It was that winter in 1997 when Daniel Brister, who'd recently moved to Montana to pursue a graduate degree, was watching the count of dead buffalo go up on a bulletin board on the University of Montana campus in Missoula.
That next winter, having heard about the Buffalo Field Campaign
went out to spend a week volunteering with the campaign.
spent nights working the midnight to sunrise shift, his
time divided between hunkering down over a fire and skiing out to check on bison where they'd bedded down, helped move a herd of buffalo away from a ranch where they would surely have been killed the next morning, got arrested for it, and got hooked on direct actions that could make a real and immediate difference.
Courtesy of The Buffalo Field Campaign
"I could defend the buffalo on their habitat in a direct way, and that really spoke to me," Brister
"That just felt much more like a real connection than I had ever been able to find."
came for a week, and stayed for the whole winter.
Fifteen years later, he's the Buffalo Field Campaign's executive director and the author of In the Presence of Buffalo: Working to Stop the Yellowstone Slaughter.
It's important to clarify, he
says, that the Field Campaign doesn't organize these direct actions like the one that got him or Jacobs arrested - or the one in 1999 that blockaded a Forest Service road for two months with a tripod-like structure that had a volunteer at its peak for 24 hours a day, sometimes through minus 40 degree weather.
says what he
keeps coming back to as the answer for why Yellowstone's bison are so carefully managed, if the threat of brucellosis transmission is truly an empty one, is the livestock industry.
"I really think that it's a range war and the livestock industry is used to controlling our public lands," Brister