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West Yellowstone, Montana
Working in the field every day to stop the
slaughter of Yellowstone's wild free roaming buffalo

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           Weekly Update from the Field May 10, 2012
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Aggressive Helicopter Hazing on Horse Butte; Grizzlies & Buffalo Harassed
* Update from the Field - Hebgen Basin Assaulted by Helicopter
* More Grizly Bear Evidence Results in Restraining Order Filed Against Helicopter Use
* TAKE ACTION! Your Voice Holds Power!
* Outreach Volunteers Wanted for Summer Tabling
* BFC Wish List: Assorted Optics
* By the Numbers
* Last Words

* Update from the Field

BFC file photo by Stephany

It has been another extremely trying week for our wild buffalo friends, grizzly bears, and all wildlife in the area. BFC patrols even witnessed a wolverine fleeing from hazing operations this week. Because of the intense management activities that have been taking place, including the Montana Department of Livestock's helicopter, we are presenting this Update from the Field more in the form of a photo essay. Click on any of these BFC photos to view a larger image. Hundreds of America's last wild buffalo have been constantly harassed and abused, day after day. The relatively few baby buffalo who have arrived into the world have had a compassionless introduction to life. Please be on the lookout for BFC's new video showing this week's mistreatment of wild buffalo, which will be up on our web site very soon.

BFC file photos by Stephany

Wild buffalo were forced out of their habitat along the Hebgen Lake corridor late last week. Three moms and their calves tried very hard to escape the agents, and two of the pairs eventually succeeded. Two other cow buffalo also escaped, a scene that was awesome to witness. The agents ended up hazing these buffalo to Gallatin National Forest land near Duck Creek, right near a private residence. The agents watched as the buffalo walked around the house and immediately headed back west to where they had originally been.

BFC file photo by Stephany

This photo demonstrates how the DOL and other agents don't even give the buffalo a chance to pee or poop, much less get a bite of grass or drink of water. They are forced to run even in the process of relieving themselves, no matter how tired and hungry they are.

BFC file photos by Stephany

On Friday, wild buffalo were again chased of of prime habitat in the South Fork area of the Madison River. The Park Service rider, Jamie, shows that he's "one of the boys" as he aggressively pursues a pregnant buffalo who broke off from the haze.

BFC file photos by Stephany

DOL with a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks game warden returned again to harass wild buffalo in the South Fork area late Sunday afternoon. In the first photo, BFC volunteers were setting up to document an impending hazing operation and the buffalo who were targeted first joined BFC by surrounding our car. Later, they were chased off, run into a smaller group, and pushed across Gallatin National Forest land only to have to turn around and migrate back to where they had been.

BFC file photo by Stephany

Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) agents start a haze day on Monday with a "wholesome" McDonald's breakfast. Boycotting beef (and McDonald's) is a great way to vote with your dollars for wildlife.

BFC file photos by Peter Bogusko

Buffalo in labor with blood: On Monday, this female buffalo was clearly showing signs of being in labor as we were with her before she and her other pregnant companions were hazed by seven federally-funded cowboys. We told the agents right away that she was in labor, and their response was "huh?" At one point, early in the haze, BFC got a photo of her shedding blood, shown in the third photo here. She was missing from the latter part of that haze, and when patrols asked what had become of her, DOL agent Mark Anderson said, "Oh, she crossed the South Fork and then we kicked her out." Their lack of compassion is brutal, as is their lack of understanding of wildlife herd mentality; wild buffalo - especially those who are pregnant or with calf - need the herd for safety and are otherwise extremely vulnerable to predators.

BFC file photo by David Cacanindin

The buffalo with the gouged out eye who was in last week's video clip was spotted by BFC patrols. She was hazed yet again this week.

BFC file photos by David Cacanindin and Peter Bogusko

Monday's haze pushed wild buffalo - most of them pregnant females - for over eleven miles, ending two miles inside Yellowstone National Park.

BFC file photos by Stephany

Ten bull buffalo were captured in the Duck Creek buffalo trap on Monday, for use in USDA-APHIS's population control experiment. Seven of the bulls were released, after being cruelly handled by DOL and APHIS personnel, and they were tagged with yellow markers. The remaining three bulls were loaded into APHIS employee Becky Frey's horse trailer and trucked to Corwin Springs, where they will be held in captivity. APHIS is looking to acquire three more bulls, so we are keeping a very close eye on buffalo in the Duck Creek area. While the ten bulls were in the trap, a mixed group of thirty buffalo came to keep them company, but were hazed away by a DOL agent on an ATV.

Read BFC's press release about the bulls.

BFC file photos by Stephany

Large scale hazing operations began early this year. On Wednesday, over 300 wild buffalo were attacked on Horse Butte and the South Side of the Madison River by the DOL's helicopter. All the agencies know that there are threatened grizzly bears active in the area, and BFC was able to get ample documentation of this, and fresh griz sign. The Interagency Bison Management Plan agencies have already agreed to year-round habitat on Horse Butte for the buffalo, but won't allow them to enjoy it until next year. The DOL's helicopter once again violated the Buffalo Safe Zone of the Galanis family. Buffalo on both sides of the Madison River - including newborns - were literally run from eight o'clock in the morning until after four in the afternoon. They were pushed for miles on a hot, dry day, with no rest or water; no grazing, nursing or breaks were offered to any buffalo.

BFC file photo by Stephany

Even one of the agents horses collapsed today from colic. More than likely, as with the buffalo, the horse was not given a chance to drink any water, and the mare's intestines bound up. She had to be rushed to the vet. While this is a stark show of poor horsemanship, it also illuminates how the agents not only treat wildlife with utter disrespect, but also treat their own horses as expendible tools.

BFC file photo by Stephany

The DOL helicopter abetted the agency riders as they forced wild buffalo off of their habitat along the north bluffs of the Madison River, Gallatin National Forest. At one point, after the helicopter was absent for a short spell, the buffalo were so exhausted that the riders couldn't get them to move, so the helicopter returned and flew low to the ground, using its propellers to push the air around them and kick up clouds of dry dust, sand and rocks.

BFC file photos by Stephany Seay and Chris Grundenberg

When the haze finally reached the boundary of Yellowstone National Park, with riders and helicopter in pursuit, many of the buffalo broke off and made a run for it down the bluffs for a much needed drink of water. The steep bluff was hard for the buffalo after such a long trek, especially the little babies on their brand new legs. They made it down only to be chased back up by two riders and the helicopter. We all thought for sure that the babies were going to collapse or stumble down the hill; and while it does happen, on this particular day their big hearts pumping in their little bodies kept them going. The day's abusive hazing operation ended after eight hours and up to ten miles.

As you read this, there will no doubt be more wild buffalo being harassed on the lands that are their birthright. The intolerance and lack of compassion from Montana's livestock industry that forces these brutal hazing operations is unforgivable, and must end if wild buffalo are to survive to reach their evolutionary potential. With all of the various injustices and illegal activity that BFC patrols documented, it strongly underscores how critical it is for us to be in the field, with the buffalo. The things we are observing and the evidence we are capturing is certainly going to make a positive difference for wild buffalo. Thank you for making it possible for us to be in the field, on the front lines, with these gentle giants. We will prevail for the buffalo, thanks to you and the incredible dedication of the volunteers who are so touched by America's last wild buffalo.

Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!

* More Grizzly Bear Evidence Results in Restraining Order Filed Against Helicopter

BFC file photos by Cindy

More grizzly bear sign and sightings have been observed and documented by BFC patrols this week, and confirmed by Gallatin National Forest. Last week, a BFC volunteer spotted two grizzly bears - a sow and a cub - on Gallatin National Forest land behind our headquarters. On Tuesday, BFC patrols saw a young grizzly bear and documented his tracks on Gallatin National Forest road 6697, which follows the bluffs of the Madison River out to Horse Butte. Wednesday, while the helicopter was hazing wild buffalo in the Hebgen Basin, flying around Horse Butte, BFC spoke with the Gallatin National Forest eagle monitor who told them he had just seen two grizzly bears where buffalo were being hazed. The same day, BFC patrols on the south side of the Madison River documented fresh grizzly bear tracks, directly in the path of where horsemen and helicopters were hazing wild buffalo. In response, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies has upped the ante on their lawsuit against the use of the DOL's helicopter in grizzly bear habitat: on Wednesday they filed a restraining order against the helicopter. This legal action with all the evidence to support it has some big teeth. Stay tuned because it will be very interesting to see if the DOL's federally-funded helicopter comes back to the scene of their crimes.

Learn more about actions to protect threatened grizzly bears and wild buffalo from helicopter hazing.

* TAKE ACTION - Your Voice Holds Power!

Please click on the Take Action button to make your voice heard for America's last wild herds! Even if you have taken action on these already, that's okay, you can edit your letters to keep them fresh and new with current information from the field. These decision-makers need to keep hearing from you. As Brock Evans, one of the authors of the Endangered Species Act says, "it takes endless pressure endlessly applied."

Thank you!

* Outreach Volunteers Wanted for Summer Tabling!

Buffalo Field Campaign will begin 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, talk to park visitors, and help 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 two 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 Tony for more information.

* 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)

View BFC's complete Wish List

* 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: 10
2011-2012 Buffalo Released from Capture: 7
2011-2012 Government Slaughter:
2011-2012 Held for Government Experiment: 3
2011-2012 Died In Government Trap:
2011-2012 Miscarriage in Government Trap:
2011-2012 State & Treaty Hunts: 28
2011-2012 Quarantine:
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: 4,004*

*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, highway mortality

* Last Words

"In the U.S.A. we managed the wilderness altogether more efficiently, tidying up those little pockets of resistance and taming the entire West in record time. As a culture, we saw ourselves as hard-pressed warriors, beleaguered frontier heroes righteously running over anything that was in our way. In little more than a century, we killed 100,000 grizzly bears with our rifles and westward expansionism.

Our dealings with the grizzly were not unique; grizzlies provide only one example of a native American species that did not bend to our purposes. There were others: the graphs showing the decline of native tribes and the one depicting the disappearing grizzly are nearly identical. This could be coincidental, although it is clear that the decimation of the American bison played a key role in the final solution to both the Indian and the grizzly problem. On the plains, plowing under the rich sod and the westward spread of the livestock in
dustry irreversibly sealed the fate of both. The cost of Manifest Destiny was smallpox sweeping upstream among the Missouri River tribes and the rotting carcasses of sixty million buffalo.

The way we handed the bison, Indian, wolf, and grizzly was the way we wrote our history, the convergent, blood-flecked roads that carried us here. Despite a bit of latter-day remorse about the way we treated the Indian, there are not many apologies.

The principal reason given for killing grizzlies was protection of livestock. But few bears actually preyed on domestic animals, though the reprisals were always unrelenting and unforgiving. Bears were shot on sight out of ignorance, irrational hatred and because of illusions about what constituted duty or sport But the killing went well behind these notions. The magnitude of the pogroms, the unremitting persecution long after there was any real justification for the mindless cruelty against grizzlies, were all hard to account for; the cause-and-effect columns didn't add up. The way we pacified Indians or Vietnamese villagers and the way we manage wildlife draws from the same well."

~ Doug Peacock, author and Earth warrior. From pages 100-101 of his book "Grizzly Years"

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!

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Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
BFC is the only group working in the field every day in defense of the last wild buffalo population in the U.S.

Buffalo Field Campaign West Yellowstone Montana
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