* Update from the Field
Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click for larger image.
We have learned that four more buffalo were recently shipped to slaughter. Yellowstone was holding fifty-seven calves and yearlings in their Stephens Creek trap, just in case the park made a decision to go ahead with their fifty-year quarantine plan, a plan BFC strongly opposes (PDF). During a second run through the terrifying squeeze chute, four of the young buffalo who had previously tested blood-negative for brucellosis exposure had converted to blood-positive, and were consequently consigned to the Shoshone-Bannock for slaughter. Stress can cause the onset of brucellosis, and confinement — along with being tortured and orphaned — is certainly a recipe for intense stress. These unnecessary deaths are another example of how quarantine does not stop slaughter and does not benefit wild buffalo. Buffalo will be repeatedly tested throughout the quarantine process, and many will still be shipped to slaughter. Quarantine ignores the cumulative impacts that ongoing slaughter, excessive hunting, and hazing have on this increasingly vulnerable population, and it is part of the brucellosis lie, the premise being that bison pose a brucellosis threat, which we know to be untrue, something recent studies are further confirming (see Buffalo News below).
Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
As the saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” We have been receiving many emails with concern over the calf killed by Yellowstone park rangers after tourists attempted to “rescue” him. Because we were not there to witness the events, it is difficult to know what actually took place. Buffalo moms are fierce defenders of their calves, so it’s hard to imagine that a buffalo mom would have allowed her calf to be abducted to begin with, unless she knew the calf was already sick, and had abandoned him. We also don’t know what sort of effort the park rangers gave in trying to reunite the calf with his family. Having witnessed many cow/calf separations due to hazing operations, buffalo moms will try everything to reunite with their baby. If they don’t find each other, other buffalo sometimes adopt, and human scent will not cause a buffalo to reject a calf. Without first-hand knowledge, it is very difficult for us to make any conclusions outside of the fact that human interference in a natural setting is a very bad judgement call, and it is critical that we humans listen to the buffalo. We can’t help but go back to the start, thinking that had this baby been healthy, his mom would never have let anyone get close, much less take him. Should the calf have been shot? No. The calf should have been returned to the site where he was taken from, and if the calf was, as reported, approaching cars and being a “nuisance," then the area should have been closed to humans. Even if he did not reunite with his family after that, he would have had a much more honorable and natural death by helping to feed wolves, coyotes, or bear cubs, rather than falling to bullets. Either way, the actions of these tourists accelerated or caused the death of this calf, for which they were fined a mere $110. Harmful behaviors from tourists are on the rise: petting buffalo, getting too close for that ‘selfie,’ walking through the Grand Prismatic Springs, or venturing into grizzly bear country and doing all the wrong things: Yellowstone is being loved to death.
Photo by Stephany, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
On a brighter note, the buffalo families roaming Montana's Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone, have been having the rare opportunity to be wild buffalo without human interference or harassment. Night highway patrols have also, thankfully, been uneventful. There have been a few private property owners who have chased buffalo off of their land, and one minor haze conducted by the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) this week. In this particular haze, a group of about forty buffalo with twenty newborn calves were along the lake shore of one of the few places that run cattle in the summer. The buffalo were committing the ‘crime’ of eating grass. The DOL was called to move them, and they came out and pushed the buffalo across a narrow part of Hebgen Lake, over to Horse Butte. Cattle being present in the buffalo’s year-round habitat is going to be a challenge, and in time, the cattle will hopefully go.
We also held our spring board meeting this past weekend, which is always great because we get to reunite with so many of our family members. We discussed at length our concerns about the Central herd and the actions we could and would be taking to determine their status; plans are in the works and we’ll keep you posted as we move forward and learn more. We also had some wonderful and inspiring discussions about ways we could help bring more Native youth and adults to BFC, to help spark and re-build those ancient and sacred relationships. And we talked about how our field presence will be changing in accordance with buffalo gaining year-round habitat. Lots of good things are coming. Solidarity is building, wild buffalo are gaining some ground, our buffalo family is growing, and “the times, they are a changin’”
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Spend Summer in Yellowstone with BFC: Volunteers Wanted!
Buffalo Field Campaign is seeking volunteers who have an earnest desire to help our national mammal, the buffalo, roam wild and free! We are seeking people comfortable with talking with Yellowstone visitors to help run our summer outreach program. This is the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service and Yellowstone is expecting millions of visitors; this is a great opportunity to help educate and inspire people! 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 campgrounds 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.
If this sounds exciting to you, please contact us at VolunteerSummer@buffalofieldcampaign.org or call 406-646-0070. We look forward to hearing from you!
* 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.
* Buffalo (and Elk) in the News
Diseases spread blamed on elk, not bison or feed grounds
Study finds brucellosis flows from elk refuge
Jackson Hole News & Guide
* Donations Made in Memory and in Honor of Wild Buffalo Advocates\
Chris Bedford in memory of Jim Clopto
Cheryl Kilts in memory of Cecil Kilts
Vicky Newman in honor of Pat Gaines
Aaron Rose in honor of Sylvia Hollander
William Arbon in memory of Roscoe the Cat
Edson C. Kurose in memory of Stanley E. Kramer/Producer-Director
Robert Watson in memory of Elizabeth Watson
Medora Woods in memory of Rosalie Little Thunder
Fred J Fisher in memory of Oliver and Stormy
Nancy Koleilat in memory of TJ
Delyth Kitch in memory of Walter Jones
Kim Bundy-Fazioli in honor of Joan Bundy on Mother's Day
Douglas P Sibley in memory of Edward H. Chittock
Hilda Leefeldt in memory of Ernest Callenbach
* 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: 598
Government Capture: 150
Held for Quarantine or Slaughter: 53
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Tribal - ITBC, CSKT, & Sho-Ban Slaughter: 97
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: 6,232
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Buffalo Medicine
I want to speak buffalo.
Many times ago the grass-eaters on the prairie. It was a day for honor. The herd walked the great plains. This way the herd walked. That. The little band of Indians followed. How they depended upon us. How we clothed their naked bodies. Fed their hungering stomachs. Provided hides for their teepees. We often spoke to them. Grunting in language they understood. There was nothing we didn’t give. But now we take our grasslands. Our lawn chairs and yard goods. Stampede to the other world. From the council-fire of heaven we are called. The Great Spirit speaks in soldiers’ guns. From trains they pass shooting.
Surely America was made for us. Remember how often we delighted you. Deciding how we would run through the prairie with the wind in our ears. Our large heads pure with mind. The Great Spirit great as he spoke. Yo. We were his. We grunted his praises. Snorted and roamed in his will. Our calves grew up in our strength. We were kings. We allowed death. We gave ourselves for the Indians.
We are called Savior buffalo. Señor buffalo. Grandmother buffalo. Mon duke buffalo. Lord and God buffalo. Surely the Great Spirit was made in our image. Touch us and you see the face of God. Our heads were angels fallen to the prairies. Touch us and you hear the grunting God.
Giant buffalo. Universal buffalo.
Surely the angels say we sing your four-legged song. Ancestor buffalo. We sing your grass-eating song. Ho ee yo. The clouds rumble over you. The wind-currents follow. The whole earth sings to you world-movers today. Yes the prairie highways remember your migrations. Put your feet on four little wheels. Roll on the knoll prairie. The creosote road-beds black as your nose. The grass once tall as your backs.
~ Diane Glancy
Please keep sending quotes, poems and other words of buffalo wisdom. You'll see them here!