Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
May 14, 2009
In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* The Wild in Us
* Join the Front Lines
* BFC Media Crew Needs a Laptop
* Last Words
* Kill Tally
* Update from the Field
Though a day early, the dreaded time has come: All the buffalo have been cruelly forced off of Horse Butte.
All week patrols have been documenting the Montana Department of Livestock, Yellowstone National Park, Gallatin National Forest and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks agents carry out massive and relentless hazing operations, harassing and harming America’s last wild bison population.
On Tuesday, agents were set to haze bison within Yellowstone National Park to “make room” for the bison that would be hazed off of Horse Butte. But Mother Nature had different plans: one group of bison the agents planned to target consisted of forty bulls who would follow none of the agents’ orders. An incredible hail storm assisted and the haze was called off for the day. But such luck was momentary.
Every day this week agents chased bison family groups, including newborn calves and pregnant mothers, off of the south side of the Madison River, and today they set their sights on cattle-free Horse Butte. In fact, all of the Gallatin National Forest lands where the buffalo roam are cattle free, yet livestock interests insist on assaulting them with mounted cowboys*, ATVs, local and federal law enforcement and the DOL’s helicopter.*
BFC volunteers documented some heartbreaking scenes this week: Yesterday, patrols documented a radio-collared bison female with a calf who had suffered an injury in her attempts to flee a cowboy in pursuit of she and two other buffalo moms and babies. Today, patrols discovered a calf who was orphaned, having been separated from its mother during a hazing operation. Typically, bison mothers will return to look for their calves, yet agents are pushing bison deep into Yellowstone – nearly 20 miles – so it is unlikely that the calf’s mother will be able to return, or find her baby before it dies. Today, patrols following the buffalo being hazed off Horse Butte witnessed a calf with a broken leg. The little calf, in spite of it’s likely fatal injury, still somehow managed to keep up with the herd for a long distance. Finally, the calf and its mother dropped behind. Nevertheless, a DOL agent insisted on flexing his authority over the bison and tried to push them forward. The mother charged the agent numerous times. After prompting by the bison mother and BFC, the DOL agent finally left the scene. The calf was last seen still trying to keep up with mom, as she made her way in the direction that her family was pushed.
The DOL and other agents violated private property rights* on Horse Butte today as well. They flew their helicopter low to the ground inside the Galanis’ Yellowstone Ranch Preserve, Montana’s largest “Buffalo Safe Zone.” Agents on horseback and an ATV, accompanied by a Forest Service law enforcement officer, also patrolled the housing area of Yellowstone Village; for years the majority of residents in Horse Butte’s Yellowstone Village have been resisting the DOL’s intrusion upon the bison in their neighborhood.
Agents are pursuing these tormented, exhausted buffalo deep into Yellowstone. By the end of the day, bison from Horse Butte will have been hazed for approximately 20 miles.
Please continue to speak for the buffalo by writing to President Barack Obama and urge him to stop allowing U.S. tax dollars be wasted by Montana’s livestock industry to harass and kill America’s last wild bison population. Choose wild bison, not cows or condos!
*Photos courtesey of Lance Koudele
* The Wild in Us
Does chaos allow people to appreciate stillness? It does me. Does the continual chaos of present day culture shut people down? Turn them off? It seems the wild within us has become a very faint and distant memory. Chaos has allowed me to appreciate the stillness, the beauty, the quiet. It is the calm after the storm. It is the stillness after weeks of continental winds. It is the power of another herd heading to their ancestral birthing grounds after days, weeks, years of being hazed by “management men” and their machines. It is the knowledge that it will happen again and again and again if we as a citizenry do not shout Enough!
Is this not just a micro example of what is happening to us? Are we not constantly being hazed ourselves? “Pay the bills! Do this! Take that! Go here! Buy this!” Cracker round shots fired at us in the form of commercials, billboards and terror alerts. It is no wonder we have become so disconnected from our wild roots. Yet the hawk continues to pierce the stillness of the sky and raven caws as well. And there is something within me that is trying to strike some balance between outrage and understanding. That this game between us and them is so much bigger than me. That maybe I am not here to “save the Bison,” but to save the wild in me. Buffalo have been and continue to be a gift to the people. What will it take for America to awake? The intelligence of these animals goes beyond words. They have been around many lifetimes before me, and this is not their first time dealing with the viciousness of man–a particular breed of man whose well will never be full enough. Yet something has brought us all here together. That something is America’s last wild and free herd of buffalo.
This Friday marks Montana’s official “zero tolerance” for any buffalo left in the state. As we have been witnessing year after year, this Monday began the full-fledged efforts of the government to remove every last buffalo from the state of Montana. These last four days have been filled with buffalo being chased by ATVs, men on horseback, law-enforcement vehicles, and thundering chopper blades–creating chaos and mayhem for buffalo mamas and newborn calves as well as yearlings, bulls, and all the other wildlife that lives in this migratory paradise. Not only have hazes been occurring outside the Park, the Park Service has been actively participating in hazing various herds that are currently within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. A place where bison are supposed to be able to “roam free.” Yet we are being told that they need to be moved deeper into the Park! Today we witnessed as the chopper flew up and down, back and forth, kicking up dust, and blasting a loud siren on top of it’s already obnoxious thundering blades. Calves were forced to swim against the river’s current in order to keep up with their exhausted mothers. Another calf was separated from its mother and as of this writing is wandering alone along the Madison River searching for her. Yet another newborn calf had its leg shattered and was forced to run for miles supporting its weight on the knee joint. Yet the haze pushed on.
And the buffalo will push on. They will again return to reclaim their stolen ground, and one day not too long from now, they will succeed.
BFC Volunteer and Board Member
* BFC Needs You on the Front Lines!
Buffalo Field Campaign is looking for volunteers to join us on the front lines now. Buffalo migration is in full swing and our shaggy friends are everywhere, keeping us busy nearly 24 hours a day. Extreme and invasive hazing operations have begun, and will likely continue throughout the rest of the month, and possibly beyond. We need you to join us on the front lines! BFC provides room, board, training, and gear; the ecosystem provides the magic and mystery. If you are interested, please contact Chris, our volunteer coordinator at email@example.com or call 406-646-0070.
We are also looking for summer volunteers to help us with outreach in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Talking to park visitors who are in the company of the buffalo we are trying to protect is a great way to raise awareness and make more friends for the buffalo. If you would like to spend some or all of your summer with BFC, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-646-0070.
See you in West Yellowstone in the land of the last wild buffalo!
* Apple Laptop Computer Needed for BFC’s Media Crew
BFC’s media crew is looking for a good Apple/Mac laptop computer. All of our computers are currently stationary systems, and a laptop will enable us to work from other locations and consequently be more effective with communications and outreach. All donations to BFC are tax deductible and are very much appreciated! If you can help us acquire a laptop please contact Stephany at email@example.com or call us at 406-646-0070.
* Last Words
“If your mercy is so cruel, what do you have for justice?”
~ Bernard Pomerance, from The Elephant Man (The Play)
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2008-2009 Total: 17
2008-2009 Slaughter: 0
2008-2009 Hunt: 1
2008-2009 Quarantine: 0
2008-2009 Shot by Agents: 1
2008-2009 Highway Mortality: 16
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
Total Since 2000: 3,698*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortalities
BFC is the only group working in the field every day
in defense of the last wild buffalo population in the U.S.