In the early evening darkness of Wednesday, December 28, on a snow-packed two-lane highway, 13 wild bison mothers and yearlings met their unnatural fate at the hands of yet another semi-truck driver barreling down that stretch of U.S. Hwy 191 where bison-vehicle collisions have become all too frequent, thanks to Montana’s continuing refusal to lower the speed limit in accord with scientific recommendations. The orphaned yearling seen in the photo above was spotted by BFC wolf biologist Joey Morin wandering aimlessly around the next day, missing a horn as well as his mother, his chances of surviving the winter now greatly diminished. If he is counted as a casualty, it would equal the highest body count ever for bison on this blood-stained stretch of highway.
Bloodied, orphaned yearling who survived the tragic mass killing on Hwy 191
(photo by Joey Morin)
These bison were all members of Yellowstone’s imperiled central herd, lineal descendants of the 23 survivors of the United State’s attempt to exterminate the species altogether in the 19th Century, part of its program of genocide against America’s Indigenous Tribes. Like the Tribes themselves, the American Buffalo is still here. While the overall population of Yellowstone’s wild bison is approaching 6,000, the central herd has been in decline for some time now, trending down towards one thousand total, and making this particular mass killing a real kick in the gut to those of us with Buffalo Field Campaign who had been shepherding them around Horse Butte over the holiday season.
Madison River Crossing U.S. Hwy 191
We here at Buffalo Field Campaign are determined to make this tragedy matter. Because it doesn’t have to be this way. Congress recently made $350M available for wildlife crossings. We're asking people who love our National Mammal to sign a petition urging the federal stewards of our lands and wildlife in the Yellowstone Ecosystem to earmark enough of that $350M appropriation to build the world's first dedicated "Buffalo Bridge," and to encourage interim traffic-calming measures until construction is complete.
Please sign our petition
Read more about the science and politics underlying this unnecessary tragedy by following the "Facing the Storm Blog".