Buffalo Field Campaign works to protect the United States’ last wild buffalo, who live in and around Yellowstone National Park, in the region where Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana meet. The cool, wet days of the past week in this area have been teeming with baby buffalo who remind us of our refortified commitment to defend them and their families, and give us reason to be grateful for the accomplishments we’ve made in gaining year-round buffalo habitat. In many of the places the buffalo have been in recent weeks, 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.
Though much of the land in the Hebgen Basin, a region near West Yellowstone, Montana, 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 May 21st, buffalo in this area 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 that 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!
Featured image: a buffalo mother and calf. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.