May saw the beginning of wild bison hazing. No, this isn’t your standard fraternity hazing, but in the wild is defined as simply herding or pushing an animal. Of course, it doesn’t physically harm the animal. It’s designed to keep roaming buffalo in their regional zones.
This annual hazing simply helps round up buffalo that have migrated outside of their native Yellowstone National Park habitats and return them to their traditional calving grounds before baby season arrives, which is typically every May or June.
This year has proved challenging, as the Montana Department of Livestock has reported a larger number of migrating bison within Zone 3, also known as the Western Management Area. This zone’s boundaries are defined as running along the South Fork of the Madison River, going around the western area of Horse Butte, heading north into Red Canyon and then returning south back into Yellowstone National Park. In fact, reports show that 40 buffalo migrated very close to Idaho’s border.
When the going gets tough and the horseback riders run into difficulty hazing the buffalo, a helicopter is usually called in. It simply helps aid human’s ability to further round up the returning head prior to their birthing season. This year the deadline to have the bison returned to the park was May 15, just in time for the closed gates to reopen and welcome spring.
Bison are an interesting species. In fact, they are the largest terrestrial mammals in all of North America. Once dominating the grasslands of the U.S., estimates show that approximately 40 million bison once freely roamed our lands. However, by 1900, this number had dramatically plummeted, with just over 1,000 bison remaining.
Unfortunately, bison can only travel at a meager 30 miles per hour, which made them a hardy food source. While some bison were slaughtered for food, some were simply killed for fun. Tragically, bison were killed in large numbers to simply make way for farmlands as people migrated west.
Fortunately for the remaining bison, environmental conservationists in the 1900s began breeding this species on protected lands, helping bring them back from the brink of extinction. In fact, adult bison live approximately 20 years and begin giving birth when they are approximately three years of age, with males procreating at six years.
Bison prefer savannas, open plains and grasslands and have a strictly herbivore diet. Constantly on the move, these massive animals are over six feet tall and weigh between 900 to 2,000 pounds.
The winter months are hard on this species, especially in cold environments where grasslands are lacking. Yellowstone Holiday salutes the efforts of early conservationists who helped preserve this species for upcoming generations.
Yellowstone Holiday is located on the shores of Hebgen Lake. As a premier West Yellowstone cabin rental, they also offer a Hebgen Lake RV park, which is ideal for Yellowstone National Park visitors.