Two young bull buffalo comfort each other during hard times for their nation. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Hard times are underway for wild buffalo, as hunting, capture, and slaughter increases. Since early February, approximately 87 wild buffalo have been trapped within Yellowstone National Park, in the Stephens Creek capture facility in the Gardiner Basin. None of the buffalo had ever left the park. Park rangers are not actively hazing (chasing) buffalo into the trap, and patrols in Gardiner are convinced that the Park Service has been baiting them with hay, a tactic the Montana Department of Livestock is known to use.
Of the buffalo that have been captured to date, 37 were shipped by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes to a tribal slaughter facility, 17 of these buffalo were condemned just yesterday. Five buffalo were taken by the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to be used in experiments with the birth control chemical GonaCon. The buffalo that are still in the trap at the time of this writing will likely be taken to other tribal slaughter facilities by the InterTribal Buffalo Council, a federally chartered buffalo ranching organization. This could happen as early as today or Friday. We also learned that the Nez Perce tribe has just signed a slaughter agreement with Yellowstone, so they, too, will begin to transport wild buffalo from the Stephens Creek trap to Nez Perce slaughter facilities in Idaho, more than a twelve hour drive. While tribal governments are making these drastic decisions to fully participate in slaughtering wild buffalo, there are many within these tribes who strongly oppose such actions and these voices will not go unheard.
While these terrible actions are taking place, hunting has also been staining the landscape red. One hundred sixty seven buffalo have so far been killed by state and treaty hunters. Within the Gardiner Basin where buffalo are being trapped, state and treaty hunters have killed seventy-five buffalo since capture operations began. The state hunt finally ended on February 15, but Native treaty hunting will continue into April, with calving season just around the corner.
A portion of a mixed family group of buffalo that BFC patrols have been monitoring since late October. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
In the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone's boundary, a family group that we had come to know very well has been shattered. Since mid-autumn, BFC patrols have been monitoring a group of 26 buffalo. They were all that remained after Confederated Salish & Kootenai tribal hunters killed nearly 3/4 of a group that had migrated into Montana earlier than we typically see. Initially there were over 80 buffalo in this group; after the hunters left, just twenty-six remained. These twenty-six buffalo had been keeping themselves alive by residing on the Galanis property and in Yellowstone Village, both buffalo-friendly residential areas on Horse Butte where hunting is not allowed. Day after day we would breathe a sigh of relief because the buffalo seemed to be quite content staying in this safe zone. But, these buffalo-friendly properties are adjacent to Gallatin National Forest, where hunting is permitted. There were times when the group of 26 would move over to the national forest land, giving us a good scare. But they always moved there when there were no hunters around, and when hunters did arrive, they found the buffalo safely back in no hunting areas. We can't be sure, but we strongly suspect that some hunters got frustrated with the buffalo being inaccessible.
Nearly the whole group of the 26 grazing on top of the Galanis property during a heavy snow storm. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Late last week, patrols discovered the buffalo gone and trespassing snowmobile tracks on the Galanis property. The tracks circled and circled, which lead us to believe that the buffalo were harassed and pushed out of their safe zone. In the days following this discovery, the group split up and eight of them were shot by state hunters. Six of these buffalo were shot near the Madison River, in a sensitive riparian area of Gallatin National Forest that is closed to snowmobiles. As if it weren't already far too easy to kill buffalo, the hunters asked for permission to take their snowmobiles down into this closed area to retrieve their kills. They were unfortunately granted permission by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Only a small handful of these buffalo remain in the area, and they are back on the Galanis property where they are safe, for now.
Some of the 26 on a frosty winter morning. A mom and her calf nuzzle one another. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
Please allow this information to inspire you to take action. The buffalo need us to speak up and share their story now more than ever. See below for some very important actions you can take and thank you so much for being with us for the buffalo! Stay strong and remember the words of Edward Abbey, "sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul."
Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!
This is just getting worse and worse!!! Now snowmobiles are being allowed to harrass the poor buffalo so that they run out of their safety zone, and killed! What cowards these scumbags are to do this. It's like shooting a fish out of water! Then the family of 80 have been slaughtered down to just 26!! WHY? They are no where near the cattle and they sure weren't eating all the grass! I am horrified and so angry!
Not a great year for the buffs
.and here I thought we were making headway, it's just the stupid bison lean meat marketing that is making it increasingly important to safeguard theses wild beauties....so frustrating
Almost to hard to read what is happening. I can't understand how it is the buffalo who is tracked and killed? For the thrill or what? People are so stupid and cruel.
Carlene,it is a parallel to American politics
except they cannot outright murder liberals......
somehow the gop/hunters/cattle barons have done this.
Actually the bison meat are from domesticated bison, raised on farms (Ted Turner's for one). I hate that any are killed but especially I don't want it to be the wild bison....they are the last of their kind. I am very concerned that if they ever start vaccinating them (so they won't reproduce) then we'll lose them forever and they will all become domesticated buffalo since they won't be able to have babies. WHY won't they leave them alone???? We mustn't give up though. But doesn't it appear that the more we fight for them the more progress they lose?
You know TAS, I've given some thought on what is being reported. That each year until their numbers are down, that 800 bison will be slaughtered. How do we know that those bison aren't going to be packaged to be sold in stores and restaurants? What do you think? It is so evil to kill the poor bison because they wander 'out of their boundaries'. Do they think they can see an imaginary line? And what about the ones they 'lure' out of the park and other perimeters?