* A Giving of Thanks
A bull buffalo walks through the Hebgen Lake corridor, passing BFC's headquarters. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
We have many things to be thankful for this year, and so many of them are possible because of your inspired contributions, strong support, and unfaltering love for the buffalo. The actions you take, the donations you make, and the help you lend allow Buffalo Field Campaign to remain on the front lines in defense of wild buffalo.
We give thanks that there are still wild buffalo walking the Earth. Buffalo that follow their migratory instincts and carry the wisdom of the ancients that does not bend or bow to human fences, boundaries, or prejudice. We give thanks for the wild buffalo's instincts to simply place one foot in front of the other and walk the land, regardless of government plans; a drive so deeply rooted in their time before time that man's shallow greed has not taken this from them. We give thanks that buffalo still roam, confounding certain humans' selfishly inflicted consequences. We give thanks for the last remaining buffalo that found shelter in Yellowstone's remote Pelican Valley barely 150 years ago; the twenty-three who were all that remained of tens of millions, who ensured the survival and wild integrity of their prehistoric kind. We give thanks that buffalo have biologically withstood diseases brought by invasive cattle, their blood building resistance to the dark gifts from these bovine invaders. We give thanks that it is still possible to look into the eyes of a wild buffalo and remember a time we forgot we once knew, and dream of its return. We give thanks that the land cries out for the return of wild buffalo, welcoming their homecoming when the hearts of humans open to the drumming of the buffalo's footsteps, and the land is again shared, healed and whole with their presence.
We give thanks for the abundance of snow that has been falling, snow that brings the life giving waters when the sun waxes and the rivers run fast and deep through the veins of the mountains and out to the sea. Bittersweet this gift, as the buffalo will also flow with the deepening snow, and this is as it should be, and though we know harm awaits them, we celebrate their life force and give thanks that they continue in their wild ways despite the obstacles. We give thanks for the persistence, resistance, and endurance of wild buffalo.
We give thanks for those who hear the call of wild buffalo. We are grateful for the volunteers who come from around the globe to defend the buffalo, whether joining us for the first time, coming back year after year, or returning after an absence. We give thanks for everyone everywhere who cares about wild buffalo, celebrates their wildness, and takes action for their right to roam. We give thanks to all of you who make it possible for us to be here standing with the buffalo, bearing witness, sharing their story, making change. We give thanks for the realization that long-term perseverance and passion-turned-action will bring the necessary change we all seek. We give thanks that the status-quo that harms the buffalo and the land is an unsustainable and temporary thing in the grand theater of life on Earth. We give thanks that there is still time to act, though the time is short, and act we must. We give thanks for the elders who guide us with experience and wisdom and for the flame of passion that burns within the hearts and minds of the youth; for the combined energy and power we hold in our hands to save us from ourselves, and learn to be more like the buffalo. We give thanks for the lessons the buffalo teach us about family, solidarity, fearlessness, resistance, abundance, resolve, gentle strength, coexistence, following our instincts without compromise, and for showing us the simplicity of the solutions right before our eyes. We give thanks for the hope and vision of a life for buffalo in which they thrive within their inherent wildness, for a world in which buffalo and all other native wildlife are given precedence on the land, and that buffalo herds will flourish as self-regulating, self-willed populations, a rich and viable source for their future evolutionary potential and ambassador for the sovereignty of the land. We know we have a long way yet to go, and we give thanks for the deep commitment the buffalo have inspired us to make.
We give thanks, everyday, for the wild buffalo that remain and for each and everyone of you who cares about buffalo and makes the work of Buffalo Field Campaign possible.
Thank you from Buffalo Field Campaign!
* Update from the Field: Bison Managers Squabble Over Ways, Numbers to Kill
Wild buffalo on the move. Buffalo Field Campaign photo. Click for larger image.
Three more of the country’s last wild buffalo have been killed by hunters. One was killed in Gardiner, and two near West Yellowstone. The day the two in West Yellowstone were shot, the surviving family groups — numbering about 100 — headed east, and continued into Yellowstone, moving deeper into the Park. We are thankful that they retreated to safety, but the reason for their leaving hurts our hearts.
Last Thursday, the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) participants held their fall meeting. BFC’s Natalie and Eric attended, enduring the circular, frustrating talk, which focused on killing and manipulating the buffalo. There was bickering between the state agencies, federal agencies, and the tribes — not over whether or not to kill — but how, and how many. The tribes who hunt under treaty rights and who do not have slaughter agreements with Yellowstone (Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Shoshone-Bannock) were asking Yellowstone to delay capture for slaughter until the end of March — because all combined, these tribes hunt through March, which is just a few weeks before calving season starts. They weren’t advocating for no slaughter, but for a delay, so that they could have more "harvest opportunities.” Another tribe, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai, objected to postponing slaughter; they hunt under treaty right and also have a slaughter agreement with Yellowstone. Also objecting to a delay in slaughter was the InterTribal Buffalo Council, a federally chartered bison ranching corporation, who also has a slaughter agreement with Yellowstone. Yellowstone didn’t want to delay either. The Park said they wanted to start capture and slaughter by mid-February, and that if they delayed until late-March then it would halt slaughter altogether because they didn’t want to send late-term pregnant buffalo to slaughter. Apparently Yellowstone has no problem slaughtering those same pregnant buffalo a few weeks earlier. Yellowstone is eager to slaughter because they are concerned that hunters won’t be able to kill enough buffalo with hunting alone. Are you finding this as insane as we do?
Two young bull buffalo express their sadness as they walk through an area where relatives had been killed by hunters. Like humans and other animals, buffalo deeply mourn the loss of their friends, family, and loved ones. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
The IBMP-affiliated agencies and tribes have been talking for months about wanting to destroy 1,000 buffalo this winter. Their entire “reasoning” for killing so many has shifted from the so-called brucellosis threat to the even weaker argument of population control. Population control makes no sense; wild bison are considered “threatened with near extinction” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and “vulnerable to global extinction” by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (a signatory to the IBMP) and yet the IBMP partners completely ignore this endangered status. With these decision-makers in charge, America’s last wild buffalo are in deep trouble: these managers aim to kill, kill, kill.
Another frightening thing revealed at the IBMP meeting is that scientists are taking eggs, sperm, and embryos from slaughtered Yellowstone bison, “washing” the brucellosis off, and impregnating other bison. This sets a frightening precedent of using dead Yellowstone buffalo to "create genetically pure, disease-free bison." The buffalo herd recently “released” onto a fenced-in pasture in Colorado were part of this mad science experiment. This Frankenstein approach is being carried out by the IBMP-affilate USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the federal livestock overseer; their sole purpose is to ensure the viability of the livestock industry, no matter the cost to wildlife or wild lands. APHIS also runs Wildlife Services, which is responsible for killing millions of predators each year, also for the “benefit” of ranchers. Anytime APHIS is meddling in the affairs of wildlife, red hot warning alarms should go off.
The IBMP exists because Montana livestock interests sued Yellowstone for allowing wild bison to migrate into Montana, and because of MCA 81-2-120, a law crafted by the livestock industry which places the Montana Department of Livestock in charge of managing wild bison. One industry’s intolerance is driving a national treasure towards the brink of extinction. If you care about wild bison, the single most important thing you can do is to help repeal this law.
Contact Governor Steve Bullock today.
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* Stand With the Buffalo! Front Lines Volunteers Needed!
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! ORDER HERE!
* WISH LIST: Coffee!
Our 2015-2016 field season has begun. As we embark on our 19th season standing with the buffalo, winter has set in early. It is cold and dark in Montana and our volunteers would benefit greatly from some coffee to raise their spirits. We would greatly appreciate any donation of whole bean coffee.
If you are able to help, coffee can be sent to Buffalo Field Campaign, c/o Eric, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, Montana, 59758. Thank you!
* 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 email@example.com.
* Donations Made in Memory and Honor of Wild Bison Advocates
Hannah MacLaren in memory of Rosalie Little Thunder
Jenness Hobart in memory of Les Thiele
Cathy Spratling in memory of Frank and Linda
Linda Talley in honor of Mike Mease
Mark And Carol Rickman in memory of Jenna
Susan Creech in honor of Stephany Seay
Jennifer Smith in memory of the bisons
Cynthia DaCosta in memory of Kramer
*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: 43
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Tribal - ITBC & CSKT Slaughter:
Died in Government Trap:
Died in Government Research Facility**:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 8
State “Damage" Hunts:
Treaty Hunts: 31
Poached in Yellowstone:
Sent to Quarantine:
Sent to APHIS Research Facility:
Shot by Agents:
Shot by Landowner:
Shot by Idaho:
Highway Mortality: 2
Cause of Death Unknown:
Total Killed in Previous Years*
Total Killed Since 2000: 5,687
* Last Words of Buffalo Inspiration ~ Derrick Jensen
“…The relationship between the Indians of the plains and the buffalo was deep and respectful. This did not stop Indians from enacting and enforcing sharp strictures against overkill. Tom McHugh describes what happened to a hunter who violated these rules: ‘After flogging him, marshals confiscated or killed his dogs and horses, cut his lodge into pieces, burned his tipi poles, broke his bow or gun, took his meat supplies, and ripped his hides, reducing him to total beggary.’ As Richard Manning comments on these rules: ‘The buffalo culture depended upon cooperation and the rules were meant to ensure it.’ Note that McHugh described enforcement as it occurred long after this buffalo culture had been contacted by civilization. It is possible that prior to contact, neither laws nor violence were necessary: the economic and familial incentives of living in a functioning community would of themselves discourage overkill... the desire to cooperate inheres in the values of those present. Besides, when your life depends on the buffalo, who could be stupid enough to kill too many?”
~ Derrick Jensen. From his book, A Language Older Than Words
Please keep sending quotes, poems and other words of buffalo wisdom. You'll see them here!