The Bison of Yellowstone National Park
NPS Scientific Monograph No. 1
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Lake Station Record19 Jan. 1903 returned from Pelican
15 buffalo

15 Feb. 1903 Pelican country 1 buffalo (main valley)

26 Feb. 1908 from Pelican 19 buffalo

24 Mar. 1903 from Pelican seen 17 buffalo

25 Mar. 1903 Pelican 19 buffalo

12 May 1903 "from Pelican Country... Had 2 Buffalo bull calves on toboggan drawn by dogs. Saw 16 old buffalo and 3 calves."
Supt. Annual Report (1903)spring 1903 2 calves captured from wild herd
Lake Station Record4 April 1904 located one buffalo at the hay stack (Pelican)

end April Scouts¡Pelican Valley—"seeing 11 Buffalo 5 cows and 6 bulls no calves saw 6 dead ones"
Superintendent's Journal, 1903-216 May 1904 party that went out for buffalo calves report finding as follows... 11 live buffalo 5 dead buffalo¡4 old ones and 1 yearling (additional report of one old bull dead between Lake and Thumb refers to one of the three Goodnight bulls which was turned out)

18 May 1904 party returns, having captured one female calf on the head of Sour Creek; they saw twelve live buffalo; men at Canyon station saw two in Hayden Valley
Supt. Annual Report (1904)spring 1904 remnant located on the head of Pelican Creek. "three calves have been caught up from the wild herd... Two of these are males and one is a female." (the two males were those caught the previous year)
Supt. Annual Report (1905)1905 "now about 30 of these animals left,... on the head of Pelican Creek."
Supt. Annual Report (1907)probably summer sign of 15, Mirror Plateau and Specimen Ridge; signs of 6, Madison Plateau.

Aug. 1907 4 seen in Hayden Valley
total estimated to be 25
Scout Monthly Reports (1908)1 April 1908 2 bull buffalo, Pelican Valley (near Raven Creek)

13 April 1908 followed buffalo trail up Lamar to mouth of Mist Creek, saw 10 buffalo, 2 of them yearling calves

16 April 1908 sign as far down the Lamar as Miller Creek where buffalo had been feeding

13 July 1908 9 including 1 calf on upper Lamar

7 Sept. 1908
"Patrolled west to Buffalo Lake, then south to 10 miles... saw... signs of buffalo" (southwest boundary)

16 Sept. 1908 patrolled northeast to Mist Creek and camped. 18 miles Saw 20 wild buffalo (apparently at the Mushpot-Mudkettle area on Pelican Creek)

9 Oct. 1908 11 seen (on trip through Willow-Mist-Upper Pelican Creeks of the Mirror Plateau)

11 Oct. 1908 saw 7 head buffalo at Pelican Bridge (this report, as well as later ones for the immediate vicinity of Lake may refer to the Yellowstone Boat Co. animals)
Supt. Annual Report (1908)1908 "Wild herd: Reports from scouts and patrols state that signs of two buffalo calves were seen on Mirror Plateau and one cow and calf were seen in Pelican Valley during the season. Scout Wilson reported that he saw 10 buffalo at the mouth of Mist Creek on Lamar River on April 13. On September 7 Scout McBride saw fresh tracks of 2 buffalo on Boundary Creek, near the western boundary, and on September 16 he saw 20 buffalo near the mush pots southwest of Pelican Cone in the valley of Pelican Creek. From these reports it is evident that the remnant of the original wild herd is gradually increasing in numbers."
Skinner and Alcorn (1942-51)1908 used a figure of 32 counted.
NOTE On October 15, 1907, the Yellowstone Lake Boat Co. E. C. Waters corrals at Lake were torn down and the 8 buffalo within released. The Lake Station Record for the next two years and the scout diaries indicate that the various sightings of buffalo west of Lake Station, between Lake Station and Mud Geyser, and from Lake to Pelican Creek Bridge and east along the lakeshore for several miles were probably these animals. Reports of animals seen, or sign thereof, for these areas in 1908-09 are not included as part of this summary. Four or five buffalo were rounded up at Lake to be driven to headquarters in early December of 1909. North of Canyon, with average snow depths of 4 feet, the buffalo broke away. When last reported they had gone down into the Yellowstone Canyon to feed, apparently in the vicinity of Seven Mile Hole, where survival would be unlikely. Probably any left near Lake disappeared one by one without ever mingling with the wild herd. There was no indication that they ever joined the tame herd, of which very close track was kept at this time. The Boat Co. animals were of Goodnight plains bison stock, brought to the park in 1896, and kept in corrals (Timmons 1962).
Lake Station Record15 & 16 Jan. 1909 patrol to Astringent Creek and White Lake, buffalo sign seen

23 March 1909 patrol to Astringent Creek cabin and White Lake, 3 buffalo seen

24 March 1909 sign at the Mushpot area on Pelican Creek
Scout Monthly Reports (1909)15 April 1909 4 buffalo near Yellowstone Lake, very thin (these may have been part of Boat Co. animals, 6 were driven across the Pelican Bridge in Nov. 1908)

16 April 1909 Astringent Creek to Mist Creek and Lamar and to Willow Creek cabin, saw 3 buffalo near cabin

17 April 1909 patrolled north to Soda Butte, saw 2 buffalo
Supt. Annual Report (1909)April 1909 "Another small herd of 9 was seen near Pelican Creek in April." (this may be an error, representing the total of the above-listed trip)
Scout Monthly Reports (1909)mid-May 1909 "trying to corral 9 wild buffalo near Cache Cr. We captured 1 buffalo bull calf"
Supt. Annual Reports (1909)May 1909 "A herd of 11 wild buffalo was seen on Cache Creek May 19, at which time a "bull calf was caught..."
Anonymous File No. 21 & 22, 5/28/0915 May 1909 lists 10 at the mouth of Cache Creek—2 large bulls, 7 cows, 1 calf
Supt. Annual Report (1909)July 1909 "Signs were also seen in the southwestern part of the park in July of this year."
Lake Station Record23 Dec. 1909 Buffalo signs seen at Squaw Lake (Pelican area), 23 buffalo seen near Pelican Springs

13 Jan. 1910 buffalo signs 2 mi. west of Steamboat Sp. (Yellowstone Lake, north edge)
Scout Monthly Reports (1910)February 1910 Soda Butte to Cache Creek and return, saw 5 buffalo and signs of buffalo.
Anonymous File No. 21 & 22, 3/2/1023 Feb. 1910 29 buffalo seen on Pelican Creek (states group known not to contain the Boat Co. buffalo)
Supt. Annual Report (1910)1910 "A herd of 29 wild buffalo was seen in Pelican Valley on February 23, and a small herd of 5 was seen on Cache Creek on February 3. One old bull died during the winter in the vicinity of Yellowstone Lake,..." (the one may have been from the Boat Co.)
Lake Station Record9 March 1910 (Pelican Valley) "seen 20 of them"

16 March 1910 from Park Point (Yellowstone Lake) to Pelican Creek, 6 buffalo

17 March 1910 from Astringent Cabin to Lake, 21 buffalo.

30 June 1910 Lake Station to 14 mile post, Sylvan Pass Rd., saw 7 buffalo
Lake Station Record17 Feb. 1911 patrol to Pelican Cr., 20 buffalo
Anonymous File No. 21 & 22, 3/14/11Feb. ? part of wild herd sighted recently, sure of 20, think 25 including some calves
Lake Station Record2 March 1911 to Pelican Cabin, 25 buffalo
Scout Monthly Reports (1911)28-30 April 1911 from Signal Point (on Yellowstone Lake) north to Astringent Creek, saw 27 wild buffalo of which 2 were calves, traveled to Mist, Cold, and Willow Creek cabin N. to Lamar River, "sign of one wild buffalo"
NOTE: During June 1911, 4 bison were rounded upon the Madison and brought to Mammoth, in the mistaken belief that they were Yellowstone National Park animals. They were returned, including offspring, to their owners (Sherman) at Henry's Lake in June 1913 (Scout Reports and File No. 21 & 22).
Nowlin (1912)1911 comments droppings indicated buffaloes had ranged near Saddle Mountain and on Mist Creek and the upper Lamar River; plenty of old signs along Pelican Creek, at White Lake on the head of Sour Cr., and near the heads of Deep Creek.
Thumb Station Record10 August 1911 "patrolled to K. W. & De L. C. Reg. 82—8 buffalo" (contrary to the Supt. Report, 1911, the 8 buffalo were probably seen at the Knotted Woods, southwest of Dryad Lake, rather than west of Thumb at DeLacy Creek)
Supt. Annual Report (1911)1911 "The wild herd has been seen several times, usually in the Pelican Creek Valley. The largest number seen at any one time was 27. A patrol reported having seen 8 along the road, about 7 miles west of Thumb Station, on August 12." (error, see above)
Anonymous File No. 21 & 22
13 July 1912 48 (inc. 10 calves) on Raven Creek "Scouts McBride and Little. . . report having actually seen and counted 48 animals. They are not together in a herd, but are considerably scattered, mostly on Pelican Creek, Upper Lamar River and tributaries." count included 10 this year's calves; one additional large bull on the Pitchstone for a total of 49
Scout Monthly Reports
6 July 1912 1 bull, signs of 1 more, Cache Cr. (may have been from tame herd)

7 July 1912 sign of a small band, between Cache and Willow Creek

8 July 1912 sign of 6, Willow Cr. (seen by another scout)

9 July 1912 fresh sign, vicinity of Mist Cr.

10 July 1912 1 bull, signs of others, Mist Creek.

11 July 1912 fresh sign, Mist to Raven Creek. (one seen by another scout)

12 July 1912 "patrolled county" (Mirror Plateau), saw 38: 25 cows, 3 bulls, 10 spring calves, one seen between Snake River and Aster Creek

22 July 1912 saw buffalo signs on Proposition Creek
22-30 July 1912 trip made on Specimen Ridge and Mirror Plateau, upper Lamar River, Saddle Mt., Miller and Cache Creeks; fresh sign cow & calf Upper Pelican, tracks and droppings at head of Raven Creek, about 10 days old
saw about 10 at the head of Timothy Cr., followed them to the headwaters of Clover Creek where they joined others, "all were feeding quietly in an open park."
total of 35: 7 bulls inc. 2 large ones, 13 cows, 7 yearlings, S young calves, fresh sign of two bulls on Timothy Creek. total counted for trip: 39
"However, the summer range is so extensive and difficult to traverse that it would require a great deal of time and careful work to examine it thoroughly... I have never seen buffaloes on the range so wary and difficult to locate as the wild ones in the Yellowstone Park. ... As these buffalo winter around the warm springs... it seems reasonable to me that if undisturbed, they ought to gradually increase."
Scout Monthly Reports
20 Sept. 1912
2 buffalo seen between Cold Creek and the Lamar R.

27 Sept. 1912 25 wild buffalo, vicinity of Saddle Mt.
Supt. Annual Report (1912)1912 "A special effort was made during the month of July to determine as nearly as possible the exact number of buffalo in the wild herd in the park. Forty-nine animals, including 10 this year's calves, were counted. ... indicates that the herd is thriving beyond expectation."
Anonymous winter File No. 21 & 22 1912-13
winter 1912-13 added note: "Men on Lake Station claim 53 winter 1912-13 but not officially reported."
Scout Monthly Reports (1913)28 Feb. 1913 saw 35 wild buffalo, trip from Yellowstone Lake outlet to Pelican cabin

March (early) 1 bull, head of Mist Creek
Lake Station Record17 March 1913 53 buffalo, patrol from Pelican cabin
Scout Monthly Reports (1913)April 1 bull, trip from Cache to Willow Creek on top of Miller Creek divide
Lake Station Record30 May 1913 2 buffalo, patrol to Cub Creek
Scout Monthly Reports
5 Sept. 1913 20 buffalo, trip from Cold Creek to Frost Lake
Supt. Annual Report
1913 "No accurate count of the wild herd of buffalo was made, but scattering bands of them have been seen, and one party on patrol reports having seen 7 calves with a herd at a distance. It is believed that there has been some increase."
Scout Monthly Reports
September sign seen, vicinity of Saddle Mt.
Supt. Annual Report
1914 "No particular effort was made to make an accurate count... but they have been seen in considerable numbers on several occasions,... increasing slowly."
4 Dec. 1915 "went up Pelican Creek and Raven Creek to count Buffalo. 4 found on Pelican Cr. 27 on Raven Cr 31 in all about 5 large bulls 6 yearlings 4 calves and the rest cows and young bulls."
Supt. Annual Report
1915 "has not been practicable to get an accurate count..."
NOTE: Superintendents' Annual Reports for a few more years indicate wild herd numbers, which will not be included in this summary, as they may represent the addition of some escaped tame-herd members.

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Last Updated: 24-Jan-2005