It’s about damn time we celebrate the bison. The Obama Administration dedicated the first Saturday in November to our national mammal in 2012. For such a storied, majestic creature, what the hell took us so long?
Before the West was settled, upwards of 30,000,000 bison roamed our country. This was back when caribou were at home in Minnesota and elk resided in the Appalachians. By 1890, only 30 bison were left. From 30,000,000 to 30. That’s about the size of the herd in the bottom right of the image above. We nearly drove them to extinction. Some were hunted for food, others were killed by white settlers by the hundreds to destroy the food supply of plains Native Americans. At the lowest point for the bison, what’s now Yellowstone National Park was the only place you could find one.
We’ve made some strides in restoring the population. You can find more than 300,000 bison in the United States today. But that’s only 1% of the of their original numbers. If we are to continue to restore the population, we need to increase our responsibility in their recovery. Public lands must be preserved and expanded, and we must raise our standards in regard to clean land, air, and water–natural resources that all forms of life depend on. Trump and the GOP have been consistently siding with profit and private interests instead of thinking about the planet. Sec. Zinke, for example, opened up land for oil drilling instead of preserving it for the threatened sage grouse.
Use National Bison Day as a source of inspiration. Our planet and all the plants and animals living here need to be top priority. If we continue to allow Trump, Zinke, and the GOP lead with profits first, don’t be surprised to see more animals go the way of the 19th century buffalo.