BFC file photo by Stephany Seay. Four-hour old buffalo calf hazed on Monday, died on Thursday.
Click photo for larger image.
* BFC Photos Included. Exclusive video footage available upon request
WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA: A wild American buffalo calf born Monday was found dead Thursday - a result of being repeatedly forced from winter range in Hebgen basin by agents with the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Yellowstone National Park rangers and Gallatin County Sheriff's office were part of the repeated "hazing" operations that entail forcing buffalo from winter range under the highly controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan.
This buffalo calf was a part of the last wild population of American bison left in the United States, which numbers fewer than 3,600 individuals. Several hundred buffalo remain in captivity at Stephens Creek in the Gardiner basin where over 70 calves were born.
Hazing operations can kill wild buffalo, forcing them to use up the energy-reserves they need for survival. As this incident makes clear, hazing fatigued and weak buffalo is harmful for calves and nursing and pregnant cows where injuries occur more readily and lack of food can mean starvation.
"This calf's unnecessary death is a grim example of the fatal impacts of hazing buffalo, and should be a message to everyone that hazing is cruel, unnecessary, and even deadly," said Stephany Seay, a spokeswoman for the wild buffalo advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign.
"Buffalo in Hebgen Basin are having an extremely difficult time and the state of Montana needs to stop harassing them," she said. "These migratory buffalo are thin, exhausted, and struggling to find grass on habitat that is still ice-capped. Pregnant buffalo and females with calves have little forage to make milk. Montana needs to recognize conditions on the ground and stop any more harm."
Montana's wildlife has experienced a prolonged, severe winter. Recently, Montana extended a public closure in Wildlife Management Areas to provide elk security in their winter range.
Under the Interagency Bison Management Plan, Montana repeatedly harasses native wild buffalo denying them access to the same habitat, and forcing the migratory species to flee their winter range.
Darrell Geist, habitat coordinator for Buffalo Field Campaign, strongly rebuked Montana for its hypocrisy in how it treats buffalo and elk. "Montana does right by elk in protecting critical winter range but if you're a wild buffalo you get run around until you die."
Buffalo are still unable to find green up, except for some south-facing slopes and along highway shoulders.
Buffalo are on roads at night, the wildlife species forages and moves at night and they can be difficult to see. Please use extra caution by reducing speeds on HWY 191 from Fir Ridge cemetery to West Yellowstone, HWY 287 from Quake Lake to the junction of HWY 191, and HWY 20 to Targhee Pass from West Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone bison population includes America's last continuously wild herds, and is the last population that still follows its migratory instincts. As unique native herbivores that evolved across the North American continent, scientists believe bison can help restore the native grasslands, sagebrush steppes, and prairie ecosystems that are considered to be some of the most endangered habitats in the world.
Buffalo Field Campaign is a non-profit public interest organization founded in 1997 to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild bison, protect the natural habitat of wild free-roaming bison and other native wildlife, and to work with people of all Nations to honor the sacredness of the wild bison. BFC has its headquarters in West Yellowstone, Montana, and is supported by volunteers and participants around the world who value America's native wildlife and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
For more information visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.
End of Monday's haze. Calf struggles to keep up with mom, family group. BFC file photo by Stephany Seay. Click photo for larger image.
Calf found dead Thursday morning by BFC volunteers, near location where Monday's haze was terminated. BFC file photo by Justine Sanchez. Click photo for larger image.
Same calf. BFC file photo by Justine Sanchez. Click photo for larger image.