2020 12 3 01 001 Update 1 BFC Stephany Seay photo 

A family group of 37 buffalo make their way down Rainbow Point Road heading to Horse Butte and the safety of Yellowstone Village. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

A family group of buffalo migrated into Montana’s Hebgen Basin a couple of weeks ago, following the Madison River corridor. Patrols spotted them in the Park one late afternoon, then the next morning patrols found them outside of the safety of the Park heading towards Horse Butte. The buffalo were moving with a purpose, a brisk walk at times, and at other times running. There were hunters following them in their trucks and the buffalo could feel that pressure. We also stayed with them every step of the way and were hopeful that they would head straight to the safety of the Yellowstone Village subdivision. They could have been shot at any time before reaching the housing area, but they were moving too quickly to make an easy target. They headed down Rainbow Point Road and then veered off to Pine Needle Road, where they were in the shelter of another housing area. We stayed with them and the hunters did, too. The buffalo bedded down for a while and attempted to continue towards Yellowstone Village, but the hunters were putting too much pressure on them for them to feel comfortable. Eventually, they snuck behind a house to avoid the hunters, but the men went after them.

 2020 12 3 01 002 Update 2 BFC Stephany Seay photo

Hunters attempt to block buffalo from reaching Yellowstone Village and attempt to haze them into a place where they can be hunted. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

The hunters — one adult in a truck and another adult and two kids on foot — tried to block the buffalo from heading into Yellowstone Village. They attempted (and failed) to haze them into an area where they had permission to hunt. The man on foot was clapping his hands and whistling, trying to move the buffalo, but they were having none of it. After a short stand-off, the lead mama skirted by the hunters and led her family to the safety of Yellowstone Village. As this was happening, the local game warden and one of our local sheriffs arrived on the scene. They spoke with the hunters to let them know that, while it’s not illegal, hazing buffalo in a housing area to hunt them is really distasteful and discouraged. The hunter who was blocking a lane of traffic with his truck was not in the right, and he was told as much. In the end, the hunters left and the buffalo were safe in the folds of Yellowstone Village. They’ve been staying in safe places in and around Yellowstone Village ever since.

2020 12 3 01 003 Update 3 BFC Stephany Seay photo

The buffalo know where they are safe. They have many friends in Yellowstone Village which is the perfect living classroom of co-existence with wild, migratory buffalo. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

There are a few other buffalo who we’ve been seeing each day, but, for now, they are staying safe from hunters within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. In other news, we really want to give you all a huge thank you for your generous contributions during Giving Tuesday! You all helped us exceed our fundraising goal, and we know these are difficult times for everyone, so this means so much to us. Thank you.

On Wednesday, the Interagency Bison Management Plan held an online meeting via zoom. If you weren’t able to listen in, you can still do so by going to this link, and it will eventually be uploaded to the IBMP.info web site. The meeting was more of the same from the state and federal agencies harming the buffalo, but the tribal voice is growing stronger. A representative from the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce Tribe), Erik Holt — brother to our Executive Director James Holt — spoke some really good words for the buffalo, challenging the Park’s dangerously low population target of 2,000 buffalo, stating they want expansion to 5 million buffalo back on the land! Yellowstone National Park’s bison biologist again urged that no hunting take place west of Yellowstone’s boundary in the Hebgen Basin to protect the imperiled Central herd. But, again, they are placing the conservation burden on hunters who kill far fewer buffalo than the Park does. The Park has no plans to take any responsibility for their impact on the Central herd and intends to capture for slaughter hundreds of buffalo — from both the Central and Northern herds — at their Stephens Creek buffalo trap. Contact Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and tell him that Yellowstone has an obligation to protect the Central herd by ceasing their indiscriminate capture-for-slaughter operations: email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call him at #307-344-2002 and tell him to stop the slaughter! The IBMP agencies also announced that they would rename the quarantine (domestication) program to the Bison Conservation Translocation Program — a total greenwash of an oppressive management scheme! Wild bison definitely should be restored to Tribal lands and all the lands that are their birthright; but they should do so of their own accord, through migration corridors, not quarantine.

There are many things you can do to help protect the last wild buffalo. Listen to the IBMP meeting and submit comments. Contact Yellowstone and tell them to stop the slaughter. Visit our Take Action page and take a variety of important actions for our friends, the buffalo. Request newsletters from us and help spread the word to save the herd! Thank you so much for being with us for wild buffalo!