START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Group Discussions
* Update from the Field: The Birth Experience of a Bison and Her Calf
1 year ago

Hazers threaten "Momma H4" and her newborn calf at the Madison River, inside Yellowstone National Park.  Photo by Keith Fialcowitz.  Click for larger image.


May 23, 2014
Madison River, Yellowstone National Park
west of the 7-Mile Bridge

Our patrol set up across the Madison River to document the government's resumed hazing operation that began in Yellowstone National Park the day before. In this group of buffalo was a radio collared female (H4) who had started to give birth near Cougar Knoll while agents were hazing her on the previous day. Rather than halting the haze immediately upon discovering this buffalo was in labor, the agents actually deliberated whether or not to continue. They decided to leave that day and return in less than 24 hours.

Resuming the haze of this group of 60 brown buffalo and 30 red calves, including the newborn, government agents on horseback pushed them across Cougar Knoll through a lodgepole trail, over the ridge, and down across the swollen Madison River. "Momma H4's" calf could not withstand the strong current, no matter how hard she tried. Simultaneously, during the crossing, another calf was separated from its mother and was seen running upriver amidst the hazing operation to find her. The mother of this calf -- who seemed to be a relative, maybe grandmother of H4 -- was visibly distraught over the separation from her own baby.  When "Grandma" saw "Momma H4" and that her newborn was struggling, she swam back across to assist.

This Grandma buffalo, who was doubly agitated by losing her own calf and seeing her relative left behind, crossed the river again and began running up and down the river bank, sounding guttural bellows, shaking and sweeping her head while Park Rangers called out to nearby tourists to get back in their vehicles. Momma H4 then started to cross the river again, calling for her calf to follow, and despite her guttural bellows of encouragement, the baby couldn't do it. Grandma then swam back across the river to find both Momma H4 and her calf who had hidden behind a rock.

Once again, the Grandma buffalo swam the river and, distressed by having to choose, took off full speed running to catch up with the buffalo that were being harassed by agents upriver, where her calf was searching for her.

Alerted by all of the commotion, a coyote came trotting by to investigate the newborn and Momma H4. He  walked on after Momma H4 stood guard, tail up, over her tired calf. Shortly after, four agents on horseback came back to view their handiwork.

Having not found her calf upriver, the Grandma buffalo came raging back to the scene, shaking her head, calling to Momma H4 and her calf, and swam the river again. After checking on Momma H4 and her calf, Grandma then moved through the treeline towards the agents on horseback who retreated back up and over the ridge. Another patrol reported the agents yelling to get back as the Grandma buffalo came to haze them away.

Despite all of her pleadings and encouragement, Momma H4 could just not bring her calf to swim the river. Less than one day old and under stress by government agents pursuing her, the exhausted calf collapsed along the riverbank with momma H4 nearby.

The next day a Park Ranger reported to Buffalo Field Campaign that Momma H4 and her newborn calf made it across the Madison River. They were last seen migrating upriver to rejoin her family group. We don't know if Grandma found her baby again, but the bond between mom and calf is very strong, and it takes a long time before either will give up the search.

Darrell Geist, habitat coordinator


1 year ago

Thanks TAS for posting the link to this story in the petition thread. 


I think it is pathetic the way these jerks haze poor mama's and their very young calves....causing them to sometimes lose them....both to death or getting lost.   I pray one day all this cruelty will be over and the beautiful bison can roam free once again.


If you go to the petition thread and click the link TAS provided and then the picture to enlarge it, you will notice the precious 1 day old calf hiding behind the rocks with his mommy standing guard while those hazing jerks are nearby.

This post was modified from its original form on 30 May, 18:25
This thread is archived. To reply to it you must re-activate it.