* Update from the Field: VICTORY! Wild Buffalo Gain Horse Butte Year Round!
Hundreds of wild buffalo will no longer be harassed or otherwise harmed on the Horse Butte peninsula, seen in the distance here. Photo by Buffalo Field Campaign. Click photo for larger image.
Yesterday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued his final decision on year-round habitat for wild bison in Montana, and Buffalo Field Campaign is very pleased to announce that after more than eighteen years of fighting for wild buffalo to freely roam Horse Butte, we have finally achieved this significant victory! As many of you know, Horse Butte is part of what we have been pressing for since the beginning of our campaign, and we are inclined to celebrate this achievement as the victory that it is; indeed, it may be the biggest victory we have had! It took nearly two decades of hard work in the field, in the courts, and in the policy arena to accomplish this, and it demonstrates how perseverance pays off, and how we must never give up. This victory is a result of endless pressure, being endlessly applied by BFC, by you our dedicated supporters, by the incredible and active residents of Horse Butte, and by the buffalo themselves who consistently demonstrate resistance, persistence, and endurance. Another boon granted the buffalo is that bull bison — but only bulls — will be given year-round habitat in the Gardiner Basin. Please take a little time to celebrate this victory, as it has been hard-earned by each of you. Thank you to everyone who has been with us for the buffalo, making our work possible.
As we bask in this triumph, we cannot let down our guard. We must strengthen our resolve to continue fighting for wild buffalo and their right to roam the lands that are their birthright. We have many difficult battles yet to win. A closer look at Governor Bullock’s decision (FWP website) shows us that the buffalo are still in grave danger from livestock industry interests and the government agencies that serve them.
In 2004, the courageous and passionate Akiva Silver occupied the Horse Butte bison trap, saving many buffalo from being captured and shipped to slaughter. In 2008, the trap was again occupied by another brave individual, and the Montana Department of Livestock have not set it up since, nor will they ever again. Buffalo Field Campaing photo by Chris Rota. Click photo for larger image.
Even the decision to grant buffalo year-round habitat on Horse Butte has its devilish details, mainly in the form of a population cap: during fall and winter approximately 450 buffalo will be allowed to live there; during the spring that number rises to 600, which is terrific timing since that’s when the large herds come to Horse Butte for calving season; but by July the government will allow only 250 buffalo to remain. From reviewing the Governor’s decision, it appears that, should there be more than 250 buffalo on Horse Butte by summer, hazing would not begin until then, which is about six weeks later than hazing has been taking place in recent years. While our ultimate goal is to put an end to all hazing, this means that wild buffalo will finally have the opportunity to make their own choices about when or whether to migrate into Yellowstone for the summer months. It will be an awesome gift to learn what they will do directly from the buffalo.
The deeper you look into the Governor’s decision, the more questions it raises. Hazing, hunting, and capture-for-slaughter remain tools that the livestock-backed government agencies will employ, with goals of keeping this highly vulnerable — and indeed, endangered — population at artifically low numbers. Additionally, wild buffalo will not be granted any “tolerance” along the south side of the Madison River, which is favored habitat, mostly public lands, that the matriarch-led family groups very much enjoy and require during the months surrounding calving season. Also, in the Gardiner Basin, matriarch-led family groups will not have full access like their adult male counterparts, but will be given tolerance only during “hunting” season, and will be hazed into Yellowstone by mid-spring.
Again, we have a long way to go for the buffalo. We need you to join with us in strengthening your resolve and renewing your commitment to do whatever it takes to defend our beloved wild buffalo until they roam free all across the lands that have been their home since buffalo time began.
Happy Holidays ~ and please celebrate this victory with us, for the buffalo!
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* 2016 Calendars! Celebrate Wild Buffalo Every Day of the Year!
The New Year is fast approaching and we know you or a friend would really enjoy celebrating wild buffalo 365 days a year! Our Wild Bison of Yellowstone calendars will bring you into the majesty of what it will look like for wild buffalo on Horse Butte, now that hundreds of them are able to live here every single day!
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!
* BFC Wish List
For those of our wonderful supporters who prefer to give us gifts of goods we need, please check out our Amazon wish list!
Our auto mechanic is in need of a couple items, there are lots of fun office supplies we can always use, first aid kits for our field patrols, and some kitchen staples. As a bonus, when you order via Amazon Smile supporting Buffalo Field Campaign we also get a percentage of your purchase price as a donation!
We are deeply grateful for everything and every way our supporters keep us warm, safe and in the field with the buffalo! Thank you!!
*By the Numbers
The last wild, migratory buffalo populations are currently estimated at fewer than 4,900 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: 62
Buffalo Released from Capture:
Tribal - ITBC & CSKT Slaughter:
Died in Government Trap:
Died in Government Research Facility**:
Miscarriage in Government Trap:
State Hunt: 10
State “Damage" Hunts:
Treaty Hunts: 48
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: 5,702
* 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 ~ Dan Brister
Before now, the Montana Department of Livestock would trap wild buffalo on Horse Butte, and ship them to slaughter. Before now, government agents on obnoxious snowmobiles would harass the buffalo, running them through deep snows off of Horse Butte or into their capture facility, sending them to their deaths. Before now, helicopters and horsemen would hound newborn buffalo calves, their mothers, and entire families. Cattle have not been a destructive presence on Horse Butte since 2002, and the majority of private landowners on the butte relish the company of wild buffalo, yet their desires for buffalo to be left alone here had always fallen on deaf ears, but the times have finally changed!
"The Horse Butte Peninsula is the epicenter of the DOL’s war on Yellowstone bison. The peninsula, located just a few miles from the western edge of Yellowstone National Park, provides crucial habitat to most of the park’s native species. Bison, wolves, grizzly and black bears, deer, elk, moose, golden and bald eagles, white pelicans, trumpeter swans, Sandhill cranes, and great blue herons are some of the more charismatic species who make their home here.
Horse Butte is favored habitat of Yellowstone bison. Due to the butte’s wide expanses of sun-drenched, south-facing slopes, the snow melts fast, providing easy access to last summer’s grass in the winter and the first green shoots in the spring.
One Idaho rancher who grazed cattle in the summer on Forest Service lands on Horse Butte believes that Yellowstone should be managed more like a zoo than as a functioning ecosystem. According to this rancher, 'Bison belong in the park. They should keep them there.' "
-- Dan Brister, In the Presence of Buffalo
Order your copy HERE
Please keep sending quotes, poems and other words of buffalo wisdom. You'll see them here!