2020 06 04 01 001 Update 1 BFC Stephany Seay photos

Buffalo relax in the forest on a rainy day along the bluffs of the Madison River.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

It has been another intense field season here at Buffalo Field Campaign. At the start, we had so many fresh new faces, returning volunteers, and our dedicated staff of coordinators. For a few months it was eerily quiet in the field, with no buffalo migrating into Montana. By late-February and March, the buffalo were on the move and in harm’s way, while the threat of coronavirus hit us almost at the same time. We were left with all staff and one volunteer. It has been just ten of us here for the last few months. It is a testament to the strength of our community, and to the gifts that wild buffalo bring, that we have made it through cherishing and respecting each other. We truly are blessed here being able to basically carry on as usual, going into the field every day to monitor and stand with the buffalo. To be on this wild landscape and embrace all of the wonders she has to offer. And now, bit by bit, some of us are migrating to summer pastures. Although it is almost the end of the season, buffalo remain in Montana’s Hebgen Basin and we continue to run daily and nightly patrols. Likely, the buffalo families with their brand new calves will remain until their babies are strong enough to make the trek back towards their summer pastures inside Yellowstone National Park, where soon all buffalo families will reunite for the awesome event of the rutting season.

2020 06 04 01 002 Update 2 BFC Stephany Seay photo

This feisty bull was taking his frustrations out on little lodgepoles, who didn’t stand a chance.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

The other day we had quite the encounter with a couple of massive bulls. These bulls were on a power line trail within the National Forest, but were making their way towards the highway. One of the bulls was totally fired up and acting as if the rutting season was already upon us. He was kicking up dust, battling small lodgepole, kicking his hind legs out, rolling in the dust, and just full of himself. When these bulls got near the highway, we put up signs for them, but they were on the move. The feisty bull was pretty unique; his coat was a deep red, he was very dark. Unlike any color I have ever seen in a bull. The females traditionally vary in color, from chocolatey brown, to blond, to red. But, the bulls are usually fairly uniform in their colors. This bull was red. And he was on fire! We saw him take out at least three little lodgepole trees, and he was none too pleased with the traffic rolling by or stopping to get photos of him. It was clear he wanted to get away from the highway, but his buddy was strolling along unfazed, and he wanted to be with him more than to leave the road. In the end, they both finally made their way off the highway and up Duck Creek Road and headed east towards the park.

2020 06 04 01 003 Update 3 BFC Stephany Seay photo

Buffalo calves are the absolute reward for all of our efforts.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

Thinking back to all the many years we have witnessed these buffalo suffer at the hands of the Montana Department of Livestock and supporting agencies, with all of their cowboys, law enforcement, and helicopter engaging in a veritable war on this wild community, those memories are still very fresh in our hearts and minds. Due to those bygone days, we and the buffalo have our own forms of PTSD to battle. And yet we have gained so much success. There is peace upon the landscape. Aside from a few hazes, and a few other incidents, spring in the Hebgen Basin is full of peace and quiet. Getting to see these family groups with all the brand new babies, just doing what buffalo do is a literal dream come true. We may have a long way to go, but we have already come very far. That is thanks to you and your love and support of the buffalo and our campaign to defend them.

2020 06 04 01 004 Update 4 BFC Stephany Seay photo

BFC staff and volunteers prepare our garden so we become more self-sustainable.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

Our 23rd field season comes to a close. The buffalo who remain in Montana are slowly making their own way back to summer pastures in Yellowstone National Park. As long as they are in Montana, patrols will continue to monitor them. In our spare time, we’re putting in our garden so that we can become more self sustainable. At this elevation (6,600+ feet) our growing season is short, so eventually we’ll set up a green house. We are also currently working on our annual newsletter and have just finalized our 2021 calendar. We also have some new merchandise that buffalo lovers will love. Check it out here. We are also looking forward to hopefully doing a little bit of summer outreach later in the season, if things with C-19 calm down. Tabling inside the Park is out for this year, but there are other options open. If you are interested contact our summer coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 406-646-0070. We give thanks to you for the honor of standing with and advocating for the buffalo, and we vow to be here for as long as it takes until wild buffalo roam freely all over the lands that are their birthright.


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