* Update from the Field
A family group of wild buffalo migrate along the Madison River a few years back. This scene has been a very rare sight this winter. BFC file photo. Click photo for larger image.
Yesterday, February 15, marked the end of Montana's buffalo hunting season. We all breath a sigh of relief. Thanks to the mild winter we've been having, ten out of a possible 144 buffalo were killed by Montana hunters (Treaty hunts have killed six so far). The behavior of buffalo groups that did migrate down to Montana also showed that they are wising up to being shot at, as more than one group cleverly moved themselves to un-huntable areas after losing family members to bullets. A few Tribes hunting under treaty right still have their seasons open, but buffalo remain absent from the Montana landscape. Today the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission will meet to decide if they are going to approve expanding the use of hunters to kill wild buffalo that migrate out of so-called tolerance zones - an issue many of you took action on. Thank you! We hope to bring you good news that this proposal was abandoned, though if the state's past actions are any indication that is unlikely.
Yesterday, we received a phone call from a Yellowstone National Park official. Your letters are making an impact. According to this Park spokesman, Yellowstone plans to slaughter approximately 330 wild buffalo this season rather than 700 as we reported last week. We reminded him that the Park Service also stated that they intend to cap this last wild population at a dangerously low 3,000 animals, which he agreed was, indeed, true. With the current population estimated at 3,700 animals you can see where we got our figure of 700, so the threat remains. Yellowstone's plan to kill 330 wild buffalo this season is also contingent upon the level of bison migration into Montana. As it now stands, the executive order issued by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer effectively prohibits Yellowstone from slaughtering bison by preventing their shipment through Montana. A similar order issued by Schweitzer last spring effectively prevented the Park Service from shipping nearly 800 buffalo to slaughter. But Schweitzer could revoke this order at any time or direct Fish, Wildlife and Parks to permit the shipment of bison.
Wanting to gain more clarity on this issue and to urge the governor to keep his executive order in place, several of us traveled to Helena yesterday for a face-to-face meeting with Schweitzer. The governor let us know that his executive order was crafted more as a means of forcing the Interior Department to deal with the state on issues relating to finding permanent homes for quarantined bison than as a way to stop the slaughter of wild Yellowstone bison. Schweitzer also expressed his frustration with the Montana Stockgrower's Association and lamented the fact that the powerful livestock industry has effectively prevented a more common sense approach to managing wild bison in the Yellowstone area and beyond.
As for Yellowstone, park officials and Montana say they will "tolerate" about 200 buffalo on the landscape so that they can be available to hunters, and that any buffalo more than that number would be captured, tested, and many slaughtered. This "tolerance" - which is basically stocking the pond for hunters - would change dramatically should a thousand or more wild buffalo migrate down from Yellowstone. Capture and slaughter would increase dramatically. The bottom line is that the state of Montana and the Park Service are using as pawns and playing a numbers game with living, free-born buffalo. You are doing the right thing in your communications with them. Keep the pressure on! As Yellowstone continues to send boiler-plate form letters that offer no meaningful response to the issues you are raising in your emails, we are asking that in addition to writing Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, you also pick up the phone and call him. See below under "Take Action" for details.
* TAKE ACTION!
*Logo design by Timm Kurtz.
Visit the take action links below and please spread the word among your networks of friends. Thank You!
1. NEW! Comment to prevent birth control experiments on wild buffalo! Comment period ends February 25, 2012.
2. NEW! Call Yellowstone's Superintendent Dan Wenk and tell him to stop Yellowstone's plans to capture and slaughter hundreds of wild bison: # 307-344-2002. After you call him, write him!
3. Write Letters to the Editor Opposing Montana's Bison Management Harvest
4. Urge Congress to Support Voluntary Retirement of Public Lands Cattle Grazing! BFC's Josh Osher and Jimmy St. Goddard are currently on Capitol Hill visiting with Congress, and letters now will definitely support their efforts!
5. Volunteer with BFC! Field volunteers are needed now through May. BFC provides room, board, gear and training. The buffalo and their landscape provide the inspiration! Please join us on the front lines in defense of America's last wild buffalo! Learn more and apply here and then email our volunteer coordinators.
6. Help keep BFC strong and effective in the field and at every level of the policy arena. Donations are tax-deductible and go directly to BFC's critical program work.
Thank you so much for taking these important actions! Please spread the word by passing these alerts on through all your networks of friends and colleagues!
* BFC Meets with Wyoming/Montana Tribal Council
On Tuesday, February 7th, an important meeting was held in Billings, Montana with fifteen tribal council members from ten different Nations; the purpose was to bring awareness to the Council of the urgency surrounding the Yellowstone buffalo situation. Representatives from BFC were invited by Jimmy St. Goddard, a Blackfoot man of ceremony, cultural spokesperson and pupil of respected elder, Tiny Man Heavy Runner. Jimmy had visited West Yellowstone the week prior to the meeting, where he conducted a solidarity ceremony, designating BFC headquarters near Hebgen Lake as a Sacred Site. He also spoke of other sacred sites in the area that needed to be awakened for the good of the ecosystem and spiritual connection that has been in a slumber since the turn of the century. It was obvious that an important alliance was being woven.
The meeting in Billings opened with concerns of Native high school and college student on sports teams who were being discriminated upon with the referees and administration turning a blind eye. After two hours, it was time for Jimmy to speak. He stood up and opened with a traditional greeting and introduced Mike Mease, BFC co-founder, and myself, and told the Council why we were there. I was asked to say a few words and then sing an honor song. It was a great honor. Jimmy then spoke of the need for the tribes to be more of a voice for the eniwa (buffalo) and to reclaim their Treaty rights that are just now starting to be "honored" and could potentially help save the Yellowstone buffalo from further annihilation at the hands of the Montana Department of Livestock and Yellowstone National Park's "mismanagement" program. As the Council went around and voiced some comments, Jimmy began to sweat (did I forget to mention his wife was back at the hotel...eight months pregnant?). He then received a phone call from the hotel that his wife, Francine, was going into labor and an ambulance was on the way. Mike immediately rushed over to the hotel to pick up his two other kids, Natoosi and Serena. When Mike returned, we all piled into the van and rushed to the hospital. Three hours later, Jimmy's newest son came into this world on such an important day... a day of solidarity, interconnectedness and rebirth. Just another reminder of why we do what we do ... for the generations to come.
With the Buffalo,
~ Good Shield
* Your Photos Wanted for Wild Bison 2013 Calendar!
This little calf is getting out of the way of the big boys! "Bison Rut" by the incredibly talented Sandy Sisti appeared in BFC's first Wild Bison calendar. This fine photo is a great example of some of the images we look forward to seeing! Click photo for larger image.
It's that time again! BFC is gearing up for our third Wild Bison Calendar, and we want your photos! The calendar has been such an amazing project for us, a true celebration of the wild buffalo of Yellowstone country, and we are thrilled to continue with it.
Send us your photos! To meet the image size and quality of our calendar printing, photos must be high-resolution, digital images of wild buffalo of the Yellowstone area in their natural habitat (no roads, signs, etc. in the shot please!).
Shots must be at least 12.25" wide x 8.25 tall at 300 pixels per inch. Approx. a 35mb file. (This requires a 10mb camera or larger.). Please submit your raw files whenever possible. We strongly prefer your images to not be color corrected. Adjusting color in images for four color process printing is different than for other printing processes. Contact us with any specific questions.
Please email your photo submissions for BFC's Wild Bison 2013 Calendar to Stephany at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org or send a disc of photos to BFC Wild Bison Calendar, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. We can't wait to see your pictures!
We are also accepting art work for the calendar, so please submit any art you'd like us to consider.
Artists and photographers will be given full credit for any and all photos, art and images. If your photo doesn't make it into the calendar, we can still use it (with your permission) to help educate and inspire in our email updates, web site, newsletters, and other outreach materials.
* BFC Wish List: Reliable Vehicles
Our Suburban, which was donated more than a decade ago by singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, has been an incredible workhorse for the Campaign but we fear its days are numbered. If you have a spare vehicle in the driveway or you would like to donate toward the purchase of a new vehicle, please get in touch. We need 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles. Because BFC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, donations are tax-deductible.
Click HERE to view BFC's complete Wish List
* Endangered Buffalo Fact of the Week
BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
FACT: Extirpation of bison from their native range is an indicator that the prairie ecosystem they played a part in forming is also at risk of extinction (Knapp).
Published papers are in alphabetical order by author(s) and can be downloaded and reviewed from here.
Have a fact you'd like to share with us? Email it to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org.
* By the Numbers
AMERICAN BUFFALO ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S. The last wild population is currently estimated at fewer than 3,700 individual buffalo. Wild bison are currently ecologically extinct throughout their native range in North America.
2011-2012 Total Buffalo Killed: 16
2011-2012 Government Capture:
2011-2012 Government Slaughter:
2011-2012 Held for Government Experiment:
2011-2012 Died In Government Trap:
2011-2012 Miscarriage in Government Trap:
2011-2012 State & Treaty Hunts: 16
2011-2012 Shot by Agents:
2011-2012 Killed by Angry Residents:
2011-2012 Highway Mortality:
2010-2011 Total: 227
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
* Total Since 2000: 3,988*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words
"I love this land and the buffalo and will not part with it. I want you to understand well what I say. Write it on paper...I hear a great deal of good talk from the gentlemen the Great Father sends us, but they never do what they say. I don't want any of the medicine lodges (schools and churches) within the country. I want the children raised as I was. I have heard you intend to settle us on a reservation near the mountains. I don't want to settle. I love to roam over the prairies. There I feel free and happy, but when we settle down we grow pale and die. A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers on its banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting."
~ Santana, Kiowa Chief
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you have been sending! Keep them coming!