2019 05 30 01 001 Update 1 BFC Stephany Seay photo

Photo by Stephay Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign

Our twenty-second season in the field with the last wild buffalo is coming to a close.  What a strange season this has been.  Such a slow start to migration, with very few buffalo around for many winter months.  This slow migration kept hundreds of buffalo away from Yellowstone’s trap and from many hunters, so hundreds more than expected survived this year.  Though the killers did make every opportunity to destroy as many as they could, they never met even half of their goal.  The buffalo did not allow it.  But, this spring, they allowed us all to be surrounded in their awesome presence, watching family groups with pregnant moms journey to their spring calving grounds.  For weeks we waited for the first calves to arrive, and — as best as we can describe it — like popcorn popping, calf by calf started to arrive and then exploded upon the greening landscape.  We were enfolded in days of joy as these little red miracles graced the loving earth.  Now, the buffalo are beginning to go their own way, in the time that is right for them.  Family groups are slowly heading east, towards their summer pastures and rutting grounds inside Yellowstone National Park.  As some BFC coordinators and volunteers migrate to summer projects, while others remain to hold down the fort, the buffalo who are still in Montana’s Hebgen Basin are thriving.  Growing strong, playing hard, and being the buffalo they are meant to be.    It has been the greatest blessing to be in their company without the constant threat of harassment by the Montana Department of Livestock (MTDOL).  As we’ve reported, there have been some hazing events along the south side of the Madison River — public lands of Gallatin National Forest that never see any cattle — but the relentless day after day, week after week industrial-strength hazing days are over.  Most of the buffalo who the MTDOL did target for hazing were ready for them and retreated to safety without too much bullying, though any hazing operation is a terrible and unnecessary thing.  The lands south of the Madison River are some we still need to claim for the buffalos’ right to roam, and we will do that, with your help.  The cattle industry’s assumed power will end, and wild buffalo will once again reclaim the land that are their birthright.  

2019 05 30 01 002 Update 2 BFC Stephany Seay photo 

 Photo by Stephay Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign

James Holt, BFC’s Board Vice President and Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) tribal member brought it home when he said during our most recent board meeting, “every time a calf stands is a victory for us.”  Indeed, in each of these young calves is the promise of the future.  Every single buffalo calf who is born is a testament to their endurance as a species who has never been given a break since the first Colonial Settlers stepped foot on this land.  Hard as they tried to kill them all, they failed, and the buffalo remain.  As low as their numbers are today — warranting Endangered Species Act protection — they continue to show that they embody resistance and if given just the slightest chance, will once again thrive throughout this continent.   You are a huge part of making that happen; you are the reason we are able to be here at all.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your decades of support, your unbelievable and undeniable love for the buffalo, and allowing us to be here standing with these sacred relatives.  The ground they choose to be on is expanding, and while we have so much further to go, together we’ll get there.   This will be the last weekly Update from the Field until we migrate back to our wintering grounds with the buffalo.  Until then, you’ll hear from us every other week over the summer, unless there’s something highly critical to convey.  Enjoy your summer, come visit us if you’re in the Yellowstone area, and please know how much we adore and appreciate you — the buffalo protectors.