Buffalo Field Campaign Update. Things OK for now. Awful DOL slaughter expected in March

Here is the latest alert/update from the Buffalo Field Campaign. I usually post them to help this hard working and group of brave volunteers. In the winter they have to confront daily the brutal Montana Department of Livestock, but in recent years also the Bushified Forest Service, and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department. Sometimes they get beaten or arrested for non-violent observation, video, and documentation of the harassment and pointless slaughter of Yellowstone’s bison which are confined to Yellowstone Park’s artificial boundary under the myth that they are a brucellosis disease threat to cattle which are now almost non-existent in the areas the bison try to leave the Park to roam. Ralph Maughan

First here is a story from New West on Park bison this winter. State and Federal Agencies Predict Busy Winter for Bison Management. By David Nolt.
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Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update from the Field

December 6, 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.
NUMBER OF AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
Total Since 2000: 2,028
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, state and treaty hunts


In this issue:

  • Update from the Field
  • Lots of BuffaLove and Praises
  • BFC Newsletters and Notecards Available Soon!
  • Ski, Shop, and Surf to Save the Buffalo and Support BFC
  • Last Words


* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

We are very happy to report that no wild buffalo have been harassed or killed since we wrote to you last week.

Last Friday BFC met with Yellowstone National Park administrators and on Tuesday we attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan open house. At both meetings the news from the agencies wasn’t good. They told us that it will likely be a very bad winter for our friends the buffalo.

One of the reasons given by the government agencies is the increased paranoia instilled in Montana’s cattle producers since brucellosis was detected in a Montana cattle herd last spring. While it is widely known that wild buffalo were not responsible for this transmission, and while there is no substantial evidence that the source wasn’t domestic cattle, the cattle industry is looking to blame Yellowstone wildlife, in particular the elk and buffalo. The industry fails to take responsibility for bringing brucellosis to this continent and infecting native wildlife.

The agencies are also prepared to heavily haze, capture and slaughter buffalo this year based on Yellowstone’s estimate of 4,700 individuals. Though Yellowstone biologists have stated time and again that the Park could sustain well over 5,000 buffalo, the Interagency Bison misManagement Plan’s politically derived population cap for wild buffalo living in Yellowstone is 3,000. Based on this, the agencies could capture and kill upwards of 1,700 buffalo. It is a sad day when a sacred keystone species that once numbered in the tens of millions and has been reduced to an island population of fewer than 5,000 is deemed “overpopulated.” It is an even sadder day when the agencies who are responsible for conserving and protecting wildlife cow-tow to the economic interests of the cattle industry and sacrifice native wildlife in the process.

Yellowstone National Park, the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks have all made it perfectly clear that once the buffalo hunt is over on February 15, hazing, capture and slaughter will begin in earnest. It is very difficult to have such a warning of impending doom.

We have an opportunity to help stop the harassment and slaughter before it begins. Please visit the BFC web site to contact the decision-makers and strongly urge them to rethink their nefarious plans http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html. Please spread the word to save the herd! One positive thing these agencies could do, at least on the western boundary of Yellowstone, is to let the wild buffalo have the Horse Butte Peninsula. Horse Butte is now completely cattle-free, and there is absolutely no excuse for the agencies to insist on capturing and killing wild buffalo for accessing this land. These agencies base decisions on the assumption that cattle-based economics outweigh the interests and integrity of wildlife and wild places. We must raise our voices and let them know they are wrong!
Roam Free,


* Lots of BuffaLove and Thanks

Thanks are due to many many people who responded to my asking for donations in memory of my companion Phil Morton whose birthday falls on Earth Day. In the April 19, 2007 issue of the update I asked specifically for donation to enable the campaign to buy new radios. This week, from the monies raised, we were able to purchase three new radios which will help us to stay in better communication with volunteers and staff out in the field. Also, many thanks to those of you who have been gathering ESA petition signatures and sending them to us. You can download the petition here: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/science/buffaloesapetition.pdf

When gathering petitions, please make sure that signers put in an address and zip+4. Any signatures without an address are considered invalid. Also, if you receive BFC’s annual newsletter, please let us know if you have had a change of address. The newsletter is set to mail very soon and we want to make sure it reaches you! If you would like to be added to our snail mail list, please send your mailing address to bfc@wildrockies.org. See be And finally, thanks for the iBook and eMac donations. Our lives got a lot easier and our productivity went up with these computers.

Standing with and for the buffalo until they are WILD & FREE again, sending you all lots of BUFFA-LOVE!

barb abramo

Office Coordinator


* BFC Newsletters and Notecards Available Soon!

BFC’s 2007-2008 newsletter is hot off the press and will be mailed to our supporters starting next week. Please let us know if you have had a change of address, if you are not on our mailing list and would like to receive a newsletter, or if you want to help spread the word and save the buffalo herd by placing newsletters around your community. Write to Dan at bfc@wildrockies.org.

Buffalo Field Campaign is proud to offer these new and beautiful notecards featuring the original “Tatanka 2” design by Marian Osher. Notecards cost $15 for a pack of ten and can be purchased online or through the mail. These cards are being printed now and should be available next week. Click the link to view the sharp new design and to pre-order:



* Ski, Shop, and Surf to Save the Buffalo and Support BFC

February Colorado Ski Vacation

Bidding on BFC’s second annual Crested Butte Ski Vacation Fundraiser will begin next week. This year’s package will include a week’s lodging in a five star condominium at the base of the resort, lift tickets, meals at Crested Butte restaurants, and groceries. 100% of the proceeds from the auction will go directly to Buffalo Field Campaign. The Ebay Auction will take place between now and Christmas. Check the BFC web site next week for more information or email bfc@wildrockies.org. A big thanks to long-time BFC supporter Deanna W. for making this fundraiser possible with the donation of her condominium.

Support BFC With Online Purchases

If you could give Buffalo Field Campaign up to 26% of the money you spend every time you shop, at no extra cost to you, would you do it? Well that’s exactly what happens when you make purchases through iGive.com. Shop online at one of over 680 retailers such as Patagonia, Land’s End, Apple, iTunes, Sharper Image, and Ebay and support Buffalo Field Campaign in the process! It doesn’t cost anything to join and once you’re a member, every time you shop through iGive.com, Buffalo Field Campaign receives a percentage of each purchase.

Click on http://www.iGive.com/BFC for a new and easy way to help raise money for BFC.

Surf the Web and Save the Buffalo

Use GoodSearch and generate contributions to BFC. Visit http://www.goodsearch.com/ and start today.


* Last Words

“I’m a buffalo. I do what I want.



Media & Outreach

Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957

West Yellowstone, MT 59758


BFC is the only group working in the field every day in defense of the last wild buffalo in the U.S.

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. Steve Avatar

    Just for historical perspective, does anytone know if things were better for bison when Clinton was president (less hazing/killing)? Can we look for things to get better if a democrat is elected?

  2. sal Avatar

    Well, I do know that there were possible bison-friendly policy changes in the works before BushCo. came careening into town.

    That all ended in 2001.

    Also, it should be noted that the one superintendent of Yellowstone National Park — who was an opponent of the Interim Bison Management Plan of the time — Mike Finley, resigned his post within days following the awful week that Cheney and Norton went careening through the Park using Mr. Finley as a backdrop.

    There was a chance that things could change until the current administration happened. Shortly thereafter, the BFC was labeled “eco-terrorists” by BushCo.

    How unfortunate since the BFC is one of the least objectionable activist groups I have ever encountered. They bear the brunt of criticism when they are the ones with the really awful truth available for the public to see.

    Make sense? Watch some of their video footage.

  3. robert10 Avatar

    Let us not forget that the great bison shootout of ten years ago at the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park took place under the Clinton administration. Democrat or Republican, agricultural interests have both parties sewn up. Unless activists are willing to challenge agriculture directly through a variety of legal, political, and legal actions, we won’t get anywhere.

    Robert Hoskins, .

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The big slaughter began abruptly in 1996, and the issue and periodic large slaughters have continued since. 1996 was the worst year with the most violation of people’s property rights. After that the DOL started capturing the bison and hauling them off the the meat packing facility rather than gunning them down in folks’ yards and fields.

    In the 1990s, the Administration itself seemed to stay out of the issue (meaning no help), and letting APHIS follow their own lead and talk about how awful it would be for Montana if the state lost its “brucellosis-free” status. On the Montana side, the slaughter was pushed by Montana DOL and their oily, sleezy governor Marc Racicot (pronounced Roscoe).

    One of the really interesting arguments in 1996 was how Yellowstone Park had let the elk population grow out of control so there wasn’t enough “feed” to keep the “dangerous” bison in the Park. This was a favorite of the Montana Stockgrowers Assn.

  5. kim kaiser Avatar

    has the present dem gov acutally done anything other than run off at the mouth at how he thought the situation was bad and needed revision,, then turns right around last spring and initailly signed onto the harrass, caputre and slaughter, until they got bombed with bad press over the deal,, he knows who signs his checks!! and he wont do anything until wwf, nature conserv, sierra, defenders or who ever comes to a better deal for him,,,at least with current fed situation, you know whats coming, no sugar coat, no false promise, but this other guy, the mont gov, he talks but he ends up crawfishing, backing down and folding up like a cheap paper sack,, gives false hope, you cant count on him to back up his talk,,so you lose time and effort, thnking he is going ot support or at least stand up,, and then he backs down, and your loss of time and efforts to get more support is wasted,,thats the way i see this think,,

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Here’s what I think. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer did clearly understand the mythic nature of the “brucellosis club (weapon),” that these various livestock associations and bureaucracies have been welding over each other and the Park Service — the great, horrible, agonizing, unbearable fear that should one herd of cows turn up with brucellosis and then a second, Montana would lose its “brucellosis-free” status. The federal agency APHIS (Animal, Plant Health, Inspection Service) would supposedly lay regulatory waste to the state’s cattle industry and the economy of Montana would perish.

    Governor Schweitzer, like him or not, is a smart man. He understands that Idaho lost its brucellosis free status and it was almost a non-event. Things were more dicey when Wyoming lost theirs, but the “Cowboy State’s” economy continued to boom. In both cases elk, not bison, were the vector for transmitting this somewhat inconvenient disease.

    The Governor understands that the Montana news media have deliberately, or unwittingly frightened part of Montana’s population by their unrelenting coverage of this mythic issue. So he had to be careful.

    So he proposed that Montana be split into two regions for purposes of brucellosis status. One would be the relatively small area around Yellowstone Park were there actually are infected elk and the constantly harassed bison. Then there would be a zone for the rest of the state where any brucellosis infection would have to come from previously infected cattle, most likely not even from Montana.

    He proposed a set of strict rules for the Yellowstone area, but rules which would let some of the pressure off of bison, and the rest of the state would then be free of that political threat of REVOKING BRUCELLOSIS FREE STATUS!!

    The Montana Cattlegrowers Association, which seems to be more economically realistic than the Montana Stockgrowers Association, said “OK, good idea.” The Stockgrowers and their political allies on the other hand, who are more ideological, said “hell no.” They understood their weapon with which to pummel Yellowstone, the damn tourists, the hippie tree huggers, the new property owners, Montana in general, would be gone. So they killed the proposal.

    The governor said OK, “stew in your own juices.”

    So he didn’t do anything for the bison in the short run, but he tried. I imagine he’s waiting for the right moment.

    I could be wrong.

  7. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    When I went up to Bozeman earlier this week to talk with folks at the Buffalo Field Campaign and other conservation groups concerned with the bison, and also attend the Interagency Bison Management Plan Open House at the Holiday Inn, I learned that their take on Schweitzer’s failure to push split status–not to mention work to solve the overall bison problem– was a bit more cynical than the opinion that you’ve stated here. Yes, Schweitzer understands the rancher-driven politics of brucellosis, but he is simply unwilling to expend any political capital to do anything about it. He bailed pretty quickly on split status, didn’t he? He’s not trying and doesn’t intend to try. It was all talk.

    In fact, even the more moderate conservationists with a concern for bison and bison habitat are losing patience with Schweitzer and are contemplating going after him with the gloves off.

    I suggested a billboard slogan with which to go after Schweitzer: “Dump Schweitzer. He lied about the buffalo. What else has he lied about?”

    In other words, people are becoming really unhappy with Gov Brian.


  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You might be right. He could be content instead to bask in his considerable national attention as the “bold return of the Western Democrat.”

    I think this winter will show because the potential is high for an internationally watched Yellowstone wildlife “train wreck” inside the drought-ridden Park.

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    The folks at the BFC are not hopeful for a good winter, and DOL has expressed its intent to be very aggressive.

    The wild card from the standpoint of the bison is how will Montana’s Dept. of Livestock deal with the new landowners on Horse Butte, the Galanis’, who have declared their property a bison-welcome zone and have told DOL its agents may not enter private property to haze bison under any circumstances. Meanwhile, DOL continues to assert its statutory right to raid private property to “manage” bison. If DOL does crash the gate of private property, that might help steer the public debate in the right direction. The Montana State Vet is very aware that DOL is facing a public relations nightmare with the Galanis’. It will be interesting to watch. It will be more interesting to see whether Gov Brian steps in when the heat increases.


  10. Buffaloed Avatar

    This piece, brought to us by Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers, is about ten years old. Still, it serves as a nice, thirty-minute introduction to the history and current state of the ongoing buffalo slaughter.

  11. Buffaloed Avatar

    For a time it appeared that things would change with this issue under Schweitzer because he professed understanding of the issue. I thought that under Schweitzer the character of the DoL would change because he could appoint the commissioners. Things didn’t go that way and, in fact, the DoL remained the same and the NPS got worse. Right now I think that things are as bad as I’ve ever seen for the buffalo if they leave the park because they are hunted and now have the DoL and Park Service ready to stop any move that they make.

    Look at the totals since the Bushies came in:

    There are weather, forage, population, and political components to the slaughter numbers but this year all of those components could come into play to make it an extremely bad year for buffalo.

    I doubt that Schweitzer will do anything and the other groups besides BFC mentioned in previous comments do little if anything other than raise funds on the issue. I think that GYC is the worst in this regard. Do I sound resentful?

  12. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Buffaloed, you don’t sound resentful to me; you sound frustrated and disappointed, as am I.

    As always, I maintain that because the management plan was born of a court settlement, some sharp legal mind(s) ($$$) needs to get this issue back into court. But thank you, Buffalo Field Campaign, for keeping this issue up front.

    I also think Janae’ and Rob Galanis probably plan to use any trespassing of DOL as a huge publicity tool. Thank you, Janae’ and Rob Galanis. Has anyone had any contact with them? I tried 3 or 4 times to reach him one day.

    When does the Interagency Bison Management Plan expire and what does if call for at that point in time?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  13. kim kaiser Avatar

    i would bet there isnt a lot of waiting on the winter to see how the dol and the privte ownership standoff comes out. If there is a potential nasty legal conflict, the dol has more than likely already begun legal research into there rights to trespass, long before they ever actually move onto the property. We can only hope the private owner has also begun preparations to injunct them from trespassing and they have the finanacial wherewithall to stand up to a prolonged legal fight with the government.

  14. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Kim is absolutely right that there is a lot of legal research going on right now on the part of the DOL. However, I do not have the impression that the Galanisse are naive. And the fact still remains that in spite of whatever legal conclusions DOL comes to, this is shaping up to be a public relations disaster.

    Let us not forget the national uproar over the US Supreme Court’s decision to authorize the use of eminent domain by a municipality to take property for private development. It may have been legal, but the politics overwhelmed the legality.

    This will be very interesting to watch.

  15. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I have advocated to conservation groups ever since the 1990s that the “property rights” issue should be their’s, not that of the browns who have filed some very bizarre cases based on property rights (although they have won some key cases, beginning with Lucas v. South Carolina).

    If I had a big group, there would be attorneys filing all kinds of property “takings” cases against polluters, developers and government agencies.

    It must be the way conservation folks get active that prevents them from seeing that destruction of the environment is in part a property rights issue.

  16. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Ralph, I know it’s off topic, but will you elaborate: “It must be the way conservation folks get active that prevents them from seeing that destruction of the environment is in part a property rights issue.”

    What you’ve stated is very interesting to me…

    To whom does our common/community air belong to?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own


  17. kim kaiser Avatar

    i would suspect the people that bought the land were aware of legal complications involved, but VERY VERY few people, as individuals have the resources to combat, government without some sort of support from outside. (money) govt can drag and drag and drag and wear down an individual(s) in courts.

  18. Buffaloed Avatar

    I believe the Galanis’ have pretty sufficient funds to fight a lawsuit since the property sold for several million dollars, I think it was around $10 million. That’s just speculation though.

  19. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Aside from the obvious reasons i am even more concerned about this winter than those past. The first reason that the DOL in trying to save face after being shutdown in May made quite the impression when they greeted all the visitors when the park opened this spring, by playing wildwest cowboys. A big mistake in our favor. Don’t be surprised when they get irritated again, sooner than usual, and then OOOPS !!! And it started when they were not permitted to kill the group of 300+ bison. Out of spite they shot the bison numerous times with bright orange paintballs. Bratty a**holes to say the very least. And very spoiled rotten from having free reign. I had better leave my comments at that and end with the following; no hope for the suffer’s of Acute Cranial Rectosis.

  20. barbprotectswildlife Avatar

    Since cattlemen can run their cattle all over the Western US because of “Open Range” laws (ridiculous outdated laws), how about if we give rights to the Bison to Native American tribes who should also be able to run their bison anywhere they want.

    If the cattlemen don’t like the bison coming onto their “property” too bad for them. They can go cry in their boots.

    Under “Open Range Laws,” livestock owners are not responsible if their animals leave their property.

    Native Americans need and deserve the same rights as white man. I thought this was a country where every man is equal with equal rights?

    Apparently not — since the Native Americans don’t have control over the bison, as I think they should.

    Let’s let the bison and cattle fight it out — see which animals survive — which ones are meant to be here grazing freely on North American lands.


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.

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Ralph Maughan