Over a quarter of the last wild buffalo GONE.

The latest report on bison mismanagement from Yellowstone National Park is up on the IBMP.info site. Certainly look at the report in all its horror, but here is a bit of a breakdown.

A female buffalo looks at the camera.
When looking at these horrible numbers, we have to remember that each one was a living, breathing, wild buffalo.
  • 1,675 buffalo have been removed from the population as of Friday, March 3rd.
  • That is 28% of the population.
  • 919 have been killed in the “hunt” – and this includes 247 killed in just the two week period since the last report. This means nearly twice as many have been killed in the “hunt” as the last most deadly year – in 2016 when 486 were killed in the hunt.
  • 276 have been sentenced to a life of domestication through the quarantine program, with another 32 being held for quarantine “selection”. This already puts them over the stated capacity of the quarantine facility of 260.
  • 357 buffalo are being held by Yellowstone in the trap for “release or slaughter”.
  • 158 have been captured by the park in the last two weeks.

The Central Herd, which was at an estimated 1,500 animals before this season, has been in trouble for a long time. Now the Northern Herd, which was estimated at 4,500 animals, could be facing the same trouble, with the huge capture and slaughter numbers on the north end of the park. While we will not know the toll taken on the distinct herds until the summer count, it is entirely possible that the Northern Herd is now below the 3,000 number suggested as the minimum for herd viability.

With 28% of the population being killed or removed from the wild, this year’s toll on the buffalo has surpassed the cap suggested by every partner of the IBMP. The Park suggested that a 14% reduction would keep the population stable. The Nez Perce Tribe suggested that no more than 12% be taken. Even the Montana Department of Livestock (who has no business “managing” wild buffalo) suggested a cap of 25% removal. (These numbers can be seen on page 13 of the draft report from the last IBMP meeting.)

If even the buffalo’s worst enemy says the killing should stop at 25% of the herd, why are the buffalo still dying? Why is the Park still capturing? Why has Yellowstone not released the remaining captured buffalo?

Contact Yellowstone and ask!

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