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           Weekly Update from the Field May 29, 2014
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Governor's "No Trespass" Directive Circumvented by Buffalo Hazers‏
* BFC Video: Born in a Buffalo Haze
* Update from the Field: The Birth Experience for a Bison and Her Calf
* NEWS: Governor's "No Trespass" Directive Circumvented by Buffalo Hazers
* MT Senator Requests Legislative Audit of Department of Livestock
* TAKE ACTION! Keep the Pressure on Montana's Governor
* Recognizing the Work of Jon Marvel, Co-founder of Western Watersheds Project
* Keep it Wild with the Buffalo & BFC This Summer!
* By the Numbers
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Journalist Todd Wilkinson

"Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man."
~ Arthur Schopenhauer

* BFC Video: Born in a Buffalo Haze

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Buffalo Field Campaign 5/28/14

Born in a Buffalo Haze
Inside Yellowstone Park on May 22 during a Buffalo haze, a Mom (H4) went into labor. The Mom (H4) was left with some other Buffalo for the rest of the day. The next day May 23 the haze of her (H4) and her new born calf continued until they reached the Madison river. The exhausted calf could not make the swim across the river. Mom (H4) and the agents could not get the calf to move.

After watching this heartrending BFC footage from the field, please read the story below about the radio collared buffalo mom, her newborn calf, and its herd mate.

* Update from the Field: The Birth Experience of a Bison and Her Calf

Hazers threaten "Momma H4" and her newborn calf at the Madison River, inside Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Keith Fialcowitz. Click for larger image.

May 23, 2014
Madison River, Yellowstone National Park
west of the 7-Mile Bridge

Our patrol set up across the Madison River to document the government's resumed hazing operation that began in Yellowstone National Park the day before. In this group of buffalo was a radio collared female (H4) who had started to give birth near Cougar Knoll while agents were hazing her on the previous day. Rather than halting the haze immediately upon discovering this buffalo was in labor, the agents actually deliberated whether or not to continue. They decided to leave that day and return in less than 24 hours.

Resuming the haze of this group of 60 brown buffalo and 30 red calves, including the newborn, government agents on horseback pushed them across Cougar Knoll through a lodgepole trail, over the ridge, and down across the swollen Madison River. "Momma H4's" calf could not withstand the strong current, no matter how hard she tried. Simultaneously, during the crossing, another calf was separated from its mother and was seen running upriver amidst the hazing operation to find her. The mother of this calf -- who seemed to be a relative, maybe grandmother of H4 -- was visibly distraught over the separation from her own baby. When "Grandma" saw "Momma H4" and that her newborn was struggling, she swam back across to assist.

This Grandma buffalo, who was doubly agitated by losing her own calf and seeing her relative left behind, crossed the river again and began running up and down the river bank, sounding guttural bellows, shaking and sweeping her head while Park Rangers called out to nearby tourists to get back in their vehicles. Momma H4 then started to cross the river again, calling for her calf to follow, and despite her guttural bellows of encouragement, the baby couldn't do it. Grandma then swam back across the river to find both Momma H4 and her calf who had hidden behind a rock.

Once again, the Grandma buffalo swam the river and, distressed by having to choose, took off full speed running to catch up with the buffalo that were being harassed by agents upriver, where her calf was searching for her.

Alerted by all of the commotion, a coyote came trotting by to investigate the newborn and Momma H4. He walked on after Momma H4 stood guard, tail up, over her tired calf. Shortly after, four agents on horseback came back to view their handiwork.

Having not found her calf upriver, the Grandma buffalo came raging back to the scene, shaking her head, calling to Momma H4 and her calf, and swam the river again. After checking on Momma H4 and her calf, Grandma then moved through the treeline towards the agents on horseback who retreated back up and over the ridge. Another patrol reported the agents yelling to get back as the Grandma buffalo came to haze them away.

Despite all of her pleadings and encouragement, Momma H4 could just not bring her calf to swim the river. Less than one day old and under stress by government agents pursuing her, the exhausted calf collapsed along the riverbank with momma H4 nearby.

The next day a Park Ranger reported to Buffalo Field Campaign that Momma H4 and her newborn calf made it across the Madison River. They were last seen migrating upriver to rejoin her family group. We don't know if Grandma found her baby again, but the bond between mom and calf is very strong, and it takes a long time before either will give up the search.

Darrell Geist, habitat coordinator


* NEWS: Governor's New Directive Protecting Private Property Rights is Circumvented by Hazers

Signs posted on buffalo-friendly private land on Horse Butte. BFC file photos. Click for larger images.

Late Friday afternoon, after a brutal week of hazing, we received some great news: Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a directive to the Montana Board of Livestock, instructing that the Department of Livestock may no longer enter private property to haze buffalo without permission from the landowners. We were thrilled because there were still at least two-hundred wild buffalo with many newborn calves on Horse Butte's buffalo-friendly private properties. We informed many of the property owners and they were ecstatic, yet cautious, as many don't trust the Department of Livestock. There was no public response from the Board or Department of Livestock (DOL), so we were very curious to see how they would handle this news.

Buffalo on friendly private property, about to be harassed by hazers. Horse Butte. Photo by Ann Stovall. Click for larger image.

On Wednesday we found out it would be business as usual with the DOL and a cohort from USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service. Nearly 100 buffalo with around forty newborn calves were bedded down, grazing, nursing, and enjoying the day on buffalo-friendly private property. The hazers asked for permission and were denied.


BFC photos by Stephany. Click for larger images.

Just like they do with their helicopter, hazers caused enough of a disturbance surrounding buffalo on buffalo-friendly private property, that they scared these buffalo off of buffalo-friendly land and hazed them for nearly 17 miles into Yellowstone National Park. Following their usual tactic, the hazers had other DOL riders and some from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks waiting along Gallatin National Forest Service land to assist with the abusive chase.

Bluff charge -- she's had enough! BFC photos by Stephany. Click for larger images.

At first it seemed that the buffalo weren't going to budge, but even a patient buffalo can't put up with the nonsensical cowboy vocalizations coupled with horses running back and forth. At least one buffalo cow showed her frustrations.

BFC photos by Stephany. Click for larger images.

As the buffalo hit the road running, the herd split, with agents hot on their heels. Some were run down the hard asphalt of Rainbow Point Road, while others were chased down Gallatin National Forest's hot and dusty 6697 road.

BFC photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.

When the haze reached Yellowstone National Park's boundary, panting buffalo were forbidden to head down the bluffs to the cool water for a drink. Hazers galloped their horses along the edge of the bluffs, not allowing the hot and tired buffalo to quench their thirsts. Already having been chased for at least six miles, the hazers pressed the buffalo on another seven miles, to Yellowstone National Park's Cougar Knoll.

The livestock industry's war against wild buffalo is not about brucellosis, but about the grass and who gets to eat it. BFC photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.

Not a single square inch of habitat that these hazers chased wild buffalo off of will ever host any cattle. There is zero conflict and no brucellosis threat, yet this livestock disease is still the purported reason that millions of federal tax dollars are wasted on the harsh treatment of America's last wild buffalo. The brucellosis "threat" is so "grave" that, even though there were still wild buffalo in Montana, the hazers just took a four-day weekend. Today's actions show incredible arrogance and immaturity. Hazers showed spite against the Governor's directive, private property rights, buffalo advocates, and wild buffalo on lands that are their birthright, where cattle will never graze. These actions have no defense and are losing their strength in the public's eye and in the policy arena, and it will not be long before wild buffalo will again enjoy these lands year-round without threat from abusive hazers.


* MT Senator Requests Legislative Audit of Department of Livestock

Mom and calf enjoying a beautiful day on Horse Butte. BFC photo by Stephany. Click for larger image.

Montana Senator Mike Phillips issued a memorandum to the Montana Legislative Audit Committee on Thursday, May 22, requesting a comprehensive performance audit of the Montana Departments of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife and Park's efforts to prevent transmission of brucellosis to cattle from bison and elk. Senator Phillips states in the memorandum that, "Efforts by Montana to prevent transmission of brucellosis from wildlife to cattle have been on-going for decades. Since 2000 efforts have been principally guided by the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) ... Since then efforts by DOL and FWP to prevent wildlife from transmitting brucellosis to cattle have often been characterized by controversy, confusion and divisiveness."

You can read the Senator Phillip's memorandum HERE.

Montanans can contact the legislative audit committee HERE.

Many thanks to Senator Phillips for requesting this audit, and to Kathryn QannaYahu of Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat for her diligent and revealing investigations and reporting on behalf of Montana's wildlife.

* TAKE ACTION! Keep the Pressure on Montana's Governor

Don't let the state of Montana hold America's last wild buffalo hostage in Yellowstone! 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.

Even if you've already contacted him, please do so now! Please also be sure to include a thank you for his new directive that forbids the Montana Department tof Livestock from hazing buffalo off of private property without permission from the property owners.

Click to take action now!

* Recognizing the Work of Jon Marvel, Co-founder of Western Watersheds Project

Buffalo Field Campaign would like to recognize the work of Jon Marvel, a tenacious leader with an unwavering commitment to protecting Western watersheds and native wildlife species including America's last wild buffalo. Jon helped found the flagship organization Western Watersheds Project that has waged an unrelenting struggle protecting the West. On behalf of Buffalo Field Campaign, we want to honor Jon Marvel by recognizing his decades of visionary, hard work and advocacy for all things wild. Thank you!

If you would like to join Jon Marvel for a celebratory soiree in Hailey, Idaho, Saturday, May 31, 4:00-7:00 PM, please RSVP Jeremy Greenberg at Western Watersheds Project (208) 788-2290 or Jeremy@westernwatersheds.org

* This Summer Keep it Wild with the Buffalo & BFC!

BFC volunteer and summer coordinator, Comfrey, enjoying an awesome moment with the buffalo on the northwest Madison bluffs. BFC file 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 volunteersummer@buffalofieldcampaign.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: 651
Government Capture: 359
Buffalo Released from Capture: 41
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: 291
Unknown Hunts:
Poached in Yellowstone: 3
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to APHIS Research Facility: 60
Shot by Agents:
Shot by Landowner: 1
Highway Mortality: 7
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: 4,889

*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 ~ Journalist Todd Wilkinson

States still spreading brucellosis foolishness
Jackson Hole News & Guide
May 28, 2013

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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