These three bulls are, sadly, no longer part of the herd. This photo was taken inside the western edge of Yellowstone National Park, less than 1/4 mile from where the bulls were shot by hunters on private land. BFC file photo by Stephany. Click photo for larger image.
The holiday season proved to be a quiet time for our friends the buffalo. For a little while, peace on Earth was extended to these gentle giants. Unfortunately it was not to last. On Saturday, three massive bull buffalo that we had been keeping an eye on for nearly two months were killed by hunters. These bulls had at most times been a solid trio, then would have the company of another bull or two, then be a trio again. For weeks they moved through the Duck Creek area, in and out of the invisible and manmade boxes that determine private, forest, and park lands. This is a favorite migration corridor for buffalo, particularly bulls.
On Yellowstone's western edge, where Duck Creek flows from the park, is a narrow strip of Gallatin National Forest land that you could literally throw a stone across. On the other side of this strip of Forest Service land is the private land of the Koelzer family. The Koelzers have, as many of you know, been infamous and cruel players in the war against wild bison, in large part because they have leased their land to the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL). This is where the DOL runs the Duck Creek bison trap, and the basement of the Koelzer house is used by the DOL and other IBMP agencies as their headquarters when planning hazing and capture operations in the Hebgen Basin, west of Yellowstone National Park.
This photo, looking towards Koelzer's, was taken from the small strip of Gallatin National Forest that lies between Koelzer's and Yellowstone National Park, the Park being behind the photographer. From the angle in this photo, the Duck Creek bison trap is just out of vew to the left. In the very far distance, you can see portions of Horse Butte. BFC file photo by Kevin Snyder.
Saturday morning, three men with state bison tags got permission from either the Koelzers or the DOL and killed these three bulls. Had they been a mere 50 yards to the east, the bulls would have been safe inside Yellowstone National Park. There is no resident population of wild bison in Montana, so when buffalo step over the line from Yellowstone into Montana, hunters react desperately. To make matters worse for the few buffalo in Montana, the state legislature last year passed a bill that enables state officials to tell hunters the locations of buffalo. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) set up a "bison hotline" that hunters can call to learn the exact positions of buffalo. For two months the hotline told callers that a small group of buffalo -- these bulls -- were moving in and out of the Park. It was only a matter of time before hunters caught them on the killing side of that line.
BFC is running full patrols in both the Hebgen and Gardiner Basins, west
and north of Yellowstone. We are ramping up efforts in opposition to this
canned hunt, and strengthening our communication to let hunters know they
are participating in a bison extermination plan, not a legitimate hunt. We
have apparently expected too much from bison hunters, assuming they would do
as other conservationists have done, and take responsibility to ensure a
viable future for wild, migratory bison in Montana. This is their duty,
their obligation. We will be here to remind them of that, every step of the
Return to Animal Rights Articles