* Update from the Field
With our road signs flanking them in either direction, buffalo graze and walk along US Highway 191/287. The highway is currently the biggest threat to migratory buffalo in the Hebgen Basin. Photos by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click images for larger view.
The highway has become the biggest threat to the buffalo here in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park. BFC patrols are working day and night to alert motorists of buffalo in the road, and are making a huge difference for hundreds of migrating buffalo. Despite these efforts, collisions are still happening at night when buffalo are nearly impossible to see. It’s hard for us to not blame ourselves, but barring shutting down the road, we are doing everything we can to prevent these tragic accidents. Four buffalo were struck and killed this week, all at night. It is imperative that Montana take this issue seriously and implement mitigation measures. The volume of traffic will only increase as Yellowstone’s tourist season picks up, and now that buffalo have year-round habitat in the Hebgen Basin, their presence along the roads may be continuous. Please help us put pressure on the Montana Department of Transportation and Governor Steve Bullock to bolster warning signs, lower speed limits, and construct underpasses and overpasses to keep the buffalo — and motorists — safer.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click for larger image.
The U.S. Congress has just passed the National Bison Legacy Act, designating buffalo as the national mammal, something the buffalo’s human relatives and the earth herself did long, long ago. This new official status does not change the mismanagement of wild, migratory buffalo, but it does help awaken the buffalo consciousness, elevating this iconic, keystone and sacred creature in the public eye. Now Yellowstone National Park and the state of Montana will be slaughtering and harassing our official national mammal. In the long run, this symbolic legislation should help, and every wild buffalo advocate everywhere should use it to aid our last wild herds. The next step is for the bill to receive final approval in the Senate before going to President Obama to sign the bill into law. We encourage everyone to call Obama, ask that he sign the bill, and also use this opportunity to educate him about the plight of the Yellowstone buffalo and ask for his help in protecting this important population. Phone calls are important because they cannot be ignored, so please call the White House at 202-456-1111.
Buffalo visit Buffalo Field Campaign. Photos by Stephany and Tara. Click for larger images.
It still hasn’t fully sunk in that buffalo are now safe from hazing in so many of the places where they've previously been in danger. As a result, we have had some wonderful experiences. Over the weekend, a family of buffalo visited BFC headquarters, even bringing a couple of newborn calves. It has been a dream come true to wake up to buffalo in our yard, especially considering that we live in a location that was considered “zone three,” or the “no tolerance zone,” a place of imminent danger before Governor Bullock's habitat decision was accepted. Buffalo have always been safe when they’ve come to BFC, but now they are allowed to be here! Gaining Horse Butte and other lands is a small step when you look at it on the map, but, politically and in reality on the ground it is an enormous accomplishment. The realization of how significant this crack in the dam is continues to hit us in waves. It goes to show that endless pressure, endlessly applied does work — all of us working together made this happen — and while we still have a long, long way to go, we will never give up and we will prevail for wild buffalo!
Lands south of Horse Butte, along the south side of the Madison River are really the only areas right now where buffalo can be hazed. A few small groups have ventured into this area, which is odd because they typically move through this corridor in large numbers. But so far, not too many are migrating there. This has resulted in our local Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) employee having a lot of time on his hands. Every day our field patrols are ready to stand with the buffalo and document any actions made against them, but, so far, no hazing has occurred. Of course, the DOL has to spend that federal budget so they can get more government handouts next year, so the local cowpoke has been driving his big truck around in circles every day, doing little more than wasting gas. We are watching his every move, so when hazing does occur, we will be ready. For now, we are trying to keep buffalo safe along the highway and taking the time to celebrate calving season and the significant accomplishment of gaining year-round habitat.
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.
Donate using this link, which will only be active on the day of giving:
For the Buffalo,
Buffalo Field Campaign
* 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. Comment period ends June 1, 2016.
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.
* 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 us at email@example.com or call us at 406-646-0070.
* 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: 593
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: 16
Cause of Death Unknown:
Elk shot under treaty right: 55
Total Killed in Previous Years*
Total Killed Since 2000: 6,227
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Prince
“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.”
~ Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016)
Please keep sending quotes, poems and other words of buffalo wisdom. You'll see them here!