Volunteer – Buffalo Field Campaign

BUFFALO

WHAT WILL BE EXPECTED OF ME

Field Season:
Buffalo Field Campaign appreciates volunteers making at least a two week commitment between November 15 and May 31. Volunteers are expected to participate in campaign activities/projects/patrols six days a week

Summer Season:
Our summer outreach program appreciates a commitment of three weeks from volunteers. Summer outreach volunteers camp out in Yellowstone for three to four days at a time, tabling and talking with Park visitors each day, daylong; volunteers then return to BFC headquarters for a few days before heading back into the Park again.

HOW LONG CAN I VOLUNTEER FOR?

For our Field Season (Nov-June) we appreciate volunteers committing to at least two weeks. There is no minimum stay during our field season. For our Summer Outreach Season, volunteers should plan to commit at least 3 weeks of their time.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS, IF ANY, DO I REQUIRE?

There are no set qualifications that volunteers need, save for a passion for defending wild buffalo and an ability to live in a community setting. Many of our tasks are physically intensive (hiking, skiing, wood splitting, etc.) yet we also have other projects that are not as physically demanding (office phones, clean-ups, other projects).

WILL I NEED TO KNOW ANOTHER LANGUAGE?

Volunteers are certainly not required to know a certain language; however, English is the main language that we use to communicate, so knowing it will be helpful. The BFC community is strongly welcoming of people of all backgrounds, and we are always open to various ways of communicating and learning other languages ourselves. Please don’t let language be a barrier!

HOW DO I GET TO THE VOLUNTEER SITE?

Prospective volunteers should plan to coordinate with our Volunteer Coordinator to make plans for arrival. Our Volunteer Coordinator can be reached at 406-646-0070 or by email at volunteer@buffalofieldcampaign.org. While we live in a relatively remote environment, vehicle travel is possible at all times of the year.  Please also be aware, that we are at a high elevation, about 6800 feet, which can take a few days to get acclimated to.

ARE THERE ANY COSTS INVOLVED TO VOLUNTEER?

Click HERE to find out up to date costs and requirements for volunteering with BUFFALO FIELD CAMPAIGN.

WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION, MEALS AND FACILITIES CAN I EXPECT TO BE AVAILABLE TO ME?

BFC provides room, board, gear and training for all volunteers. Accommodations for volunteers include bunk space in a large yet cozy log cabin, warmed with wood heat. Rooms with bunks are provided, and house numerous volunteers at any given time. For the hard core, winter camping is possible though not advised, though camping in the late spring and summer is a great option. BFC provides 3 to 4 meals each day: 1st breakfast (for early patrols), 2nd breakfast (for later patrols), Lunch, and Dinner. We typically eat most meals together in our main room, where we also hold nightly meetings to talk about the day’s events and how to plan the following day. We also provide snacks that volunteers can take on patrols with them. We also make available a variety of teas and hot chocolates for volunteers to enjoy at any time. We cater to all dietary needs including vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc. We do serve locally harvested wild game and fish, but unless it is donated we do not serve slaughterhouse meat. There is a small refrigerator for personal food items that volunteers may wish to have that BFC does not provide. We have one bathroom with a single shower. To reduce the impact on our plumbing, we have an outhouse that we expect all able volunteers to use. There is one kitchen, which is the domain of BFC’s Kitchen Coordinator and our Cooks.

WHAT WILDLIFE SPECIES ARE THERE?

Wild American bison! There are many amazing animals that call this region home, including buffalo, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, elk, antelope, big horn sheep, mule and white-tailed deer, badgers, hawks, ravens, bald and golden eagles, Trumpeter swans, Sandhill cranes, otters, beaver, marten, and many many more! This is a wildlife rich area, one of the last in the lower-48 United States. BFC has many collective years of experiences in encountering these animals and will help all volunteers learn how to conduct yourself respectfully and safely in their home territories.

WHAT ATTRACTIONS CAN I EXPERIENCE DURING FREE-TIME?

BFC is just a few short miles from Yellowstone National Park and we are surrounded by Gallatin National Forest. There are millions of acres of wild land to explore. There is also the town of Bozeman, Montana which is 90 miles from camp. There is also Big Sky which is a very popular downhill skiing resort type areas. Idaho is also very close. People who obtain a license can also choose to fish the waters of Hebgen Lake, which is at the end of our driveway. Our back yard adjoins Gallatin National Forest, so there is plenty of hiking/exploring opportunities to be had.

IN CONCLUSION

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working in the field, everyday in defense of America’s last continuously wild buffalo. Volunteers from around the world defend buffalo on habitat and advocate for their lasting protection. Our daily patrols stand with the buffalo on the ground they choose to be on, and document every move made against them. Volunteers spend all day, from sunrise until sunset, monitoring wild buffalo migrations and documenting actions taken them. We run patrols from cars, skis and snowshoes to protect buffalo outside the park. Everyone communicates by a network of hand-held radios, and also carries a video and/or still camera.
We do have a “no new dog” policy, so if you have a canine (or feline) companion, please make arrangements for someone to care for your friend while you are at BFC.

Our headquarters are located in West Yellowstone, Montana, along the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. We also run an additional camp near the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, in Gardiner, Montana. These are the two areas where wild buffalo currently use migration corridors that bring them into Montana and consequently, into a conflict zone with state and federal agencies. During field patrols we often interact with law enforcement.

Bison (mis)Management in Montana is conducted by five state and federal government agencies working under the Interagency Bison Management Plan, which is a document that basically caters to Montana’s livestock (cattle) interests at the expense of America’s last wild buffalo. The state and federal agencies include:
Montana Department of Livestock
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Yellowstone National Park / National Park Service
Gallatin National Forest / National Forest Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
Buffalo Field Campaign is vehemently opposed to the Interagency Bison Management Plan and the actions carried out in its name. These actions include the chasing (hazing) of wild buffalo off of habitat in Montana (both public and private land), the capturing of wild buffalo into traps where they are many times shipped to slaughter, the initiation of a “hunt” used by the state of Montana to ‘control’ wild bison that migrate into the state during the winter months.

In addition to running field patrols, during heavy spring buffalo migrations, BFC is a presence on the highways, placing signs to warn motorists of the presence of wild buffalo on or near the roads.

In addition to government management actions, there are also buffalo hunts/harvests that will be taking place from November through March, conducted (separately) by the State of Montana and also a few Native American Tribes that hold treaty rights to the area. BFC opposes the hunt, but not the hunters. BFC is especially respectful of the Native American hunters and their requests that we respect their wishes.

The climate in these areas of Montana can become extreme, especially during the winter. West Yellowstone is one of the coldest climates in the lower-48 United States, with temperatures sometimes diving below -40F, or even lower. Snow can be many, many feet deep, and winds can become severely strong. BFC does provide all necessary gear for sustaining such intense weather as well as skis and snowshoes to move around in deep snows. No volunteers are ever forced out of their comfort zones, however!

We also provide new volunteers with thorough orientations for our campaign facilities and the field, as well as trainings on how to use our equipment. There are numerous coordinators that will assist volunteers with their needs and answer questions relating to the issue and/or community life.

For more information on the BUFFALO FIELD CAMPAIGN, please visit www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

For important information on travelling overseas, please read ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WILD!‘