Hunt Resumes in West Yellowstone
As a fella from Wisconsin and a student of ecology in one of the most natural resource-dedicated schools of the country, I jumped at the opportunity to intern with Buffalo Field Campaign, an organization dedicated to the preservation of a species threatened with extinction. It had been about a week since I began my stay with BFC and with the winter as mild as it had been, it seemed the buffalo had no intention of leaving Yellowstone as there was plenty of exposed grasses to enjoy within the park. That changed with the fall of fresh snow.
I was still half asleep in my rack when I heard the call, “twenty buffalo spotted across from Rainbow Point Road.” Suddenly wide awake, I rolled out of bed, skipped all possible semblance of breakfast, and headed out to see the buffalo for the first time this winter with a more seasoned volunteer. With due haste we arrived at Rainbow Point to see a small group of people gathered around in awe of the herd, a sentiment I shared. Among the crowd were a couple of hunters, and sure enough once the majority of onlookers had dispersed, a loud crack pierced the air, and one of the buffalo closed their eyes for the final time.
I hold no ill will towards the hunters. The fellow who had gotten the tag after ten years of attempts had stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime. He along with his partner were respectful to us as we were to them, and they refrained from taking their harvest until everyone cleared out of the area after enjoying the presence of the buffalo. Still, knowing the struggles that Yellowstone buffalo had endured throughout the years, I couldn’t help but feel that what had occurred wasn’t right, not with the population as restricted as it is, and not with the history of harsh government control and needless killing. Regardless, we left the hunters on good terms after discussing the situation and each other’s viewpoints and went on to continue our observations of the herd of twenty minus one.