2018 05 31 01 001 Update1 Buffalo Field Campaign Stephany Seay photo 800

Buffalo meander at their own pace, living as they should, along the North Bluffs of the Madison River.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign

We always told the Montana Department of Livestock that hazing was not only abusive, but absolutely unnecessary. The buffalo are proving that point once again. Nearly all of the couple hundred buffalo who migrated into the Hebgen Basin, to their calving grounds on and around Horse Butte, have slowly made their way east, to their summer ranges within Yellowstone National Park. This is the third spring that the buffalo have been given the opportunity to do what they want, and they have shown us that, if just given a chance, they will make their own way, in their own time. It has been amazing to watch them and learn these new lessons from the buffalo what they do when they aren't being hounded and harassed by humans. We've been with multiple groups who are just taking their sweet time meandering, not even a mile a day, towards summer grounds. Grazing and breathing, calves napping and playing; slow and deliberate footsteps that are not in any hurry, but still manage to cover a lot of ground, gently and smoothly. This is how it works. Another lesson in listening to the buffalo, and what beautiful teachers they are.

2018 05 31 01 002 Update2 Buffalo Field Campaign Jaedin Medicine Elk photo
A bull buffalo shows how good he's feeling, being wild and free on land where he and his kind were once harassed and abused.
Photo by Jaedin Medicine Elk, Buffalo Field Campaign.

With this migration, the Hebgen Basin is nearly void of buffalo, though a few small family groups remain for now. Our field season will be closing at the end of this week, and soon our focus will turn to outreach, tabling in the Park and letting some of the millions of park visitors know what Yellowstone is doing to the buffalo when no one but BFC is around to bear witness. It's a bittersweet time of year for us. Living in this stunning wild community, going through all the good and bad times with the buffalo and each other, we have shared so much; blood, sweat, tears, and laughter. Parting ways, saying good-bye to the buffalo — for now — is never easy. But, to the four directions we all will go, and we will return when the cold reclaims the land and the buffalo move this way once again.

2018 05 31 01 003 Update3 Buffalo Field Campaign Stephany Seay photo 800
Without the threat of constant hazing, calves are growing stronger faster. May this help the herds at large have a greater chance of survival into the future.
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

This will be the last weekly email Update from the Field until November. For the summer, you will hear from us every other week, and of course when anything major happens, we will alert you right away. If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, be sure to come visit us at our information table and meet some of our amazing BFC crew. We can't thank you enough for allowing us the opportunity to be here standing in defense of our relatives, the last wild buffalo, the greatest teachers most of us have ever encountered. While it seems slow, we are making incredible progress; now we enjoy springs without industrial-strength hazing operations, we've gained significant year-round habitat, we've won round one in our Endangered Species legal battle, APHIS has been shut down in the Gardiner Basin; there is much we have accomplished, and we will continue to do so together. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!