Hunting pressures have subsided for now in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone. BFC patrols continue to keep a close eye on a handful of bulls who are grazing dangerously close to the Park boundary, and a few groups of hunters are watching them eagerly. Snow is beginning to accumulate, with more expected over the next week. Temperatures have dropped to well below freezing — on Wednesday morning, patrols ventured out into -30 F — and the waters of Hebgen Lake are freezing. Volunteers had the pleasure of hearing the lake begin to freeze in the dark of night; it was a sort of roaring that could have almost been mistaken for a distant car, but the sound continued through the night, intensifying and breathing, and by Wednesday morning, ice announced her reign over the waters.
We have opened camp in the Gardiner Basin. A group of forty buffalo migrated down from the Blacktail Plateau into Gardiner and were spotted near Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek trap. Hunters got the news and numerous hunting parties soon arrived. The following day the buffalo were nowhere to be found, and haven’t been seen since. An unlucky solitary bull, however, was spotted killed by hunters on Sunday. There are currently no wild buffalo in Montana that we know of.
Also near Gardiner, nine more of the buffalo who have been held prisoner in Yellowstone’s trap since late-February were shipped to slaughter last week. Forty remain. They continue to be held awaiting Yellowstone’s decision to approve — or not — the Park’s 50-year quarantine plan. Now that Montana and APHIS have gone back on their word (as good as that could ever be) and told the tribes of Ft. Peck that buffalo may not be transported from Yellowstone to the half-million dollar quarantine facility they were encouraged to build (see Agencies, Tribes Plan Huge Buffalo Slaughter This Winter) it seems reasonable to expect that this horrible quarantine plan could be put to rest. But we will not know until an official decision is announced. For the young buffalo who are still in the trap, either decision will mark their doom as they are fated to be shipped to slaughter or a life in prison. Those poor buffalo who were captured in late-February were separated from their mothers and other family members—who in turn were all shipped to slaughter—and they remain orphaned and alone, having spent the past nine months in captivity.
All of this disrespectful, dishonorable, and damaging treatment by the government of the country’s last wild buffalo — the beloved Yellowstone herds, our national mammal — is carried out under pressure from Montana’s livestock industry whose government servants — the Department of Livestock — hold authority over wild buffalo in Montana under state law MCA-81-2-120. This law, which in essence places the fox in charge of the henhouse, is responsible for the Interagency Bison Management Plan and all the anti bison actions that have been conducted in its name. It is critical for the future well being and evolutionary potential for wild, migratory buffalo that we repeal or amend this law to remove the DOL’s authority. Montanans are strongly encouraged to contact your legislators who will be in session in 2017, while everyone is encouraged to contact Montana Governor Steve Bullock and urge these decision-makers to defend America’s national mammal by repealing or amending MCA 81-2-120 to remove Department of Livestock authority over wild bison and to support a new plan that treats wild buffalo like wild elk in Montana.
Please also contact Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk and let him know that you strongly oppose Yellowstone's bending over backwards to please cattle interests by killing and harassing our national mammal.
Montana Legislators: http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp
Phone calls make a much bigger impact than emails, which can be easily ignored.
Thank you for being a voice for the last wild buffalo! ~ Roam Free!