"We are Making a Difference," says the Buffalo Field Campaign

 post 1171

Here is the latest news from Buffalo Field Campaign on the situation just west of the Park where the bison remain in dire threat, but were not captured for slaughter yesterday as DOL originally planned.

Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update From the Field

May 31, 2007

View BFC Video Footage:
Make a Secure Online Donation to BFC:
Why are they killing the last wild buffalo?
Receive BFC’s updates or press releases.
Send your email address to bfc-media@wildrockies.org with “sub updates” or “sub press release” in the subject line.

In this issue:

* Update from the Field

* We are Making a Difference! KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

* Buffalo in the News

* Livestock Notable Quotes

* Photo of the Week & Slide Show!

* Last Chance: BFC Handcrafted Father’s Day Cards!

* Earth Friends Matching Grant – We’re Getting Oh, So Close!

* Last Words ~ Ken Cole

* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

We’d like to start by saying *THANK YOU* to everyone who has been putting in calls, emails, and faxes to Yellowstone, Governor Schweitzer, and MT Acting State Vet Jeanne Rankin. You are making a huge difference for the buffalo! Your voice forced a stay of execution. The buffalo will not die today. Given the impact you’ve made and what still looms ahead, it is clear that *WE MUST KEEP THE PRESSURE ON.* Please don’t let up for one minute in contacting these decision-makers (listed below), and please continue to spread the word and share the buffalo’s story.

Yesterday the agencies met and decided that they would face a public relations nightmare if they went forward with plans to kill buffalo moms and babies. They felt the heat before they went through with their plans and the death sentence has been postponed. We are hugely grateful that buffalo will not be killed in the next few days, but they are far from being left alone. The agencies have decided, in lieu of immediate capture and slaughter, that they will resume hazing – with horses and helicopter – through the weekend. Border patrols will guard Yellowstone’s boundary to chase away any approaching buffalo. Come Monday, any buffalo – newborn calves included – found in Montana will be sent to slaughter. Slaughter or hazing? While the buffalo should not die, they shouldn’t be forced off of their native ground either. The hazing has begun and hundreds of buffalo calves, moms, and other family members are being hounded by helicopter and horsemen.

The decision to capture and slaughter came on Tuesday at an emergency Board of Livestock meeting called by Governor Schweitzer. There were about fifty ranchers in the room along with BFC Board Member Ken Cole and myself. It was intense, but the buffalo lent their massive strength to us. The Board discussed the recent incident of brucellosis being found in Montana cattle far from Yellowstone and farther still from the buffalo’s migration paths. But cattle interests will place the blame anywhere but upon themselves. They blame Yellowstone. They blame the buffalo. They blame the elk. Ironic, because brucellosis is a disease – one among many – that invasive cattle brought to native wildlife. Wild buffalo have never transmitted it back to cattle. Still, it is these gentle giants who bear the burden. The Board admits that they do not know the source responsible for this particular incident and that it is possible it came from cattle.

Regardless, the cattle interests set their sights on wild buffalo. At the meeting, Dr. Jeanne Rankin made the unilateral decision to have the DOL set up a bison trap and begin capturing and slaughtering the nearly 300 wild buffalo who remained on the Horse Butte Peninsula, the buffalo’s chosen Spring habitat. While Ken and I attended the meeting, BFC patrols witnessed the construction of the bison trap being set up on state land near the West Yellowstone Airport. The cattle interests cry that the buffalo “are not responding” to hazing. Of course not, they are wild, free-thinking animals. They won’t “stick” because buffalo migrate: it’s what they do. Gentle grazers with split hooves that till, poop that fertilizes, and the urge to move on long before overgrazing is what makes buffalo superb for the land.

And here we are today. Buffalo are being chased out of Montana, run for nearly 16 miles from Horse Butte deep into Yellowstone National Park. Agents are even shooting the buffalo with paint balls, making crude remarks about them as if they were cockroaches swarming the land. The romantic image of the cowboy dies with these agents and the industry they represent; ill-tempered cowboys harassing an American icon, doing it gladly, doing it in spite of everything rational that speaks to the contrary.

Our combined strength is making a difference. It will and it has. We must not stop now. Come Monday, the buffalo could die. They need us. They need to roam this land so they can live wild and free and help restore what humanity has stolen and degraded. They are great teachers and we need them, too, more than they need us. The buffalo are a sacred gift and they have suffered long and hard due to human ignorance and greed. Buffalo wisdom holds persistence, resistance, endurance. They are gentle beings with tenacious strength, amazingly strong family ties, and an unyielding willingness to coexist with the human race that has caused them so much suffering. They are generous, forgiving, thoughtful, powerful creatures. We have many aspects of them within ourselves. Learning to live more like them would be a blessing to our own species and the entire global community. The buffalo can show us how to save ourselves from ourselves.

Roam Free,



* We are Making a Difference! KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

PLEASE CONTINUE TO CONTACT these decision-makers and demand that they cease plans to capture and slaughter the buffalo who are trying to live wild and free! Contact each by phone, fax, and email and let’s not let them forget that the world is watching!
* MONTANA GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER: Demand that Schweitzer keep his campaign promise to provide tolerance for bison in Montana.

(406) 444-3111 (ph) * (406) 444-5529 (fax) * governor@mt.gov (email)
* MONTANA ACTING STATE VET JEANNE RANKIN: Urge her to withdraw her decision to slaughter Yellowstone bison calves and family groups. Remind her you are boycotting beef and your friends are joining you!

(406) 444-1895 (ph) * (800) 523-3162 (ph) * (406) 444-1929 (fax) * jrankin@mt.gov (email)


* Buffalo in the News

5/30/07 – Montana delays slaughter of 300 bison amid uproar



5/30/07 – The Buffalo Wars: Interview with Rosalie Little Thunder

The Abolitionist Online


5/31/07 – Bison get one more hazing attempt

Bozeman Daily Chronicle


5/30/07 – State vet details plan to slaughter up to 300 bison

Billings Gazette


5/30/07 – Worst brucellosis fears unrealized
Billings Gazette


5/29/07 – Bison Slaughter / Board of Livestock Meeting

Montana Public Radio Evening Edition



* Livestock Notable Quotes

Here are a few quotes from Tuesday’s Board of Livestock meeting to give you and idea of the mentality behind Montana’s livestock industry.

“We don’t know the source [of brucellosis infection]; the source of infection is unknown.”

~ Montana’s Acting State Vet Jeanne Rankin

“We’re very thin [to focus on cattle] with what’s happening [with buffalo] in West Yellowstone right now.”

~ Montana’s Acting State Vet Jeanne Rankin

“I’m not sure we will have a crew to test bison. Obviously our manpower is over in the Bridger and Emmigrant area, to get those cattle tested.”

~ Montana’s Acting State Vet Jeanne Rankin

“We destroyed 1,000 head of bison, I think we’ll destroy some more, and they’ll continue to do what bison do…”

~ Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

“Our brucellosis-free status could be threatened, not by wildlife, but by livestock.”

~ Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

“[These bison are] casualties of war”

~ Board of Livestock Chairman Bill Hedstrom

“What we are facing here is a disease, and we have to look at it in terms of a disease. We can’t look at it as bison as an icon, or baby calves, we have to look at it as a disease. It’s not a pretty situation, we understand that, but we have to look at it as a disease.”

~ Board of Livestock Chairman Bill Hedstrom

“There shouldn’t have been this many bison out there to begin with.”

~ Meg Smith, Board of Livestock

“I was just getting to your thoughts on, uh, taking the calves and feeding them and stuff, but you’re basically planning to euthanize them and dispose of them?”

~Meg Smith, Board of Livestock

” That’s correct.”

~ Board of Livestock Chariman Bill Hedstrom

“Discussing what to do with these calves … what can we do with week-old calves? When we started the strategic hazing, we had calves on the ground April 10, so some of them are that old, and of course some of them are gonna be newborns… I thought, well, where do we take the beef calves? …We can castrate them, we can spay those heifers, or put them in a quarantine facility… could we do that with these [bison] calves? We’re exploring all our options. The answer is that they are too young to survive on their own. Is there any value in them?”

~ Montana’s Acting State Vet Jeanne Rankin

“The calves nobody wants, but you can probably process them as veal.”

~ Duan Chapino, Deep Well Ranch, near West Yellowstone

“These particular bison, the 200-300 head, are becoming troublesome.”

~ Board of Livestock Chairman Bill Hedstrom

“[Hazing bison] is like trying to put your finger in a dyke.”

~ Rob Tierny, DOL agent

“It’s important for this group to understand how deadly this disease is. What’s so deadly about this disease is that it impacts the rancher. If we do not do this [slaughter buffalo], we will lose the rancher. If we lose the rancher, the last crop he’s going to grow is the subdivision.”

~ Jim Hagenbarth, a Dillon-area rancher and member of Montana Board of Livestock

“The decision [to slaughter bison calves] isn’t pretty, but it’s certainly within the IBMP.”

~ Montana’s Acting State Vet Jeanne Rankin


* Photo of the Week, Baby Buffalo Slideshow, BFC Exclusive Video

This Photo of the Week shows one of the baby buffalo and its mom who are currently being harassed. This little guy would have died today if it weren’t for your strong voice. BFC volunteers Jesse and Amanda were fortunate to spend time with these beautiful beings before today’s harassment commenced. Photo is by BFC Coordinator Jesse Crocker, our amazing Merlyn! http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/photooftheweek.html

This wonderful slide show by BFC Board Member and long-time volunteer Ken Cole also shows you some beautiful buffalo babies and their families as they enjoyed their time on their calving grounds at Horse Butte. Click on the first photo and the slide show will run automatically. Today, sadly, Horse Butte will be empty of these little guys and their gigantic gentle mothers. We must keep contacting the agencies so they will never be sent to slaughter and so they are able to live wild and free! http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/photos/bisonphotos0607maycalves.html

This beautiful video shows what’s at stake, the very buffalo that are slated for execution should the DOL and other agencies follow-through with their plans to slaughter on Monday. These buffalo were out on Horse Butte until this morning, when agents forced them off this pristine habitat back into Yellowstone. The very last portion shows the ugly capture facility that’s been constructed near the airport. We cannot allow them to use it! http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/

Please share these photos & video with others so they, too, can witness the beauty of the mighty buffalo!


* Last Chance: BFC Handcrafted Father’s Day Cards!

Handsome handcrafted Father’s Day cards are still available if you order them online no later than Friday, June 1st. Please visit https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=1807 to place your order today! Questions? Contact barb at buffalo@wildrockies.org. Thank you!


* Earth Friends Matching Grant ~ We Are Oh, So Close!

The Earth Friends Challenge Grant, made possible by the Earth Friends Wildlife Foundation provides an opportunity to help raise $40,000 for BFC’s front lines work. We are very close to reaching our goal thanks to you, the worlds most dedicated bison advocates. There is still time to help if you can make a monetary contribution by June 9, when BFC celebrates it’s 10 Year Anniversary & Family Reunion!

Visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/bisonmerchandise/bisonmerchandise.html to make a secure online donation, or mail your monetary gift to BFC, P.O. Box 957, West Yellowstone, MT 59758.

Thank you for making BFC possible!


* Last Words ~ Ken Cole

“I really wish I had the political power to back up my way of life that you ranchers have to back up your way of life. Nobody’s protecting my way of life. If I got fired from my job, it’s not a big deal, it’s not a front page story. If some rancher loses his way of life we’re all left to basically cry for them because, well, they’ve lost their way of life. Well, I have to adapt. I have to adapt to changes in the world, just like everybody else. Why should ranchers not have to adapt to it? Are you going to compensate me and the rest of the public for the loss of those wildlife that you are going to kill because of this issue that was originated by the livestock industry? This issue with buffalo… we only have 3,500 wild buffalo left in this country. The livestock industry killed the buffalo, the wolves, the grizzly bear, the Native Americans, so that they could run their cattle everywhere across this land. I’ve seen horrific abuses. You should go into Yellowstone Park and see how vibrant the ecosystem is… how much diversity of life there is all over the Park. I was there on Saturday and saw every kind of wildlife you can imagine, and it’s because there are no cows there. You think it’s funny? It’s not funny. [Wildlife diversity] is a good thing. We have thrown away the tools we could have used to feed this continent because of cows which have destroyed massive amounts of land and displaced many many species across this country. It’s a disgrace.”

~ Ken Cole, BFC Board Member and long-time volunteer, giving his public comments at Tuesday’s Board of Livestock meeting.



Media & Outreach

Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758


BFC is the only group working in the field every day

to defend the last wild herd of buffalo in America.

Stay informed! Get our weekly email Updates from the Field:

Send your email address to bfc-media@wildrockies.org

BOYCOTT BEEF! It’s what’s killing wild buffalo.

Speak Out! Contact politicians and involved agencies today:


Write a Letter to the Editor of key newspapers:


Help the buffalo by recycling your used cell phones & printer cartridges:

It’s free and easy. http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/support/recycleprint.html.






  1. Mark McBeth Avatar

    A large herd of bison came over the hill near the Gneiss Creek trail head the morning of June 1. Some of these might be some of the 300 that were out of the park. In a related story West Yellowstone started their “where the bison roam” art tour today.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan