Friday, April 16, 2010

Update on Yellowstone Buffalo from Buffalo Field Campaign

Along Yellowstone's western boundary, BFC has been basking in the natural phenomenon of buffalo migration these past few weeks. More than 300 wild American buffalo are completing the landscape with their graceful and critical presence; healing the land, lifting our spirits, helping make whole the break in the heart of the earth. With no agents harassing the buffalo yet, we have been thoroughly enjoying time with the wondrous gentle giants. This morning, patrols were given an extra special gift with the first sign of the next generation of buffalo: little tiny footprints out on Horse Butte. Patrols didn't get a chance to spot the newborn calf itself yet, but these perfect baby tracks are the harbinger that calving season is finally upon us! Welcome to the world, buffalo! But, what kind of world awaits them? For now, the world they know is one of relative peace, time to grow strong, rest fully, play and learn how to be self-willed buffalo, walking and napping next to their protective mothers, following in the footsteps of their families.

Unfortunately, the chaos of government harassment will soon descend upon the buffalo, shattering this stillness, disrupting the sacred. The Montana Department of Livestock has said it is only a matter of time before they make their notorious efforts with their government partners to rid Montana of the last wild buffalo. On Wednesday and Thursday, BFC attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan meetings; a grueling eight hours of listening to talking heads making decisions that have dire impacts on the buffalo and all who share their landscape. The agencies have stated that as soon as enough snow melts, hazing operations will begin. These harmful and unnecessary operations, in which buffalo are chased, captured, and slaughtered, are insisted upon by Montana's livestock industry due to the unfounded fears of the livestock industry that wild bison will transmit brucellosis to cattle that aren't even here.
Along Yellowstone's northern boundary, near Gardiner, Montana, BFC has been running full patrols once again. The groups of buffalo that were hazed by Yellowstone National Park last week have maintained their presence on the landscape, but have not been harassed again since we last wrote. We are keeping a close eye on these buffalo, and we are also in a bit of a bind: our base of operations in Gardiner is no longer available to us until next season, and if the buffalo decide to push the Park's man-made boundaries they will be in dire trouble and we will need to be there with them. Camping is not an option due to our video and radio needs, so we may need to set up in a hotel if the buffalo need us there. Please help us prepare by donating here.

Also in Gardiner, bull buffalo are currently being harassed and drugged as the USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has begun their bull bison study, despite the lack of public support or scientific necessity. So far, since Monday, seven adult bull bison have been darted with tranquilizer, probed, and tested. After APHIS takes what they want from the bulls, they are marking them with blue paint. BFC has been documenting the incidents and we will soon share this footage with you.
Though cattle interests and the government that backs them are currently dominating the buffalo's lives and landscape, the tides slowly but surely turn. Native Americans, including the Nez Perce, the Confederated Salish-Kootenai, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council (previously the InterTribal Bison Cooperative) are now fully seated at the Interagency Bison Management Plan table, and they are lending the wisdom, respect and vision for the buffalo that these U.S. and Montana government agencies so badly need. A Nez Perce representative, Larry Greene, reminded the agencies that one of the stated goals of the IBMP is to "conserve a free-ranging, wild population of buffalo" and that it is this fundamental issue to which the agencies must return. The Tribal voice will be a strong one, and buffalo advocates can expect positive change to come from First Nations who are finally represented equally in issues affecting the last wild population of buffalo.

Your voice will also count as Montana begins to look to the future for wild buffalo in Montana. You can help shape that future no matter where you live by taking part in this
brief bison survey from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Please lend your voice, your heart and your vision to the future of wild buffalo roaming free on the lands that are their birthright.

Thank you all for being with us, for the buffalo. We would not be here with the buffalo without your support. You are Buffalo Field Campaign. Thank you.

Roam Free!

No comments:

Post a Comment