Mom with the first baby buffalo seen by patrols this spring! What a lovely pair! Photo by Taliyah Sansa, Buffalo Field Campaign.
The next buffalo generation is arriving! The first calf was spotted yesterday morning — Earth Day — on Horse Butte, in the buffalo-friendly neighborhood of Yellowstone Village/Hebgen Lake Estates. Mom and baby are doing well and being very discrete, forming their intense bond and taking much needed rest. So, we will have more to share with you soon, after some time goes by. This baby sparks the next wave of buffalo born to the imperiled Central herd. Each new life is precious and profound.
This mama buffalo, in labor, is struggling to bring forth new life. A young bull, probably her child, comes to check on her. If you look closely, you can see a tiny hoof emerging. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.
Tuesday afternoon, we were almost certain we were going to see the first baby born, even be blessed with the very rare gift of witnessing the birth. While in the field, we got a call over the radio to “check something out” in Yellowstone Village, where many of the buffalo are right now. We were hoping so much that we were going to see the first calf. What we found was a beautiful mama buffalo in the throes of labor. We thought we were going to be honored with the witness of a birth. Buffalo births are rarely seen, as these are very private moments, and the mama buffalo tend to walk off, away from the herd into a private setting. But, here we were in the middle of a subdivision, with this gorgeous buffalo laboring hard along the side of Grizzly Bear Loop. One of the residents who had called to inform us, came out to quietly chat with us. He said she had been in this state for maybe two hours, and he thought she might be having trouble. But, because buffalo births are so rare, we don’t have a lot of experience to determine what is normal or not in these instances. Though, on the few occasions we have seen a birth, it has seemed relatively quick. But, this mama was working very hard, pushing and pushing, with nothing happening. We eventually got a glimpse of one tiny hoof, but that was all she was able to bring forth in the hours that we were with her. Our night rove patrol checked on her, but did not see her. The following morning, when patrols reported that they had found a brand new baby, we were hopeful. But, photos revealed that this was another baby from a different mom; the former still trying to bring forth new life.
A family group, full of pregnant females, grazes and rests along Horse Butte’s Rainbow Point Road. Photo by Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign.
Warming days have greatly reduced snowpack. The forest and pastures are finally opening up, so now the side of the highway isn’t the only place to find food. This has significantly curbed the dangers of buffalo lingering along the side of the road. Travel is easier, grass more available, and it’s only going to keep getting better. Most buffalo have made their way along the Madison River, near or on Horse Butte. Now they can focus on calving. Green shoots of life-giving grass are finally starting to emerge, drinking up the melting snow. One baby buffalo arrived yesterday, today there will be more. It’s kind of funny, because calving season is a lot like popping popcorn: You hear one kernel go, then two or three, then maybe ten, then there’s an explosion! We can’t wait to shower you with photos of baby buffalo and their proud and protective mothers! Thank you for giving us the honor to be here, standing with these gentle giants. We could not be here without your support, please continue to help keep Buffalo Field Campaign in the field, the courts, and policy arena! Donate today!
WILD IS THE WAY ~ ROAM FREE!