Buffalo Field Campaign. Report from the Field
March 31, 2005
In this Issue:* Update from the Field* Comment on Quarantine Proposal* Week of Action - Boycott the Livestock Industry* Thank you AIM and Rosalie Little Thunder* Last Words
----------------------------------* Update from the Field
Hard to know how to begin this update; it is a very hard one to tell. The week started out with a haze on Friday. The Department of Livestock (DOL), Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Park Service, along with the help of the local sheriff, pushed 45 buffalo back into Yellowstone National Park, off Horse Butte, off the bluffs of the Madison, across highway 191. After the haze was over and the agents gone, the buffalo turned right back around and headed back to Horse Butte. They know where they need to be, and it is their right to be there.
On Saturday, a mixed herd of fourteen buffalo migrated along Duck Creek, attempted to cross the road, and were hazed back to the Park by the local DOL agent, Shane Grube. Those buffalo came right back out again, too, only this time they entered the private land of Dale Koelzer, where lies the Duck Creek buffalo trap. The agents have been baiting the buffalo with fresh hay and leaving the gate open. On Easter Sunday, under the cover of darkness, the agents shut the gate. The buffalo were imprisoned after only a single attempt to haze them.
Monday went by without knowing the fate of the fourteen buffalo in the trap. The buffalo on the Butte were spotted by two DOL agents on snowmobiles. BFC patrols kept well hidden and were able to document a vicious attempt by a DOL agent to run over a yearling that stood in the road. Luckily the little one got out of the way just in time. Bitter and cruel, the agents sped off. Later that day as patrols were helping with a buffalo crossing, the same blue pickup truck that shot at one of our patrol cars last week drove by and actually shot one of our volunteers in the back with paint balls. They got caught. That was the best news of the week.
Tuesday came and we watched the Duck Creek trap all day and all night. Our patrols documented agents poking and prodding the captive wild buffalo with electric cattle prods, hooting, hollering, and taunting them them from above. Trapped and frightened, the buffalo suffered the bullying. The agents demonstrated sinister behavior towards the buffalo and then would turn around to laugh at our volunteers. These agents are cruel, and they enjoy tormenting the buffalo and tormenting us. This is all very typical behavior. What they don't realize is that we, like the buffalo, are far stronger than they could ever imagine.
Enter the nightmare of Wednesday. Attempting to find out from the DOL what the fate of the fourteen buffalo would be was much like pulling teeth. They didn't want to tell us in a timely fashion, because they didn't want us to tell the story. But we found out. Of the fourteen, six females and two bulls tested "positive" for brucellosis exposure and were sent to slaughter, three bull yearlings were sent to a quarantine facility, and two cows and a bull were "released" and hazed to the far end of Horse Butte. Before the three were let go, the agents hazed about 150 buffalo off of the Butte. Some of these buffalo had found their wounded matriarch, a pregnant female and mother of a yearling, who nearly a month ago had been struck by a car and came away with a broken leg. She had been holding her own. She was caught up in additional hazing operations over the course of the weeks, had made it back to the Butte, and had found herself a safe harbor there. She was surviving, and if she didn't, she would help give life to grizzlies, ravens, wolves, and coyotes. But she did survive. Her family members came back for her. We can only imagine the reunion it was. And she was with them when the motorized cowboys came after them again. She was with her herd, running from the agents, sometimes in the lead, sometimes in the middle, but never behind. The motorized cowboys singled her out. Our patrols were documenting the haze when they heard three gunshots. They killed her. Then they tied her to the back of a snowmobile, a rope around her neck and horns, and dragged her body to a flatbed truck. She was then hauled to the local dump and left with the trash to be incinerated. The agents claim they were doing her some sort of favor, but why didn't they do it closer to the time she got hit? They had ample opportunity. They should have just left her alone and let her go back to the Earth, not burn her with the trash.
We have lost nine of our friends this week, nine of America's last wild buffalo, to the greed and fear of the livestock industry and the government puppets that do their bidding. All supposedly in the name of protecting the invisible cattle from a disease - brucellosis - brought to our wildlife by cattle. A disease that wild buffalo have NEVER transmitted to cattle. But, it's not about brucellosis; this is a range war. It is about the grass and who gets to eat it. The livestock producers believe strongly that the grass is meant only for fattening their cattle. But the buffalo and other wildlife were here first, and they hold natural, ancestral rights to the land that they are repeatedly and harshly kept from accessing. Watching them move with their heads down, as they are pushed off of their homeland, is like watching a trail of tears over and over and over again.
With every haze, the DOL agents cause terrific trouble. For the wild buffalo and other wildlife, but also for the motorists who use highway 191. Every time the agents push the buffalo back into the Park, the buffalo turn back around, and have to cross the highway again and again. The buffalo just want to get to Horse Butte. This is national forest land where there are no active cattle grazing allotments. It is also the traditional calving grounds of the buffalo. With its massive south-facing slopes, Horse Butte offers the first shoots of good green grass each Spring.
It is surrounded by water, and provides a natural buffer, so if separation from cattle is really what the livestock industry wants, Horse Butte provides it. So, why can't the buffalo be left alone there at least? The people who live near the Butte want the buffalo there. But the agencies involved are deaf to logic, and are only interested in protecting the property rights of livestock producers, even on our public lands. So what can we do? It all comes down choice: wild buffalo or livestock. You can make the decision every time you go to the grocery store. You can choose to support the industrial livestock industry, or you can choose not to. It's that simple.
As I write this, the agents are out again in full force, hazing buffalo off the Butte. Tonight, the buffalo will move back across the highway towards the Butte again. The agents' efforts are ridiculous and fruitless.
You can help stop the slaughter of America's last wild buffalo, and all the other wildlife - prairie dogs, wolves, wild horses, etc. - that fall victim to the greed of the livestock industry. Your voice, your actions, your choices determine how much power the livestock industry has. Make the choice for wild, free-roaming buffalo re-inhabiting their native lands.
For the Buffalo,~Stephany
----------------------------------* Comment on Quarantine Proposal
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) in cooperation with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a notice of intent to produce an Environmental Assessment (EA) for Phases II and III of a "bison quarantine feasibility study." Yesterday, after being captured, tested, and tormented by livestock agents, three yearling bulls were sent to a quarantine facility. They are the first three. They have been torn from their families. They have been ripped from their mother's sides. Most likely, their mothers have been sent to slaughter. These yearlings will be held in confinement, in a cage the size of a big back yard, surrounded by double-electric fencing. They will be there for years. They will be tested and re-tested and tested again. They will grow up without mothers, aunts, or elders. They will grow up unable to migrate. They will be stripped of their wildness. They will reach maturity not knowing what it really means to be a wild buffalo, but they will feel the pull of something far greater than the life they've been locked into. More than half of the 200 yearling-goal that are captured and sent to quarantine will be slaughtered.
Speak out against this attempt to domesticate wild Yellowstone buffalo. Let FWP and APHIS know that these buffalo are not available for their science projects. The solutions to restoring wild buffalo to their native range are rooted in the restoration of migratory corridors where buffalo can re-inhabit the ancient lands of their ancestors at their own time and pace. If Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wants to help restore buffalo, then let them work to create habitat within the Greater Yellowstone Area for the expanding wild herd. These buffalo are not domestic cattle. Quarantine is simply not appropriate or acceptable for the last wild, genetically pure buffalo in the this country.
Visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/bisonquarantine.html for more information including the agency's notice of intent and the EA for Phase I. FWP will be accepting comments on the proposal until April 15, 2005. Email your comments to or send them to Bison Quarantine EA, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701; fax: 406-444-4952. Contact BFC's Josh Osher with questions:
----------------------------------* Week of Action - Boycott the Livestock Industry
"Beef: It's what's killing wild buffalo."
During the week of April 30 - May 8, we will be conducting education and outreach regarding the dire effects of the livestock industry. We call on you to join us in a Boycott. Livestock producers cause more harm to this country's wildlife than nearly any other industry. "Beef, it's what's for dinner" is the very thing that is killing our wild buffalo, wild horses, prairie dogs, wolves, and the countless other plant and animal species that suffer to appease the fears and greed of livestock producers.
If you have information that you want us to share with supporters, please let us know. We want to offer books, resources, recipes, examples of livestock-induced destruction, and more. Please send your ideas and suggestions to Stephany at . Many thanks to those of you who have been sending us great quotes and web sites - keep them coming!
----------------------------------* Thank you AIM and Rosalie Little Thunder
Many thanks to Marty FireRider and Joseph Red Bear of the American Indian Movement in San Diego. They invited BFC back on their World Talk Radio program, American Indian Movement Today, where we continued our discussion of the plight of the last wild buffalo. We were joined on the program by Lakota elder Rosalie Little Thunder, a co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign.
Thank you Marty, Joseph, and Rosalie! You are such a powerful influence, and your voice lends a timeless strength and knowledge to the cause of the last wild buffalo. It is an honor to know and work with you to help protect these sacred beings. Let us rally the troops and gather the voices so that the slaughter can be stopped once and for all.
You can listen to yesterday's program by going to http://www.worldtalkradio.com/archive.asp?aid=3723. You need the latest version of Windows Media Player to listen.
In Solidarity for the Wild Things!~Stephany
P.S. Get your beautiful selves to West Yellowstone, and bring lots of friends! We are waiting!
----------------------------------* Last Words
"He knew where he was, and watching [the stars go by] could almost forget the strange noises and uncertain swaying of the train that carried him tirelessly and headlong into the night. In darkness not much spoke of change. He could imagine the hills black with buffalo, moving slow and ponderous, with the solidity and weight of sliding earth ... He could imagine this and feel a welling, a springing in his blood."
~From "Dance Back the Buffalo" by Milton Lott
----------------------------------Buffalo Field CampaignP.O. Box 957West Yellowstone, MT 59758406-646-0070http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org