2019 05 23 01 001 Update 1 BFC Stephany Seay photo
Two babies take a short break before zipping around the sage brush again, chasing each other and making us laugh. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

The cool, wet days of the past week have been teeming with baby buffalo and our refortified commitment to defend them and their families. Last week and through the weekend, we were blessed with the arrival of BFC’s awesome board members, advisory board members Thia Martin and Stephen Fleck, a media crew - Sam and Aubrey -- from Patagonia’s Action Works campaign, as well as Ashlie and Alan who are an independent film crew, and last but never least, two lovely ladies - Tina and Darlene - who traveled from the Yaak, MT to spoil us with their delicious cooking so we could be freed up to have our board meeting and spend time with the media folks. After the sparse population around here the past few weeks, it was awesome to have a full house with so many of our steadfast buffalo family members, and it was a pleasure to get to know those who have just now entered into this unique buffalo family. Though we had tight schedules with everything going on, we were able to get everyone into the field to visit with the buffalo and enjoy the fruits of our many years of labor.

2019 05 23 01 002 Update 2 BFC Stephany Seay photo
“Every time a calf stands is a victory for us,” said James Holt Vice President of BFC’s Board of Directors. James said this during an opening prayer before the meeting. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

The buffalo didn’t disappoint! They were everywhere, greeting their long-time human family, and introducing themselves to new two-legged family members. We enjoyed the company of buffalo families with lots of brand new babies who are constantly reminding us of the accomplishments we’ve made in gaining year-round habitat. In the places we were with the buffalo, years ago those very areas would have been a danger zone, with helicopters, horsemen, and county, state, and federal law enforcement descending upon the landscape, causing a veritable war zone to chase wild buffalo off of the ground they choose to be on. Being with scores of buffalo who are no longer threatened in these areas is a dream come true. It is still hard for us long-timers to wrap our minds around it, but the running and jumping calves are there to remind us. To see them being able to play, rest, nurse, and essentially do what they want without threat of harassment is what our work is all about. Their mothers and many of their older family members understand how it used to be, and they, too, are relishing in the peace and tranquility that they enjoy today.

2019 05 23 01 003 Update 3 BFC Stephany Seay photo
These buffalo calves, their moms, and sibling were not so lucky, but were forced off of their chosen ground by hazers on horseback. There are no cattle ever on the public lands where these buffalo were chased from. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.

Though much of the land in the Hebgen Basin is open again to wild buffalo, some is still off limits to them. On paper the land is divided: buffalo can go here, but not here. In reality, the buffalo don’t recognize these man-made arbitrary boundaries, and walk the earth as they should. But, in some areas there are consequences. On Tuesday, along the South Side of the Madison River, buffalo were chased off their chosen ground. Representatives from the Montana Department of Livestock, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, and U.S. Forest Service descended upon the tranquil morning to chase three moms, three babies, and a yearling off of cattle-free public land within the Gallatin National Forest. The buffalo were run for upwards of five miles before being hazed to the edge of the Madison River, where they were forced to swim across and climb the bluffs to habitat where they can exist in peace. Everywhere should be land where the buffalo can exist in peace; they are the creators and caregivers of these areas and all grasslands and prairie habitats. Where buffalo are restored, entire communities begin to thrive again. Please help us gain more ground for wild, migratory buffalo on the Gallatin National Forest, so that no calf or pregnant mom is ever chased off the lands who are their birthright. Your comments on the Custer-Gallatin National Forest plan revision can help us gain Species of Conservation Concern status for the buffalo and will help expand the areas where they currently roam. Comments are due June 6, 2019. Thank you for being a voice for wild buffalo! If not for you and the many actions you’ve taken over the years, no buffalo would be safe from harassment. Thanks to you, hundreds now are.