
Buffalo Wild is a poem written by the world renowned John Trudell, with music by Goodshield Aguilar and Mignon Geli, with video from Buffalo Field Campaign edited by Mike Mease. This music video takes you on the historical ride America's Buffalo have traveled. It brings you into the still continuing tragedy these sacred Buffalo endure.