A beautiful, shadowy female buffalo in the Gardiner Basin. Photo by Kurt Rowe, Buffalo Field Campaign.
After a number of months of relative quiet, buffalo are on the move and we have opened up our camp in the Gardiner Basin near Yellowstone's north entrance. The arrival of buffalo has, of course, drawn hunters into the field. Since the weekend, at least three buffalo were taken, then another five were killed at Beattie Gulch on Wednesday. Most of the buffalo in the Basin, however, have been dodging bullets and staying alive. More than once, buffalo have moved through the bottleneck of Beattie Gulch, where hunters gather, but the majority of them have, so far, made it through unscathed. The buffalo continue to learn where it is safe and where danger lies. Some efforts by hunters to haze buffalo into huntable areas have backfired. Gardiner is such a vast, beautiful land, but it is full of dangers for the buffalo who are threatened with slaughter, quarantine, hunting, hazing, and experimentation. Expanded habitat is sorely needed so that buffalo can move through this patchwork of public and private land, and stretch out across the lands that are their birthright.
Three young buffalo graze in the Gardiner Basin. Photo by Kurt Rowe, Buffalo Field Campaign.
So far, there are no signs that Yellowstone National Park plans to begin capturing wild buffalo. Though it is late in the season for them to
capture-for-slaughter (they don't like sending females heavy with calves to the killers) they still intend to kill upwards of 900 buffalo this
year. We pray that the Park will get "skunked" and no buffalo will have to suffer that wicked torment. The excuses they use to kill our
National Mammal -- brucellosis and population control -- fall short of reality. Invasive cattle brought brucellosis with them to this continent, and by human error it entered the Yellowstone area buffalo and elk populations. Wild buffalo have never transmitted brucellosis back to cattle, but elk, who are free to roam, have been implicated in such transmissions more than twenty times yet they suffer none of the mismanagement that the buffalo do. To say that buffalo need population control would be hilarious if it weren't so deadly dangerous. Once existing in the tens of millions, for anyone to say that 4,700 is "too many" is to fall victim to declining baselines, which is the normalization of worsening conditions. No, the buffalo simply need for humans to learn to coexist. As we see on Horse Butte, in the Yellowstone Village subdivision, this is not only possible, but preferable.
Two buffalo graze along the Madison River, far in the distance. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.
In the Hebgen Basin, near Yellowstone's western boundary, a small family group of buffalo have made a showing along the Madison River. First seen in a place we call Buffalo Meadow, they've been moving north and south along the Madison, safe within Yellowstone's boundaries. In this beautiful area braided with tributaries of the River and thick with red willows, they share the land with no less than five moose, who we have been fortunate to see numerous times over the past few weeks.
Buffalo are not faring so well in the Montana legislature. Numerous bills have been introduced, as many of you know, that aim to redefine wild buffalo out of existence and prevent their restoration within Montana. We are working hard to keep you up-to-date and offer ways to take action to prevent these bills from moving through the legislature, but in Montana, our lawmakers are thick with livestock interests, and our new Governor doesn't offer much hope either. Nevertheless, we press on with endless pressure, endlessly applied. We have been overwhelmed by all the good actions you've been taking for the buffalo! So many people are coming to their defense when we put the call out for help and we cannot thank you enough. We will continue to keep you posted on legislative happenings, but you can always feel free to check in on our Buffalo Bill Tracker page to get fresh updates.
Thank you for all that you do for the last wild buffalo, and thank you for allowing us the honor of being here standing in their defense!
WILD IS THE WAY ~ ROAM FREE!!