* Update from the Field & IBMP Meeting Report
A buffalo calf checks in with mom after a nap. Wild American buffalo are ecologically extinct, existing on less than 1% of their historic habitat. The Yellowstone herds are the last population to hold identity as a wildlife species, the last wellspring of the great herds that once aided life across one third of North America's land mass. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Since our last report, another bull buffalo was killed in Montana's canned buffalo "hunt." If the agencies behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan have their way, hundreds of America's last wild buffalo could be cruelly eliminated from the population this winter. The alarming fact that wild bison are ecologically extinct does not seem to concern IBMP representatives. By their words and deeds they intend to push wild bison over the brink.
BFC attended the two-day IBMP meeting last week. The first day was devoted entirely to presentations by the IBMP Citizens Working Group (CWG), an unlikely collaboration of conservationists, cattle producers, and other concerned citizens positioned on both sides of the issue, working to improve the failing IBMP. Sadly absent from the CWG were First Nations voices and many locals who are directly impacted by the IBMP-driven buffalo wars that are literally carried out in their front and back yards. Generally, the CWG recommendations echoed management strategies and goals that the highly controversial IBMP is already engaged in or proposing.
There were, however, a few very good suggestions presented, including year-round habitat on lands contiguous with Yellowstone National Park, opposition to vaccinating wild buffalo, and increased responsibility from cattle producers. Unfortunately, the CWG recommended that slaughter should continue, though as a last option, as well as increased hunting and quarantine. While we applaud the CWG for making the effort, wild buffalo continue to come last. There are many components that continue the livestock model status quo, validate the brucellosis myth, and ignore the fact that cattle are an ecologically harmful and invasive species. The Working Group's recommendations make no mention of the dire status of wild American bison. The IBMP agencies were pleased with the similarities the CWG shared with their own adaptive management ideas. You can read the CWG's report here. The IBMP will review the CWG's recommendations and offer responses at a public meeting in late-February.
On the second day of meetings the IBMP representatives revealed some shocking plans to further harm America's last population of wild buffalo. While the population currently numbers approximately 3,700 animals, the agencies announced a target population size of only 3,000. They intend to "selectively cull" at least 700 wild buffalo through increased hunting, slaughter, and shipment outside the Yellowstone area. The agencies announced their goal of engineering an equal male/female sex ratio, and want to focus on decreasing the number of females in the northern herd. They repeatedly threw out the term "over abundance," even though scientific studies have concluded again and again that wild buffalo are ecologically extinct. Managers from Yellowstone National Park, anticipating a winter similar to last year, stated that they intend to capture and hold hundreds of migrating buffalo again this winter. The agencies are working under an old operating plan, and have yet to come to consensus on adaptive changes that have been discussed, touted in the press, and nearly agreed to for months. Increased tolerance in the Gardiner Basin will be on hold until current litigation issues are settled and an Environmental Assessment (EA) is completed. This EA, due out in about a week, will need your voice! Nez Perce and Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribal representatives with the IBMP expressed support in increasing hunting opportunities while cautioning against slaughter. The InterTribal Buffalo Council voiced their support for slaughter, increased hunting, and quarantine. Conspicuously absent from agency discussion were plans by APHIS, the federal livestock overseer, to sequester up to 108 wild buffalo and use them in birth control experiments.
Thankfully, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has already announced that he will not allow IBMP agencies to ship wild buffalo to slaughter through Montana, so this should help stem the blood flow, as it did last year. However, Schweitzer is also pressuring Yellowstone to open its boundaries to hunting, which the Park stated neither they nor the public will support.
The weather is helping keep buffalo alive for now. With little snowfall so far, the buffalo have not yet needed to seek lower elevation habitat, and are essentially absent in Montana. BFC, as always, is in the field every day, monitoring the buffalo's movements and advocating for their lasting protection. You are the biggest part of our success, and there are numerous things you can do to help to champion wild buffalo and keep BFC on the front lines, working in their defense. With all the overwhelming desire from the IBMP and the CWG to continue to kill or domesticate wild buffalo as the only "solution" to the problems cattle have caused, there's never been a bigger need for BFC to be on the front lines, representing WILD buffalo and honoring their perspective.
* TAKE ACTION! Wild Buffalo Need Your Voice!
1. Stop Federal Livestock Overseer from Harming Wild Buffalo!
2. Urge Congress to Pass Public Lands Grazing Bill!
Thank you so much for taking these important actions! If you do get a response from these decision-makers, please forward a copy to Stephany. And, if you feel that your concerns have not been addressed by the decision-makers you have written to, write them back or call them to let them know you expect a thoughtful response. Please spread the word by passing these alerts on through all your networks of friends and colleagues! Thank you!
3. Make a year-end donation to keep BFC strong and effective in the field and at every level of the policy arena. Donations are tax-deductible and go directly to BFC's critical program work.
* Wild Bison 2012 Calendars Make Wonderful Gifts!
We can't believe it's nearly time to take down our first ever Wild Bison calendar and hang up the new and amazing Wild Bison 2012 calendar! We hope that you have been thoroughly enjoying your Wild Bison Calendar, and that you are equally as excited as we are for the 2012 edition! These calendars make terrific gifts, so if you're still looking for that perfect something for someone, please consider a Wild Bison 2012 Calendar, the gift that celebrates wild buffalo every single day of the year!
Order Your Wild Bison 2012 Calendars Now!
* Results Are In for BFC's Logo Contest
After some very difficult decision-making, BFC has finally chosen a new logo! Well, three, actually. With more than 30 creative entries, we had our work cut out for us. We thank everyone who participated in this logo contest for your time, creativity, and art. Because the decision was so hard to make, we present to you our top three choices! Look for them in this and future Updates from the Field and on our web site.
BFC logo choice #1 submitted by Timm Kurtz. CONGRATULATIONS! Click image for larger view.
BFC logo choice #2 submitted by Laura Ladendorf. CONGRATULATIONS! Click image for larger view.
BFC logo choice #3 submitted by Laura Ladendorf. CONGRATULATIONS! Click image for larger view.
* BFC Wish List 2012
There are many ways for you to make a difference for wild buffalo. Our wish page is one way to visualize the breadth of Buffalo Field Campaign's reach and capacity to work in defense of wild buffalo year-round. It's also a great way to match your interests with our day-to-day needs, prayers and wishes.
BFC Wish List 2012
* Mike Mease Heading to Arizona in April!
Buffalo Field Campaign co-founder Mike Mease will be giving a presentation at the University of Arizona. He would also like to organize an event or two for the community. He is available for presentations on April 3-6. Please contact him if you are willing to help set up an event. Mike can be reached via email or by calling 406-646-0070.
Thanks and see you in the spring!
* 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: 3
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: 3
2011-2012 Shot by Agents:
2011-2012 Killed by Angry Residents:
2011-2012 Highway Mortality:
2010-2011 Total: 227
2009-2010 Total: 7
2008-2009 Total: 22
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
* Total Since 2000: 3,975*
*includes lethal government action, trap-related fatalities, quarantine/experiments, hunts, highway mortality
* Last Words
"... culling of Yellowstone bison to prevent transmission to cattle has been ineffective at reducing brucellosis infection. This management strategy is negatively affecting long-term bison conservation .... Bison management practices used to prevent brucellosis transmission to local cattle conflicts with the goal of conserving bison and the processes that sustain them (e.g. migration) .... Removing brucellosis-infected bison is expected to reduce the level of population infection, but test and slaughter practices may instead be removing mainly recovered bison."
~ Excerpts from a scientific paper, which Yellowstone National Park wildlife biologists contributed to. The paper is titled, "Estimating probabilities of active brucellosis infection in Yellowstone bison through quantitative serology and tissue culture." The paper appeared in the Journal of Applied Ecology and can be viewed on our web site.
Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. Thank you for all the poems, songs, quotes and stories you have been sending! Keep them coming!