Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
April 8, 2006
In this issue:
Update from the Field
- BFC Patrols Certified to Help with Bison Highway Crossings
- BFC Takes the Buffalo's Message to Washington, DC
- Send a Handcrafted Mother's Day Card and Protect the Yellowstone Bison!
- Buffalo in the News
- Last Words
* Update from the Field
Spring is trying her best to come back to West Yellowstone. Her green gifts couldn't come sooner for the buffalo who are locked, by force, into a snow-crusted landscape. Little by little, though, more and more grass reveals itself. There have been warm rainy days, thunder, lightning, hail, sunshine and rainbows; yesterday and today, more snow and it's still falling. This is Spring this side of Yellowstone. Winter doesn't give up her grip easily here. Yet the waxing sun will champion Spring's return. Just in time for the buffalo's rebirth, the re-greening of Mother Earth. And as a sure sign, bluebirds, osprey and pelicans have returned, the ice of Hebgen Lake slowly turns back into water, while sagebrush peeks its fragrant head through the receding snow. This Winter has been an especially hard one for Yellowstone-area wildlife. The Park has reported a high rate of winter-killed elk and buffalo. The silver lining here is the much-needed sustenance provided for wolves and waking grizzlies. This is the nature of Nature, and if it were the only challenge the buffalo faced, it would be enormous enough. But man's greed and urge to control makes surviving the winter the least of the buffalo's worries.
Yesterday, along Yellowstone's western boundary, eighteen buffalo were hazed back into the Park by agents from the Department of Livestock (DOL), National Park Service (NPS), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and a Gallatin County sheriff.
A pregnant mom and two babies were hazed down the asphalt of highway 287. Four agents on ATVs ran the buffalo down the pavement. They enjoyed themselves, laughing and having snowball fights with each other. Just another day on the job, boys! A good time for them, at the expense of the buffalo, the ecosystem, and your tax dollars.
Forcing the buffalo down Duck Creek Road, they picked up a beautiful bull and forced him into the haze. They pushed the four buffalo to the end of Duck Creek Road then buzzed over to a neighborhood called Upper Bear Trap, where a group of fourteen buffalo had taken refuge in a large patch of grass near an unoccupied house. They were run down highway 191 and up Duck Creek Road, joining the four others. The agents left and returned with their snowmobiles to push the buffalo through the snow and over the Park's border. The buffalo gave them a great challenge! They would not easily submit to the whims of the agents. Buffalo scattered throughout the lodgepole pines as agents raced around trying to round them up. Agents fired cracker-rounds, hooted and hollered, whining machines cutting through snow and running over baby trees in our national forest. While the mechanical cowboys wreaked havoc, a mom and a baby dodged the haze and tried to make their escape back down Duck Creek Road. DOL and NPS agents stood in the way with their big trucks, and, on foot, attempted to "shoo" the buffalo back towards the haze. But the agents were scared and the mom and baby were determined. The buffalo bolted past the trucks and the two agents ran. The buffalo, running for their lives, were quickly pursued by an agent on his obnoxious machine.
Rounded up like cattle, they were shoved through deep snow to join the others who were being forced off of their land, into the box that man made. BFC patrols documented everything. The operation, as always, was ruthless and cruel, but the buffalo gave the agents a heck of a time
As soon as the agents left, the buffalo began to make their way west again. Nature intended for them to be free-roaming and buffalo will go where buffalo will go. Today, they're heading along Duck Creek, east, of their own accord and free will. We will be keeping a very close eye on this group, because they are now in grave danger of being captured and slaughtered.
In Gardiner, along Yellowstone's northern boundary, 300 buffalo are still being held in the Stephens Creek trap by the Park Service. Our Gardiner camp will remain until the buffalo are released. We are so grateful to Mike and Kim who have been there since November, when the buffalo hunt began, and, of course, George, who is always there for the buffalo in Gardiner.
They are being held captive until Park employees feel enough grass has emerged for the buffalo to be content within the Park's man-made border. As if they know what buffalo want; all they do is prevent them from getting it, and will kill them for trying! Captivity takes it's toll and Park officials have reported a few stillbirths in the trap. It's likely that these miscarriages come from the stress of crowded captivity. While the 300 buffalo prisoners await their release, Park wranglers continue to haze other groups of buffalo who choose to walk the land of their ancestors.
Much of the land immediately adjacent to the Park is now privately-owned by people who are not yet willing to co-exist with buffalo, even though they occupy part of North America's largest wildlife migration corridor. The Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT) still forbids wild buffalo from accessing critical habitat. Nearly 900 buffalo have died because CUT insists on raising less than 200 cattle on its land. It is these cattle that the Park Service claims to be protecting through the slaughter of nearly 1,000 bison.
But the tide is turning. On Tuesday evening the Gallatin Wildlife Association (GWA) and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) held a meeting to discuss buffalo restoration in Montana. Well, a speck of Montana, anyway - but it's a start! FWP, at the urging of GWA, conducted an assessment for bison in the Upper Gallatin River Drainage. It's not the Madison Valley, but it is good habitat. There are many challenges afoot, most of these, of course, workable with cooperation. The point is, the discussion is underway. A year ago, a conversation like this would never have happened outside of buffalo advocates. The tide is turning. Many thanks to Glenn Hockett & the GWA for making this discussion happen. We are seeing the change and the trail for the return of wild buffalo is being blazed.
------------------------------* BFC Patrols Certified to Help with Bison Highway Crossings
Among the buffalo's many challenges, as you know, are the highways. As the spring migration flows, more buffalo will be along the roads and in danger. Travellers are also in danger, because buffalo are very big, don't run, and are nearly impossible to see at night. BFC has always helped warn motorists of their presence. Last weekend, some folks took an extra step by participating in a certified highway flagger course. This certification will enable us to more effectively and safely warn traffic of the presence of buffalo. Now that we've got the training, we need the safety equipment to carry out the service. If you can help us purchase any of the following equipment, please email Stephany at email@example.com. Many thanks for helping to keep the highways safe for buffalo and people!
BFC HIGHWAY SAFETY WISHLIST (ANSI/OSHA approved):
- (4) 48" x 48" "Buffalo Crossing" warning signs
- (4-8) retro-reflective safety vests
- (2) stop/slow paddles
- (4) flashlights with glow cones
- (4) 24" red, retro-reflective flags
- (4-8) retro-reflective hard hats
------------------------------* BFC Takes the Buffalo's Message to Washington, DC
BFC recently concluded a successful visit to Washington, DC that included 35 meetings with Congressional staffers and a briefing on Capitol Hill attended by many additional House staffers. Many thanks to D.J. Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute, Nancy Perry and Lauren Silverman of the Humane Society of the United States, and BFC's Marian Osher. Thanks also to Anne Georges of Rep. Maurice Hinchey's office and Jennifer Warren of Rep. Charles Bass' office for their continuing support of Yellowstone buffalo in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Our efforts in Washington focused on two primary objectives. First, we worked to educate Representatives on the current plight of the buffalo and the need to provide them with immediate protections. We demonstrated that the current bison management plan is failing to meet its primary objectives while costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually, with no end in sight to this wasteful and brutal program. In asking for co-sponsorship of HR 2428, The Yellowstone Buffalo Preservation Act, we illustrated how simple common sense solutions coupled with a halt to the current hazing, capture and slaughter regime would work toward a long-term resolution of this ugly conflict.
We also engaged our Montana delegation in meetings with staff members from the offices of Rep. Denny Rehberg, Senator Max Baucus, and Senator Conrad Burns. The purpose of these meetings was to search for common ground from which we might move forward toward a long-term resolution. We could all agree that the current slaughter and this ongoing controversy are not good for Montana. We attempted to demonstrate that there are avenues by which Montana's prized brucellosis-free status could be protected that include free roaming wild buffalo in the Greater Yellowstone Area. While we certainly didn't reach any momentous agreements, there was an indication that paths toward a resolution are still open and achievable.
Overall, this year's trip to the halls of Congress was a positive step toward an eventual resolution that will benefit wild buffalo for future generations. This process never moves as quickly as we like, but we must keep up the fight on all fronts if we are going to succeed for the future of the buffalo. As Brock Evans, co-author of the Endangered Species Act, likes to say, it's going to take "Endless pressure, endlessly applied!"
Many thanks also go out to all of you who took the time to call or write your Representative and Senators. During several meetings, we learned that constituents had been calling in support of the buffalo during the past weeks. This makes a considerable difference in getting your Representative to take action and cosponsor HR 2428. Please continue to keep up the pressure with Congress. Call or write your Representative and Senators today! Visit: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html for more information.
------------------------------* Send a Handcrafted Mother's Day Card and Protect the Yellowstone Bison!
May brings Springtime in Yellowstone! Warm sun, gentle rain. Mountain bluebirds will stir the sky as the Earth dons her flowery, green robe. A mother bison nuzzles her newborn, a knobby-kneed, fuzzy, orange baby cuddled at her side. This beautiful scene repeats itself throughout the park and its environs, a tribute to the enduring force of nature and the mother-child bond.
The birth of a new generation of Yellowstone bison is all the more poignant this year, when the herd has suffered such great injustice and so many lives have been lost. Buffalo Field Campaign is here throughout the darkest days and nights. But now we're ready to celebrate the season of renewal, and we invite you to join us!
BFC will send a hand-made Mother's Day card to the recipient(s) of your choice for a modest donation. For a minimum $10 contribution, we'll send a 4-1/4"x 5-1/2" card; for a minimum $35 contribution, we'll send a larger photo card. The sentiment in both reads: "Springtime in Yellowstone...when mother bison nurture their newborn calves in a timeless bond of love. Buffalo Field Campaign is here to protect and defend them. A gift has been made in your honor by _____ to further this important work and to celebrate this special bond. Happy Mother's Day!"
BFC Mother's Day cards are a great tribute to any and all the important and nurturing women in your life (and perhaps a few men, too!). But please order early--we'll time the mailing so the card arrives close to Mother's Day, Sunday 14 May 2006. Order now through Wednesday 3 May 2006. To order go to http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org, click the red "Donate Now" button, then specify "Mother's Day Card" along with the name and mailing address of the special person you wish it to be sent to.
* Buffalo in the News
March 4, 2006 - Room to Roam: Freeing Yellowstone's Bison
Planet Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
March 24, 2006 - Slow Down, No Matter What the Signs Say
West Yellowstone News (Montana)
March 27, 2006 - Op-Ed by Monica RavenHeartPrinted in full in the Livingston Enterprise (Montana)http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/aboutus/artthoughts/ravenheart.html
* Last Words
"As they travel across their ancient lands
with wisdom and grace so grand,
their killers carry on their ignorant slaughter
with the innocent's blood upon their hands.
But it is the buffalo who ultimately will survive -
their magnificence and glory cannot be denied.
Ignorance and greed will one day vanish and
the killers are the ones who will be confined."
- An anonymous poem written on the label of "Prairie Land" handmade olive oil soap
--Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
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