Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, June 19, 2014



The Grand Canyon National Park is overrun with buffalo!  Hundreds of the massive, roaming mammals are on the prowl, with mischief on their minds.  And they are making a mess!  Clumsy buffalo are notorious for ruining riverbeds, trampling trees and bouncing boulders.  To solve the problem, rangers and volunteer shooters are enacting a culling.  Under the law, the Park Service is allowed to hunt bison to "preserve water resources, vegetation and fragile cliff dwellings."

One legislator wants to change that.  Last week, Senator by John McCain (R-Ariz) put forward some downright peculiar legislation in Congress. In short, he wants to allow anyone who kills bison to keep the meat. Under the current policy, the buffalo meat is distributed by wildlife agencies to tribes and local charities. With McCain's Sportsmen's Act, you get to keep your prize.  This will speed the process up and is endorsed by the Arizona Game & Fish Commission.

Confused?  Well, the state of Arizona is known for its crazy legislation.  But what concerns us at the DUNER BLOG is the welfare of the buffalo species in the USA.  For our foreign readers, here is a brief history of America vs the Bison.  For the first million years, bison thrived on the North American continent. Humans changed that. First, Native American tribes employed 'buffalo jumps.'  Stampeding herds were intentionally sent over steep cliffs.  By the 1830's Comanche tribes were killing about 280,000 buffalo a year.

However, this staggering figure was nothing compared to the white settlers. Unbelievably, the Federal Government encouraged bison hunting in the 1800's.  Buffalo herds on railway tracks resulted in long delays. Bison land could be better used for cattle.  Here's the process employed:  First, the animals were shot for game, often from the windows of trains.  Then, the carcasses were left on the prairies.  A year later, after they had sufficiently decomposed, the bones and skulls were gathered to make fertilizer.  It wasn't until 1876 when William "Buffalo Bill" Cody pushed Congress to act to protect the almost extinct species.

It's taken 150 years, but the Bison have recovered.  It's a miraculous story, but an unnecessary one.  See, the real reason the Feds wanted settlers to over-hunt buffalo was much more malicious: Without Bison,Native Americans cannot survive.  Eliminating buffalo was much easier than fighting wars with the Sioux and Comanche.   This dark side of American History needs to be acknowledged.  Then we can talk about how to best cook buffalo burgers!

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