2020 05 14 01 001 Update 1 BFC Greg Marin photo

A family group of buffalo are hazed across the delta of the Madison River.
Photo by Greg Marin, Buffalo Field Campaign.

As I write this, patrols in the field are informing us that the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, as well as a USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service employee are gearing up for another haze. A group of nine buffalo — no calves, but some pregnant mothers-to-be — were spotted in the “forbidden” South Fork area. These lands — which are perfect habitat for wild buffalo — were excluded from the Interagency Bison Management Plan’s year-round habitat area. The public land where the agents intended to haze the buffalo from never host any cattle. Even so, they are forbidden by Montana and federal agencies to occupy this area of their own homeland. As soon as the buffalo saw the riders, they took off deep into the thick forest. The riders spent quite a while searching for the buffalo, and unfortunately eventually caught up with them. In this corridor of the Madison River there is thick deadfall (fallen trees) that buffalo -- as well as the agents’ horses — have a difficult time negotiating. Injuries are to be expected. The buffalo were pushed across the Madison River, to the north side, where they are allowed to be. All these arbitrary lines in the sand for a being who once covered the continent. These bullies conducted another haze of three bulls late last week, moving them out of the same general are that this group was hazed from. Gone are the days of the industrial strength hazing operations where hundreds of wild buffalo would be chased out of every location in the Hebgen Basin by teams of riders, law enforcement, and a helicopter, so these cowpokes will take every chance they can get to exercise their authority. and relive their “glory days.” Abuse of our National Mammal paid for with our federal tax dollars.

2020 05 14 01 002 Update 3 BFC Cindy Rosin photo

There is just nothing quite so precious as a baby buffalo.
Photo by Cindy Rosin, Buffalo Field Campaign.

Calving season is in full bloom here in the Hebgen Basin. Every day more calves arrive. It is such a gift and a blessing to see these little ones, born to the imperiled Central herd, who’s numbers continue to decline due to the mismanagement of the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Every calf born is a miracle. With the absence of the hazing operations we used to experience it has been so amazing to see how the mother buffalo take their time before moving too far until their calves grow strong. Buffalo are moving around all over the place as the land is pretty much entirely free of snow and grass is everywhere, so the buffalo are enjoying the freedom of walking wherever they want. On Horse Butte more residents are putting out their Buffalo Safe Zone signs and other folks continue to request them. It fills our hearts with gratitude to see so many of these signs with buffalo out and about, safe and sound from the dangers of hazing.

2020 05 14 01 003 Update 3 BFC Stephany Seay photo

Highway marquee sign has been updated to reflect the time!
Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

As these buffalo have their walkabouts, even though there is grass available to them everywhere, they still end up along the highways. There’s just something about the grass that grows there that the buffalo find very attractive. This time of year with the snow gone, during the daytime the highways aren’t quite as dangerous. But, when family groups come close to the road with their tiny new calves we become anxious with worry. We’d like to give a shout out to our local Department of Transportation workers who have changed some of the marquee signs which warn of buffalo on the road. They currently read, “Beware! Animals on Roadway. Bison Calving Season.” This is a great service to the buffalo and we sincerely appreciate this effort. And we of course appreciate each and every one of you who gives us the honor of being here with the last wild buffalo!


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