National Bison Day – November 2nd

The U.S. Congress, largely an inept body of self-absorbed yellow-bellied nincompoops, whose bickering antics are atrociously worse than those witnessed in a room full of 4 year old children, managed to show they have some semblance of rational, adult-like thinking by passing an important conservation bill just prior to their histrionic-filled shutdown – the bill that proclaims November 2nd as National Bison Day.

And why shouldn’t we celebrate the American Bison as our national mammal?  After all, almost all of the bison on private ranches in South Dakota survived the October 3rd, 2013 blizzard that killed tens of thousands (up to 80,000 by some estimates) of cattle – a non-native mammal that belongs on the Great Plains about as much as a palm tree belongs in Kansas.  Although one prominent producer mentioned they lost about 6% of their bison, those losses were nowhere near the 40% – 80% loss individual cattle ranchers experienced.

Wallace Stegner wrote, in The Sound of Mountain Water, “Angry as one may be at what heedless men have done and still do to a noble habitat, one cannot be pessimistic about the West.  This is the native home of hope.  When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins.  Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”

By realizing our shamefully myopic squander, saving the last of the bison and bringing them back from the thin bleak line of human-caused extinction, we have very slightly become that society to match the scenery of the West.  All pessimism aside, we still have a million miles to go.

American Bison ( ), along with its ecological counterpart, the Prairie Dog ( ), are considered keystone species in the North American prairie.  Here, two bison graze in a prairie dog town in Wind Cave National Park.
American Bison (Bison bison), along with its ecological counterpart, the Prairie Dog (Cynomys spp.), are considered keystone species in the North American shortgrass prairie. Here, two bison graze in a Black-tailed Prairie Dog (C. ludovicianus) town in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota.

4 thoughts on “National Bison Day – November 2nd

  1. Another excellent read. When im at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, and i get a chance to witness a small herd of Bison, i try to imagine what a beautiful site it must of been, say 200 years ago, to witness tens of thousands of those magnificent creatures roaming across the unspoiled prairie, the very life giving ecosystem that modern man virtually destroyed, all in the name of progress. Happy National Bison Day, Jameson, and continue to raise awareness of the damage thats been done, but also the hope for a better futute for our lands,both public and more importantly, the private lands

    1. I do. I have bought seed before (Native American Seed), but now I collect my own seed – it’s more time consuming, but it helps with plant ID skills and recognizing the many plant communities; and it’s more rewarding. I have quite a bit of seed drying and waiting to be processed.

      A lot of the research material can be found on Google and Google Scholar. If you’d like, I can email you a list of papers and books specific to the Cross Timbers, and other references regarding prairie restoration and management.

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