February 17, 2012
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I’m back in SF, trying to finish the book but my headheart is full of buffalo, wolves, eagle cries, and the good people of the Buffalo Field Campaign. Go volunteer right now. They’ll put you up inside a cabin that feels like a pirate ship. They’ll feed you three meals a day. If you’re lucky, at least one will include road kill. There’s a dog named Dingo and a cat that drools on command. And you get to cross country ski every day to help out the buffalo.
Ps. If you can’t volunteer, send them dollars. Or buy a calendar. Or some buffalo nickels for your hair.
February 10, 2012
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This morning I woke up in a schoolbus. There was a wood-burning stove inside and softly falling snow outside. Yellowstone National Park is just down the road.
I’m here visiting Good Shield Aguilar and the Buffalo Field Campaign.
This is the 15th year that the BFC has been fighting to protect the country’s last free-roaming buffalo herd from slaughter and harassment when they cross out of the national park.
Unlike the majority of buffalo in the United States, the Yellowstone bison have never mated with cattle and are genetically unique. They also do their own thing most of the time. Until they roam outside the border of the park that is. Then they are killed or harassed as potential disease-vectors for Montana’s cattle herds. The science and rhetoric of contagion that informs this policy of violence is flawed on every level. It’s also paid for by our tax dollars.
Photo credits from top: Helicopter hazing of buffalo, 2009/2010. Buffalo Field Campaign; Yellowstone buffalo outside the park on Highway 287, 2008. Darrell Geist, Buffalo Field Campaign.
August 18, 2011
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There have been buffalo in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park since 1890. The first two (a male and female) were from the small group of freely roaming survivors left at the end of the 19th century.
At one time there were dozens of bison in Golden Gate. Today there are three. And they are old. Two died just last month. Apparently seven more are coming in October from a ranch in Redding. While the first bison to come to San Francisco came from the Plains, the ones there today were given to the park as a birthday gift for Diane Feinstein from her husband.
Good Shield Aguilar played for the bison on August 16th. Like them, Good Shield wasn’t born in the Plains. But he is Lakota. And he believes that buffalo are not the only ones to have genetic memories.
When he isn’t playing music he’s working in Montana for the Buffalo Field Campaign.
As for the bison in San Francisco, the official park website raises expectations:
“Overall, don’t expect a grand show of movement and daring feats when visiting the bison. They tend to keep to themselves and really don’t engage in any exciting activities. They appear in the standing position for most of the day and sometimes sit about. If you are lucky, one of the bison may slowly travel from the field to the corral. If we capture any great moments, we will use cd duplication to share them.”
Here is an outtake