[WATCH] Crews Clear Massive Yellowstone Snow Drifts to Save Bison
Winter has taken a brutal toll on Yellowstone National Park's bison population. In a press release, the Buffalo Field Campaign reports that Yellowstone could see at least 25% in the bison population this year.
This winter's heavy snows have only increased the chances of a reduced population. Snowfall has piled into dangerous drifts obstructing the natural migration paths of bison. As a result, the herds have started migrating along busy highways - easier to traverse but exposing the bison to traffic.
Unfortunately, 19 bison died due to traversing the highways already this year, according to data from the Buffalo Field Campaign. And more likely than not, those deaths would sharply increase without the efforts of the BFC and its co-founder, Mike Mease.
If You Build It...the Bison Will Come.
In the BFC press release, Mease stated that he "couldn't stand the idea of any more pregnant mama bison being killed on the road this year as they attempt to reach their calving grounds to replenish their depleted herd." So, he took action with the help of the Montana Department of Transportation and wildlife biologists.
Mease and his compatriots began digging migration corridors for the bison along their preferred migration routes. A wildlife biologist with the BFC, Jackson Doyel, explained, "If you build it, they will come. If you don't, they'll use the roads as trails." The corridors allow bison to migrate to the calving area of Horse Butte in Yellowstone without the risk of being struck by vehicles.
Long-Term Solutions for Safe Migration of Yellowstone's Bison
Protecting the migration paths of bison becomes all the more critical as environmental factors intermix with human-made ones - vehicles, tourists, structures, etc. The Buffalo Field Campaign has begun working towards building a 'Buffalo Wildlife Bridge' in Yellowstone to provide a permanent solution to protecting migration paths. The petition created by the BFC was addressed to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and park officials. It now has over 70,000 signatures and the support of the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce.
You can find more information on the BFC, and it's projects by clicking here.