2021 04 15 01 001 Buffalo Looking

A pair of buffalo graze on Horse Butte

After a winter of anticipation, migration is finally underway in the Hebgen Basin! Moving with determination and purpose, family groups led by pregnant mothers are making their way to spring calving grounds in Gallatin National Forest. Horse Butte, their destination and calving grounds have two prized resources for the buffalo: large patches of snow-free earth and nutritious green grass. The excitement among migrating buffalo is evident as yearlings prance, play and graze on their way back to their birth place. It is a joyous time for the buffalo and all of us that love these sacred animals. It is only a matter of days before we see the first buffalo calves born…. We can’t wait!

2021 04 15 01 002 wobbly buffalo calf

One of last year’s newborn calves gets used to its legs.

Every year we are so thankful that Horse Butte was designated as year round buffalo habitat in 2015. After years of advocacy and hard work, local villagers, along with our campaign members pushed former Governor Bullock to recognize the need for permanent habitat protecting calving grounds on Horse Butte. Designating year-round habitat protects them from harassment and hazing at the hands of the Montana Department of Livestock. For the last 6 years, new buffalo calves enjoyed their first months of life without disturbance from the State of Montana, and that is certainly something to celebrate!

During spring calving season, our field patrols have the important job of ensuring that the buffalo can safely cross the highways. With two sets of daytime patrols and a night patrol, we deploy our “Buffalo on Road” signs wherever there are buffalo present near the road to give drivers time to slow down and exercise caution, for their own safety and the safety of the herd.

2021 04 15 01 003 Buffalo on road

One of BFC’s signs in action on highway 191

Spring is one of the most important and rewarding times to be out in the field standing with the buffalo. After a long winter, it is refreshing to see our friends, the buffalo, return like they always do. Calving season gives us the opportunity to re-connect with locals and travelers to West Yellowstone, because everyone appreciates the roads are safe for both buffalo and people. Oftentimes on patrol we will get stopped by a local or a traveler who want to share how much they love when the buffalo find their way to spring calving grounds on the National Forest and privilege us with their presence. People here and afar love buffalo, let them roam!

Legislative Update: HB 302 has passed the House and the Senate and will soon reach Governor Greg Gianforte's desk. (Contrary to messages you may be getting from the Governor's office, HB 302 must be enrolled and signed by the Speaker and President before transmittal to the Governor). James L. Holt Sr., our Executive Director, has sent a letter asking the Governor to veto HB 302 (PDF). House floor votes on HB 318 are imminent and HB 318 is expected to reach the Governor next week.
People from around the country who love wild buffalo must rally public pressure and persuade Montana's Governor to stop HB 302 and HB 318 from becoming law!

In the News: Our advisory board member, Nathan Varley, recently published a guest column on Montana’s wildlife management legislation in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. He powerfully states that “Montana’s vendetta against wildlife is a dangerous anachronism. Surely we as a nation have moved beyond the 19th Century when hunting and trapping were unregulated, leading to near extermination of many of our iconic animals. To elevate indiscriminate killing to the status of wildlife management ignores science and ecology and the desires of the American people to enjoy wildlife for its own sake.” We agree fully with Dr. Varley and applaud him for standing up for our cherished wildlife.

Wild is the Way! Roam Free!