* Thanks to You, Mike Made it Safely Home!
Stuck on the road with no way home and a broken-down van full of gear, I was as out of my element as I could be. Longing for home, I put the word out for help and the response was humbling. I must have received 100 emails offering every kind of assistance imaginable. Some of you offered to rent me a van; many offered a ride back to Montana; one young man even got so creative as to turn our giant inflatable buffalo into a hot air buffaloon to fly me home!
This incredible, thoughtful, and creative image was put together by BFC volunteer, Indigo. Well done!
Click for larger view.
Thanks to your generous donations, BFC was able to purchase a truck. Our friends at Patagonia had a van lined up when we came to do our final show in Ventura. Unfortunately it was not in great condition. Our friend Karen kept on looking and found a 2003 GMC Yukon Denali with only 80,000 miles on it. We were able to buy it without too much trouble and it carried me all the way home from the Bay Area to West Yellowstone without a problem! This truck will now be dedicated to protecting the buffalo. I will never forget the great people who give me the honor of standing with and protecting the buffalo.
Mike back home in Montana with our trusty "steed" that you all helped us acquire. Say hello to the newest addition to BFC's patrol fleet. BFC photo by Tara. Click for larger view.
As we enter our 19th year in the field, my commitment has never been stronger and I will be here until buffalo are treated like all other wildlife and once again roam this great country. Thanks again!
With the Buffalo,
* Update from the Field: And So It Begins…
Marking the earliest family group migration into the Hebgen Basin that we have experienced, around forty buffalo dropped down from Yellowstone’s high plateau and made their way west to Horse Butte in early October. It is not unusual to see a solitary bull or small bachelor bull groups come into the Basin this early, but it is rare to see the larger matriarch-led family groups make such an early appearance. For a time, they were out of harm’s way, enjoying peaceful days on 800 acres of buffalo-friendly land shared by the Galanis family. We had hoped they would be content to remain there. The six-month long “hunting" season has begun, and we knew that word would get out that the buffalo were outside of Yellowstone’s boundaries.
And it did.
Beginning in October and lasting through January, the Confederated Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille tribes (CSKT) are conducting their treaty hunts; the state of Montana’s hunt begins November 15, lasting through February 15, and the Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes will begin treaty hunting this winter, not closing their seasons until the end of March, which is just a few short weeks away from calving season. During these excruciatingly long six months, buffalo are also threatened with capture, slaughter, and hazing. This season the Interagency Bison Management Plan agencies intend to kill 900 of America’s last wild, ecologically extinct buffalo through hunting and slaughter.
About a week after these family groups arrived on Horse Butte, CSKT hunters arrived in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone. It was extremely difficult for us to cover the area as we have so few people at camp right now. But the buffalo have extended family around the Basin, and friends on Horse Butte helped us monitor the situation. Unfortunately, the buffalo did leave the safe zone. Two were killed by CSKT hunters. The good news is that the remaining buffalo in this group made their way east again, towards Yellowstone, where they are — for now — safe from hunters.
It saddens us that such an awesome event as the return of the buffalo was met with rifle fire. We should be singing buffalo welcoming songs, honoring their return, celebrating our friends returning to this favored area of their habitat, their home. There is so much we could learn from the buffalo and so much we could learn about ourselves through them but instead they are met with violence and forced to flee to protect their families. When these hunts first began, buffalo were virtual sitting ducks, having grown accustomed to millions of visitors to Yellowstone aiming cameras at them, shooting photos. When they emerged from the Park and were met with hunters aiming rifles at them, confusion set in. But over the years buffalo seem to have learned who their friends are and they are growing ever more savvy, leaving areas where they are vulnerable and seeking safe places. This works a little better for the buffalo in the Hebgen Basin than it does in the Gardiner Basin. The deep snows that will blanket the Hebgen Basin make it a little more challenging for hunters to reach them in certain (but definitely not all) areas, and there are more privately-owned buffalo safe zones here. Plus, some hunters don’t want to deal with the cold that we get in West Yellowstone. In the Gardiner Basin buffalo are much more vulnerable. The landscape is much more open and buffalo are easily accessible from many of the roadways through Gallatin National Forest. And, when they do seek the “safety” of the Park’s boundaries, they meet another face of death: Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek bison trap. On the north boundary, buffalo are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.
For now, the buffalo that were vulnerable to hunters in the Hebgen Basin have made their way to safety. We hope it will last, but buffalo must roam. They must leave the political boundaries of the Park to escape the deep winter snows to survive. Currently there is no place they can go — save the small areas of private land on Horse Butte — without being threatened with gunfire.
Our field season begins in just a few weeks. America’s last wild buffalo will be under attack in the Hebgen and Gardiner Basins, west and north of Yellowstone. Will you join us on the front lines to stand with the buffalo? BFC needs volunteers for the coming season. If you are unable to join us in person, you can still help keep us on the front lines and you can help spread the word to save these sacred herds. Information on the variety of ways you can help our friends the buffalo is posted below. Thank you for being with us for the buffalo!
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Stand With the Buffalo! Front Lines Volunteers Needed for Coming Field Season!
BFC patrols look for buffalo in the Gardiner Basin. You, too, can join us on the front lines. We need you! Photo by Stephany Seay, BFC. Click for larger image.
Buffalo Field Campaign has seasonal openings for field volunteers. We have opportunities for every season, but are in great need of folks during our field season which runs from November through May. This is the time of year when wild bison are migrating into Montana and facing death and harassment. Any buffalo within Montana's borders is in danger of being shot on sight, hazed, or captured and shipped to the slaughterhouse. All volunteers are provided room, board, gear, and training in exchange for staffing our field patrols. We cater to most any dietary need. We are located in a warm log cabin by beautiful Hebgen Lake, just a few miles outside of West Yellowstone, Montana, and we also run a camp north of Yellowstone, in the Gardiner Basin.
Click on the button above or HERE to learn more and make your plans. See you on the front lines!
* TAKE ACTION! Endless Pressure, Endlessly Applied
One of the many tools we use to affect change is pressuring decision-makers to do the right thing. Below are two new Take Action items, as well as an ongoing one that still needs everyone’s attention.
1. 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.
2. 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."
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 than 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.
* 2016 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country Calendars Available!
Click here to order BFC's 2015 Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country calendars!
Celebrate wild buffalo every day of the year! This is our sixth annual Wild Bison of Yellowstone Country calendar, and it is another wonderful exploration of this country’s largest land mammal. Featuring stunning photos from generous professional photographers such as Sandy Sisti, Tom Mangelsen, and Ric Kessler, along with photos from Buffalo Field Campaign, this calendar also includes incredible artwork, interesting facts, and beautiful poetry and quotes. BFC's 2016 calendar is also dedicated to BFC co-founder Rosalie Little Thunder, our friend and teacher who passed away in August 2014. All proceeds from the calendar go directly to BFC’s front lines work in defense of America’s last wild buffalo. Support our work to help these gentle giants as you celebrate wild buffalo every day!
Fall in love with the buffalo and strengthen your resolve to help protect them!
* VIDEO: Trailer for “Pounding Hooves” Buffalo Documentary
Click the image or here to watch this video.
Pounding Hooves is a wonderful trailer to a "short documentary exploring the issue of rewilding and coexistance with Nature, through the eyes of indigenous people and scientists in North America and Europe.” In the opening footage, you get to see the American buffalo’s closest relative, the highly endangered forest-dwelling European wisent. Interviewed here is our friend, Holy Paint Gatherer for the Blackfeet Confederacy, Jimmy St. Goddard. This film, by Adrián Vilas, features interviews with and footage from Buffalo Field Campaign. We will share the full documentary when it’s out. For now, enjoy this teaser!
* Spread the Word for the Herds! Distribute BFC Newsletters in Your Community
Help spread the word to save the herds! If you would like us to send you a stack of newsletters to place around your community, Tara can help you with that, too. We love that we have supporters who are willing to distribute our annual newsletter, spreading the word to save the herds is one of our main tenets and we are thrilled to have so many volunteers! Shipping can be costly, so please let Tara know an exact number that you feel you are able to distribute and she will happily get them to you ASAP!
If your address has changed, or if you are new and would like to be added to our mailing list,
please contact Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*By the Numbers
The last wild, migratory buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,200 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: 2
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Tribal - ITBC & CSKT Slaughter:
Died in Government Trap:
Died in Government Research Facility**:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State “Damage" Hunts:
Treaty Hunts: 2
Poached in Yellowstone:
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to APHIS Research Facility:
Shot by Agents:
Shot by Landowner:
Shot by Idaho:
Cause of Death Unknown:
Total Killed in Previous Years*
Total Killed Since 2000: 5,649
* includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, and highway deaths
** bison stolen from the wild and placed in APHIS research facilities (such as for GonaCon) have already been counted as being "eliminated from the population" so bison that have died in a government research facility are not reflected in the total.
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Rosalie Little Thunder & Darrell Geist
“Can decision-makers rise above the intense politics that swirl around this sacred species? Can we root out the entrenched corrupt forces that threaten the future of wild buffalo? The time yet to come for the buffalo rests upon the vision, courage, and leadership of our Tribal leaders and the American people.”
~ Rosalie Little Thunder, BFC co-founder, and Darrell Geist, BFC habitat coordinator, from An Open Letter to Tribal Leaders and the American People (2014)
Please keep sending quotes, poems and other words of buffalo wisdom. You'll see them here!