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.