By Stephany Seay, Media Coordinator
On June 18th, a Yellowstone ranger spotted a bull buffalo laying on the side of the road near Dunraven Pass.
The ranger watched the bull, noticing that he was very weak and thin, and when he tried to rise he would stumble and fall. The ranger also noticed that the bull had what looked to be an infected gunshot wound.
The ranger killed him.
Members of the Park’s bear management team took a closer look at the wound and determined it was a partially-healed gunshot wound that had become infected. They determined that the bull was shot “a while ago” because “the interior portion of the wound had healed over a bit.” Yellowstone scientists say they doubt the bull was shot during the hunt, but they also say that they simply don’t know.
From our observations of the hunt, our guess is that this bull was another casualty of the firing line-style killing that takes place along Yellowstone’s north boundary, along Beattie Gulch, which we’ve written about extensively. Many buffalo are shot right after crossing Yellowstone’s north boundary, and many — wounded — flee back into the Park. We can only speculate on this, and if it wasn’t, then it’s anyone’s guess what happened. Either way, this bull is dead from a gunshot wound that he received long ago and has been suffering from for who knows how long. Only the bull truly knows.
It is heartbreaking to think that this bull was suffering for so many months, and it is also a testament to the incredible strength of these sacred beings that he was able to survive for so long. He will now help nourish grizzly bears.
West of Yellowstone, in Montana’s Hebgen Basin, buffalo have been making their own migratory choices for the first time in over a century. The buffalo who have been inhabiting Horse Butte have had the opportunity to give birth in peace and raise their calves in their gentle way, without threat of abusive government hazing. They have been able to take their time, waiting until their calves are strong enough to make the slow journey east into Yellowstone, to soon join other buffalo families in the reunions we call the rut. Just a small number of buffalo remain around Horse Butte, and they will likely join the others soon. Impatient and abusive Department of Livestock agents were always so anxious to bully buffalo out of these areas, but we have always known that buffalo know best where to roam and when it is time to move on.
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!