Brutal harassment of bison west of Yellowstone Park

Whatever happened to the vaunted new May 15 tolerance date?

Supposedly it would be different this spring. Bison would allowed to migrate out of the Park and onto Horse Butte free from harassment until at least May 15. The reality is pretty much like recent years. Brutal Montana Department of Livestock agents and Yellowstone Park personnel on horses are chasing bison back into the Park. Helicopters harass them from above. Not just bison, but all Yellowstone wildlife on the west side of the Park are disrupted.

The whole exercise is pointless because there are no cattle in the area to which the bison can theoretically transfer brucellosis. According to the Buffalo Field Campaign, there remains just one small hobby rancher in the area who won’t have cattle on his ranch until mid- to late-June.

In case anyone has missed it, my view is that the entire point of this yearly outrage is simply to show us who really runs things in Montana, and it’s not the citizens of the state or of the United States.

Please contact President Obama. It’s time to see if our new President cares any more about this than George W. did.

Ralph Maughan


Here is the report from the Buffalo Field Campaign.

~Update from the Field

This mama buffalo and her newborn calf have had a very difficult week.

Chaos is reigning along Yellowstone National Park’s western boundary as the thumping of chopper blades and the shouts of government agents repeatedly harass wild buffalo families and all wildlife near the Madison River.  Nearly 200 buffalo – including dozens of newborn calves, yearlings, and pregnant mothers – have been ruthlessly run off of their spring habitat within the Gallatin National Forest.  Agents are out harassing buffalo as this Update is being written.

Newborn buffalo calves and many pregnant buffalo cows have been run for miles through pockets of deep snow, barbed wire fences, thick forests laden with dead-fall, fast moving river currents, mucky wetlands, and steep, sandy bluffs.  For these babies, it is a terrible and sometimes deadly introduction to the world.  The new and developing muscles of these little ones cannot sustain such abuse. Today, mounted Montana Department of Livestock and Yellowstone National Park horsemen have picked up the hazing operation at Yellowstone’s border, after it left Gallatin National Forest land, and are currently pushing the exhausted buffalo deep into Yellowstone National Park’s interior with the assistance of the Montana Department of Livestock’s helicopter.Two days ago, Buffalo Field Campaign patrols witnessed one baby buffalo unable escape the DOL agents, trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a barbed wire fence. Numerous times the baby buffalo ran into the sharp, unforgiving fence, as its worried mother waited.  Frightened, the little one finally scrambled through, only to be continuously pursued by the harsh, aggressive actions of Department of Livestock agents.

Yesterday and today patrols documented buffalo being hazed across the Madison River by horses and the helicopter after being forced to run for miles.  The buffalo were exhausted and yesterday three little calves narrowly escaped being carried away by the river. One baby buffalo collapsed after it used it’s last bit of energy to climb the steep bank.  It took every ounce of restraint for our patrols not to jump in and help it out.  Thankfully, the baby was able to finally climb the bank. While these horrific events take a tremendous toll on the buffalo, it is amazing to see the strength and resolve that enables them to escape.

Watch BFC’s video footage from this week and please share these images with others so that more people can be made aware of what is happening.  Then, please take a moment to contact President Barack Obamaeven if you have already done so – and continue to urge him to take immediate action to stop the harassment and slaughter of these gentle giants.

All of these heavy-handed management actions have been taking place south of the Madison River.  Next week, the rest of the western boundary lands, including the always cattle-free Horse Butte Peninsula, will be terrorized.  May 15 marks the dreaded day where livestock interests demand that all wild bison be forced out of Montana, even though there’s not a cow in sight.

Your federal tax dollars are being wasted to harass buffalo and all the wildlife in this fragile ecosystem because the cattle industry doesn’t want wild buffalo eating grass they claim is for their cows alone.  They use the fraudulent brucellosis argument as means to scare the public into accepting that these horrific actions are necessary.  Yet there’s not a single cow in sight, and there’s never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the cattle-disease brucellosis back to livestock.  And even if there were, neither invasive cattle nor the economic interests of Montana’s cattle industry are worth this disastrous management scheme that harms America’s last wild bison population, terrorizing the Yellowstone ecosystem and all of her inhabitants.  As an example of wasteful government spending, all of the past week’s activities have essentially been focused to cater to the interests of one small hobby rancher who won’t even have cattle on his ranch until mid- to late-June.

The lives of wild buffalo must not be sacrificed for invasive cattle. Please take action now and help spread the word to save the last wild herds!


~BFC Needs You on the Front Lines!

Buffalo Field Campaign is looking for volunteers to join us on the front lines now.  Buffalo migration is in full swing and our shaggy friends are everywhere, keeping us busy nearly 24 hours a day. Extreme and invasive hazing operations have begun, and will likely continue throughout the rest of the month, and possibly beyond.  We need you to join us on the front lines!  BFC provides room, board, training, and gear; the ecosystem provides the magic and mystery.  If you are interested, please contact Chris, our volunteer coordinator at or call 406-646-0070.

We are also looking for summer volunteers to help us with outreach in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  Talking to park visitors who are in the company of the buffalo we are trying to protect is a great way to raise awareness and make more friends for the buffalo. If you would like to spend some or all of your summer with BFC, please contact Chris at or call 406-646-0070.

See you in West Yellowstone in the land of the last wild buffalo!

~Freedom to Roam:  Patagonia Features Wild Buffalo

Patagonia, Inc. has been a long-time supporter of Buffalo Field Campaign helping us in so many ways we could never thank them enough. Patagonia sets the example for businesses to become ecologically-minded, walking the talk for decades, championing numerous efforts around the globe that aim to protect wild places and the creatures that live there.

In their most recent initiative, Freedom to Roam, Patagonia is featuring wild buffalo and the efforts of locally-based organizations to help America’s last wild population recover their stolen ground. Patagonia explains, “Freedom to Roam is Patagonia’s current environmental campaign. Its goal is to create, restore and protect wildways or corridors between habitats so animals can survive. Patagonia’s partners in Freedom to Roam include the Freedom to Roam Coalition, which includes other companies, conservation organizations, rural activists, recreation groups, and those who live on the land.”

View a video clip featuring Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo, Buffalo Field Campaign, and our wild shaggy friends themselves.  Thank you Patagonia!

~!Apple Laptop Computer Needed for BFC’s Media Crew

BFC’s media crew is looking for a good Apple/Mac laptop computer. All of our computers are currently stationary systems, and a laptop will enable us to work from other locations and consequently be more effective with communications and outreach.  All donations to BFC are tax deductible and are very much appreciated!  If you can help us acquire a laptop please contact Stephany at or call us at 406-646-0070.

~Last Words

“The hubris [of those] who believe that nature will fall apart if humans aren’t there “managing” the land is unbelievable. All livestock production in the arid West has unavoidable ecological impacts-changes in nutrient cycles, changes in fire regimes, soil compaction, spread of weeds, competition with native herbivores, damage to riparian zones, dewatering rivers (for irrigation), and so forth. And the list of species endangered or jeopardized primarily or largely as a result of livestock production includes many animals … Indeed, livestock grazing is the single greatest cause of species endangerment in the West. “

~ George Wuerthner Wildlands champion and editor of “Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West

~Kill Tally*

AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2008-2009 Total: 17

2008-2009 Slaughter: 0
2008-2009 Hunt: 1
2008-2009 Quarantine: 0
2008-2009 Shot by Agents: 1
2008-2009 Highway Mortality:  15

2007-2008 Total: 1,631

Total Since 2000: 3,698*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortalities

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


  1. Steve C Avatar
    Steve C

    I hope the helicopter crashes. These people working for the BLM have to be psychotic.

  2. Craig Avatar

    Everywhere I drive which is a huge area and most cattle calved in February. Why the hell are they wasting tax payers money for this bullshit?

  3. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    This is so disgusting. My question is, does this make it most other places in the country or is it basically only known to people immediately around Yellowstone? Do people know about this in DC? I understand brucellosis concerns but it is well known that brucellosis occurs in elk and yet nobody is hazing them or shooting them.

  4. Salle Avatar

    Maybe the “authorities” might think twice if the helicopter crashed and someone was killed.

    The news doesn’t go very far, just like so many other issues that aren’t carried by the corporate media and NPR or most other “news” services. It sure doesn’t get much airtime.

    Mostly only people in Yellowstone, north and west, are aware of this. Elk have a lobbying group and bring in lots of cash to the state so there isn’t a lot of opposition from that crowd And then there is the “South African aparthied-like” overpowered minority of the cattle industry who always get their way when it comes to their nemesis–wildlife…

  5. Indamani Avatar

    ProWolf and Salle,
    I’m aware of the plight of Yellowstone’s wild bison and I’m not from the Yellowstone area. I’ve been a supporter of BFC for more than a year now and I’ve told my friends and family about the heavy handed tactics of Montana’s DOL in their mistreatment of the bison. So, yes, there are people outside of Yellowstone area who are aware of this.

  6. Ballgame Avatar

    What an absolute joke! Last night after reading this and watching the video footage, my ten year old son wanted to know why this isn’t animal cruelty and why no one was doing anything to stop it. I found these questions impossible to answer. I will go a similar direction–why is this ok to the people of Montana, the DOL, and the Park Service?

  7. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    This just continues each year with very little change. WHERE’S the organized protest? And why is it so difficult to garner the support of enough bodies to bring attention to this injustice.
    I just finished reading about the slaughter of kangaroos in Australia and how it was stopped by a crowd of protesters and then I remember being in
    Helena on January 6th where only 14 protesters showed up to voice disapproval of the bison policy at the legislative inauguration.
    Ralph…anybody….what is this about???
    And, once again, where are the “mainline” enviro groups??? You know, the ones with all the $$ and a half million members.

  8. Linda Hunter Avatar

    I sent a story suggestion to NPR Fresh Air program.

  9. jimbob Avatar

    Let’s be honest, too. I think the ranchers and state of Montana want the buffalo inside Yellowstone so that they don’t eat a single blade of the RANCHERS’ public land grass. They’ve already reduced the number of bison, so their impact on the land is negligible anyway. I think the brucellosis is a convenient excuse to hide their greed. If bison numbers ever increased and they were allowed to roam they might eat all of “those ranchers’ grass”!! Aren’t the public lands there so the ranchers can make a profit? Can sarcasm be read in print?

  10. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I don’t think brucellosis is a convenient excuse, I know it for a fact….

  11. jimbob Avatar

    I didn’t fully make my point—I know of no other example where a competing group (Montana Department of Agriculture) is put in charge of a competing resource ( the bison which eat grass that ranchers want). Would this be like allowing Railway transporters to regulate interstate highway travel? Or is it more like letting Ford regulate what happens to Chevrolet? There is a serious legal conflict of interest within the state of Montana! When I travel to Montana I will keep most of my business in the Park this year!

  12. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    As an organizer in Bozeman, it is very frustrating trying to organize resistance; there’s just not a social activist culture here – seemingly that’s all supposed to happen in Missoula (and doesn’t really happen as much there as the reputation) or celebrated or largely forgotten in the old days of Wobblies in Butte.

    We are trying; we are failing to get much traction. I think it’s going to take more than this issue; people in Bozeman will have to organize on a variety of issues and then have consciousness on how those issues are connected. And, I do think Bozeman is the key; it’s by far the largest urban area anywhere near this dispute. Without local outpouring here, we aren’t going to have sustainable advocacy.

    It’s been very easy to get people signed up to receive information – in a year, we’ve grown from “0” on our lists to over 400; however, to get sustained support in organizing, that’s proving to be very difficult. I don’t have good ideas how to make a passively aware and supportive populace into a core of actively supportive local residents.

    Anyone in the area who wants to commit more of their time to helping is actively encouraged to get involved.

  13. Jim Macdonald Avatar


    The NPS has been as responsible as Montana for all of this. One thing I ask people … I don’t know if people are aware that the park’s largest concessionaire, Xanterra, proudly serves Montana beef. I would ask people first of all not to eat it and secondly to let Xanterra know that doing so is working against the interests of bison.

    I think that could be a point of leverage for park visitors and a message to the Park Service that their own contractors will be punished for propping up the myth that eating Montana cattle somehow might support conserving wildlife habitat (something Xanterra claims right on their Web site).

  14. Salle Avatar

    Since I had little time to write out my comment earlier, let me clarify now that I have more time to do so.

    What I said:

    “The news doesn’t go very far, just like so many other issues that aren’t carried by the corporate media and NPR or most other ‘news’ services. It sure doesn’t get much airtime.

    Mostly only people in Yellowstone, north and west, are aware of this. Elk have a lobbying group and bring in lots of cash to the state so there isn’t a lot of opposition from that crowd. And then there is the “South African aparthied-like” overpowered minority of the cattle industry who always get their way when it comes to their nemesis–wildlife…”

    To elaborate more clearly:

    I champion the years of active attempts by the BFC to call nationwide attention to this travesty and outright assault on wildlife by a government sanctioned special interest with support in the form of personnel, policy and $$. I know for a fact that the BFC has tried to call media attention to this in multiple forms but are generally ignored by mainstream media, and that’s a shame. Shame on the media, the government agencies that support this and to the public for not screaming bloody murder about it in great numbers.

    What will it take to get nationwide attention? Probably several human fatalities, like helicopter crashes and the like. Sorry to say but I believe that is what it will probably take.

    When I bring up the subject and/or send BFC info to others outside the Yellowstone region, they respond with shock and tell me they have never heard anything about this and that they are upset, but they rarely do much to address it in their lives either. Even in DC.

    Don’t know how else to deal with it myself. If I were wealthy, I’d probably sit outside the Cabinet offices on a daily basis and state my objections on numerous wildlife concerns, wolves and bison primarily but also to state my objections to public lands grazing and other corporate based crimes against nature.

  15. Steve C Avatar
    Steve C

    We should demand that the park superindendent lose her job. She might be an easier target than the DOL.

  16. Indamani Avatar

    If she’s booted out, the next superintendent will be in the same positon as she is…. just another pawn of the livestock industry.

  17. Salle Avatar

    It’s certainly time for one that isn’t a leftover from the Bu$h era of nonpublic servants. There’s a book review in the High Country News recently that was written about how the park is dealing with the snowmobile issues and since he wasn’t touting the park policy of late, she’s trying to force him out. I thought this was a country where you could voice your opinion freely… Guess not.

    Ms. Lewis needs to be replaced ASAP. But will Mr. Salazar be willing to do that? So far, he hasn’t done anything I’m in agreement with.

  18. Steve C Avatar
    Steve C

    The bison issue seems like something someone in her position should be willing to lose their job over, kicking screaming and drawing as much attention to the problem as possible.

  19. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    It is interesting that Lewis at the last IBMP meeting suggested starting the whole IBMP process over again – blowing the whole thing up, something she never said before. That perhaps suggested to those surprised to hear it that she’s trying to save her job.

  20. Don George Avatar
    Don George

    Salazar is a rancher and everyone might as well get used to it. Obama from what I can tell was not an outdoor type person who frequented the National Parks etc.. He relies on Salazar and Science (thats a laugh) for his decision making policies related to the Parks. Most of Obama’s appointments in this arena have been a great disapointment. I voted for change and got more of the same! Hopefully someone will wake up and realize that a large group of U.S. voters are getting upset with the way our wildlife is being treated! Maybe once the economy stabilizes more focus will be placed in other areas.

  21. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Jerry b, you bring up a very good point about protesting. The tactic worked on kangaroo hunts in Australia as well as on elephant culls in Kruger National Park in South Africa (I’m not advocating any position on those, just mentioning). I think the reason people don’t protest is that it is too “liberal” in these states and like committing treason.

  22. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    ProWolf, I’d accept the thesis about being “too liberal” except that there are liberal enclaves all over the West, and its the liberals who are least prone to protest. They prefer working within the existing system to come up with solutions only to lose again and again. The people you see protesting here are libertarians and right-leaning groups by and large, with a few exceptions.

    I just think, speaking in the case of my own town, is that there’s not a strong sense of community here. Over half the people who now live here didn’t live here 10 years ago. There’s not a strong sense of community, and without that strong sense, you aren’t going to have very strong organizing.

    The other thing about protest is that the larger cities where protest is more common is still just a function of large numbers. Per capita, there are probably more people willing to be active out here – I’m finding our lists are 10 times the size per capita as they were in a grassroots anti-war group in Washington, DC – the capital of protest (at least on the East coast). However, when you are working with a pool of millions of people, you are going to fool yourselves into effectiveness by organizing the minutest fraction of people. Here, a much bigger fraction won’t necessarily translate into sustainable organizing success because there are so many fewer people. Gallatin County, for instance, has 85,000 people in a very large area; a smaller area that is metro DC/Baltimore has 7 million people (about 90 times more!) With that ratio, you can build very small minorities of grassroots protest activists without even trying very hard. You have to try much harder here and be much more creative. On the other hand, it’s easier to do some things (like get published in the papers).

    Anyhow, I can go on and on. I’m not convinced that people don’t protest out of fear of the “liberal” label; I think it’s much more fundamental. The whole idea of “organizing” seems to have had a dirty connotation in America if labor history is any sign of the truth.

  23. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Here’s a strange twist on brutalizing wildlife with a helicopter. In the 1980s, Glacier National Park chartered a helicopter and made tree top flights again and again and again over grizzly bears gathered to feast on huckleberries in the backcountry miles from the nearest road. It was the greatest gathering of grizzlies in the lower-48 states. The NPS was dive-bombing the bears on defacto wilderness lands with a helicopter.

    Environmental saint Doug Peacock objected to these flights. He didn’t find many allies. The public and the media told him to bugger off. With the exception of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, the major environmental groups essentially told him to buzz off.

  24. Maska Avatar

    Dave, what was the ostensible purpose of these flights?

  25. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Jim, I am basing that assumption off of what I have noticed about a lot of people who I knew when I was growing up in the Bozeman area and since I have moved to Wyoming. I will agree that there are liberal enclaves around all of these conservative states. I think that what you are saying makes even more of a case for the fact that the livestock interests run the show in the western states. Regardless of what public opinion may be, it is always deferred to livestock producers.

  26. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Jim….I can’t help but thinking that the “lets collaborate” mentality has taken over for the protest movements even though it hasn’t worked. WWP is one example however, of a group that gets the job done without “building a consensus” with the livestock industry. They’ve realized the futility of dealing with the “big hats”. They just sue their asses
    The other extreme is “Defenders”…….just go to any small town meeting in western Montana and you’ll see how their “consensus building” is perceived. They’re disliked and disrespected.

  27. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Maska–The NPS was dive-bombing grizzlies in Glacier to do “research.” An aerial population count of grizzlies feeding on huckleberries in a tiny geographic area. The plan was to count the bears year after year. In theory, if a long term trend showed a 20% decline in the number of bears, the NPS could assume the overall grizzly bear population in the park also declined 20%.

  28. TallTrent Avatar

    The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the one major environmental group that has been calling attention to the bison situation. Just a few days ago, I got an e-mail from them about the upcoming May 15 hazing deadline. This does mean they are a bit out of touch, as the the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) folks have already documented the hazing, but it does mean one major group is calling attention to the situation. NRDC was on the ball with regular updates with the mass slaughter of bison during the winter before this one.

  29. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    It is true that NRDC has been a better partner on the bison issue than most NGOs; there are a coalition of bison advocacy groups working together – that includes BFC – and NRDC is one of a few that have been active. And, of those few, NRDC has certainly been the most active.

    It’s sometimes a challenge, though, getting the communications between groups straight and coming to consensus on some shared strategies, or getting enough solidarity on divergent strategies. That kind of work is always frustrating, and you can sense the energy rising and falling when there’s often so much lack of agreement on next steps in such a frustrating issue. All strategies – even some that have worked with other wildlife – feel like you are headed into a brick wall.

    At heart, I’m a rabble rouser and an agitator; I feel most empowered when you fight power where they are and give up the charade that there is a peer to peer relationship here. But, the effectiveness of that way of doing things is not shared – as one should expect – and I hope for the sake of the buffalo that we can find that will to find some shared strategies whatever they may be. I do think some of our problem has been the lack of a decisive will and energy to go with a plan – even one we may all have some doubts about – and press forward with full gusto. We don’t have a lot of good options, but following none of the options or some of them as haphazardly as we do is often worse.

    In any event, I’m feeling less positive about things … perhaps, it’s that time of year when we feel such an emotional helplessness seeing our friends – the buffalo – suffer yet again.

  30. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Question for anyone…..What is the source of the money used by Montana DOL for helicopters, atv’s, manpower etc?

  31. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    A good amount of MDOL funding is derived from their per capita fee assessments

    But they also derive income from other sources such as donations, etc.

  32. buffalorunner Avatar

    MDOL also receives big federal $$’s for bison “mis”-management. Check out their website at this link:

  33. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Give me some bucks to run the protest and I will give you results.

    I beat Dick Cheney, his wire tapping and mail opening thugs and the political NPS in the 2 years nationally publicized Griz- elk salting issue…. successfully took on the outfitters and their poaching against a lot of Forest Service, NPS, FWS and state game warden good old boys…even succeeded inhouse in a meer 5 minute defense after the NPS spent $50,000 in stategy time and a termination paper flung my way across the coffeee table after a Tom Brokaw trip to my area. The big shots couldn’t get out the door fast enough as I was coming back in to hear their “decision”.

    I stopped a head of NPS Corrals from beating to death horses and mules…something other rangers had been afraid to address for years….All because each was scared this man would then give their district bad horses and tack. This is a guy who after I turned him in he lifted a shoeing hammer above me and shakingly said he’d kill me. When they shake, guys, you know they are ready to fall.

    For 30 years I fought all kinds of Park Service injustices …for myself and for my comrades. They have no low, folks. And that is what makes it easy to “fight” those low lifes. Administration even tried to overcharge seasonals for winter housing so the permanents didn’t have to pay as much. Included in this seasonal cost was the bill for the lights shining on the West Entrance. When I confronted them with this they tried to take all kinds of costs off of my housing…basically a bribe to keep quiet. This was way back in 1974….and it never got any easier with honesty and fair treatment of employees. Guys you have to think of them, these DOL, NPS, APHIS for what these people are, not your romantized view of what these public servants supposedly stand for. THEIR higher standards went out the window with all the inranks dysfunctional intrigue years ago. Behind all the rough tough stuff they are SCARED!!

    The thing of it is, slime oozes and those folks ooze fast the more there is fear of they themselves being taken to accountability. It is all you have to do to get “them”…Mt. DOL, G&F, NPS, Forest Service, you name the agency and identify the responsible people in it and go for the jugular. Hint, look most for those who pose sympathy but never seem to take action.

    My last years in YNP I could come out of the backcountry and walk through the administration building and most all would shrink away to offices. It was like you could roll as many as you wanted with an imaginary swing of the back of your hand. Their last “bold” act was to try and, as a composite team, skew the salting of elk. They ended up with forced retirements, reducing of GS, and unwanted transfers to other agencies (NPS personnel think working for the Forest Service is like working for subhumans). Dick and his Wash. goons did not like losing and thus started hatcheting Yellowstone.

    This is how it is in Mammoth, folks, the ones who are suppose to be protecting their wildlife. It is ingrained, this style of management. Any complaint by some well caring but niave employee was met with teams of supervisors in the division chief’s office. Didn’t matter the issue, it was all about beating down employees with whatever they could fabricate on this employee. A concern with garbage in campgrounds? It was met with how many Case Incidents were late by this employee. One would see the results. They would come out of these meetings with heads forever held low. They were BEAT!! but that wasn’t the end. They then made this beaten individual take part in the next inquisition.

    One time the ranger chief took a good long term ranger into a back country cabin for a supposed subdistrict reconcilliation and then the chief and this poor fellows accusers verbally beat the hell out of him for all that evening and the next morning. Ya, a great ride out for a guy 1 year away from retirement having to follow the gestapo out.

    Folks they aren’t nice behind all that “save the environment” stuff. the aggresives are all visible and the good guys in Yellowstone are seeing the shrinks or are on Prozac…biologists, rangers, naturalists you name it.

    There, you have their vulnerabilities whatever the agency. If you see them on horses chasing buffalo realize they are fake cowboys, not honest horseman. Use it against them. If you see them leading an interagency/ public comment meeting realize they are scared of their own higher ups. Make every one of them personally accountable and you are on your way to “winning”. If they say something pro then ask them to put it in words and then sign it. If they don’t or won’t then you know it is hollow words.

    I have no idea why the Buffalo field Campaign hasn’t put billboards on the highway across from the NPS Stephens Creek Corrals showing a picture of a bison with his guts hanging out…with a photo next to that of the one responsible for this travesty, Yellowstone’s Supt. Suzanne Lewis.

    You say no one outside the immediate area knows of this bison issue. Folks you have millions of visitors from all over the US of A coming to the Park. What is wrong with a billboard outside every entrance showing whats happening? How about a bill board near the state capital with a picture of the DOL members and a dead buffalo?

    Yes, the BFC is going to hand out fliers in the Park but what is the content? Go for the jugular my friends….And if you have “leaders’ in any of these activists groups that always want to temper activities then I suggest maybe the leaders would rather be important to established infrastructure ie. NPS, Forest Service and media than they do with having conviction for what is happening.

    These leaders should be pushing the limits…always finding out how far they can go and still be legal. We aren’t involved in church socials here folks.

    If the leaders don’t want to be activists maybe the Dick Cheneys’ have them by the privates. Yes, you can bet every activist player has a rap sheet in some govt. closet and the govt. will use this if needed.

    Jim McDonald, rest assured they know more about you than you do. They know who is closest to you, who they can go to to relay what it means if you get to close. There is always a “translator” included in everyones contact file.

    One time my District ranger and I were riding in the back country. I asked him how he could take all the yelling and screaming from the Chief ranger…so much abuse everyone would leave the office when the Chief came in to “meet” with this Ranger. He turned in his saddle and told me, “Everyone has skeletons in their closet”. In other words he had the Ace on the Chief. It is the same for all the dirt the govt. looks for in any activist. Got a domestic problem from 20 years ago and it will be subtly whispered to you. Ya, no promotion of an embarrassing billboard after this, huh.

    When I was in Washington working out an agreement with NPS Office of Special Consul negotiators in the salting issue the first thing the arbitrator told me was, “they say they have plenty of stuff on me and it won’t look good if it comes out”. I told her to tell them they had nothing, nothing at all. I told her to, “tell them (the Dept. of Interior legal guy out of Billings) to just try it, try whatever they wanted and see what happens”. Of course the room was wired so I doubt she had to relay anything. But since the Supt. of Yellowstone and the Chief Ranger were listening in on negotiations via phone I was actually saying what I did to them.

    This kind of stuff goes on all the time behind govt. closed doors. It breaks peoples hearts and you end up with fine people wishing they never joined the Park Service. They would tell me this with their heads hanging low. Don’t feel bad if you destroy some piblic servants career.

    I tell you this because you don’t have to feel you are acting cruel by attacking the public servant instead of the institution. They are the institution and the only strength most abusers have is in staying behind the dress of this institution.

    If the public servant actually is a good person your attack will give them the chance to show how good they actually are. It was the only way I had to show what I did lots of times when attacks were leveled at me. If it is a good employee they will look forward to you.

    Yes, I could lead a very effective attack on the bison travesty. It wouldn’t be hard to let all of the United States know what was happening so they, as US citizens, could decide what to do about it…but I imagine it is more important to most activists to be a part of their own networking infrastructure than to actually try to help the bison.

    But, of course, I am but one of many who could be just as effective. It is a dysfunctional system that effects activists groups the same as structures like the Park Service. Thus we have all the comments, including mine, above.

  34. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Oh, and have a great Mothers Day, except for all those mothers that aren’t part of the common female definition of Mother.

  35. Stephany Avatar

    Hey Bob,

    If you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve that we’ve not tried yet, we welcome your help. Hell is about to break loose out here again, and will last all through the week, and likely into the next.

  36. Stephany Avatar

    Commenting to all on the question of the May 15 deadline. Well, that’s part of the new Adaptive Management Plan, which supposedly provided a smidge of “tolerance” for bison on Gallatin National Forest Land. But, the devil is in the details:

    The AMP states that it will allow an unlimited number of bison on Horse Butte until May 15 – but they will of course be hazed before then.

    The hazing we’ve been seeing has been on the south side of the Madison River. And the agencies, knowing full well buffalo love this area, especially mixed groups, set them up to fail by allowing only 30 mixed to occupy GNF lands along the south side out to the Madison Arm Resort. The numbers are based on convenience, and nothing more. Nearly 200 have been hazed from there in the past couple weeks. On the edge of zone 2 along the Madison Arm, near Denny Creek, is Pat Povah’s ranch… he hates buffalo. There’s also the Bar-N Ranch, who loves them – but the DOL infringe upon their property rights all the time. A few small mixed groups landed near Povah’s, and got hell for it. He doesn’t even have cattle on his land yet, but the buffalo still pay the price for even looking at “his” grass

    The agents are gearing up to head back to the Madison Arm Road and Highway 20 today. We expect the helicopter will be back as well.

    We also expect that beginning tomorrow the rest of the region will be swarmed by agents, their helicopter, and all their federally funded circus of LEOs and government officials, and the buffalo will be shoved out of Montana all through the week, and likely into next. Horse Butte will soon be empty of bison. So much for tolerance. Why the (explicative) does the DOL have any business where there are NEVER any cattle. These guys wear badges that say “Livestock Inspector” yet, where are the cows?

    The agencies will be pushing the buffalo deep into Yellowstone – with horses AND HELICOPTER INSIDE YELLOWSTONE! – for miles into the Park. At least to Cougar Knolls/Meadow, which is 7 miles inside the border. If you’re a little newborn bison, this is hell on your developing legs…especially if you started out at Povah’s which is about 20 miles from there!!

    We just gotta keep pushing for Horse Butte and ALL of Gallatin National Forest lands to be open year-round to buffalo. That’s just the beginning, of course…

    Gallatin National Forest
    Mary Erickson, Supervisor
    10 East Babcock
    PO Box 130
    Bozeman, MT 59715
    Phone: 406-587-6703
    Fax: 406-587-6758

    Thank you all for you thoughtful words, suggestions, ideas, dialogue, support and especially for your love of bison and wild places…. In Solidarity!

  37. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Stats are good for hand out flyers but what about putting the picture of Suzanne and some of the NPS bison rustlers on the same flyer…with quotes from her….and hand these out in the Park? Park personnel have no more rights to exposure in Yellowstone than any other of the public out there. Public Affairs won’t let you? Then advertise this refusal with flyers outside the Park entrance. show the pictures of those in Public Affairs who said no.

    The thrust is to break down the Interagency into components where they have to stand alone (and its employees)….and attack in the locations of these agencies.

    Anything near Yellowstone means focusing on this agency. They are actually the easiest because they are the ones tourists think are to be taking care of its animals. Show pictures of them at the NPS corrals loading out bison for slaughter. Show them skinning gored bison. Show them loading dead bison onto park Service trucks. Highlite the NPS badge in all these photos. Take recorded film and audios of Park Service corral employees working these corrals and have a button tourists can push for their own verification of what the Park Administration is all about. these audios show huge amounts of ineptness, coverup and all the horrors …. combined.

    Minimize the people contact in your group with tourists. Folks think of activists like the orange robed freaks in airports. Or put them in uniforms, ones that look similar to govt. uniforms, if a person has to be there to hand out fliers. Does the Park allow tables to be set up? Make it all look as offical as possible to get away from freak perceptions.

    As for Bozeman, Jim, I would let them feel SHAME if the “new” public isn’t doing anything. Put a billboard up downtown and show a guts hanging out photo and ask, “why aren’t the people of Bozeman doing anything about this?”

    For those 4 hundred passive folks signed up ask them for money to put up that billboard. Show them the design, the cost and the location. If they don’t have money then give them the chance at a paint brush to help create this sign. these signs can be on the sidewalks.

    Most concerned folks think those people organizing meetings just want to be the big cheese leading the flock . So take the activism away from the tables and chairs of the library if you are more serious about helping bison than being the leader of a cause. Put yourself on visible equal status with every one of those 400 passives out there. Once the visible work (billboards) is out to the public then talk starts. but keep all that supposed interactive discussions with “interested folk” out of the rooms. Yes, strategy is needed but there will always be those who come to the “table” with input. Take the activism to Sweet Pea festivals. Have the paint and stickers for the kids. But always show the photo of the guts hanging out of that bull bison. This photo is your logo.

    Embarrass, expose, and shame. That is the name of the game…and don’t be afraid to to put pictures of people from those agencies on this info.

  38. jimbob Avatar

    I would say Bob Jackson has some very good ideas, especially about billboards near Yellowstone (although who knows how long they’d last before being thrashed by some thug). How come people within the BFC haven’t thought to use marketing before? Is it a lack of funds? How about an infomercial? A gripping documentary on all those late night tv channels would be better to watch and it wouldn’t cost much for airtime. Buying airtime means it doesn’t have to pass any political litmus test. I’d say Bob’s idea of attacking them with Madison Avenue tactics is at least another way to wage the war!

  39. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    If you can get some close up photos of NPS horsemen chasing buffalo with their lariats hanging off their saddles it will go a long ways for showing they are living in a play world. What do they need lariats for other than for show? are they going to rope bison or corral up stock? No, and it is actually unsafe having unnecessary loops like that hanging off a riding horse. Sticks, legs and arms can get caught in unneeded lariats like this. It is dangerous for the horse and rider…but of course the lariat is for show just like it was for 98% of the outfitters carrying it while I was patrolling yellowstone’s back country.

    Also photo note what the rangers have on for duty belts. anything flopping out there is also dangerous. Check the NPS footage of corral operations at Steprens Creek and see how all those rangers have full duty gear. then see how they are using ropes to open and close gates. it is very dangerous to have all that stuff out there to catch those ropes. But since the rangers at this facility have to show status in the turf wars with corral operations and biologists they wear it anyway.

    The safety office should shut all this kind of activity down. In fact as soon as you record the lariats alert the Yellowstone’s safety office if you want to shut down the operation then and there.

    Also get photos of all those horsemen with a wad of chew…and some nice scarfs hanging around their necks…anything to show image is more important than substance.

    Then telephoto the freeze brand numbers on the horses hips. The Park buys stock with hard money from the bison operation and then uses it for other things … or buys fine horses but then uses older nags for buffalo corraling. compare these freeze brands on a FOI of stock bought for bison handling. Do the same for the trailers and pickups.

    Then see where the Park is housing these bison handlers. Is it at W. entrance or are they in nice motels? Take pictures of these employees eating steak at fine establishments and going to the bars afterwards. Nothing illegal here but what you are gathering is a way of life our tax payers are putting the bill for.

    And, finally, since the govt. is monitoring a web site like Ralph’s you may have to go to yesterday’s footage for lariats. Check to see if different horses are trucked in tomorrow, trucks with different license plates. Then you have them with cover up…which is worse for them than getting caught with what I mentioned.

    God, there are so many things you can do to get this thing stopped. just think as shaddy as they are and you can come up with the dirt.

  40. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    What do you have for scoop on those against the bison? A lot of years as Hamilton Store’s in the Park for these people. Who were they hiring and why back in the 70’s? What did they tell these employees in the dorms? Usually locals who are very vocal against resources such as Yellowstone afforded them to capitalize on are psychologically trying to justify their “outcry”. Abusers always blame the abused. You will have to see if the shoe fits in this case…or maybe you already know the answer.

    Figure out the motive for someone and you have the means to explain to the public. Just a thought.

  41. Ken Cole Avatar

    There have been billboards outside of the Park for years. Unfortunately they are very expensive and you can’t say whatever you want on them.

    Been there, done that. Doesn’t work. It’s pretty easy being a Monday morning quarterback.

    I think people will see some of the tables turned in the near future but I am not at liberty to say much more than that. I don’t want to give away strategy at this point.

    Rest assured there are things happening.

  42. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Your response is so good at giving such a great example of the dysfunctional infrastructure protectionist nature of organizations, whether they are govt. or activist. Thank you for showing this so eloquently, Ken. And Stephany, I guess your comrade wants us potential well doers to butt out. What do you think? And Ken what did you ever think of that guy back in the 90’s who put billboards up in the likes of New York city telling about the plight of Yell. buffalo. I guess it didn’t help with all that national publicity and subsequent march by BFC in Wash., huh?

  43. Ken Cole Avatar

    If you have such great ideas then why aren’t you out there doing more than typing self serving messages to everyone about how great you are at putting people in their place? Put your money where your mouth is and do something. You seem to know everything about it.

    I don’t happen to think that public pressure alone is going to shame these bastards. They just don’t care.

    We do welcome suggestions but we have tried all kinds of things to date. We are following a new path that we have yet to reveal but it has not been completely developed so I cannot reveal it.

    There have been literally thousands of articles in the press over the years and that is due primarily to BFC. Public outrage only goes so far. The other route is through the courts. There are avenues that are being pursued but it takes some time to develop them. Also, there are some other things that are very exciting public relations wise but, again, I can’t say more.

    If you offered constructive criticism about things we haven’t already tried then we would be receptive but you haven’t done that.

    Got a better idea or a better way of implementing it then speak up, but attacking people on a personal level doesn’t sound like something that will change the dynamics of the MDOL or NPS. I understand you have a chip on your shoulder about how the NPS and others treated you but sometimes it seems to me that it is more about retribution than about the buffalo for you. This isn’t just about them, it’s about the buffalo.

    It’s not as if we don’t speak out publicly against the livestock industry or how the agencies are in bed with them. We do, and we do it every time we issue updates or press releases.

  44. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Yes, I do know something about it and I have done a lot to let the public … and the BFC know what they have on their hands. read the stuff from PEER and the columns in the Jackson Hole and Bozeman Chronicles my man. BFC didn’t even know bison consisted of family groups before I showed them. They now know the empathy it creates in the public for these herds. You, on the other hand, still don’t understand what social order means. You are left promoting the Aryan purity thing.

    As for attacks on govt. personnel in charge of whats happening to these bison, it works. Make anyone at any level accountable and you get results. They can and should be held accountable no different than everybody does the president. Their safety and inaction is in NOT being held personally accountable. Do you think visiting VIP’s due to meet with the Supt., those people driving down to Mammoth from the Bozeman airport, wouldn’t question it if her photo is next to a bison with its guts hanging out…and she has done nothing to correct this situation. How about her family coming to visit? How many times will she direct them through West Yellowstone instead of Gardiner before she starts changing from a public servant wanting to advance a career to one who finally does something for the bison.

    You want people coming to the table then do something to make them come to the table. And this only happens if you hold folks personally accountable. Yes, the “livestock industry” and the agencies are in bed together but you can say this until you are blue in the face ….and as long as they have infrastructure greater than yours they don’t care what you say.

    I worked a lot of years in Yellowstone and I saw a lot of underhanded things by lots of personnel in Mammoth. I saw them throw all of biologist Don Despains office things in the hall way so all other employees could see if they didn’t tow the line what was in store for them. I saw how they put Mary Meagher literally in a communications center closet for the last years of her career. Now those people have reason to not like the Park Service.

    They make faithful 20 year employees hang their heads and cry when they are placed in the inquisition rooms. The only thing is these gangs of thugs know they themselves can be put on the chopping block themselves. They have no true allies. Thus, let them personally squirm and it will work. It is the only way I made it through without becoming cynical or apathetic. All one had to do was look at the pack of accusers and with your eyes scanning each and every one of them you were telling them they were not in a position to cast the first stone, not as a singular person or as a gang.

    And I do not have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to “how Yell. treated you”. I won every time there was an issue, I caught more poachers even when they tried to limit my actual poacher patrol to ten days a fall or my supervisors tried to do my patrol and my steak out locations so they could get the “glory”. They never caught a one because theirs was a play world.

    My chief ranger even tried to destroy a case of mine (where I already had signed confessions) so he could then build it back up and claim it as his own. It didn’t work and he ended up looking like the guy you claim I am.

    No, why would I not like the way the Park treated me? At every step it only made me look better if that is what you think is important. What I didn’t like was the way they treated some very fine public employees. Most all these people ended up going into other careers. They are the ones who should have stayed.

    I hope BFC’s secret strategy works. Do we look to see the velvet curtain opening and a big bull bison leaping out of dry ice with its nostrils blowing? And will there be a Park Service agent behind this curtain choreographing BFC’s every move and positioning of the mouth…all because the political climate has changed in Washington and those Yellowstone Govt. personnel wanting to not go to the concentration camps are catering to the environmental opposition …so they will have the vocal support of this opposition. You know this is what the SS troops did at the concentration camps in the last months of the war. treated those due for extermination very fine. Why would it be any different in the bison situation?

  45. jimbob Avatar

    Ken, I don’t want to get between you and Bob—I just mentioned that Bob seems to have some good ideas. I think you might be wrong on the public pressure idea. Public pressure and outcry usually equals political power and activism by those involved in the outcry which should equal more people on your (BFC) side. Although I agree with your group in principle and appreciate your efforts, sometimes it seems that your tactics are likened to a “fringe-fanatic” group by the public, which does not bode well for public sentiment. This then dooms the bison to the same ol’ same ol’. You’re right, I am Monday-morning quarterbacking, but it’s the best I can do in my situation…..

  46. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    It seems like everyone is trying to think of something here to do with this intransigent issue, and there should not be rancor in the discussion.

  47. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    I’m going to avoid the conversation ongoing – not because I don’t have thoughts and don’t think it isn’t a critical discussion – but because it doesn’t seem helpful the way it’s being conducted here. However, I do want to share this protest announcement.

    When: Friday, May 15, 3 PM

    Where: Gallatin National Forest Bozeman District offices at 3710 Fallon Street (map)

    Who: Buffalo Field Campaign (with help from Buffalo Allies of Bozeman)

    What: A rally against the US Forest Service, who on their lands allow Montana’s Department of Livestock, to operate a buffalo trap, allow helicopters to haze wild buffalo – including newborn calves and other wildlife caught in the hazing operations – and tolerate no bison on Gallatin National Forest lands west of Yellowstone after May 15.

    Why: Over more than a decade, wild buffalo migrating into their natural habitat in Montana and into natural calving grounds have been persecuted relentlessly by the state of Montana, especially by the livestock industry’s arm of the government – the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL). Many bison have been shipped to slaughter; many others have been hazed – forcibly pushed far back inside Yellowstone National Park. Many of these activities have been on public lands belonging to the Gallatin National Forest (though not all – DOL agents have repeatedly hazed buffalo from private lands even when those owners wanted buffalo on their lands). The US Forest Service has become complicit in the mistreatment of wild buffalo by joining as a partner in the Interagency Bison Management Plan, which authorizes the slaughter and hazing of bison. Doing their part, they have given permission to the DOL to set up traps at Horse Butte, enforce the arbitrary boundary lines of the IBMP by all sorts of means – including the use of helicopters, and by allowing DOL agents to rid Montana of wild buffalo after arbitrary dates (West of Yellowstone after May 15). Bison regularly use the Horse Butte peninsula – a peninsula without a single cow – for spring calving; yet, these bison are still subject to mistreatment.

    The US Forest Service, especially supervisor Mary Erickson, has the power to stop this. Mary could insist that bison have year round habitat at Horse Butte and deny the DOL permits for hazing and trapping on the peninsula. She could deny the use of helicopters. She could, as a partner in the Interagency Bison Management Plan, insist that US Forest Service participation in bison management respect wildlife – including bison – first over the fanatical aims of the livestock industry to keep wild buffalo out of Montana (even where no conflicts exist).

    What to bring: Besides yourselves and your friends, bring signs. Those attending the rally are also encouraged to wear costumes – not only of buffalo but of their favorite wildlife species (indeed, the hazing of buffalo isn’t just of buffalo – this year, even a grizzly was caught up in a hazing operation.

  48. Brian Ertz Avatar

    bison need litigation

  49. Ken Cole Avatar

    Thanks Jim,

    Bob and I have had some serious disagreements over the last several months and I am reacting to some of that and his persistent use of Aryan analogies which IMO are totally out of place and offensive.


    Sorry if I don’t want to publicly share an unfinished strategy.

    But to answer some of your criticisms again. BFC members did know that buffalo lived in family groups since we spend so much time observing them. I do, however, question some of the hypothesis you make here and elsewhere and it seems that you are very dismissive of anyone else’s opinion on the matter.

    BFC has gone after people like Suzanne Lewis, Governor Schwietzer, etc. We’ve prompted GAO reports. We’ve shut down the phone lines to the Governor’s office and the Park Service etc. through calls from concerned citizens. We’ve had amendments in the U.S. Congress voted on. We’ve had documentaries and news programs done. There have been thousands of news articles. The problem is not that people aren’t outraged about what is happening, or that people don’t know about what’s going on, it’s that the livestock industry and those agencies who are controlled by them, don’t bend to criticism. That’s why I feel that a good, sound legal strategy needs to be developed that tackles this issue in the courts.

    It wouldn’t make sense to air that strategy in public at this time and frankly, I don’t think we are on the same page so I feel no responsibility to share it with you.

    I think your energy would be better spent going after the individuals in the agencies yourself rather than attacking people who have dedicated their lives to securing habitat and protection for then nation’s last genetically pure, free ranging buffalo. I don’t know what more you want from us but at this point I don’t really care.


    I welcome your input. I understand how you may come to view BFC as a “fringe-fanatic” group if you view it through the prisim of the interactions I have had with Bob Jackson. However, I see BFC as the only group willing to tackle the bison issue with any integrity. Other groups are busy raising money to give to ranchers who hold the value of bison over the heads of those who value them. In my mind it is nothing short of blackmail and the national groups are enabling and perpetuating it.

    For example, the National Wildlife Federation sent out an email yesterday asking the public for $45,000 so that they can reach the goal of $1,000,000. They want to give the people who are the problem a million bucks so that 30 buffalo, who have been hazed, captured, tested for brucellosis and have transmitters stuffed up their vaginas, can stay 1 1/2 to 2 months each year on the Royal Teton Ranch for 30 years. This agreement can be broken at any time.

    We are asking that they be allowed to use public lands that have no cattle on them yet even that is a no-go for the livestock industry who is suing the DOL to have all bison back in the park by Friday. You can’t negotiate with people like this. That’s why they have to be sued.

    Enough said. I’m going to bed and I’m not coming back to this thread.

  50. jimbob Avatar

    Sorry, Ken. You may not read this, but I didn’t say that’s how I view your group—just some of the public. I wish you all the best!

  51. Brian Ertz Avatar

    From what I understand there is a limit to the direct legal hooks available to bison in the park – there are better hooks on land-uses in the Forest which compete with bison for habitat. Even BFC & the bison coalition’s (bigger groups included) attempt to get an SEIS on the management plan is on shaky ground – from what I understand, all agency has to do – by law – is respond, they don’t even have to say yay or nay to the request – there’s no enforceability.

    This is why the bison issue is such a blaring example of the need to get at the root of the problem ~ i.e. Livestock. From my perspective, it’s quite frustrating, you can get a coalition of groups and public support behind a single charismatic species – BFC has done a remarkable job of drawing attention and sympathy – but what does that mean ? – As we see, there’s a limit to it, which is certainly not to say that it is not an indispensable piece of the advocacy.

    The root of the problem is Livestock’s supremely over-represented status in management agencies and decisions, much like for so many species in the West. But very few are willing to take that on, and as soon as you bring up the need to take it on, the bigger groups (GYC, NRDC, Defenders, etc.) fall off the map, recede into the shadows, and otherwise roll over & curl into the fetal position, suckling ever so tenderly on the tip of their thumbs.

    The agencies know that bison advocates’ bark is bigger than their bite. That’s a bad lesson.

    The Way of the Bureaucrat: The Problem

    The good activist knows that the Way of the Bureaucrat is much like water – the bureaucrat can be counted on to choose the path of least resistance

    The agencies, and bureauns, know that if they do anything meaningful for bison, they’re going to have a bunch of angry ranchers (with political backing) that will disrupt their cozy bureaucratic nests – they don’t want to wet the blanket by sticking their necks out into a vast and formidable sea – nobody wants a wet blanket.

    Thus, to effectively agitate such a predisposed comfort with the status quo, bison advocates need to be willing to douse the blanket ourselves.

    Unfortunately, the Way of the Bureaucrat suggests that there has been over a decade for bureauns to grow a nice, thick callous where their conscience ought be in response to a bunch of bison advocates with pickets, letters, and “pleases” – pickets, letters, and “pleases” of which the bureauns are under no obligation to consider – and in fact, bureaucrats – by nature – have aptly adapted attributes prone to dismissing such things, as it makes for a cozier nest, this dismissive attribute makes for keener survival skills within the bureauns endemic habitat – the Livestock “bureaucracy” – i.e. Forest, BLM, NPS, Montana DoL, etc.

    The Way of the Bureaucrat: The Solution

    The good activist knows that the promise of a wetter blanket should the bureaun choose not to protect wildlife is the first step to protecting wildlife

    Take aim at every livestock allotment public process & decision surrounding the park, make it clear that we are doing so for bison, but bring the hammer down on any usurpation of law & environmental standard (and perhaps less-like bison – there is a relative cornucopia of law & lawless behavior to take hold of that the agencies engage in on Livestock land-use issues – because they have not had the experience with groups willing to provide oversight at that level – see: ‘quivering fetal position’ above). Grizzly, westslope cutthroat, sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, bird ladders on stock tanks, utilization, woody-browse and bank trampling standards, NEPA violations for failure to analyze cumulative impact of livestock waste on public land – failure to consider impact to soils – failure to consider cumulative effect of climate change – NFMA violations, FLPMA violations, other species’ ESA violations and stale consultation, and of course – failure to provide for bison viability pursuant to the Forest regs ‘species viability’ mandates. Rather than, or in addition to, writing letters asking “please”, submit Freedom of Information Act Requests that are pertinent to bison (and other wildlife) management (and be willing to pay for them as agency will undoubtedly try to claim that they are frivolous. All of these, and so many more, have actionable law behind them – it’s a bureaucratic paperwork nightmare (wet-blanket x10) – the agencies can’t dismiss them – and if they do, WWP has invested in lawyers in Montana, who if these things get worked out in coordination with WWP (if you’re a member – to establish standing) – and you put on your submissions that they’re on behalf of WWP as well – these lawyers are chomping at the bit to enforce the law on behalf of bison and all wildlife.

    Bring a halt to the chief competitor to bison – Livestock, in any and every way that we can – because they will not give an inch until they believe that doing so is in their greater interest.

    As intimidating as these things may seem, they are not rocket-science, if you’ve spent an afternoon riding through the park photographing wildlife, you can similarly find an allotment on the Forest (or BLM) somewhere near the park and identify and document Livestock damage to streams, vegetation, etc. If you’ve spent a couple hours applying face-paint or crafting a picket-sign, you can comment on a land-use decision or submit a FOIA on behalf of BFC or WWP.

    I would not be suggesting any of them had I not been willing to do so myself – it’s happening right now. In my spare time I taught myself how to put together a fat scoping packet for the Gallatin Forest’s initiation of a new permit to graze the Wapiti Allotment (north of Hebgen Lake) identified as a “haze/kill” boundary for bison – that process has been shelved, and it is only a matter of time before livestock will be removed from that habitat. It was, and continues to be, so frustrating to me that a young kid in Hailey, Idaho appears to be the only one willing to lean in on this level – and I’m telling you, the Forest was freaked out by those comments – comments on behalf of bison – but also sage grouse, grizzly, cutthroat, riparian, etc. Why is that ?

    Do we need a workshop on how to comment on the livestock grazing allotments around the park that compete with bison for public land habitat ? I’m willing to put it together and walk through it for anyone willing to learn. BFC ? Do you have activists willing to monitor the allotments, submit comments/appeals, and otherwise provide fodder for our lawyers on this actionable level in the off-season ? How about Buffalo Allies ? How about joe-public – are any of you out there willing to take an afternoon – even a weekend – to learn how to stick the legal wrench into Livestock’s gears so we can open up access to bison habitat around the park and give them the clear message that it’s in their interest to start providing bison with the habitat that they need ?

    Look, we need to picket and protest to bring awareness to the public – but we also need to protest within the agencies utilizing legal leverages that the agencies are obliged to pay attention to as well – It’s not sexy, lord knows it’s not entirely popular in the west, and we’re not apt to send you a stuffed buffalo or bear in return for a membership — but it works time and time again.

    Let’s do it – anyone willing, email me if you’re willing to attend a workshop on how to put bison in front of the bureaucrats’ face in a way that they can’t ignore … – email a friend this comment who might be willing, and tell them to email me. If not, I guess there’ll still be a lone and willing kid in Hailey, Idaho willing to walk this path – but the bison in Yellowstone deserve more than that.

  52. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    An afternoon would be good – we could potentially build this as a public learning workshop and see also if GWA would want to be part of it. Sometime this summer maybe? Early July? Can you come up to Bozeman? We could find a place for you to stay, if you need it. In any event, let me bring it to my group, and I’ll give you a better idea.

    We can build the workshop; having a specific tactic that can be taught to people would be very useful.

    I think there are multiple ways to go after livestock – and I agree that they are ultimately who are going to have to be taken out. We can’t pretend that there’s any other way.

  53. Brian Ertz Avatar

    July is fine, just let me know … I’ll do one in Bozeman, one in Missoula, on in West Yellowstone — whatever it takes.

  54. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Okay, I’ll let you know rather soon. I can book the library. A couple questions? How long would you need for this skills training workshop (2 hours, longer?) Would you prefer a weeknight or a weekend during the day? (My sense in the summer is that a weeknight would likely work better, but that’s not necessarily true).

  55. Brian Ertz Avatar

    let me get back to you

  56. Peter Kiermeir Avatar

    This morning Billings Gazette has an article titled “Officials defend hazing of bison into park”

  57. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Don’t know why my above start posted, but to go on…..I am glad family groups of bison are embedded in BFC’s consciousness but I have been to BFC headquarters in the not so distant past and explained in pictures and print (my presentations to Indian tribes etc.) what these herds were composed of. It was not that they could not comprehend this before ,it was just it never crossed their minds. But don’t feel bad. It didn’t cross YNP PHD bison biologist Mary Meagher’s mind either and she had been studying the Park herds for 30 years. To her bison were population densities. The Park “scientific” info coming out at seminars during the first years of the bison hazing and reduction stated, to paraphrase, “…we see some affinity of relationship in bison herds up to yearling ages”.

    No, BFC did not know bison were in family groups. But again,don’t feel bad, neither did anyone else. If this fact has now become part of the basic fabric of BFC then I think it is great. The only problem is their appears to be no one there who can logic “family” ….. meaning males are part of families also. BFC’s site postings talk of being with (and interviewing) Indian hunters who shoot the two males of one newly arrived herd and then, without putting two and two together, note the next day this herd ran back in the Park. If those BFC’ers on site even had an inkling of family social order and its associated role needs they would have strongly worded to those Nes Perce NOT to shoot those bulls. Instead it was the bonding with supposed Native components of the hunter-prey ancestoral life BFC was seeking out. The result of scared female components heading back to safety was just the opposite of what BFC is trying to accomplish with herds living outside the Park.

    Since I see more defensiveness in BFC’s sense of ownership than actually wanting to know what makes these bison herds tick, I have to say any further understanding of bison behavior by them will come only about by them assimilating “family” as original to them ….. and then “discovering” further what bison are made of. Of course, this is how most academics twist it also so don’t feel to indignant.

    Anytime BFC actually wants to learn how bison live I can shohelp. We can tour Hayden Valley during the rut and I will probably be able to predict 95% of the time what movements by the herd, and more importantly its individuals within the herd, are going to happen next. I can even point to those there such things as how a yearling bull is going to act when he tries to lead the herd across the road and they don’t follow. I will say he is going to pout and explain how his head and body will show it. Then after being left behind he’ll run after them. I can show these things.

    Would you show up if others in your group have me there, Ken? Judging from your last post I doubt you will.

    As for Aryan comparisons it is the best way I know of to relate ATTITUDES …and injustices towards bison. If someone feels superior to other species on this planet it will offend. The problem of feeling superior is it doesn’t allow for objective study or assessment…in this case bison.

    My criticism of BFC’s push for highlighting Yellowstone’s “genetically pure” bison is no different than my criticism of the “scientific” communities similar advocacy. The best way to see the impossible conflicts down the road is to look at Nazi Germany’s way of deciding who is not “pure’ enough, and thus who goes to the gas chambers. Ken you say you believe bison have families. How would you justify killing parts of families if those Aryan Yellowstone bison become polluted and defiled? Yes, public lands managers and scientists do just that today, split bison families up…send some to the gas chambers and leave Aryan pure members of the family to live supposedly better lives.

    Of course they don’t have to worry about killing part of family because they shut their emotional minds off. Will the folks of BFC do the same if they ACTUALLY do think of bison as composed of families? There is no half way mark in THEORY of family when it comes down to this, is there?

    If those out there promoting Aryan bison only knew how any species takes in genes to survive, adapt and better themselves then they would realize, first, extended infrastructure has to be in place…and then this extended family takes in outside genes. It is not a random happening. Thus, if there is a “bottle neck” or lack of expansion this infrastructure would even take in cattle genes to add variety…but only to add to existing infrastructure.

    There is no way any “pure” bison from Yellowstone will stay “pure” even if limited to the Greater Yellowstone. They will take in outside genes whether it is cow, … or bison with “a little bit” of cow in them. You see, it is counter productive to maintain scientists idea of purity. It is just an extension of their own concept of superiority over others without the degrees and the supposed “superior intelligence” they have. You see (again) superiority is all encompassing. It doesn’t stop at man made definitions of “species” but also happens within those “species”. That is why Aryan is applicable.

    What is important is the inevitable management where there is recognition of bison having “family’ the same as humans do ….. and then well meaning folks like those in BFC have to decide if they want “pure” and ripped apart bison families or nice “Leave it to Beaver” families.

    Since BFC, like all activists groups, are based on emotion then the answer is self evident. Ken seems to be in the middle. He believes part of this family stuff but not all. This way one can justify purity and at the same time claim ownership of bison families.

    Maybe this writing above helps some understand how conflicted emotions can be mollified ….. and nature can be seen as other than a freak show.

  58. gary siglerw Avatar
    gary siglerw

    I think more notice of hazing inside YNP should be made. I was shocked that Bison are hazed inside YNP to make room for the Bison hazed into the YNP. I am a hunter and understand how wrong harrasing wild animals is. It is totaly against Fish and Game laws . How does Montana get away violating these laws .
    Id like to see how the Livestock agency would like having their cattle with new borns made to travel at wits end for miles .

  59. Stephany Avatar

    Thanks Gary. Buffalo Field Campaign works very hard to raise awareness about the mistreatment of America’s last wild bison population, documenting all actions made against the buffalo. Yes, it’s horrifically shocking that bison are hazed at all, much less inside Yellowstone. Montana currently gets away with it because they set up the government, and cattle interests currently rule the landscape. Please visit our web site or email me directly to learn about the ways you can help. You are always welcome to join us in the field to see for yourself, and help tell the world about what’s happening to the last wild buffalo. /



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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