The stillness of summer has been shaken by the Montana Department of Livestock's (DOL) helicopter and horsemen. DOL hazing activities, which included participation from Yellowstone National Park and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, resumed on Friday along the southern banks of the Madison River, within the public lands of Gallatin National Forest. Since escaping the cowboy escapades that terrorized Yellowstone's western edge into mid-June, a very small mixed group of America's last wild buffalo found quiet refuge on the buffalo-friendly lands of the Galanis family.
They recently continued their migration and were discovered by DOL agents. On Friday, the DOL's helicopter was in the air and its horsemen were on the ground to haze the buffalo from their native habitat. Agents returned again today, attempting to dislodge the buffalo from the landscape. The agencies' excuse that these actions are being taken to "protect" cattle from the threat of a brucellosis transmission is absolutely hollow; after June 15 there is no risk, and any risk at all is only theoretical since there's never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the livestock disease, brucellosis, back to the cattle they got it from.
Of course, actions taken against the buffalo are not based on sound science, but on the politics that defend the interests of the livestock industry. It's the politics of hoarding grass for cows at the expense of America's last continuously wild bison.
These senseless hazing operations should make for a lively discussion when the Interagency Bison Management agencies come to West Yellowstone to tour some of the lands where the buffalo attempt to roam. If you live in Montana, are visiting Yellowstone, or can travel to West Yellowstone or Bozeman, please consider attending one or all of these important events.
On August 10, the IBMP agencies will tour some of the private lands that create the major conflict zones for wild buffalo. The tour is open to the public. Later that evening, from 5:15 - 7:00 pm, the Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo will host a buffalo public forum in West Yellowstone that all are welcome to attend, an event organized specifically to educate local candidates. The following day, the IBMP agencies will hold a public meeting in Bozeman to further discuss bison management. People who can make it are encouraged to attend these important events.
For more information about the IBMP tour and meeting, please visit http://ibmp.info/meetings.php. If you would like more information about the public forum, please contact Karrie Taggart at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to attend these events, rest assured that we will keep you informed.
Summer tabling continues in Yellowstone and the bison rut season will soon be starting. Herds will gather from all directions in a timeless tradition of a buffalo family reunion. During the rut, bulls will show their strength and challenge one another for the attention of receptive females. The roar of what could be dragons will echo through the valley.
If you're lucky enough to be in Yellowstone during this time, enjoy the celebration of the buffalo rut, but please keep your distance and give the bulls a lot of space! They have just one thing on their minds this time of year and anything that's not a female buffalo might be viewed as a challenger. Stay safe, have fun, and take photos for the next wild buffalo calendar! And please share the buffalo's story with everyone you know: spread the word to save these sacred herds!