Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)
News from the Field
February 24, 2005
View New and Exclusive Video Footage at:
In this Issue:
* Update from the Field
* A Plea to Tribal Members
* Thank You for Supporting the Yellowstone Buffalo
* On the Legislative Front
* Letter to the Editor--Wildlife Mismanagement in Wyoming and Montana
* Last Words - a Poem on Yesterday's Haze
* Update from the Field
It's 7:55 a.m on Wednesday, and as I sit on a.m. radios, my thoughts turn back to a few days ago when I was on patrol on the Madison River. It was a cold, snowy day, and to me, it was astonishing. As my partners and I began our patrol that morning, we were greeted by two bald eagles flying up the Madison. We were there to find a bull buffalo which had crossed Highway 191 the day before. We slowly skied along the river, following the buffalo's tracks, which were clearly marked in the snow. We followed reverently, noticing where he had stopped to graze or bed down. Shortly though, we became baffled. The tracks led to a spot next to the river and disappeared. We searched for the remainder of the morning, to no avail. The buffalo had apparently vanished into thin air.
It was nearing shift change, so we headed back toward the road and met up with the patrol on the northeast side of the river. We huddled around the small fire as snow flurries whipped around us. But my day was far from over. At shift change, three new volunteers met me for the afternoon shift. After chatting around the fire for a few minutes, we carefully extinguished it and headed back toward the west side of the river. We followed the old tracks once again, hoping to find something we had overlooked. We did. Luckily we found tracks winding through a stand of firs. We were on the right track. As we progressed, we came upon a spot where the buffalo had stopped to graze. We could tell he had been there rather recently and decided that it was a fine spot to stop for a bit of lunch. After devouring fresh oranges, we continued on our way. As we struggled to cross a small tributary, one of my patrol partners spotted the buffalo less than 50 feet away, sheltered under a large tree. As I struggled to cross the tributary on my skis, I fancied I saw a gleam of amusement in his eye.
As it nears 8:30 a.m., four days later, the radio crackles to life. The Duck Creek patrol is calling. I answer swiftly. As I listen to Duck Creek tell me that the DOL is warming up their snowmobiles, my heart breaks. For I know that soon the very same buffalo I shared a day with, along with another bull who had later joined him, will soon be needlessly accosted. They will be chased by snowmobiles, driven by DOL, U.S. Forest Service, and MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks agents. They will be assisted by the Montana Highway Patrol, and Gallatin County sheriffs, and unbelievably, the National Park Service. These agents disturb much wildlife and the ecosystem as they race their snowmobiles through tributaries and crush willows under their treads. No sweat off their backs. But what of the buffalo who will be forced to run, breaking trail through 3 or 4 feet of snow for several miles using up much of his energy? As if this torture wasn't enough, they will be exposed to the shock and loud noise of "cracker rounds" - explosive shells fired from a shotgun.
All of this because the buffalo dared to follow his instinct. To come down from higher elevations where food was a little bit easier to find. I wonder how it has come to this. How have "wild, free-roaming" buffalo been placed under the control of the DOL? How can agencies who are supposed to protect our national and state land and wildlife sanction torture and slaughter? Things could be worse, I suppose. The buffalo could have been captured. They could have been slaughtered. As for me... My heart has been captured by these magnificent creatures. And every move against them slaughters a part of me.
View BFC's exclusive video footage of yesterday's haze by clicking here:
* A Plea to Tribal Members
Far be it for Buffalo Field Campaign to attempt to convey to the Indian people in this country the sacredness of the buffalo. But we do need to let you know that the last wild herd is under relentless attack and in need your help. We are here on the front lines with the buffalo every day, and we see firsthand what is happening to them in the field, and at the tables where decisions regarding their immediate future are being made. The state and federal agencies who harass and slaughter the buffalo, and the legislators in the state of Montana who perpetuate more forms of madness, continue to use tribes in an effort to capture and hold prisoner (quarantine) members of the country's last wild, genetically pure herd. There is a bill before the Montana legislature right now that calls for the MT Department of Livestock to capture, neuter and quarantine wild buffalo migrating from Yellowstone National Park, all in an effort to start herds on tribal lands. This is far more than insulting, and it is moving through the legislature quickly. Buffalo should be restored to tribal lands, and all of their native habitat, but there are far better solutions than rounding them up like cattle, holding them prisoner for any length of time, and shipping them off in trucks like livestock.
A central part of Buffalo Field Campaign's mission is to increase tribal participation in management decisions affecting the Yellowstone herd. With respect for the buffalo, and the strong relationship between the Indian people and the buffalo, we offer ourselves as a resource and ally so that together, we can be assured of a future in which wild, free-roaming buffalo re-inhabit their traditional land.
If you are a tribal member, please send us your contact information so that as urgent matters arise in which your voice can immediately help the buffalo, we can reach you and build a stronger network that is a righteous and powerful voice for the buffalo. Please email Stephany at email@example.com with your name, mailing address, email address, phone number, tribal affiliation, and include contact information for any other tribal representatives or individuals such as organizations, media outlets, colleges, legislators, traditionalists, web sites, artists, etc. you feel we need to make a connection with. You can continue to help spread the word about what is happening to the last herd of unfenced buffalo in this country. We have hundreds of newsletters available to send to you if you can distribute them, video footage you can show in your community, you can subscribe your friends and relatives to our weekly Updates from the Field, you can help circulate a petition to list the Yellowstone buffalo as a "distinct population segment" under the Endangered Species Act, and of course you can come and volunteer on the front lines with us. And we know you have powerful ideas of your own. There are many things that we can do together to stop the slaughter of these gentle, holy giants. Let us begin now.
In solidarity for the buffalo,
* Thank You for Supporting the Yellowstone Buffalo
Greetings Buffalo friends and family,
As our good friend Rosalie Little Thunder told us several years ago - with the buffalo, just be careful what you wish for - you just might get it. Your response to last week's plea for financial help was great. The kind words of encouragement and donations have brought us close to meeting our first of the month financial commitments. THANK YOU for your passion and dedication to our vision of wild free roaming buffalo for future generations! Together we are making a difference!
We will forge ahead on the public awareness, legislative, scientific and on the ground frontlines work. We know that each of you will be helping the buffalo with your own special talents - whether by recycling printer cartridges, passing our web address on to friends, writing letters, or hosting a video showing or benefit. As many of you know - our supporter to supporter program is always full of surprises. Thanks to DJ for the 6 inch stuffed buffalo toys! Any donation of over fifty dollars will bring one of these little critters to you in your mailbox to sit above your computer or share with a young one. Secure online donations (www.buffalofieldcampaign.org) as well as mailed contributions (to: BFC, POB 957,West Yellowstone, MT 59758) both qualify! See stuffed buffalo here: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/update0405/022405.html#stuffed
Starting on March 2nd, O'Ceallaigh Originals will be offering some beautiful gourd art FOR THE BUFFALO! at auction along with an author-signed copy of Buffalo Medicine by April Christofferson. It is a beautiful hand-crafted one of a kind gourd buffalo mask with faux fur and glass and stone beadwork. We'll send a quick reminder out on the second so that you can all have the opportunity to look at these items. Thanks Mel & April! View a photo of the mask here:
The gourd mask will be EBay Item number 7303557668 starting March 2 and ending March 12th.
Other supporter to supporter incentives are also coming online and we will keep you updated.
With deepest respect we offer thanks for your support of our true grassroots work for the buffalo! Enjoy the update and we look forward to hearing from you!
For all that's wild and free,
* On the Legislative Front
With the legislative session ending in March, the Montana State Legislature has been incredibly busy making life more difficult for the Yellowstone herd. Here's a quick update on the status of bison legislation migrating (and not) through the Montana Legislature, and a bit on the money and influences behind the sponsors.
SB 353 - titled transfer neutered wild bison to tribal organizations
* Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Pease from Lodge Grass, affiliated with the Crow
* Sen. Pease had no donors listed as contributors to his campaign: http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?si=200426&c=401696
* Passed Senate Natural Resources committee on 5-4 vote
* 3rd and final reading in the Senate passed 41 to 9
* Transmitted to the House; no assignment yet on which committee will hear the bill
click here for the latest vote: http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/2005/Votes/s0448.txt
HJR 22 - joint resolution on bison management naming APHIS as lead agency to eradicate brucellosis from elk and bison
* Sponsored by Rep. Jim Peterson from Buffalo, affiliated with the Montana Stockgrowers Association (10 years), National Cattleman's Beef Association, US Meat Export Association, Montana Grain Growers
* The names of Rep. Peterson's top donors can be found here: http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?si=200426&c=401699
* Amended resolution passed House Agriculture committee on 16-4 vote Feb 18
* 3rd and final reading in the House passed 72-27
* Transmitted to the Senate
click here for the vote: http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/2005/Votes/H043039.txt
TAKE ACTION: Montana residents should contact their House and Senate members, and urge them to vote for buffalo, not these bills. Folks out-of-state and in Montana should contact Governor Brian Schweitzer, and let him know that these buffalo do not belong to the state of Montana, and that he should do what is within his power to stop these measures from becoming law. Please also write letters to the editor of Montana newspapers, especially the Helena Independent Record, which is read by legislators and the Governor.
Montana Senate: http://leg.state.mt.us/css/senate/default.asp
Montana House: http://leg.state.mt.us/css/house/default.asp
Montana Governor: http://governor.mt.gov/
Letters to the Editor: http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/lte.html
Thank you for taking action for the buffalo!
* Letters to the Editor
Thanks to our friend Robert Hoskins for his steadfast work on behalf of the buffalo and elk of the Greater Yellowstone Area. Robert has submitted the following letter to the editor to area papers:
The states of Montana and Wyoming seem to be in a horse race to see who can do the best job of mismanaging elk and bison. Unfortunately, the Montana House of Representatives' House Joint Resolution No. 22 (HJ22), which calls for a federal takeover of elk and bison management in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for brucellosis control, threatens to upset that horse race.
Wyoming, through its elk feedgrounds, has sustained brucellosis at such a high seroprevalence in elk west of the Continental Divide that the State has now lost its brucellosis-free status, with three confirmed outbreaks of brucellosis in cattle herds west of the Divide within the space of a year.
Now, to compound the problem of brucellosis in elk, the State is determined to impose a test and slaughter pilot project on the Pinedale Elk Herd, ostensibly to reduce the Herd's brucellosis seroprevalence.
This project is a follow up to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department's two decades long Strain 19 vaccination program on the elk feedgrounds. Scientific peer review has determined that the program is invalid due to poor experimental design, inadequate sampling, and serious errors of statistical analysis.
Expect the same high degree of scientific incompetence to apply to the test and slaughter project.
In Montana, HJ22 asserts, in a most startling fashion, that the feds could do a better job of mismanaging bison than can Montana's Department of Livestock.
I disagree. Montana's DOL has an excellent track record of mismanaging bison, with its mindless slaughter, puerile hazing activities, and malicious capture and quarantine methods. The DOL is right up there with the best.
HJ22 is truly unnecessary, and I hope Montana's Senate kills it. Neither Montana's DOL with its brutality nor Wyoming's G&F Department with its incompetence needs any assistance from the feds in their mutual competition to see who can completely destroy the wildness of elk and bison first.
Crowheart WY 82512
* Last Words
February 23, 2005
They hazed two bison back in the park
at 10:15 this morning
Agencies funded by tax dollars
for the people and by the people
Montana Department of Livestock
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
USDA Forest Service
Sheriffs and the National Park Service
Working together to move, shove, "scootch", pull, push, remove, control, lead, bully
these wild creatures back where they "belong"
If these animals could only speak for themselves
If they could share their stories of living through
the centuries despite the efforts of great and corruption
leading to destruction
of native and land
tame the fields and plow the earth
haze a baby - as mama's giving birth
torture the natives and take the land
Lie to the masses so we won't understand
fill them with propaganda
- keep up with corruption
force them to work - to blindly adhere
push them out of love and understanding
- into fear
convince them progressive imperialism is the only way
take the wild
and kill the stray
The weak, the passive, the peaceful will die
Then this force of evil will try
Destroying, employing, and controlling - but why?
Do they not know what they're doing is wrong?
Fears masked and armored with guns
Where is the great goddess to show them the way?
Where is the divine - to shelter the stray?
Mother Earth - to protect, destroy and create
Please don't abandon those who need you most
Protect the innocent and shelter the few
Who still hold strong - praying for you
By Natalie Schafrath
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758