Update from the Field: Calves Come, Solidarity Grows
* Update from the Field
* Give Local Day: Maximize the Impact of Your Donation on May 3!
* VIDEO: Know Free Roaming Buffalo Gathering at Aaniiih Nakoda College
* Take Action! Help BFC Protect Wild Buffalo
* Positions Open for BFC Summer Outreach Program
* WISH LIST: We Need Coffee to Help Get Us Through Long Days and Long Nights
* By the Numbers
* Last Words ~ Are the Koch Brothers to Blame?
* Update from the Field
After a quick nap, a good stretch, then off to find mom for milk and comfort. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
Wild buffalo calving season is well underway! Our field patrols have spotted at least six of the woolly “little red dogs” in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park. It’s a little early for so many baby buffalo to be born, but the temperatures are warming, most of the snow has melted, the earth is re-greening, and the buffalo know better than us when the time is right for them to give birth. In most areas of the Hebgen Basin, wild buffalo are now safe from abusive hazing operations. It is still taking us all a while to absorb this awesome reality, and it feels great. Many of the calves who are being born here now may be the first ones in over fifteen years to never know the cruelties of hazing. Others may not be so lucky.
Map of Horse Butte and some of the surroundig lands. The section named "Madison Valley" is part of the ground the buffalo gained. Those lands to the south of the Madison Arm have been taken away from the buffalo -- for now. Click image for larger view.
When Governor Bullock and the Interagency Bison Management Plan agencies granted wild buffalo year-round habitat on Horse Butte and other lands north and west of Yellowstone, they also excluded some of the buffalo's favorite areas. Across the Madison River, south of Horse Butte is a huge swath of Gallatin National Forest which the buffalo love. Some of the forest was burned in a wildfire in 2007, making the area even more attractive to buffalo, and the forest leads out to the South Fork of the Madison River and Denny Creek, prime habitat of willows and creeks with green, rolling hills stretching out in every direction. Unfortunately, a staunchly anti-buffalo hobby cattle rancher owns much of these greener pastures, and the last public lands grazing allotment in the Hebgen Basin — South Fork / Watkins Creek — still hosts cattle in the summer. This entire area, including public lands, is currently completely off-limits to wild, migratory buffalo. Any buffalo accessing these lands will be hazed. We have been prepared all week to stand with the buffalo as government-backed livestock interests set their sights on them, but as of this writing no hazing has occurred. We will need your help in securing this area as permanent year-round habitat for wild, migratory buffalo. One way you can help is by commenting on Gallatin National Forest’s new forest management plan. Gaining Horse Butte is a monumental victory, but we still need to gain a lot more ground for the buffalo.
Even with our constant presence on the road, more needs to be done. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
US Highway 191/287 remains a significant threat to migratory buffalo and other wild species such as wolves, bears, elk, moose, coyotes, and beavers. BFC patrols continue to be successful in preventing collisions on the highway, but we can't prevent them all. In the dark of night, over the weekend, a yearling buffalo was struck and killed. Buffalo are nearly impossible to see at night, due to their dark coats and the placement of their eyes, which don’t easily reflect headlights. Even with our signs, flashing lights, and stop/slow paddles, some motorists are just in too much of a hurry to heed our warnings. Now that wild buffalo have been granted year-round habitat it is possible that buffalo will be a constant presence on or near the highway, so it is imperative that the state of Montana take responsibility for making these highways safer for wildlife and motorists alike. You can help make this happen.
Never forget the young buffalo who are still prisoners in Yellowstone's trap. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger view.
As we celebrate the new buffalo being born this spring, our hearts and prayers remain with the fifty-seven orphaned calves and yearlings who are still being held captive by Yellowstone National Park in their Stephens Creek buffalo trap. For nearly two months these young buffalo have been imprisoned, and for over a month they have been alone in this confinement since their moms and families were slaughtered. They are victims of Montana cattle rancher intolerance, and they will be either killed or intensely controlled and managed like livestock through quarantine. Quarantine, slaughter, hazing; these are control mechanisms stemming from greed and fear; they are the tools of the oppressors. Buffalo Field Campaign will forever fight for the earth-given rights of wild, free-born, migratory buffalo to roam as they choose upon their ancestral lands. As the Horse Butte decision shows, with endless pressure, endlessly applied, it’s not just possible, it will become reality.
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Give Local Day: Maximize the Impact of Your Donation on May 3!
BFC is happy to report our continued participation in the Give Local Missoula fundraiser on May 3 and to invite your participation. With matching funds in place and lots of special prize money available, this is a huge chance for our supporters to show their dedication to BFC and the wild bison we work so hard to protect. Please mark your calendars and plan to contribute to BFC on Tuesday, May 3.
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign
* VIDEO: Know Free Roaming Buffalo Gathering at Aaniiih Nakoda College
Bison Summit 2016:
Aaniiih Nakoda College
April 20, 2016
On April 15, 2016, the first "Know Free Roaming Buffalo" summit was held at the Aaniiih Nakoda College, on the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in north-central Montana. In this video are clips from two presentations by tribal leaders. George Horsecapture, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Ft. Belknap Indian Community Council shares the significance of buffalo to the Aaniiih people. Kenneth "Tuffy" Helgesson, Nakoda instructor at the Hays Lodgepole High School, speaks of the cultural and historical significance of buffalo to the Nakoda people.
For more information visit http://www.ancollege.edu
Last week Natalie and I traveled to the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation, in north central Montana, to attend the first “Aaniiih Nakoda College Bison Summit: Know Free Roaming Buffalo.” It still feels like a dream. We left West Yellowstone in a spring blizzard, which switched to rain as we traveled down from the Yellowstone caldera, then east and north through the vast, greening prairie. The land so beautiful, so dramatically large, and yet starkly empty with the absence of her buffalo. When we arrived in Hays, MT, to reunite with our beloved Cuts the Rope family, the rain intensified, and by the following morning it had switched to snow, blowing horizontally in the intense prairie wind. Like buffalo, we faced into the storm and loaded up in Catcher’s car to bog our way down his four-mile muddy road, then headed north to Aaniiih Nakoda College for the meeting.
We have been to countless buffalo meetings, most run by the government employees who view the buffalo as little more than something to kill and manipulate. This meeting was different. This was a gathering of the buffalo's relatives. A deep reverence pulsed in the room. The ranching interests were also represented, but were totally out of their element. The profound silence they received as they gave their presentations about “threats” to the cattle industry, or the “taking” of "their" land for buffalo restoration, was its own special, knowing kind of silence, speaking centuries of pain and resistance. In this room, at this meeting, we were in a place where buffalo are sacred. The speakers eloquently and emotionally addressed the cultural and spiritual significance of the buffalo to the Aaniiih and Nakoda peoples, shared heart-felt stories, shed tears, and likened their own experiences — of genocide and being made to live on reservations — to those of the buffalo. The buffalo and their indigenous human relatives have always shared the same fate, which continues to this day: where once both were truly free, today, leaving the reservation, like leaving Yellowstone, places one in danger of intolerance, with threats and promises of harm and death. Even on the reservation, buffalo are kept behind fences, not living among or with the people. They are on the same land, yet remain separated. The pain remains acute and has resulted, in many, in a form of amnesia. Many people do not yet see the buffalo who have returned, have not yet re-entered into relationship with them. But, as this gathering showed, the buffalo consciousness is re-awakening and growing stronger.
The event was a profound learning experience for us. We were deeply honored to be invited to and welcomed at this meeting, especially considering the painful division that Yellowstone’s quarantine plan has been creating. We forever stand in solidarity with tribal peoples in honoring the sacred nature of the buffalo, respecting their gift to the earth, and the wisdom of many ages. We share the goal of buffalo returning to their native lands, restoring themselves in their natural communities, re-entering into sacred relationship in a sacred manner with their human relatives. It was good that we could share the news that many of the wild buffalo from Yellowstone are now free to venture further, off the reservation into more of their ancestral lands without threat of harm. To be wild, to be free, it is possible, and this is what we are fighting for. The healing has begun, though much work remains.
The day after the storm. BFC photos. Click for larger images.
Before leaving, we got a call from Catcher’s family that we were probably snowed out. While it had been raining in Ft. Belknap, it had continued to snow in Hays. Catcher, always up for a good challenge, took us towards home, determined. Four miles of the muddy road that led to his house were now covered in heavy spring snow, some drifts reaching two and three feet. In a valiant effort, we made it a little ways before getting stuck. The blizzard was raging. Power outages rolled through the community. We shoveled and tried again, getting a little further. Shoveled and tried again. Eventually, we got too deeply stuck. Our friend David’s house was just a few hundred yards away, and he took good care of us. We gathered in the candlelight, wrapped in blankets, warming ourselves by the wood stove, sharing stories. We were so inspired and hopeful from the gathering, so much energy was rippling through us. We knew the buffalo had called this storm. They wanted us to be still, to be together and consider and share in all that had taken place. We dreamed together that night, then in the clear morning, brilliant with the fresh snow and bright sun, Catcher, his son Conan, Natalie, and I gathered some essentials from the stuck car, trekked through the snow drifts and over the prairie, enchanted by the songs of meadowlarks and prairie dogs, chided by the laughter of horses. Through the snow we went, staying in each other’s tracks like the buffalo have taught us and negotiating a few barbed wire fences along the way. Each of us were struck by the beauty of it all, the realization that we were walking where the ancestors — buffalo and human — had walked for millennia -- and would walk again. Just as we caught sight of Catcher’s house, we heard motors and looked behind us to see two of his friends — one in a snow plow and the other following in a pickup — making their way to us. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we had not wanted to be “rescued,” but we were glad to see them. This is how family is. This is how we can be. This is what some are remembering and what the buffalo are still teaching us.
North camp, Hays, Montana. BFC photos. Click for larger images.
We give thanks to the Aaniiih Nakoda College, to all who welcomed us, and to the new friends we made. Our deep love, respect, and gratitude to Catcher, Amy, Conan, Isaac, Orion, and Mehina Cuts the Rope, and to our dear friend David Winn, and the strong spirit of his mother Sweetie Bell. We will never deviate from our mission. This is only the beginning.
* Spend Summer in Yellowstone with Wild Buffalo: Summer Outreach Positions Available!
Buffalo Field Campaign is seeking a full time coordinator and volunteers for our summer outreach program. Volunteers get to spend five days a week camping in beautiful Yellowstone National Park. You'll spend your days enjoying all that the landscape has to offer, from relaxing in the Boiling River, to watching a mama black bear with her cubs. You'll have the amazing opportunity of seeing buffalo during the rut while helping to do outreach on their behalf. Educating park visitors on the plight of America's last wild bison is one of the most important parts of what we do here at Buffalo Field Campaign. While tabling you'll meet people from all over the world and bring the buffalo's story to them. During the five days in the Park, volunteers will share a tent at various camp grounds in and around Yellowstone. When volunteers are not tabling, adventuring in the park is one of the many benefits of summers in Yellowstone, with plenty of places to hike, swim, and enjoy nature. There are also two days a week when volunteers will be back at our main cabin to relax.
In addition to everything mentioned, the summer coordinator will be responsible for answering volunteer e-mails, screening potential volunteers, obtaining all necessary paperwork and permits for operating the BFC table, and getting to know new volunteers, making them feel welcome, and educating them on the issue. Please contact Mackenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 406-646-0070.
* TAKE ACTION!Endless Pressure, Endlessly Applied
1. NEW! One of the most important things that can help mitigate buffalo-vehicle collisions is the implementation of safe passage infrastructure, which involves constructing bridges or underpasses that buffalo and other wildlife can use to cross the dangerous road without ever having to step foot on the asphalt. Examples of the enormous success safe passage has for wildlife are growing in the U.S., Canada, and other countries around the world. What better place for wildlife safe passage than on the edge of Yellowstone National Park? Please join us in urging the state of Montana to provide wildlife safe passage in this key migration corridor.
2. NEW! Urge the Custer-Gallatin National Forest to to manage habitat for wild buffalo in its Forest Plan revision. The Custer-Gallatin National Forest is revising its forest plan to guide how the agency makes decisions affecting the forest. The old plan has been in effect for 29 years and makes no mention of buffalo. Under the outdated plan, the Gallatin National Forest permitted the Montana Department of Livestock to set up traps on the forest to capture hundreds of buffalo that were shipped to slaughter. It’s time for decision makers to serve the needs of this iconic native species that has naturally returned to lands that are their birthright.
3. 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 but 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.
4. 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."
5. 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.
* WISH LIST: We Need Coffee to Get Us Through Long Days and Nights
Spring is upon us, the snow is melting, and baby buffalo are being born and taking their first steps outside the safety of the park. BFC volunteers are now engaged in long patrols to safeguard the buffalo from the hazards of crossing the highways. This includes a night patrol on the roads that sometimes will last until morning. Many of you donate coffee, but we are running low at a critical time when we need the fuel to keep up with the buffalo. We would greatly appreciate more donations of good caffeinated coffee. Thanks you for all you do to help us help the buffalo roam free. Contact us at email@example.com or mail coffee to BFC Kitchen, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Thank you!
* By the Numbers
The last wild, migratory buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,300 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: 588
Government Capture: 150
Held for Quarantine or Slaughter: 50
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Tribal - ITBC & CSKT Slaughter: 100
Died in Government Trap:
Died in Government Research Facility**:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 28
State “Damage" Hunts:
Treaty Hunts: 349
Wounded by Hunters & Shot by FWP/NPS or Died in Park: 50
Poached in Yellowstone:
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to APHIS Research Facility:
Shot by Agents:
Shot by Landowner:
Shot by Idaho:
Highway Mortality: 11
Cause of Death Unknown:
Elk shot under treaty right: 55
Total Killed in Previous Years*
Total Killed Since 2000: 6,223
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Are the Koch Brothers to Blame?
"Ah, now things are starting to make sense. No matter how many signatures, letters and phone calls are submitted by citizens, unpopular environmental, wildlife and land-use legislation gets railroaded through anyway. No wonder iconic and nationally-cherished wolves can't catch a break, no matter how much scientific and peer-reviewed evidence is submitted on their behalf. No wonder America's iconic bison, in the world's most important, continually free-roaming, migratory and genetically-imperiled Yellowstone herd, are still being routinely rounded up and slaughtered while the state caters to the cattle industry. No wonder that, despite the Wild, Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the nation's beloved and iconic wild horses are still cruelly rounded up and sold to kill buyers, who will ship them across the border to meet horrifying deaths in Mexican slaughterhouses. No wonder the grizzly, held sacred by a multitude of tribes, might soon be in the crosshairs and trophy hunted on lands those tribes also hold as sacred. Against that kind of money, our voices, our rights, our country and our innocent wildlife don't stand a chance.”