Update from the Field, BFC Sues USDA-APHIS
* Update from the Field
* BFC Files Suit Against Federal Livestock Overseer
* BFC Meets with Members of Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
* Thank You, Friends of the Clearwater!!
* NEW! BFC Take Action Page
* Experienced Volunteers, Come on Home!
* BFC Wish List: Cordless Tool Kit
* Endangered Buffalo Fact of the Week
* By the Numbers
* Last Words ~ barb abramo
* Update from the Field
A family group of wild buffalo roam portions of the Gardiner Basin that, until this year, they have been either hazed or captured and killed for approaching. While Montana will only "tolerate" wild buffalo here for a few months, it is a welcome respite from constant abuse. BFC photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Spring is definitely in the air here in Yellowstone Country. The sun waxes, temperatures rise, the snow melts and wild buffalo are on the move with the awakening of the earth. The gentle giants carry the season in their quickening steps and the next generation in their quickening wombs.
BFC continues to run full patrols in both the Gardiner and Hebgen Basins, as buffalo begin to cover a lot of ground. It seems that the agencies are, for now, sticking to their word on allowing buffalo to roam for a spell in the Gardiner Basin. Last week over in Gardiner, for the first time, a few family groups of buffalo were able to simply enjoy walking the landscape without threat of hazing, even on Church Universal and Triumphant land. It was really strange to us to feel that the buffalo were safe on lands where they have, until now, always been harassed or killed for even gazing towards. To be sure, the Montana Department of Livestock was watching the buffalo closely, but under the new Gardiner Basin tolerance decision, were unable to touch them. A big win for those particular buffalo that week, but truly a small step in the larger effort to gain them back their historic range. One mature bull was not so lucky, however, after daring to step foot near buffalo-unfriendly private land, he was pushed into the hunt zone. One morning we saw him grazing peacefully along the Yellowstone River, later that afternoon his enormous tracks were found in our yard, and that was the last we saw of him until the next day, when we discovered his remains along with those of a younger bull. The younger bull had lost his entire family to hunters the weekend before and, until the mature bull arrived, he had spent his mourning alone. These two bulls, and two other buffalo, were shot by Nez Perce hunters this past weekend. With these kills, over 4,000 wild buffalo have tragically been eliminated from America's last wild population since the year 2000, when the Interagency Bison Management Plan was signed.
This young bull was shot by Nez Perce hunters late last week. The weekend before, the other four buffalo that were in his family group were also killed by hunters. He had been alone for a number of days after losing his family, until a mature bull was pushed into this area, where they met up and eventually died together. BFC photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Montana's Hebgen Basin brings its own challenges for the buffalo and BFC volunteers, as the shaggy mammoths migrate through the Madison River corridor to their traditional calving grounds around Horse Butte. In order to get there, buffalo have to cross the high-speed Highway 191, used heavily by eighteen-wheelers. BFC volunteers are out watching the roads closely, armed with our gigantic hot pink warning signs, and our night patrols are going out every evening right now. While BFC's efforts to warn traffic of buffalo on or near the roads has saved numerous lives over the years, without safe passage infrastructure it is unfortunately impossible to prevent all accidents. Warnings only work when they are heeded. Very early Tuesday morning, just after midnight, a buffalo was hit and killed by a motorist.
Montana is finally admitting that buffalo live in the state! These helpful signs have recently appeared along Highways 89, 191 and 287 in both the Gardiner and Hebgen Basins. BFC commends the Montana Department of Transportation for taking this important and necessary step, which will benefit wild buffalo and motorists alike. BFC photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
After a lot of pressure from Buffalo Field Campaign, the Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) is taking this issue much more seriously. Over the years we have enlisted their help with the placement of large marquee signs that flash the warning, "Animals on Road," which are placed at critical points on Highways 191 and 287, and turned on when migration begin in earnest. These signs have been very helpful in the Hebgen Basin, and after last spring's bull buffalo bonanza in the Gardiner Basin, we asked the MDOT to place these signs on Highway 89 as well. To our pleasant surprise, they have done this! The MDOT even went a step further, and are now in the process of putting up permanent warning signs that read "Bison on Road - 55 MPH" (shown above). BFC sends out big thanks to the MDOT for helping to make the dangerous highways a little bit safer for everyone. BFC will continue to do everything we can to keep buffalo safe along the highways that cut through their migration corridors, and we will continue to advocate for safe passage infrastructure that will allow wild buffalo and all area wildlife to make it across the highways alive and unscathed.
------------------------------ * BFC Files Suit Against Federal Livestock Overseer
On Friday, Buffalo Field Campaign filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal court against the USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). BFC's lawsuit was filed, in part, because APHIS has been engaged in an illegal pattern and practice of delaying and denying release of public records. Since May 2011 Buffalo Field Campaign has been seeking records from APHIS concerning bison population control experiments, births and deaths, welfare of bison held in quarantine and associated costs, funding agreements with the Montana Dept. of Livestock, and reports tracing sources of brucellosis in Montana cattle. A huge buffalo thank you to our FOIA lawyer, Daniel C. Snyder, and the Law Offices of Charles M. Tebbutt.
------------------------------ * BFC Meets with Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Campaign coordinator Mike Mease and habitat coordinator Darrell Geist of Buffalo Field Campaign met with Wildlife Program Manager Carl Scheeler and Tribal Game Warden Jim Marsh of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation last week to discuss the buffalo situation in Yellowstone country.
The confederation of Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribes is one of the 1855 Treaty Tribes who secured provisions from the U.S. Government to ensure traditions and customs of gathering foods, fishing, and hunting wildlife would continue for future generations on ceded lands. After an absence of over 140 years, members of the confederation have returned to hunt buffalo that have migrated onto U.S. Forest Service lands.
The face to face meeting was our chance to introduce ourselves, open doors of communication and show our respect for First Nations, the original caretakers of the buffalo. Carl and Jim agreed to visit camp this coming summer to continue our discussion in the field where America's last wild buffalo roam.
Special thanks to James Holt of the Nez Perce for opening the door for Buffalo Field Campaign's meeting with the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribes.
------------------------------ * Thank You, Friends of the Clearwater!
A very special thanks to our dear Friends of the Clearwater, Brett and Gary for setting up a show at the University of Idaho. The event was also sponsored by Sustainability Center, American Indian Studies and Graduate and Professionals Student Association, thanks. Also to Case and Erika for housing us.
------------------------------ * NEW! BFC Take Action Page!
We are pleased to let you know that all of BFC's take action items can now be found in one place, just click the Take Action image below!
This big orange "take action" button is accessible from nearly every single page on our web site, so you never have to look very hard to make your voice heard for wild buffalo. All actions on this page are current and in need of your participation! We will be sure to alert you when new action items are posted. Please check it out and then share this link with others ... help spread the word to save the last wild herds! Thank you so much, and if you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Stephany. Roam Free!
------------------------------ * Experienced BFC Volunteers, Come on Home!
As a mild winter begins to make way for the coming spring, so to do the buffalo make their way to their ancestral calving grounds and to the first fresh grasses of spring. We are all very excited for the opportunity to spend some quite time with wild bison on the landscapes they seek out before the insanity of helicopters and over anxious law-enforcement shatters the tranquility of our somewhat peaceful winter. But our volunteers are prepared for the inevitable and ready to document all actions taken against wild bison in Montana and Yellowstone. We have an incredible and dedicated crew this year of new volunteers, and we are putting a shout out for experienced family to come back to camp and help guide patrols and lead our newer family during hazing actions. If you have been here before and know your way around the landscape, issue and agents, we would love for you to come help us out this spring.
If you have any questions please get in touch with me at 406-646-0070 or email volunteer"at"buffalofieldcampaign.org. As always, we thank each and everyone of you for your individual support and dedication to making a difference for wild buffalo. Thank you.
We try to be as self-sufficient as we can here at Buffalo Field Campaign, and that includes fixing and building things ourselves. The right tools can make any job easier and much more efficient. This week we are featuring our wish for an 18 or 24-volt cordless tool kit (drill, saws all, charger, circular saw). If you are able to grant this BFC Wish, please contact Mike Mease. Thank you so very much!!
------------------------------ * Endangered Buffalo Fact of the Week
A wild buffalo cow wallows, giving herself a really good backscratch. National Park Service photo. Click photo for larger image. Buffalo wallows once numbered in the hundreds of millions across North America, and if we have our way, they will again!
Wallows are a unique ecological feature of prairie ecosystems created by bison. By rolling repeatedly in exposed soil, bison increase soil compaction in certain areas which aids in water retention. In the spring, these wallows produce temporary pools that can support ephemeral wetland species (Uno 1989). In the summer, the wallows support a different vegetation structure and composition that is more drought and fire resistant (Collins and Barber 1986). Dr. Sylvia Fallon, The ecological importance of bison in mixed-grass prairie ecosystems 2009.
Have a fact you'd like to share with us? Email it to Stephany.
------------------------------ * 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: 29
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: 28
2011-2012 Shot by Agents:
2011-2012 Killed by Angry Residents:
2011-2012 Highway Mortality: 1
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, highway mortality
----------------------------- * Last Words ~ barb abramo
Monday, March 13, marked one year since our beloved barb abramo left ThisWorld. We feel her presence everywhere, seek her guidance in our individual ways, and miss her dearly. In her honor, here is a thirty-minute interview she did about her strong passion for the buffalo and those who work in their defense. BUFFALOVE!!!
Just click on this image to spend a little time with barb.
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to Stephany. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you have been sending! Keep them coming!