2021 04 07 01 001 Buffalo Famil Rainbow
A family group forages for green grass

Our field patrols are anxiously awaiting the ancestral migration of buffalo to calving grounds on Horse Butte, a peninsula that juts into Hebgen Lake. As the weather warms and the days get longer, the Central Herd decides when to migrate, an innate instinct and herd memory.

2021 04 07 01 002 buffalo running

Buffalo enjoying ground no longer under snow.

In spring and in particularly hard winters, a mysterious instinctual force informs these majestic animals where they must go to survive. Perhaps they can smell grass on the wind from distant lands, gain knowledge from ravens passing through, or feel the changes in air pressure. There is also an inherited knowledge that helps the herds remember where the best grass, water, and calving grounds can be found. As a matriarchal society, the wise mother buffalo teach their calves and adolescents which trails to take, where to bed down in a storm, and most importantly, where they will be safe from hunting and harassment. Instinct, memory and fidelity to birthing and calving grounds continues to determine the migration of the last wild bison the same way it has for millennia. The buffalo are beings that think, feel, and react with wisdom to a rapidly changing world. In this way they are very similar to humans.

2021 04 07 01 003 Madison River Sunset
Sunset over the Madison River

Herd knowledge and social lives—one could call it culture — of the Yellowstone herds are never considered an important part of conservation planning by the state of Montana, the National Park Service, or the National Forest. This age-old societal structure wild buffalo use to survive is at risk for the Central herd after decades of hunting and government capture for slaughter that ignores the value of herd knowledge. Our staff, volunteers and beloved people who support our work in the field and on the ground know these buffalo are worth more than the genetic code contained under their thick coats of hair. That is why we are out in the field, sending emails to the Governor, talking to friends, neighbors and colleagues about what we can do to help the buffalo.

As we greet the new generation of wild buffalo who will be born this spring and share this experience with you, we ask ourselves: who will they become? Will the bulls be fearless fighters for mating rights, or adventurers blazing a trail to unknown territory? Will they be caring mothers who take in orphaned calves, and wise old moms who all others follow to safety?

2021 04 07 01 004 Buffalo calf apprehensive
A curious calf looks around a new world

As we wait for the arrival of the next generation of buffalo, we must continue the fight. There are two bills in the Montana state legislature, HB 318 & 302 that will hurt wild buffalo if passed, continuing the decades long persecution of the Yellowstone herds. If you have already reached out to the Governor Gianforte asking him to veto HB 318 & 302, thank you. If you have not, Buffalo Field Campaign is encouraging everyone everywhere to follow this link to our take action page to share this important message: Please recognize there are wild buffalo in Montana and efforts are needed to recover the wild migratory species by vetoing HB 318 and HB 302.