Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
May 11, 2006
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In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* Wild Mother's Day in West Yellowstone
* Great Editorial on Brucellosis
* Summer Opportunities with BFC!
* Last Words ~ Honoring Mothers, Human & Wild
* Update from the Field

 As we walk in the land of the last wild buffalo, the warming earth gives off fragrant scents of pine needles and sage.  Pink, yellow, and purple wildflowers; soft white pussy-willows; fuzzy, velvety moss together with multitudes of green and growing things charm us with their annual, explosive mystery.  Trekking along the Madison River and out towards Horse Butte, wildlife trails teem with highways of buffalo tracks; among them, precious tiny prints left by the baby buffalo who have been taking their first steps in recent weeks.   We are at once giddy with excitement and extra protective of the buffalo families we are here to defend.

Two field patrols were blessed to witness birth and recent birth this week.  On Monday, Jesse and Peter were checking for buffalo near the Baker's Hole campground, and were rewarded with the rare and special glimpse of a mother buffalo giving birth!  Just a few short hours later, Stephanie and I were on our way to Horse Butte, when we spotted a mama buffalo and her brand new calf.  The baby was still wet and wobbly on her legs, umbilical chord still visible.  Mom and baby disappeared into the forest, quietly together.   Indeed, this is testament to the deeper reason we celebrate Mother's Day at this time of year.  It's a shame that this is lost on the agents who harass and kill buffalo - sons of mothers themselves.  Somehow they forget this bond that the whole of the world shares, closing their eyes, shutting off their heart to carry out their cruel work against the last wild buffalo. The only "reason" they can muster is their fear of losing control and, hence, imagined power.

Yesterday, Department of Livestock (DOL), MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and Gallatin County law enforcement put their muscle into kicking the buffalo out of Montana, back into Yellowstone National Park.  Agents first went to Horse Butte and hazed buffalo moms and babies off of their birthing grounds, east down the Madison River, and back into Yellowstone.  They were not gentle.  They ran the buffalo hard. Again, they managed to separate a mom from her baby, but the mama buffalo's love for her baby was stronger than her fear of the agents. She left the haze to find her missing baby, and thankfully, she did, but only to resume being hazed together.  Agents upon their horses, donned in chaps, cowboy hats and spurs, obnoxiously shouting multiple "hee-yas" at the buffalo, running them through the woods, down steep and sandy bluffs, through sensitive wetlands, over the bridge of highway 191, back into Yellowstone's boundaries.  They managed to scare a moose and every other animal in the forest in the process. Done there, they headed down 287 where they scared up five magnificent bulls, ran them down the highway - losing two to the blessedly thick willows! - forcing three back into Yellowstone.  Then they scared up another group of bulls, moms and babies off of a large grassy field near Duck Creek.

Today, the agents were out again to round up the buffalo that escaped yesterday's haze.  View the footage at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org. Agents ran more wild buffalo off of their native ground, buffalo families were pushed for miles to the highway and on towards Yellowstone's boundary.  The buffalo were shoved across 191, and the little babies had a very hard time getting over the guard rail.  They were frantic trying to stick with their moms, and some babies flipped and fell trying to jump over the metal fence.  It is heart-wrenching to witness this, to see these beautiful, native beings forced off of their homeland as if criminals.  Painful to see the tiny newborns trying desperately to keep up with the herd, having to deal with this horror in their first days of life.  And there is no reason, there is no justification; there is only greed, fear and ignorance that drives the war against buffalo.  But the tides are turning ...

A neighborhood out on Horse Butte, Yellowstone Village, is very fond of wild buffalo.  The majority of the homes don BFC's "Buffalo Safe Zone Signs."  In fact, the good people who live there love the buffalo so much they formed the Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo (HoBNOB) a few years ago, and they are making a positive impact.  In true community fashion, HoBNOB submitted an official notice to the involved agencies, letting them know residents are pleased to coexist with wild buffalo, and the agents are unwelcome in the neighborhood. The notice stood the test yesterday.  Scattered about the housing area were beautiful moms, babies, yearlings and some stunningly huge bulls.  We feared they would be caught up in the haze, but HoBNOB's notice prevailed.  Agents weren't allowed to access the property to go near them!  A major victory for the last wild buffalo!  Our gratitude to HoBNOB and all the good buffalo neighbors on Horse Butte!  As 'owners' of our public lands, we, too, must take the same stand for the wild buffalo who choose to live in our national forests.

In another positive turn of events, a homeowner and neighbor of the infamous Dale Koelzer has given BFC permission to access her property for the documentation and monitoring of buffalo harassment and capture operations and DOL activities.   Dale Koelzer's driveway - which leads to a small, beautiful neighborhood - has been forbidden to BFC for years.  Yesterday, for the first time in BFC history, we crossed that line - legally.   After years of watching Koelzer's house through binoculars, across Duck Creek pond from the Perch, we now need only our eyes to see the comings and goings and operational activities of the agents.  It was surreal to be so close to the buffalo killer's headquarters and the Duck Creek bison trap.  Our vantage has increased a thousand fold.  The agents were shocked at our presence and visibly distressed by it.  They gathered around Gallatin County Deputy Burns, as he used his cell phone to find out if our access was legal.  Indeed, they learned it is legal.  Things will be a little bit different from here on out.  How we wished all the BFC old-timers could have been there to share in this moment!

Lastly, it seems that some of the media is beginning to awaken to the truth, finally putting it into print that wild buffalo are being unjustly persecuted and singled out, shedding light on the fact that management actions contradict the facts surrounding brucellosis. Below is a must-read editorial written by the staff of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.  Though we certainly don't agree that buffalo will "never roam the Plains in great numbers" we are grateful to the Chronicle for their courage - and duty - in printing the truth.

You, wild buffalo friends, are such a huge part of these turning tides.  Your support and belief in our work have kept us in the field documenting these actions and demonstrating the contradictions.  Your action, along with your financial and emotional support will allow us to be here until the wild buffalo are set free.  Thank you for your undaunted support and love for the last wild buffalo!  To all of the mothers and mothers-to-be:  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY from BFC!  On this special day, please say a prayer in your way for the wild buffalo mothers and their babies, that they will know freedom again and live their lives out in unfettered beauty and wildness.

Roam Free,
* Wild Mother's Day in West Yellowstone

Join us in West Yellowstone, Montana on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 14th and stand in solidarity with the Last Wild Bison.  Every Spring the buffalo family migrates out of Yellowstone National Park (YNP) on the western boundary to their calving grounds, the Horse Butte Peninsula.  These public lands offer fresh spring grasses, southern exposure and cool lake waters for the buffalo to utilize during the birthing process.  Yet the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) will use helicopters, ATV's and horsemen to terrorize pregnant females, newborns, yearlings...the whole family unit.  In years past, DOL hazing activities have caused abortions, deaths to pregnant females, injury and death to newborns...even running less than a week old calves into the thick mud flats of the Madison River! 

Please bring your family and join us on the corner of Highway 191 and Rainbow Point Road.  We will offer free coffee and free cookies in hopes to Free the Buffalo! 

If you cannot celebrate the Buffalo with us in the field, please take the time to write personal letters to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis (http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html) reminding them to honor, respect and cherish the Last Wild Buffalo! This Mother's Day stand-up for the reproductive rights of all species!  This Mother's Day reclaim what it is to be Wild and Free!

For the Buffalo,
Justine, Roman and Japhy Sanchez

* Great Editorial on Brucellosis
Our Opinion: Let's get consistent on brucellosis policies
5/10/06 - Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Bozeman, Montana

The layman who encounters the issue of brucellosis in Montana wildlife is likely to come away with his head spinning. Confusion reigns and not only on the technical aspects of the disease. Brucellosis seems to be driving public policy in highly contradictory ways.

Brucellosis is a disease that can cause domestic cattle to abort their young. As such, livestock growers understandably fear the disease and in fact spent years and millions of dollars eradicating brucellosis from Montana cattle. A state's loss of brucellosis-free status can cause expensive problems for the livestock industry. That has happened in Idaho and Wyoming.

Driven by brucellosis fears, the Montana Department of Livestock successfully lobbied to attain management control [over] bison that roam outside over [sic] Yellowstone National Park. The DOL has conducted controversial hazing, capture and slaughter policies on the bison that continue to garner bad national publicity for the state.

Juxtapose this with the fact that a small but verifiable percentage of Montana's elk are also infected with brucellosis, and there appears to be a stark disconnect between how the two species of wildlife are managed.

There has never been a case of a bison infecting domestic livestock in the field, and yet the haze, capture, slaughter policies persist. Meanwhile, the threat of brucellosis-infected elk is tolerated on public lands with livestock grazing allotments, as well as on private land, even though elk are blamed for infecting cattle in Idaho and Wyoming.

Add to this the fact that the results of field testing for brucellosis in wildlife can be confusing at best. Positive test results can indicate exposure to the disease, but not necessarily active infection. And other, less serious bacterial infections can produce false-positive results in some field tests.

Montana conducted its first - although limited - public bison hunt in many years this past winter, heralding a welcome return to some semblance of consistency with other wildlife management policies. And Gov. Brian Schweitzer has expressed the hope of expanding the hunt in years to come.

Bison will never roam the Plains in great numbers; they simply represent too great a conflict with human activities. But, whatever policy we ultimately adopt for the management of these animals should be driven by consistent, sound wildlife management policies, and not the disease-driven policy that is contradictory, confusing and giving Montana an undeserved bad name on the national stage.

* Summer Opportunities with BFC!

As Yellowstone fills up with millions of visitors from around the world who come each summer to admire the splendor of the mighty buffalo and all the natural wonders of our first national park, BFC is here to let them know what the buffalo have suffered at the hands of those mandated to protect them.  Believe it or not, there are people who actually believe the Park Service is protecting the country's last wild buffalo!  Therefore, it is imperative that Park visitors understand the truth of what the Park Service has been doing to the Yellowstone buffalo to appease the desires of Montana's livestock industry.

Buffalo Field Campaign has positions open for summer tablers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks from June 10 through September 5, 2006.  We are looking for 3-4 dedicated people who are well-versed on the buffalo issue and enjoy talking to others about it.  You can help tell the buffalo's story and inspire action from the millions who flock to the Parks to admire them.

If you've been wanting to experience the beauty of the Yellowstone ecosystem and speak out for the buffalo, we want to hear from you! Applicants should be hardworking, outgoing, friendly folks who are comfortable camping for up to five days at a time (in the parks - what a dream!).  A minimum commitment of one month is required (and appreciated).  BFC will provide a small stipend as well as room and board.

Interested?  Contact Stephanie Munce at   or call 406-646-0070.

* Last Words

Honoring Mothers, Human & Wild

By Kathleen Stachowski
BFC board member & extraordinary wild buffalo advocate
Media & Outreach
Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT  59758

BFC is the only group working in the field every day
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