buffalo field campaign yellowstone bison slaughter Buffalo Field Campaign
West Yellowstone, Montana
Working in the field every day to stop the
slaughter of Yellowstone's wild free roaming buffalo

Total Yellowstone
Buffalo Killed
Since 1985
9,183
(past counts)

Yellowstone Bison Slaughter
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           Weekly Update from the Field May 5, 2016
Subscribe to our email list and receive our weekly Update from the Field
Update from the Field: Bison Abuse in the Hebgen Basin
* Update from the Field: Bison Abuse in the Hebgen Basin
* Technical Problems Don't Derail Give Local for the Buffalo!
* VIDEO: National Mammal?
* TAKE ACTION! Help BFC Protect Wild Buffalo
* Positions Open for BFC Summer Outreach Program
* Donations Made in Memory and Honor of Wild Buffalo Advocates
* By the Numbers
* Last Words ~ Marty Two Bulls


* Update from the Field

Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.

Government hazers descended upon our soon-to-be national mammal this Monday, marking the season's first forced removal operation west of Yellowstone National Park. Agents with the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) disturbed and chased forty-four buffalo with about twelve newborns from lands west of the South Fork of the Madison, in the Denny Creek area, a place buffalo love. Unfortunately, this is one of the last strongholds for the few seasonal private and public lands ranchers in the Hebgen Basin. However, no cattle occupy these lands until mid to late June. They are gone by October. Because of the short-term presence of cattle, these lands were excluded from the Governor’s year-round buffalo habitat designation. Ranchers like to use the excuse of brucellosis, but the real reason buffalo are chased out of this area is because the ranchers don’t want to share grass with the native buffalo.

Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.

BFC patrols were out in force documenting from multiple angles. The buffalo were chased across the South Fork of the Madison, then down a long power line trail which eventually led to the Madison Arm Road, where they hazed them further down the dusty gravel road, bullying them across the Madison River, and over to the bluffs that lead to Horse Butte, where buffalo are now safe from such abusive harassment. The buffalo were pushed at least ten miles, the tiny calves trying desperately to keep up with their moms and the rest of the herd. Our bike patrols followed, documenting everything, and tried to appeal to whatever compassion the hazers might have had to give these baby buffalo a rest and chance to nurse. When buffalo are left alone, newborn calves will take naps every five minutes, getting up to nurse for a few moments, maybe romp around for a bit, then quickly bed down for another nap. While the hazers went at a slower pace than usual, it was still too much for those little buffalo. Hazing, no matter the pace, is always abusive — that is the nature of it, to make wildlife uncomfortable or frightened enough to leave the place of their choosing to escape the danger.

Photo by Cindy Rosin, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.

The calves were growing more exhausted by the second. Their little legs were tiring, they were hungry, confused, and sticking close to their mothers. But the hazers wouldn't relent. Nursing breaks and naps, which they sorely needed, were entirely out of the question. Surprisingly, a couple of hours into the haze, the hazers did stop for a moment. Did they actually hear our concerns? Did the buffalo reach a soft spot in their hearts? Of course not. The reason they stopped is because a couple of Yellowstone park rangers came through to observe. The rangers just drove through saying “nice and slow, that’s what we like to see,” and went on their way. As soon as they were out of sight, the cowboy tactics resumed. The rangers will likely report that the haze was “going well” but our footage will be able to show the truth of what really took place. It’s hard to know, but we hope that this first haze will also be the last of the season.

Photo by Deleana Baker, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.

The buffalo hazed this week were part of the first large group to venture to this part of the basin this spring. In past years we have seen many more. In fact, there are very few buffalo in the entire Hebgen Basin right now, which is a source of concern. It’s also ironic, as this is the first time they are permitted to be here without the threat of hazing. In years past it was not uncommon to see between 400 and 600 buffalo, while currently there are barely 200. On a recent trip into the park we counted only forty buffalo between West Yellowstone and the Madison Junction, making us wonder if the hunt, slaughter, and winter kill had combined to severely impact the central herd, which migrates both north into the Gardiner Basin and west into the Hebgen Basin.

Fearing the worst, I called Yellowstone’s bison biologist who confirmed that management actions and winter kill had taken a heavy toll on the central herd, but he indicated that there were also some unusual weather patterns this year that may have contributed to so few buffalo being in the Hebgen Basin, changes that lead the buffalo to use the landscape differently than we normally see. Changing weather patterns are just a small piece of it, though. While natural forces are formidable enough, when combpounded with annual kills through indiscriminate boundary hunting and capture-for-slaughter, the population becomes increasingly vulnerable to collapse. Without understanding how their management decisions and climate change are combining to affect the health and viability of these herds, the agencies are threatening the future of America's last wild bison.

Being on the ground, with the buffalo, observing them in their habitat, learning how and when they use the areas they choose to use, observing their behavior, family structures, and dynamics allows us to see the patterns and subtle changes that may hold significant meaning, and it puts BFC in an extremely unique position to be the strongest and most educated advocates for the country’s last wild buffalo.

Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
~ Stephany

* Technical Problems Don't Derail Give Local for the Buffalo!

High five and thank you! Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click for larger image.

A hardware problem affecting the Give Local Day servers made for a very frustrating Give Local Day across the country. This didn't deter Buffalo Field Campaign supporters from standing tall in a show of solidarity and support for BFC and the buffalo we work so hard to protect. The fundraiser was extended to two full days and our supporters made more than than 150 donations ranging in size from $10 to $1000! Donations are still coming in as we write this and we will share our final accounting in next week's Update. With such amazing supporters, we are confident that we will finish on top and qualify for a solid proportion of the special prize money. Thanks to you!

* VIDEO: America’s National Mammal?

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America's National Mammal?

May 4, 2016
May 2nd marks the first day of hazing in 2016 of our wild buffalo here in West Yellowstone. Calves ranging in age from one day to a couple of weeks were forced to stop nursing, pushed 10 miles, and given little or no breaks. With buffalo recently being declared America's national mammal, it's a great irony that we treat them this way. These abusive management actions - paid for with your federal tax dollars - are done to serve livestock interests, yet there are no cows in the area.

 

* TAKE ACTION! Endless Pressure, Endlessly Applied

1. 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. 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 summervolunteer@buffalofieldcampaign.org or call us at 406-646-0070.

* Donations Made in Memory and in Honor of Wild Buffalo Advocates

Doug Marchel in honor of Gina Marchel

Louise Dockery in memory of Phil Morton

Laura Selan in memory of Phil Morton and barb abramo

Cynthia Witwicki and Gruce Faddegon in honor of Ryan Witwicki Faddegon

Jill Tew in memory of Florida's murdered black bears

Vivian R Romano in honor of DJ Schubert

Suzanne Westgaard in memory of Mark James Hill

Kent Lebsock in memory of Rosalie Little Thunder

Christopher Tassava in memory of Sabine

Smallbear Rich in memory of Those who came before us

Bob Hollon in honor of The Team @BFC, for all you do

John Hohmann in honor of Shay Hohmann

Nancy Anderson in memory of Nathan Holstad

Cynthia Powell in honor of the 57 orphans still in Yellowstone National Park's trap

Deborah Walker in honor of Eric Leutzinger - my hero!

Christine Finch in memory of Nino

* 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.

2015-2016
Total Buffalo Killed: 593
Government Capture: 150
Held for Quarantine or Slaughter: 50
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Government Slaughter:
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
Unknown Hunts:
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*
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: 6,227

* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Marty Two Bulls

~ Marty Two Bulls

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

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Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
406-646-0070
bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
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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