Update from the Field - January 19, 2024

With the past five days being 30 to 40 below zero, being on patrol felt apparitional. For what the animals have to live through, what they grow for in their hard lives, it's supernatural. Combined with the state of Montana's 'no tolerance stance' against the buffalo, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem makes it hard to be a buffalo.

BFC photo 21

Still the Yellowstone buffalo instinctively and naturally migrate to lower elevation grazing grounds. A group of twenty dared to come out of Yellowstone National Park Monday and four were shot before they made it to Highway 191. The survivors ran back into the "safety" of the park.

We continue to witness buffalo not leaving the park until the deep snow makes them. We can conclude that this behavior is a direct result of this decades long Interagency Bison Management Plan. If we can live with wolves and grizzly bears out of the park, why can't buffalo roam? The plan focuses on brucellosis yet has allowed the elk, which carry brucellosis, to migrate freely, spreading the cattle borne disease into the Paradise and Madison Valleys. We are not seeing cows dropping from elk borne brucellosis although transmission is occurring. Brucellosis is a mute point.

Manage wild buffalo like elk!

More than 60 million taxpayer dollars spent to date has seen the bison "management" plan be a total failure and only results in dead buffalo. Meanwhile chronic wasting disease (CWD) makes its way into the Yellowstone ecosystem. Wyoming's state run feed lots for wildlife and confinement of animals through industry practices and the buffalo management plan will only help CWD spread.

It is time we prioritize helping our native wildlife and people over an invasive livestock species we call the cow. It is time we rested the management of our last wild migratory buffalo out of the hands of the state of Montana and placed it into the hands of Indigenous and wildlife biologists who have both Traditional Ecological Knowledge as well as science-based management practices. Remember, it was the cow that gave our wildlife brucellosis. It was the decimation of millions of buffalo and the Buffalo People that continues to endanger the health of our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem today. And it is the buffalo who continue to give birth and graze and heal the land and make antibodies and live in community.

With the Buffalo,
Mike Mease