RFN Report: It’s Worse than We Thought. 2/4/23

A snow covered buffalo looks into the camera.
Each of these numbers was a beautiful wild buffalo.

As a follow up to our report from yesterday, Yellowstone National Park submitted their current report on the wild buffalo who have been eliminated from these sacred herds, and the numbers are grim. Keep in mind, these aren’t numbers, they are wild buffalo. The Yellowstone population is being considered for Endangered Species Act protection, which makes this even more outrageous. This is what state, federal, and tribal governments are doing to the country’s National Mammal.

You can review the report for yourself, but we offer you a breakdown that may be a bit easier to comprehend.

A female buffalo and her tiny calf look into the camera.
The matriarchs are the glue that holds the herd together.

To date, and it is only early February:

  • Total eliminated from the last wild herds by government & tribal action: 1,024
    • Gardiner = 991
    • West Yellowstone = 33 (this does not include those killed on the highway)
  • Hunters have killed 527.
    • 33 of those were taken in West Yellowstone, the rest were taken in Gardiner.
  • State hunters have killed 55.
  • Tribal hunters have killed 421.
    • Note of interest: the Crow Tribe is now listed as hunting under treaty right, so now there are eight tribes descending upon Yellowstone buffalo.
  • Another 37 buffalo are listed as “Other” casualties of the hunt – it is unclear what this means.
  • Yellowstone National Park has had to euthanize 13 buffalo who were shot by hunters and fled into the park terribly wounded.
  • On the west side, 1 injured buffalo was killed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Capture for Slaughter or Domestication:

  • Yellowstone National Park has consigned 88 wild buffalo to slaughter.
  • Another 14 are being held for “release or slaughter”.
  • Capture has resulted in the capture pen deaths of 2 buffalo.
  • Yellowstone National Park has consigned 55 buffalo for domestication (quarantine).
  • Yellowstone is holding an additional 338 for quarantine “selection”.
    • Note of interest: Yellowstone has stated that no buffalo have been tested for brucellosis this winter. While the testing is terribly flawed, it makes no sense how they are determining which buffalo they send to slaughter or quarantine if they are not testing them for exposure to the livestock disease.

Toll on the matriarchs:

  • At least 339 adult females (most of them pregnant) have already been killed or otherwise removed from the population:
    • 130 killed in the “hunt”
    • 72 slaughtered
    • 137 await their fate in the quarantine selection pens

We all know how terribly important the adult females — the matriarchs — are to the health, wisdom, and longevity of the herds.

A lone buffalo stands in the snow looking across a river.
Wild buffalo are being decimated by the mismanagement of the IBMP.

Each of these numbers were once wild and free buffalo, living their lives as Nature intended. These numbers — these buffalo deaths and removals — are dangerously high for so early in the Interagency Bison Management Plan’s mismanagement season. Both capture and hunting will continue for the next two months, and hunting will continue almost year-round.

This is a travesty, and right now, we see no end in sight. Nearly 1,200 buffalo have been documented in the Gardiner Basin alone, which is a huge migration. Both members of the imperiled Central herd and the Northern herd are getting absolutely hammered right now.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION! Please contact Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and urge him to stop this senseless slaughter! He knows it’s wrong. He’s just doing the bidding of Montana’s livestock industry. Tell him to stand up for the buffalo with his actions as he has done with his words. Tell him to represent the people who he works for — which is us. Speak from your heart and hold nothing back! The fate of the 352 buffalo currently in the trap – and of any captured in the future – is in our hands.

Cameron (Cam) Sholly, Superintendent
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168
Phone: (307) 344-2002
Email: Yell_Superintendent@nps.gov

And, please, pray very hard (or send your strongest positive thoughts) for the buffalo who remain…