* Update from the Field
Watch this new BFC video from field to get a glimpse of hazing activities over the past two weeks.
After seeing two Park Service rangers last Wednesday and learning that they were doing a recon into the Park, we had suspected that something more was coming for the buffalo. Thursday morning the Montana Department of Livestock's (DOL) helicopter arrived, along with nine horsemen from all five Interagency Bison Management Plan state and federal agencies, complete with law enforcement. The agents had assumed that wild buffalo had returned to the Denny Creek/South Fork region of the Madison River, around the lands of the anti-buffalo Povah family. They intended to use the nine horsemen and helicopter to haze buffalo into Yellowstone National Park. The DOL's helicopter swooped over the region, disrupting wildlife and human inhabitants, but found no buffalo to harass. After wasting thousands of federal tax dollars, the DOL's buffalo harassment circus was called to a halt for the day. The agents left town, leaving everyone here to a quiet weekend.
This little buffalo calf is the first one to be seen by BFC volunteers. We've waited a long time for you, little one! The next generation is slowly but surely arriving, and what will their future hold? BFC file photos by Stephany.
Click photos for larger image.
Beginning Friday BFC patrols began to spot this year's first buffalo calves! Just one or two, here and there, these tiny creatures put smiles on everyone's faces. Calves have mysteriously been late to come this year, though there are hundreds of cow buffalo ripe for birthing. Unfortunately, we are hearing that the DOL wants to fast-track their large-scale hazing operations and force all wild buffalo out of Montana as soon as next Tuesday, May 8. If the DOL chooses this path they are sure to cause even greater harm to the newborn calves, pregnant cows, and all the wild buffalo who will be rudely chased off of the lands that are their birthright.
The threatened grizzly bear and America's last wild buffalo share the same rich ecosystem, yet also, unfortunately, share the suffering of hazing operations. Maybe each of these powerful animals will be able to help one another in efforts to thwart government abuse of wildlfie and wildlands in the Hebgen Basin. Photo by Kim Kaiser.
Click photo for larger image.
While wild buffalo are the DOL's target, hazing operations threaten other species as well. The threatened grizzly bear, federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, is one such animal. Last May, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a lawsuit against Gallatin National Forest for allowing the DOL to use a helicopter to haze wild buffalo in grizzly habitat. BFC patrols, and even some of the agents themselves, have been seeing bears and signs of bears since late-March. All of the IBMP agencies have promised that "hazing operations would cease if there was evidence of grizzlies being active in the area". BFC and the agencies have confirmed numerous times that bears are active in the Hebgen Basin. To remind the IBMP agencies of their promise, BFC sent two letters, including documentation and eye-witness accounts of grizzly bear activity. While the helicopter hasn't been back since Thursday, wild bison, grizzly bears, and all species in the ecosystem continue to be harassed.
Hazing operations just like this one from Monday have been repeatedly taking place, harassing wild buffalo on the lands that are their birth right. BFC file photos by Stephany.
Click photos for larger images.
Over the weekend wild buffalo returned to the Denny Creek/South Fork area, as it is fantastic habitat. Monday morning, six horsemen representing the DOL and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) arrived to again harass wildlife. They hazed sixty-two buffalo off of land owned by the Povahs, and even trespassed on the Bar-N Ranch, a long-time guest ranch that welcomes the presence of wild buffalo. One DOL agent, Jeff Bowers, had the audacity to approach a couple of us, puffed up with authority, and tell us to stay out of the way while they were the ones unwelcome. The buffalo were pushed through Gallatin National Forest along the Madison Arm of the Madison River for about eight miles to Houdini's Meadow. The buffalo swam the river, climbed the bluffs, and turned back west toward Horse Butte. Later that same day, a few miles east from where the haze had ended, BFC patrols found a buffalo mother standing protectively over her dead calf.
This hazing operation, which took place on Tuesday, pushed wild buffalo down Highway 287. The buffalo were none too pleased to be shoved around so; some tried to escape, others were running at high speeds away from their oppressors, and we feared the little calf on the right might be trampled in the process. Prior to the DOL's operation, the buffalo had spent peaceful, quiet days in the area. BFC file photos by Stephany.
Click photos for larger image.
On Tuesday, as a BFC volunteers were heading out to two days of Interagency Bison Management Plan meetings, they found themselves stuck in a DOL-caused traffic jam on Highway 287. Agents from the DOL, FWP and Yellowstone National Park, on horseback and an ATV, were hazing around 60 wild buffalo off of cattle-free habitat. Other BFC patrols were in the field, flanking the operation and videotaping. Many of the buffalo were running at high speeds to escape their oppressors. One baby buffalo was caught up in the haze, trying to keep up with its mother, dangerously close to adult buffalo running from the agents. Luckily the calf didn't get trampled in the chaos. These buffalo had been spending a fair number of days in the area, quietly grazing and moving here and there, but when the agents arrived to harass them, pandemonium ensued. At the end of that haze, the buffalo were pushed to an open field on Gallatin National Forest, near Duck Creek,. Not surprisingly, some have already started making their way back.
BFC volunteers trail Wednesday's hazing operation down Gallatin National Forest's Madison Arm Road, during a May blizzard. BFC file photo by Don.
Click photo for larger image.
On Wednesday morning more wild bison harassment resumed around the Denny Creek/South Fork region, as wild buffalo had again returned to their chosen habitat. Seven agents from the DOL, Yellowstone National Park, and FWP hazed a near total of sixty buffalo, including five new calves through Gallatin National Forest, and on for a few more miles into Yellowstone National Park. A Gallatin County sheriff and DOL agent Rob Tierney followed the haze as law enforcement attempted - yet failed- to keep BFC from documenting. It is highly likely that as you read these words today the agencies are inflicting still more suffering upon the buffalo.
There are no cattle present in the Hebgen Basin now, and there wont be for at least another six weeks. Even if cattle were present, there is no defensible reason for Montana livestock interests to be wasting federal tax dollars to abuse native wildlife. This is one of the most beautiful and wild places in the United States, a place that affords a glimpse of what the land was like before European invasion, where members of America's last populations of wild bison, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, elk, osprey, eagles, and so many other species attempt to live their lives. It is preposterous that the few wealthy "ranchers" who choose to summer cattle in this incredible wildlife migration corridor expect the government to keep wildlife away. If you are going to live in the flood plain, you should expect to get wet.
BFC volunteers are exhausted, but not as much as the buffalo who have been constantly harassed for weeks now. Like the buffalo who will not give up their right to roam, BFC will always be here, standing in the buffalo's defense and documenting all actions made against them so we can represent them in every arena, and one day put an end to their ruthless mistreatment.
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
* NEW Take Action! Help Buffalo and Grizzly Bears: End Helicopter Hazing
It is quite possible that the threatened grizzly bear - federally protected under the Endangered Species Act - can help alleviate some of the abuse wild buffalo suffer. The IBMP agencies have promised that "hazing operations would cease if there was evidence of grizzlies being active in the area." The evidence is there and BFC has submitted it to the agencies. There is also a lawsuit pending against Gallatin National Forest for allowing the DOL to use a helicopter to haze wild buffalo in grizzly bear habitat. And now YOU can also make a difference!
Tell the Montana Department of Livestock to stop violating it's own plan and to end hazing in threatened grizzly bear habitat.
Click here to learn more about the actions BFC and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies are taking to protect both wild bison and grizzlies.
* Hereditary Blackfeet Chief Visits BFC, Designates Sacred Site on Horse Butte
Jimmy brought and shared a copy of the 1855 Treaty, artistically done with the names and hauntingly beautiful faces of the great Blackfeet Cheifs who made this powerful treaty hold great meaning for all time. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Hau mitakuyepi (Hello my relatives),
On Sunday, April 29th Jimmy St. Goddard, Former tribal council member and next hereditary chief of the Blackfeet Nation, held a ceremony with BFC members near the base of Horse Butte. I was honored to be asked to assist by bringing out my Cannunpa (the sacred ceremonial Pipe). During the ceremony prayers were made and a medicine wheel was created by laying stones in a circle and blessing them with sacred water from a nearby spring.
For generations the buffalo have consecrated this land by coming there to give birth, to bring new life into this world. Through the use of the Sacred Pipe and the creation of a medicine wheel, the innate sacredness of this land was formalized. This, along with the ceremony held there in 2009 by Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation keeper of the Sacred white Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Dakota Lakota Nakota Nation, makes Horse Butte and the surrounding land a sacred site. As a Pipe carrier and a Sun Dancer for my people, I expect the sacred site of Horse Butte to be treated in accordance with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. The hazing of the buffalo off their chosen land on Horse Butte is an act of desecration, and it should not be allowed to continue.
The buffalo have nurtured and supported Indian people with their generosity and self-sacrifice for untold generations, and now it is our turn to help them. With this in mind we called on the spirits to have pity on us and our four-legged relatives, and through this ceremony they have heard us. With their help the buffalo will be free again.
Mitakuye Owasin (All My Relations)
* Mike Mease & BFC Extend Big Thanks for Arizona Trip!
I would like to send a heartfelt thank you to all of our new family members and supporters in the hot state of Arizona. Our first presentation was sponsored by Native American Student Affairs & the American Indian Studies Graduate Student Council. Thanks to Sarah Demers for setting it up with these groups. It was an honor to meet you all. Thanks also to Becky McGraw who made the entire trip possible, I'm sending you a big buffalo hug.
The other show was put together by my dear friend Acasia Berry and my new friend Greta Anderson of Western Watersheds Project. It was great to meet the people doing all of the amazing work to protect our desert ecosystems and I thank you all for taking the time to come hear of our efforts up north. I look forward to coming down again someday, but I think it might have to be in the winter months as my one day in 103 degree temperatures nearly cooked me. Thanks again and know you always have a home up here in the Wild Rockies of Montana.
With the Buffalo,
* Update from Washington, D.C.
A poster created by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for their recent Roundtable discussion on fish and wildlife related issues. The poster reads: "Buffalo & Indians ~ A Shared Destiny." BFC file photo by Josh. Click photo for larger image.
An essential part of Buffalo Field Campaign's mission is, "to work with people of all Nations to honor the sacredness of wild buffalo." In support of this mission, BFC has been working closely with our Native American allies in developing a national strategy to protect and honor the buffalo. In addition to meetings with Congressional staff who work on Native American issues, I have attended two Roundtable discussions held by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the first on environmental issues in general and the second focused on fish and wildlife related issues. I have been privileged to listen to and learn from some of this country's most eloquent and dedicated tribal leaders. I have also had the opportunity, through these Roundtable discussions, to meet directly with some of these tribal leaders and engage with them on the buffalo issue, providing background materials and opening a dialogue about how to move forward together and protect the sacred wild buffalo of the Yellowstone region.
As supporters of BFC and advocates for wild buffalo, I encourage you to continue calling on your Congressional representatives. Ask for changes to federal bison policy and a redirecting of federal funds away from the current Interagency Bison Management Plan toward a holistic and respectful policy that incorporates the cultural significance of wild buffalo to Native American tribes. Remind your Congressional representatives that they must recognize the trust responsibility and Treaty obligations to Native American Nations in providing for viable populations of migratory buffalo in their native habitat.
For the buffalo,
* Outreach Volunteers Wanted for Summer Tabling!
Buffalo Field Campaign will begin starting our summer outreach inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in June, and we are looking for passionate, articulate folks who can help run our information tables and talk to park visitors in our efforts to build a strong constituency for wild buffalo. BFC provides food, lodging, camping, gear, and transportation to and from our table in the Park. We ask for at least a three-week commitment in order to accommodate training and orientation. This is a great opportunity to get involved and advocate for America's last wild buffalo! Please contact BFC volunteer coordinator Tony for more information.
* Update from the Agencies
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is set to begin discussions about a state-wide bison management plan, starting with a host of public meetings that will initiate process. This is the time for us to speak our minds and hearts for our vision of wild, free-roaming bison in Montana! Think big, dream big, speak big. Learn more about the process and the important public meetings scheduled throughout Montana in May. Contact Arnie Dood for meeting information and click here to learn more.
BFC attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan meetings on May 1 and 2 in Bozeman, Montana. A few major highlights include FWP's announcement of a state-wide bison management plan, mentioned above, and news of a soon to be released Environmental Assessment that will recommend year-round habitat for wild bison on Horse Butte. Members of the public called out USDA APHIS on the agency's failure to mention at any meetings their plans to use the birth control pesticide GonaCon on wild bison. We also confirmed that the DOL wants to fast track their large-scale hazing operations to force wild bison out of Montana. Nez Perce (Nimi'ipuu) tribal member Larry Greene spoke up at the meeting. His was the strongest voice for wild buffalo we have heard in a very long time.
* BFC Wish List: Assorted Optics
We could use some help to (literally) keep our sights on the buffalo. We find ourselves in need of new optics: Cameras, binoculars, spotting scopes, and equipment to steady these optics. Below is a section of our wish list that focuses on optics including quantities that will help keep all BFC field volunteers well-equipped. Any contribution for these items is extremely helpful and important to the campaign, whether it is a ten dollar donation towards optics or the entirety of the list. Thanks to each and every one of you for loving the buffalo and for keeping BFC going and our volunteers prepared in the field every day. If you can help with these assorted optics wishes please contact our gear coordinator.
Zoom lenses for SLR digital photo cameras (Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens; Rokinon 650-1300mm Super Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR still cameras; Opteka 650-1300mm High Definition Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR still cameras)
(6-10 pairs) compact high-resolution binoculars, water- and fog-proof, 7-10x 35-70mm magnification
(6-10 pairs) full-size high-resolution binoculars, water- and fog-proof, 7-10x 35-70mm magnification
(3-5) high-resolution spotting scopes, standard tripod- or window-mounted, with zoom, 16-60x 60(+)mm magnification
(3) compact tripods
(3) full-size fluid head video tripods
(3-5) Walking/Ski pole Monopods with standard camera mount (eg. Leki, Tracks brands)
Click HERE to view BFC's complete Wish List
* Endangered Buffalo Fact of the Week
"Yellowstone territory, the habitat of the last wild Buffalo Nation - is sacred ground, it has been a SACRED SITE for the First Nation's people, and for all humanity who hold deep respect for all Creation."
~ Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe (Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations)
* 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
2010-2011 Total: 227
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
* Total Since 2000: 4,001*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words
"My buffalo have teeth, hooves, some have tails and others do not, hair which they rub off on trees and rocks and wires, they live in a place, have calves, walk, exhale clouds of steam when it is cold, they lay down, stand in the rivers and graze along their banks.
Their buffalo have common features, attributes, some have anomalous characteristics and others do not, they have an average life-span, birth-weight, typical behavior, they are made of sticks and stones and live on paper and in the crenulations of their brains, when it is cold a robe is laid on the bed to lie under, the banks of the rivers of their dreams are as ravaged and barren, and the water as befouled, as a western stream in cow-country."
~ Sweeney, May '12
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to us. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you have been sending! Keep them coming!