National Park Service hazing buffalo inside Yellowstone National Park © Ken Cole
The snow is deep, in fact it’s 130% of average in Yellowstone this year. That makes for a bad situation if you are a buffalo there. Do you try to stay in the Park where you can’t get to the food that you know is under all of that snow or do you follow your instincts and move to lower elevation where there is less snow? Either way, you’re screwed if you’re a buffalo.
This year, with an estimated population of 3,900 buffalo in Yellowstone, things are reaching a tipping point and a mass exodus of buffalo is likely to ensue.
What will await them when they leave the Park? Well, this year, there have been over 100 bison killed outside the Park, mostly by tribal treaty and sport hunters according to the Buffalo Field Campaign (full disclosure, I am a long time volunteer and board member of BFC), one was hit on the road as a result of being orphaned during the hunt and unable to trudge through the deep snow on its own, and another one was shot by Montana officials after it left the Royal Teton Ranch after being captured, tested and marked in an obscenely expensive program which is vaunted by the government and “conservation” groups for its greater “tolerance” towards bison outside of Yellowstone National Park.
That experiment hasn’t gone too well. The buffalo aren’t behaving the way, or staying where the government wants them to so they have been chasing them around on horseback trying to keep them on the RTR.
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