bison

Michael Gabler / Wikimedia Commons

Up in Montana, the buffalo are back. After almost a century and a half, a herd of North American Bison will soon be welcomed back into Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation—the animal’s ancestral homeland.

As a symbol of their traditions, Blackfeet tribal leaders are welcoming the 89 bison to roam their 4,000 square mile reservation. In 2014, a treaty was signed among 11 tribes in the US and Canada to reinstate to the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains regions. This program is one result of that treaty.

Paul Phillips

From the Panhandle of Texas to the southern regions of South Dakota, the High Plains has a landscape generally characterized as flat and monotonous.  American explorers traveling west from the eastern wooded areas were not impressed with the “sea of grasses” they found covering the region, and proclaimed the area to be part of the “Great American Desert” unfit for agricultural settlement. 

American settlement arrived later, but this sea of grass was already home to many pastoral tribes, including the Comanche - peoples who had developed a nomadic lifestyle, following and hunting the more than 60 million buffalo that moved in herds across these vast grasslands.  As you will read in the Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne, the buffalo was key to the Comanche’s survival, providing food, shelter, and tools.

Jim Urquhart / Reuters

Yellowstone National Park has caused controversy with its annual slaughter of some of the bison roaming the park. But now, reports The Guardian, Yellowstone is looking to relocate the animals rather than cull them. The original plan was that the park would deliver bison to Native American tribes for slaughter. The annual cull helps reduce the risk of bison passing brucellosis on to Montana’s cattle.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Northwestern Colorado has a rich heritage of raising sheep – either for their meat or for wool. But for decades the sheep herd, not just in Colorado, but nationally, has been slipping in numbers, outdone by countries like New Zealand and Australia.

Where there’s been a resurgence though has been in local, niche markets. Some sheep ranchers have taken advantage of the local food movement to sell to customers at farmers markets and through community supported agriculture models.   

New Texas Law: Bison are Protected

Sep 1, 2013
wikipedia.org

As of September 1, bison have been added to the list of possible “estray livestock” protected by Texas law reported the Texas Tribune.  That means if they get loose, whoever finds them has to try and locate their owner.  If they cannot, local authorities have to hold the animals.  If the animal(s) are unclaimed for two weeks, they can be sold at public auction.