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Buffalo politics--They shoot buffalo don't they?
October 1, 2013 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Tradegy of the Buffalo Commons Everything you know about buffalo is wrong. They're bison. But most aren't completely bison. They don't play a significant role in transmitting brucellosis. Bison are political. Which makes better sense management or culling the small, but genetically endangered, pure herd? Bison is actually better for you!

Could be more, but gummint is being held hostage today.
posted by BlueHorse (46 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
the fact that Plains Bison's scientific name is Bison bison bison is one of my favorite nomenclature facts ever. Someone really wanted you know that they're called bison, dammit.

(But they're not completely bison!)
posted by dinty_moore at 12:06 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're also delicious.

Last year, I sold my first pro-level short story to F&SF magazine. It was about a rancher who geneticially engineered bison to be the size of Saint Bernards. I owe a lot to Bison bison bison.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:11 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Go Bills!

Oops! Wrong Buffalo. Sorry.
posted by elmwood at 12:14 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


now all we need is to verb "bison" and we can have “bison bison bison bison bison bison bison” as a grammatical sentence.
posted by jepler at 12:15 PM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ted's Montana Grill features bison. It's actually pretty tasty, a bit leaner and sweeter than beef.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:17 PM on October 1, 2013


Bison is actually better for you!

That link is borked.
posted by Jahaza at 12:23 PM on October 1, 2013


Most bison meat you can get in restaurants is actually beefalo and, while better for you than beef, its cultivation is the primary threat to the genetic survival of the American Bison.
posted by 256 at 12:24 PM on October 1, 2013


If you order a bison burger while visiting Yellowstone National Park you can rest assured it is not sourced from the bison found within said park.

That is all.

Well, that and the fact that Old Faithful will still erupt if there is a power outage. That too.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Parks Canada has just released a draft plan to reintroduce plains bison in Banff National Park over an area of 425-1500 square kilometres.

But that's nothing compared to these amazing photos of a bison being chased by a grizzly bear on a highway in Yellowstone National Park. Crazy.
posted by furtive at 12:28 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ted Turner has 55,000 bison, making his herd the largest privately-owned bison herd in the world.
posted by Ostara at 12:28 PM on October 1, 2013


The men and machinery were meant to ensure the survival of a different yet equally beleaguered creature of the American West: the rancher.

Smithers, release the drones.
posted by three blind mice at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ted Turner has 55,000 bison... and then from the link "Mr. Turner is the second largest individual landowner in North America, with approximately two million acres of personal and ranch land in twelve U.S. states and Argentina."

When your possessions would put you at the top of the hierarchy at just about any point in human history, that's when you're really rich.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2013


When your possessions would put you at the top of the hierarchy at just about any point in human history, that's when you're really rich.

I have the world's largest collection of photos of security cameras.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:37 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bison burgers are So. Damn. Good.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:37 PM on October 1, 2013


Everything you know about buffalo is wrong.

So you can roller-skate in a buffalo herd?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:39 PM on October 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Obligatory link to Catalina Island.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:45 PM on October 1, 2013


... Plains Bison's scientific name is Bison bison bison

Mushroom, mushroom!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:47 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


They don't play a significant role in transmitting brucellosis.

We'll get through somehow.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was about a rancher who geneticially engineered bison to be the size of Saint Bernards. I owe a lot to Bison bison bison.

Shouldn't that be "I owe a lot to Bison bison bison?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:52 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


now all we need is to verb "bison" and we can have “bison bison bison bison bison bison bison” as a grammatical sentence.

Or we can just be happy with what we've got, which is: Bison bison bison bison bison bison buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo beefalo buffalo.
posted by aubilenon at 12:54 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bison is actually better for you!

I was told at my grocer's that all bison is pastured because you can't feedlot-raise them. Unfortunately a quick google strongly indicates that's not true, and in fact feedlot-raised bison exists and appears to have the same biological problems as beef (E.coli, etc). Additionally since bison are wild animals not bred for compliance or a severely constrained existence it is reasonable to suppose they're just that much more miserable.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:54 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
posted by nerdler at 12:58 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


RakDaddy, can you post a link (or MeMail) to your story? Would love to read it!
posted by emkelley at 1:06 PM on October 1, 2013


Bear Up, Bison! Never Say Die!
posted by not_on_display at 1:07 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


They are the most delicious.
posted by elizardbits at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2013


But that's nothing compared to these amazing photos of a bison being chased by a grizzly bear on a highway in Yellowstone National Park. Crazy.

The management of that whole incident infuriated me at the time:
It was a bison, badly burned from an encounter with one of the numerous hot spots in Yellowstone National Park.

The sight of such an injured bison alone is rare, but what Wypyszinski saw next was once in a lifetime.

"Never, ever, ever," said Wypyszinski. "I've seen plenty of bear, and more buffalo. But I've never seen anything like that before."

A grizzly was chasing the buffalo (which was practically cooked already) and gaining quickly.
...
Wypiszinski says once in the safety of the woods the bison out maneuvered the grizzly, escaping to live exactly one more day.

Park rangers had to put the bison down due to the injuries it sustained.
Park rangers euthanized the bison instead of letting the grizzly take it, as it almost certainly would have done shortly, when the grizzly had probably been stalking it for days and likely had driven it into the hot pool in the first place-- thereby jeopardizing the survival of the grizzly, which had only recently come out of hibernation and might have had cubs to feed.

All to satisfy a callow and unthinking sentimentality at the expense of the balance and productivity of the Yellowstone ecosystem.
posted by jamjam at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


The Western lowland gorilla is Gorilla gorilla gorilla. If anyone knows what they taste like, I don't want to know about it.
posted by Kabanos at 1:46 PM on October 1, 2013


I got some ground bison once and made it into chili and it was divine.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:59 PM on October 1, 2013


A Bison Homecoming
posted by islander at 2:00 PM on October 1, 2013


What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison?









olɐɟɟnq ɐ uı spuɐɥ ɹnoʎ ɥsɐʍ ʇ,uɐɔ no⅄
posted by pipeski at 2:15 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw bison in person for the very first time just a couple years ago at Yellowstone. I am still not over them (my desktop wallpaper at work is a bison). I could sit and watch them graze, sleep, and roll in the dust for hours, and took photo after photo of them. They possess a simple and overpowering mythic quality to them, living expressions of how the world once used to thunder and be shaped by millions of their kindred.

One of the most frightening and exhilarating encounters happened as we were driving down a road in Yellowstone. We were not in an area that I would say was thick with bison. There wasn't a herd lounging by the road, grazing on nearby tall grass or ambling along to whatever destination they had in mind. It was an otherwise mundane road, free of beautiful vistas and enhanced only by the fact it was in the middle of one of America's natural jewels. It was down that road we were slowly driving when a sole buffalo appeared on the black top. We came to a stop, as it was quite obvious that should we proceed we would have a bison hood ornament (or rather, the bison would have a vehicle hanging off his horns).

So instead, we sat in the car watching this large, brown and shaggy beast slowly amble down the lane toward us. He probably never came within twenty feet of the vehicle, but it was still close enough, that even in the presumably safe confines of an automotive steel cage, my heart rate began to climb and my eyes widened. He glanced at us as he walked closer and then paused and gazed away, as if deciding if we were worth his trouble. I remember looking into his large brown eye through my camera and sensing a weariness about him. It was a moment of excited silence, that is, until my mother-in-law, a woman in her sixties promptly mooed at the beast. My wife, only other passenger in the car with me, and I both froze, expecting the bison to pivot on its hoofed feet and charge the vehicle. It did nothing. We exhaled long and slowly, surprised by wife's mother's actions, and relieved that we weren't suddenly transported into that insurance commercial where bison repeatedly head butt a car full of tourists.

Then she mooed again.

Later she admitted she didn't know what came over her, but she had grown up on a farm with cattle and had helped run a cattle farm, and perhaps she simply had the urge to try and catch it's attention in the same way she had done with cattle countless times over. None the less, the bison apparently had had enough of the funny business and quietly walked away.

There are so many places in the world that I would love to visit, but I would just as happily be plopped nearby a herd of bison with my camera, to marvel through the viewfinder up close and to marvel from afar with it lowered. They are just awesome creatures.
posted by Atreides at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pipeski....i bet that works best if asked in a Kiwi accent amirite?
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:29 PM on October 1, 2013


He glanced at us as he walked closer and then paused and gazed away, as if deciding if we were worth his trouble. I remember looking into his large brown eye through my camera and sensing a weariness about him.

"Oh - more tourists. Welp, guess I better go earn my keep, stand there lookin' majestic...."
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:35 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


My grandparents had a small herd (400 head) when I was growing up. My grandmother hand-fed a small one whose mother had died, and it grew up very sociable, almost like a young goat--came when you called, loved to be petted...we used to ride it when we went for visits.

The untamed adults are another matter though. Surly, fast, and incredibly agile. They can jump six feet from a standstill. Grandparents had to add six to eight feet to the tops of the fences to keep them in. Giving them their shots was a major, very memorable production.
posted by perhapsolutely at 2:37 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything you know about buffalo is wrong.

So, do they buffalo Buffalo buffalo or not?
posted by The Bellman at 2:41 PM on October 1, 2013


Hey, remember Bless the Beasts & Children?*
posted by Sys Rq at 3:57 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Question number three! Would you rather fight one bison-sized buffalo or 100 buffalo-sized bison?
posted by forgetful snow at 4:00 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was younger we used to go xc skiing at Elk Island National Park just east of Edmonton. In spite of the name, some days you'd come around a corner and there would be a bunch of wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) staring at you, daring you to try and sneak past them. Which you would do, because you're kind of a long way out in the woods and there isn't an easy way to get around them. In the Summer they can be quite aggressive, not so much during ski season, fortunately.
posted by sneebler at 4:35 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I say, let bisons be bisons.
See, that's a Finnegan's Wake allusion...
posted by ergomatic at 5:22 PM on October 1, 2013


But do they roam?
posted by Violet Hour at 11:25 PM on October 1, 2013


Depends what plan they've got.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:56 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bison are amazing, yes. Huge and massive, yet like others have said, also incredibly agile, and you can tell they're smart as well.

That said, if you've ever heard one moo... the mythical quality about them (which is very real indeed) turns into an "OMG ROFL" quality.

Driving through Hayden Valley (in Yellowstone, where buffalo most often are), we slowed as a small group of bison approached our travel van. It was one of those huge camping vans, don't even know if they exist any more, two storeys, extendable – my grandparents had bought it for their retirement, and lent it to my parents to take us kids through the US Northwest in the summer of 1992. The huge, furry, horned beasts ambled up to our van, one of them planting him or herself firmly in front. My father stopped. The second bison continued on its way. The third stopped and looked at all of us. Its eyes turned red. It slowly pawed the asphalt and shook its head. "Uh. No sudden moves, that one is thinking about charging," I said, my experience with cattle showing.

"MUHHHHHHHH!" the bison quipped. I started laughing while the rest of the family told me to shut up.
"MUHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" the bison insisted, with the least-threatening bellow you could imagine from such magnificent animals. "They sound sillier than cows!!!" I said through tears of laughter.
"MUH!! MUHHHH!" the bison snorted, shaking its head once again, then snorted and looked elsewhere. They finally all dawdled on to a larger group off the road.

A few other bison "muhs" confirmed that their half-moo is indeed a thing. Can't help but wonder if they have a more commanding bellow that they save for other circumstances.
posted by fraula at 1:54 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was down that road we were slowly driving when a sole buffalo appeared on the black top.

It is my understanding that these are generally the older [to me, read:grumpier or just want to be left alone] members of bison society who have kinda opted out of the whole hustle and bustle of bison society. At least if it's one akin to the ones I was familiar with during my seasons there. They were really awesome, not to mention that you'd come across them while hiking, parked in a self created dirt wallow, miles from a sizable herd, acting for all the world like a old dog, by which I mean either sitting up and calmly watching the surroundings or flopping around trying to scratch an itch, and boy the earth does shake with that thunder.

And if someone mentions a bison jam, they're not talking about something spreadable that goes well with toast....
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:18 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


A few other bison "muhs" confirmed that their half-moo is indeed a thing. Can't help but wonder if they have a more commanding bellow that they save for other circumstances.

I remember that as well, it sounded approximately like someone experiencing a moderate to severe bout of stomach cramps into a bowl of cold oatmeal. But it was awesome.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:21 AM on October 2, 2013


When I was younger we used to go xc skiing at Elk Island National Park

I was at a scout camp there one summer many years ago. The place had massive Bison patties scattered around like landmines. One unlucky guy accidentally set up his tent on a hidden one. I also remember one kid running to get to roll-call... he hit a fresh patty mid-stride and slid about 5 feet on one foot. I also remember the silent stand-offs when a bison would wander into the camp area. The crowd of a couple of hundred terrified kids would immediately come to a standstill, stiff as boards, only carefully shuffling this way or that in the opposite direction of every step the animal took.

Some interesting history about the bison herds at Elk Island:
• In 1907, 410 plains bison were shipped from Montana to Elk Island, where the herd has grown ever since.
• Over 160 Plains bison from Elk Island have been transferred to the American Prairie Reserve in Montana in 2010 and 2012.

It would be interesting to know how genetically pure this Elk Island/Montana population is.
posted by Kabanos at 10:36 AM on October 2, 2013


Those guys are big. And fast.

Many years ago I was XC skiing/camping in Yellowstone and I could see herds in distant meadows etc... very pretty. I was on a trail climbing up to a saddle when I heard hooves some distance behind me. I quickly went off trail and climbed up to a little ridge, and this humongous beast went thundering by. To my fevered imagination it looked like the biggest hairiest animal I've ever seen, and snorting smoke to boot. He galloped off and disappeared over the saddle. When the ground (and my knees) stopped shaking I went back to the trail... it took me a good 20 minutes to climb what Mr Bison did in 2.
posted by phliar at 3:45 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


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