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A mama buffalo watches her BFC admirers. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

The situation in the field here remains basically the same: quiet. Winter gave us yet another big storm event a couple weeks ago, which brought a lot more snow, but, still, the buffalo seem to be satisfied in the higher elevations of Yellowstone. At the very least, they are not present in any areas where they are threatened by Yellowstone’s trap or hunters. The mom and baby we have been watching over in Gardiner have disappeared, and there are very few — if any — buffalo being seen in any of our patrol areas. It feels lonely being without them, but we are grateful that they are keeping themselves alive. While there is little room for doubt that migratory memory is being compromised by the way the hunt is currently being conducted, buffalo are highly intelligent beings, so we also have no doubt that they know it is not safe to venture into Montana. Down in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, near Grand Teton National Park, the buffalo herd there is also stemming their migration, and biologists hypothesize the same thing: they have learned when hunting season is, so are choosing to stay safe until it’s over. Nevertheless, all of this could change in an instant, so we are a constant presence in the field, every day, both in the Gardiner and Hebgen Basins.

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Moving out of the town of Gardiner and into the north end of Yellowstone National Park on the 2nd Annual Rosalie Little Thunder Memorial Walk. Photo by Max Wilbert, Deep Green Resistance.

BFC was also a significant presence in southwest Montana towns last week, for our annual Week of Action. The week’s events started off in Gardiner, Montana where we held our 2nd Annual Rosalie Little Thunder Memorial Walk, which was a true honor to participate in. Next year, we plan to do things a little bit differently. After some discussions among participants, we want to make next year’s Walk a little big more challenging, perhaps beginning fifty miles north of where we usually start. This will take a lot more organizing, time, and energy, but Rosalie and her legacy are more than worth it.

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Some of our Week of Action participants representing on the streets of downtown Bozeman. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

After the Walk, which ended in a powerful candlelight vigil followed by a delicious hot meal, we drove our tired legs to Bozeman, where we stayed the night and awoke refreshed, if a little stiff. We then headed to the Bozeman Library to set up an information table and our famous buffaloon, also also took the buffalos’ message downtown. As we experienced last year, the show of support for wild buffalo is strong. Aside from a couple middle fingers and a glare or two, most passers-by honked and waved in solidarity, some of them cheering us on. We even had people pull over to take information and offer us donations. It was a really great event and it felt good to know that everyone who saw us had buffalo on their minds.

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Gathering at the state Capitol, in Helena, Montana. Photo by Max Wilbert, Deep Green Resistance.

The following day, we braved some intensely snowy and icy road conditions and traveled to Helena, Montana, the state Capitol, where we held a rally on the capitol steps, in front of the Governor’s and legislators’ offices. We learned that some state legislators had fought to revoke our permit, attempting to deny our right to assemble, but they were not successful. There were lots of speakers who shared good words coming deep from their hearts. We were also blessed to meet a granddaughter of Rosalie Little Thunder, who, herself was near tears giving thanks for the work of BFC. Our messages to “repeal MCA 81-2-120” and “defeat HB 132” were seen by many political heads watching out the Capitol windows, and by numerous staff and policy makers who also took newsletters. Though we were a little low on numbers, we were strong with our message to keep wild buffalo wild and let them roam free.

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After the Helena rally, we drove over to Prospect Avenue and took a group photo of our highly visible billboard. Photo by Sergio Serrano, Buffalo Field Campaign.

The next day, we made our way to our hometown of West Yellowstone, and also got people back out in the field. During that night’s meeting, we had a debriefing with the group going over the week, and how we could improve upon it. There was general consensus that all the driving we did in some pretty treacherous winter conditions may warrant holding the Week of Action at a warmer time of year. This thought has also been conveyed to others who were unable to make it due to winter storms, and by those who did travel from far away, braving storms both coming and going. So, we will begin holding our Week of Action during the warmer, spring months, when buffalo moms are giving birth, and people will be able to camp comfortably. We’ve always wanted to hold events to celebrate wild buffalo calving season, so this will be the perfect change to help make that happen in a more meaningful way. However, the group was also feeling strongly that the Rosalie Little Thunder Memorial Walk needs to be in the Winter, during the time when Rosalie did her 500-mile walk for the buffalo. As mentioned above, we will make this a bigger event starting next year. Allow this to serve as a heads-up so you can mark your calendars for a spring Week of Action in May, and a longer, fuller Walk next February. More details will come as we have them. Thank you for all of your support inspires us to do this important work, and allows us to be in the field, the policy arena, the courts, and take to the streets in defense of the country’s last wild buffalo!