* Buffalo Enjoying Year-Round Habitat
A newborn calf curious about his admirers. Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click for larger image.
Buffalo moms are bringing more calves into to the world every day! We are pleased to report that buffalo mothers and their newborns had a peaceful Mother’s Day, as we hope you did. There has been only one hazing event this spring. Usually by this time of year buffalo have been hazed over and over and over, with May 15th being the date when Montana livestock interests wanted all buffalo forcibly removed from Montana. But with more land available to buffalo in Montana, until buffalo start to explore habitat outside of the tolerance zone, hazing will thankfully be a rare occurrence.
Buffalo enjoying year-round habitat. Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click for larger image.
We also have some more good news to share: the buffalo have a little bit more year-round habitat than we had originally thought. After comparing the maps and language in the Governor’s decision, we noticed conflicting information. The map indicated that the buffalo were blocked from accessing lands south of the Madison River, while the language indicated they could be there, just not west of the South Fork of the Madison, which is about nine miles west of Yellowstone’s boundary. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks confirmed that map is wrong, and buffalo are allowed to be on more land than previously thought.
Roaming free on lands where once they were brutally hazed from. Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click for larger image.
The buffalo in Montana’s Hebgen Basin right now are making the most of their new-found peace, as are BFC patrols. Our main focus continues to be along the highways, helping buffalo and motorists stay safe, and keeping an eye on the local Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) stock inspectors, who, in turn, are also keeping an eye on the buffalo. The DOL must be bored in not being able to abuse buffalo as, on more than one occasion they have tried to get our attention by falsely claiming to be shooting cracker rounds (explosives fired from shotguns) at buffalo, but we are with the buffalo every day, and are aware of where they are and that they are currently safe.
A yearling with family members near the Madison River. Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click for larger image.
Our main concern right now is that there are so few buffalo in the Hebgen Basin. This area is usually teeming with hundreds of buffalo, sometimes from 400 to 600, but in the past few weeks our patrols have been able to count fewer than two hundred buffalo. We have run a number of recons into Yellowstone, looking in places suggested by Yellowstone’s bison biologist and other areas that we know the Central herd uses at different times of year, but we are finding very few. A winter-kill assessment has yet to be conducted, and Yellowstone isn’t expected to complete their population estimate until later in the summer. This estimate is always suspect because it is part of what drives the Interagency Bison Management Plan’s politically driven kill quotas. We will continue to work to determine the status of the population and proceed from there. If the population is in as rough shape as it appears to be, there can be no argument against an absolute cease-fire.
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Buffalo Declared America's National Mammal: What Does it Mean?
A bull buffalo beds down at Yellowstone National Park's Justice Center, leaving messages on the lawn. Photo by D.J. Filson, BFC supporter. Click photo for larger image.
President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act on Monday, designating the American buffalo the country’s national mammal. What does this mean for wild buffalo? In order for the bill to pass the House and Senate, the following language was added: “Nothing in this Act or the adoption of the North American bison as the national mammal of the United States shall be construed or used as a reason to alter, change, modify, or otherwise affect any plan, policy, management decision, regulation, or other action by the Federal Government.” This statement is undoubtedly directed at the current mismanagement of Yellowstone bison, America’s last wild herds. So, if not wild buffalo, whom does national mammal status serve? The bill was advanced largely by bison ranching interests, so it seems it aims to celebrate the “conservation success” of buffalo behind fences. Though the bill has no binding language, national mammal status will definitely raise awareness of the buffalo in the public eye and help us in pointing out the hypocrisy of the US bestowing this honorable mantle upon the buffalo while indiscriminately slaughtering them at the behest of Montana's livestock industry. Together Yellowstone and Montana will share the shame of wantonly slaughtering our national mammal.
We encourage you to contact President Obama to thank him for designating the buffalo as the national mammal while using the opportunity to educate him about what is taking place with the America's only continuously wild bison, the Yellowstone herds. Call 202-456-1111 or email.
Read this powerful Outside Magazine op-ed, by Christopher Ketcham, about the hypocrisy of naming bison our national mammal: Calling the Bison Our National Mammal is the Worst Kind of Green-Washing
* BFC Submits Comments for Yellowstone Grizzly Bears
A mama grizzly bear with three adorable cubs-of-the-year amble along the Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
The grizzly bears who share Yellowstone country with the last wild buffalo are in jeopardy of losing federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Forty years of ESA protection has failed to recover Yellowstone grizzly bears. Human-caused deaths are increasing and the population, isolated from other bears, is growing increasingly unstable. Climate change is already threatening these great bears, in large part, because of its impact on critical food sources like whitebark pines, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, and army cutworm moths. Buffalo and elk have always been an important food for Yellowstone grizzlies, but they are becoming even more critical with the rapid loss of other highly nutritious foods. This increased need for meat is also increasing encounters with hunters, resulting in more grizzly bears being killed. If ESA protections are withdrawn, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming will initiate “trophy” hunting, which will put Yellowstone grizzlies on the fast track to extinction. Stronger federal protections, coupled with more buffalo on a larger landscape, would be a huge help to Yellowstone’s grizzlies. Trusted grizzly bear experts, scientists, and Native American tribes who hold the grizzly sacred are vehemently opposed to delisting, and Buffalo Field Campaign joins them in solidarity. You can read BFC's comments here.
* LUSH Cosmetics Spends Time with BFC
LUSH loves buffalo and rallies for them with BFC on Mother's Day. Photo by Cindy, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
LUSH Cosmetics is a sustainable business that creates homemade, cruelty-free, organic products and uses their business to help those who are helping the Earth. When you visit their web site, the first thing you see isn't products for sale, it's an enormous banner reading: “Keep Fossil Fuels In the Ground ~ Our Lives Depend On It.”
LUSH stands firmly against animal testing and gives a portion of their profits and time to environmental causes. Since 2014 Buffalo Field Campaign has been a recipient of their generosity and friendship. LUSH supports meaningful causes around the globe. Through their “Charity Pot” cruelty-free hand and body lotion program, LUSH educates their customer base on humanitarian, environmental, and animal-rights organizations, while 100% of the proceeds from "Charity Pot" lotion goes to those organizations. Buffalo Field Campaign is very fortunate to be one of those organizations. BFC and a picture of a buffalo are featured on some of the ‘Charity Pot’ lotions. Because LUSH staff want to get to know the groups they support, they visit and participate with chosen organizations. This week nineteen LUSH employees joined us at BFC for five incredible days. They brought boundless energy and put it to great use on field patrols and helping out around BFC's cabin. They helped us with recons of Horse Butte and portions of Yellowstone National Park, lent a hand as we cleaned up our stretch of ‘Adopt a Highway’ on Highway 20, and participated in a Mother’s Day rally in West Yellowstone. They readied our garden for spring planting, cooked meals, and helped with just about everything you can imagine! We were able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time.
LUSH and BFC hit the streets of West Yellowstone. Photos by Cindy, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photos for larger images.
Like all BFC volunteers, they gained a lot by being here. They spent time in the presence of buffalo on their chosen habitat. They had experiences they will never forget and will be able to share their stories when they return home. More than likely, there will be more than a few who return to volunteer in the future. Back home and at work, the LUSH folks who visited will be able to share their experience with customers every day. We are thankful that LUSH was willing to put together a trip to Buffalo Field Campaign. Hopefully, they will join us again and inspire their customers to join us too!
Many thanks to BFC’s Clarence, Crow, and Natalie for being such excellent team leaders during LUSH’s inspiring stay, and to Grumbles for cooking so many amazing meals during their stay!
* 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 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.
Please contact Mackenzie 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 ~ Hey Bear/GOAL Tribal Coalition
"Put another way, given the overwhelming reliance by Yellowstone’s grizzly bears on essentially four foods (lumping elk and bison together as ungulates), major losses of any one are almost certainly to have major impacts."
~ Hey Beart/GOAL Tribal Coalition, from their comments against delisting Yellowstone grizzly bears
Please keep sending quotes, poems and other words of buffalo wisdom. You'll see them here!