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           Weekly Update from the Field January 21, 2016
Subscribe to our email list and receive our weekly Update from the Field
Update from the Field: Choices Based on Lies Are Not Choices
* VIDEO: Buffalo Slaughter at Beattie Gulch
* For the Love of Buffalo! Send a Handcrafted Valentine to Support BFC
* BFC Week of Action February 15 - 21, 2016
* TAKE ACTION and Help BFC Protect the Buffalo
* WANTED! Photos & Artwork for 2017 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country Calendar
* Help Spread the Word ~ Distribute BFC’s Annual Newsletter
* Donations Made in Memory and Honor of Wild Buffalo Advocates
* By the Numbers
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ John Trudell

* Update from the Field: Choices Based on Lies Are Not Choices

A young bull buffalo walks the hills in the Gardiner Basin. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.

Based on what we witness in the field everyday, the killing taking place near Gardiner could more accurately be described as a slaughter than a hunt. The tribal game wardens we have spoken with agree, and they recognize that Montana’s livestock interests have organized the circumstances to shift blame away from themselves to the tribes. There is obviously something terribly wrong when every last buffalo to migrate through Beattie Gulch ends up dead, or when hunters feel so desperate to kill every buffalo they see. Whether or not tribal hunters view their hunts as supporting the larger management scheme, the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) government agencies and affiliated tribal entities certainly do. There is no moral or scientific justification to the idea, perpetuated by the management agencies, of "surplus buffalo" and safeguards allowing buffalo safe passage between Yellowstone and Montana are sorely needed. We have never and will never stand against treaty rights, but we maintain a steadfast opposition to the current management that uses hunting as a means to eradicate the buffalo. As currently practiced, the hunt is an extermination plan set up by livestock interests to ensure that buffalo never reclaim the lands that are their ancestral home and birthright. It is fundamentally wrong and immoral for hunters to be led to believe that if they don’t kill the buffalo in this way, that they will just be slaughtered anyway. So long as buffalo die, the livestock industry and the governments don’t care who does the killing or how. Contrast this to the tens of thousands of elk in the region who have been implicated in the transmission of brucellosis, and yet no one is claiming that there are “surplus” elk and no one is targeting them for transmitting disease to cattle. The welfare ranchers don’t want to lose their foothold on control of the grass, so the buffalo, whom they view as competitors, must die. Hunters are in fact serving livestock interests no matter an individual hunter’s intentions.


This little buffalo calf was shot in the leg by hunters at Beattie Gulch. He survived and somehow managed to run off, escaping through nearby private land; but his leg was shattered. A Montana game warden shot him to end his suffering, then with assistance from a Montana Department of Livestock stock inspector and U.S. Forest Service law envorcement officer, he was hauled out from his resting place along the Yellowstone river. As if to reward this unethical hunting behavior, the agents ended up giving him to the hunter who wounded him. Photos by Stephany Seay and Deleana Baker, respectively, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photos for larger images.

The buffalo death toll is quickly rising. More than fifty of the country’s last wild buffalo have been killed by hunters since we last wrote. Mid-week, over five-hundred buffalo migrated into Montana, nearly all at once, through Beattie Gulch at Yellowstone’s north boundary. Being in the midst of this ancient phenomenon is at once one of the most beautiful and most heartbreaking experiences. The migration of hundreds of buffalo is such a beautiful sight, a flow that has purpose and integrity, so simple in its power, timeless and perfect, seemingly unstoppable; but this ancient march is also heartbreaking because it leads so many buffalo straight to their deaths. As we expected, word of this migration spread quickly, and hunters arrived en masse that night, the following day, and through the weekend. We expected a massacre, but through the course of days, the majority of the buffalo threatened to cross various lines, edging towards areas where they could be hunted, only to retreat in the nick of time. Frustrated hunters were driving all over the Basin, even through the Park, following us, glaring at us, wanting to blame us, looking for buffalo that they could kill, but finding few. Those few were gunned down rapidly at the Park boundary, in acts of haste and desperation. Many have been shot and wounded, fleeing into Yellowstone where hunters cannot pursue them, left to die slowly or walk forever with bullets in their flesh. By Sunday, frustrated and determined to get their buffalo meat, hunters in pick-ups and on foot crowded around the park boundary, watching a family group of about thirty buffalo slowly make their way towards Beattie Gulch. The firefight that ensued that morning ended life for twenty-eight of those buffalo; the eight survivors, two of them shot and wounded, fled up the mountain and away with their lives.


Images from the slaughter at Beattie Gulch on Sunday, described above. Photos by Stephany Seay and Deleana Baker, respectively, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click images for larger view.

Make no mistake: BFC fully supports treaty rights and tribal sovereignty, yet our first priority is to the buffalo. What is taking place here is an extermination plan, and hunters are being used. We have to work in solidarity to demonstrate this, to end livestock control, and to get the buffalo — through migration — back on the landscape, in great numbers so that the proper, respectful relationships can be restored. Buffalo will take care of the people, but the people need to take care of them first. They need our help. This whole Plan — which treaty hunting is certainly a part of from the government’s viewpoint, and all the discussions and decisions that happen within the IBMP -- is in place to harm the buffalo and to keep them from restoring themselves across the landscape. We need to put our collective energy into fighting the IBMP and the law that places the Montana Department of Livestock in charge of buffalo in Montana. We must acknowledge that wild buffalo are ecologically extinct, and the IBMP is using hunting as well as slaughter and hazing to facilitate their destruction, to prevent their restoration.

Catcher Cuts the Rope, Gros Ventre (A'aninin), looks into the formidable enclosure where quarantined Yellowstone buffalo now reside on the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.

The same can be said of quarantine, which is a management tool for livestock, not wildlife. Again, livestock interests present “choices”: dead buffalo or buffalo behind fences. Yellowstone National Park is aiming to develop a fifty-year plan for operational quarantine, making the process of domesticating wild, migratory buffalo an entrenched aspect of bison management. To be free or caged in is not an option in the wild world, it is a human option. Quarantine is something to satisfy the human; an easy way out, a toxic mimic of true wildlife restoration. It is a means to control what should be free. Quarantine is also part of the brucellosis lie, the premise being that bison pose a brucellosis threat, which we know to be untrue. Should elk be quarantined also? Elk have brucellosis but roam free. The quarantine process begins with buffalo families being torn apart, adults shipped to slaughter, calves orphaned and raised in domestication. Then, those who survive the human-handling and testing of the quarantine process will live behind fences for the rest of their lives. We have seen the buffalo who suffered "living" in quarantine; they were not happy, they looked to get out of those pens. They were humiliated and afraid. Many of them have died horrible deaths because they could not escape their enclosures. Quarantine is part of the culture of death, this "civilized" system that systematically destroys life on the planet. Quarantine asks us to accept an "easy fix" that will give the human ego gratification. Migration is free and alive; it is having the ability to make choices, being self-willed. Buffalo behind fences to be food for humans is a view that reduces them to meat. They have strong relationships with more than humans. The compromise should be in standing aside and respecting how a creature places one foot in front of the other -- and we fight those things that get in the way of that. Quarantine removes the buffalo from their natural community, from life and their gift to life. Who is asking the buffalo's perspective, asking them what they want? The buffalo will tell you that migration is they key to restoration. They know the way.

So many feel stuck in the “choices” that the government and industry have put before us. People believe that they are doing the buffalo a “favor" by hunting them, or by supporting quarantine, because otherwise they would be captured and shipped to slaughter. They are shipped to slaughter anyway. Having to pick hunt, quarantine, or slaughter is being forced to make artificial and unnecessary choices. So long as this Plan is in place, so long as Montana is in control, so long as wild buffalo numbers are driven down to serve livestock industry politics, and so long as wild buffalo are prevented from restoring themselves on the landscape, the problems will persist. We must fight this Plan and livestock control in all it’s guises. We must demand an end to livestock control, demand that wild buffalo walk the earth, demand an end to this management scheme.

One industry’s intolerance is driving a national treasure towards the brink of extinction. We must put an end to livestock industry control over wild buffalo, and to do so we must repeal the law — MCA 81-2-120 — that places them in charge. As evidenced by his decision to grant year-round habitat on Horse Butte, Montana Governor Steve Bullock is listening, but the livestock industry is trying to undermine his citizen-supported decision. He must hear from us all, frequently. Please contact Governor Bullock today, even if you have already, thank him for granting year-round habitat on Horse Butte and urge him to help repeal MCA 81-2-120. With endless pressure, endlessly applied, we can end livestock industry control and gain more of the buffalo’s Montana home for them to roam.

Thank you so very much for being with us for wild buffalo!

Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!

* VIDEO: Buffalo Slaughter at Beattie Gulch

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Buffalo Field Campaign 1/21/15

This video shows some of the so-called hunting taking place on the north boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Hunters are being used by livestock interests to kill every buffalo that steps foot into Montana. Desperate to make their kills, hunters wait at Yellowstone's boundary for buffalo to cross into Montana, then open fire. Many buffalo are hit, but not immediately killed, walking wounded that return to Yellowstone, or other areas where the hunters can't retrieve them. This is not a hunt. This is another face of slaughter and it's all part of the Montana livestock industry's plan to prevent ecologically extinct wild buffalo from restoring themselves on their native landscape.

* For the Love of Buffalo! Send a Handcrafted Valentine to Support BFC

For the love of buffalo, support BFC with these beautifully handcrafted cards!

Order now!

Valentine's Day: a time to express appreciation, love, and gratitude. Buffalo Field Campaign invites you to honor the important people in your life with a hand-crafted valentine that supports our work: securing justice for Yellowstone Country's wild buffalo.

Our 2016 valentine card again features a reproduction of an original drawing by long-time BFC supporter and Montanan Kathleen Stachowski. Titled "Horse Butte, MT: Under the protection of the Great Buffalo," it celebrates the recent acquisition of year-round wild bison habitat on Horse Butte west of the Yellowstone boundary--a victory for BFC after 18+ years of advocacy and activism. With Horse Butte in the background, two bison are at their ease under the watchful presence of the Great Buffalo constellation. Our card (8-1/2" x 5-1/2" when open) includes a paragraph on the work of Buffalo Field Campaign and the following sentiment:

"Be humble for you are made of earth.
Be noble for you are made of stars." ~Serbian proverb

"Love is the strongest force the world possesses
and yet it is the humblest imaginable." ~Mahatma Gandhi

A gift has been made in your honor by _____________
for the love of justice & wild buffalo!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 1st is the last day orders will be taken.

Please order early, as this is a hand-crafted item; early orders will be mailed later, in time to arrive for Valentine's Day. Additionally, your card(s) will be sent with a note on the envelope flap advising the recipent(s) to "open on the 14th." Minimum donation per card: $15.00.


* BFC Week of Action! February 15 - 21, 2016

BFC's Week of Action will take place February 15 - 21, 2016.

Join Buffalo Field Campaign for our upcoming Week of Action! We are planning events in southwest Montana towns, and there will be an event that everyone, everywhere will be able to participate in. We are still in the planning stages and welcome your ideas. The Week of Action will kick-off on Monday, February 15 and last through Sunday, February 21.

Here is a tentative schedule of events. Dates are confirmed, more details will be announced:

  • Monday, Feb 15: Rally and tabling in Bozeman, Montana. Info tables at the Bozeman Co-Op and public library from 10am-5pm, rally through Downtown mid-day.

  • Tuesday, Feb 16: Protest outside Yellowstone’s administrative building in Mammoth, Yellowstone National Park, followed by a candlelight vigil beginning at Mammoth, convoy to the Stephens Creek bison trap entrance, ending at Beattie Gulch.

  • Wednesday, Feb 17: National Call-In Day (targets to be announced)

  • Thursday, Feb 18: BFC & Natives Rally in Helena! Join us in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building from 1-4pm. Join BFC along with members from the Nez Perce, Gros Vent, Assiniboine, Blackfeet, and Confederated Salish & Kootenai tribes, as we honor Governor Bullock for opening year-round habitat for wild buffalo on Horse Butte, and urge him to expand the lands where wild buffalo roam! We will also pay a visit to the Montana Department of Livestock offices to let them know how we feel about their maltreatment of America’s last wild buffalo.

  • Friday, Feb 19: Rally in West Yellowstone

  • Saturday, Feb 20: Rally in Big Sky

  • Sunday, Feb 21: Closing dinner and openhouse at BFC headquarters in West Yellowstone to celebrate year-round habitat on Horse Butte

Again, the dates are confirmed, but some of the details may change. Please join us at any or all events!

Tell your friends and bring them with you! If you are able to come for the full week and would like to stay with us, please RSVP wit Stephany or Natalie so that we can make accommodations.

* TAKE ACTION! Endless Pressure, Endlessly Applied

The killing of the buffalo, whether it’s through “hunting” or slaughter, is all part of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), which was crafted for the benefit of livestock interests, not buffalo. Even those hunting under treaty rights are being used by Montana's livestock interests, and consequently, the IBMP, to facilitate the destruction of the buffalo and to prevent them from restoring themselves in Montana and elsewhere. Whether the excuse for these fatal tactics is brucellosis or population control, neither is based on reality and they only serve a political agenda. The IBMP exists because Montana livestock interests sued Yellowstone for “allowing" wild bison to migrate into Montana, and because of a law crafted by the livestock industry — MCA 81-2-120 — which places the Montana Department of Livestock in charge of managing wild bison. One industry’s intolerance is driving a national treasure towards the brink of extinction. We know you care deeply about wild bison, and one of the single most important things you can do is to help repeal this law.

Contact Governor Steve Bullock today, and please take these other actions, even if you have already. Don’t stop until the buffalo are free to roam!

1. Montana Governor Steve Bullock needs to feel the pressure from everyone who cares about wild, migratory buffalo, enough pressure that he has no other choice than to help repeal MCA 81-2-120, the law that is driving the nefarious actions against America's last wild buffalo. Please contact Governor Bullock today, and everyday, demanding he change the status quo for wild bison in Montana by repealing MCA 81-2-120 and rejecting the government's alternatives in the newly proposed Montana-Yellowstone Bison Management Plan.

2. Help change the status quo for wild buffalo by urging your members of Congress to support BFC’s alternative to “Manage Wild Bison Like Wild Elk in Montana."

3. Submit Letters to the Editor in support of BFC's alternative to “Manage Wild Bison Like Wild Elk in Montana,” the only alternative that respects wild buffalo and their right to roam their home.

* WANTED: Photos & Artwork for 2017 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country Calendar

Order BFC's 2016 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country calendars!

It’s that exciting time of year when we give a shout out to all the awesome photographers and artists out there! We are on track to create our 2017 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country calendar and we want your Yellowstone buffalo images! Our calendar project is a true celebration of the wild buffalo of Yellowstone country, America’s last wild herds. Your generous and amazing contributions have made this an amazing buffalo exploration stunning photos, incredible artwork, interesting facts, beautiful poetry, and inspired quotations. Please contact Stephany at bfc-media@wildrockies.org for details or to submit your images.

We still have a few 2016 Wild Bison calendars left, with more than eleven months left to enjoy it. It’s never too late to celebrate wild buffalo every day of the year! All proceeds go directly to BFC’s front lines work in defense of America’s last wild buffalo. Fall in love with the buffalo and strengthen your resolve to help protect them!


* Spread the Word for the Herds! Distribute BFC Newsletters in Your Community

Help spread the word to save the herds! If you would like us to send you a stack of newsletters to place around your community, Tara can help you with that, too. We love that we have supporters who are willing to distribute our annual newsletter, spreading the word to save the herds is one of our main tenets and we are thrilled to have so many volunteers! Shipping can be costly, so please let Tara know an exact number that you feel you are able to distribute and she will happily get them to you ASAP!

If your address has changed, or if you are new and would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact Tara at buffalo@wildrockies.org.

* Donations Made in Memory and Honor of Wild Buffalo Advocates

Todd Miller in honor of the Miller Family

Laura & Walter Meier in memory of Gracie

Richard & Leanna DeNeale in honor of John & Eva Fadden

Jan Weiner in honor of Hannah Zivolich

Gabriela Simpson in honor of Jackie Van der Hout

John Guenther in memory of Chief Sitting Bull

Laurie Thompson in honor of Austin Kasserman

Paul Wm. Taylor Native American Rainbow Network in memory of John Trudell

Aaron Rose in memory of Shine Fletter

Nora Edison in memory of John Trudell

*By the Numbers

The last wild, migratory buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,900 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: 190
Government Capture:
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Government Slaughter:
Tribal - ITBC & CSKT Slaughter:
Died in Government Trap:
Died in Government Research Facility**:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 16
State “Damage" Hunts:
Treaty Hunts: 158
Unknown Hunts: 4
Known Wounded in Hunt: 12
Poached in Yellowstone:
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to APHIS Research Facility:
Shot by Agents:
Shot by Landowner:
Shot by Idaho:
Highway Mortality: 2
Cause of Death Unknown:

Total Killed in Previous Years*
2014-2015: 740
2013-2014: 653
2012-2013: 261
2011-2012: 33
2010-2011: 227
2009-2010: 7
2008-2009: 22
2007-2008: 1,631

Total Killed Since 2000: 5,829

* 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 ~ John Trudell

February 15, 1946 - December 8, 2015

Please keep sending quotes, poems and other words of buffalo wisdom. You'll see them here!


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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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