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VICTORY FOR THE YELLOWSTONE BISON.

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BREAKING NEWS | DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE


Great news for Yellowstone bison
! Sixty-eight of these magnificent animals – some of the last genetically pure wild bison in America – are being moved to tribal lands… and away from the threat of potential slaughter.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted earlier today to approve a land-mark plan to move these bison from quarantine to the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Indian Reservations.

Caring Defenders supporters like you have sent thousands of messages, attended local hearings and donated vital funds to support our work to protect these American icons. And our work has paid off.

This is a significant milestone for the restoration of genetically pure bison and a critical step forward for returning these animals, which migrated out of Yellowstone Park, to parts of their historic range across the Great Plains.

The tribes of Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Reservations have repeatedly offered to welcome the bison back. For this we owe these tribes and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission our sincere gratitude.

Returning these animals to tribal lands will allow at least some of Yellowstone’s bison to escape the government-led slaughter that has occurred in the past decade when bison have migrated out of the Park in winter in search of forage.

More innovative strategies need to be developed as an alternative to slaughter and as a way to restore genetically pure bison to the wild beyond the confines of the park. These are the most genetically important bison in the United States and should not be killed needlessly, especially when there is plenty of suitable habitat available.

Governor Schweitzer the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department have played an instrumental role in exploring new avenues for bison conservation and deserve credit for moving this plan forward.

Defenders of Wildlife is honored to have been able to help the Assiniboine, Sioux and Gros Ventre tribes by contributing funds for their efforts to secure grazing permits and build the required fencing in preparation for the return of bison (Defenders supporters even helped build the fencing!).

Wildlife Supporter, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to Defenders of Wildlife’s continuing work to support more free, wild bison now that the plan has been approved. Please stay tuned for more ways that you can help in the weeks ahead.

Once again, thanks for all of your help. This is a major victory for bison, and you should feel proud of the important role that you’ve played in making it happen.

Adopt a bison in our wildlife adoption center today, and show your support of these magnificent animals.

Wild Bison in Yellowstone National Park

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The American bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds – millions. Their range once roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada’s far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east along the western boundary of the Appalachian Mountains.
Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the late 19th century primarily by market hunters and were reduced to a few hundred by the mid-1880s. They were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground.
The US federal government promoted bison hunting for various reasons, to allow ranchers to range their cattle without competition from other bovines, and primarily to weaken the North American Indian population by removing their main food source and to pressure them onto the reservations. Without the bison, native people of the plains were forced either to leave the land or starve to death.
For a decade from 1873 on, there were several hundred, perhaps over a thousand, such commercial hide/market hunting outfits harvesting bison at any one time, vastly exceeding the take by American Indians or individual meat hunters. The commercial take arguably was anywhere from 2,000 to 100,000 animals per day.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_bison
Music: by Boguslaw Boguch Cysewski, Song of a Winter Stream
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Legend of the Buffalo Dance

When the buffalo first came to be upon the land, they were not friendly to the people. When the hunters tried to coax them over the cliffs for the good of the villages, they were reluctant to offer themselves up.

They did not relish being turned into blankets and dried flesh for winter rations. They did not want their hooves and horn to become tools and utinsels nor did they welcome their sinew being used for sewing. “No, no,” they said. We won’t fall into your traps. And we will not fall for your tricks.”

So when the hunters guided them towards the abyss, they would always turn aside at the very last moment. With this lack of cooperation, it seemed the villagers would be hungry and cold and ragged all winter long.

Now one of the hunters’ had a daughter who was very proud of her father’s skill with the bow. During the fullness of summer, he always brought her the best of hides to dress, and she in turn would work the deerskins into the softest, whitest of garments for him to wear.

Her own dresses were like the down of a snow goose, and the moccasins she made for the children and the grandmothers in the   village were the most welcome of gifts.

But now with the hint of snow on the wind, and deer becoming more scarce in the willow breaks, she could see this reluctance on the part of the buffalo families could become a real problem.

Hunter’s Daughter decided she would do something about it.

She went to the base of the cliff and looked up. She began to sing in a low, soft voice, “Oh, buffalo family, come down and visit me. If you come down and feed my relatives in a wedding feast, I will join your family as the bride of your strongest warrior.”

She stopped and listened. She thought she heard the slight rumbling sound of thunder in the distance.

Again she sang, “Oh, buffalo family, come down and visit me. Feed my family in a wedding feast so that I may be a bride.”

The thunder was much louder now. Suddenly the buffalo family began falling from the sky at her feet.

One very large bull landed on top of the others, and walked across the backs of his relatives to stand before Hunter’s Daughter.

“I am here to claim you as my bride,” said Large Buffalo.

“Oh, but now I am afraid to go with you,” said Hunter’s Daughter.

“Ah, but you must,” said Large Buffalo, “For my people have come to provide your people with a wedding feast. As you can see, they have offered themselves up.”

“Yes, but I must run and tell my relatives the good news,” said Hunter’s Daughter. “No,” said Large Buffalo. No word need be sent. You are not getting away so easily.”

And with that said, Large Buffalo lifted her between his horns and carried her off to his village in the rolling grass hills.

The next morning the whole village was out looking for Hunter’s Daughter. When they found the mound of buffalo below the cliff, the father, who was in fact a fine tracker as well as a skilled hunter, looked at his daughter’s footprints in the dust.

“She’s gone off with a buffalo, he said. I shall follow them and bring her back.”

So Hunter walked out upon the plains, with only his bow and arrows as companions. He walked and walked a great distance until he was so tired that he had to sit down to rest beside a buffalo wallow.

Along came Magpie and sat down beside him.

Hunter spoke to Magpie in a respectful tone, “O knowledgeable bird, has my daughter been stolen from me by a buffalo? Have you seen them? Can you tell me where they have gone?”

Magpie replied with understanding, “Yes, I have seen them pass this way. They are resting just over this hill.”

“Well,” said Hunter, would you kindly take my daughter a message for me? Will you tell her I am here just over the hill?”

So Magpie flew to where Large Buffalo lay asleep amidst his relatives in the dry prairie grass. He hopped over to where Hunter’s Daughter was quilling moccasins, as she sat dutifully beside her sleeping husband. “Your father is waiting for you on the other side of the hill,” whispered Magpie to the maiden.

“Oh, this is very dangerous,” she told him. These buffalo are not friendly to us and they might try to hurt my father if he should come this way. Please tell him to wait for me and I will try to slip away to see him.”

Just then her husband, Large Buffalo, awoke and took off his horn. “Go bring me a drink from the wallow just over this hill,” said her husband.

So she took the horn in her hand and walked very casually over the hill.

Her father motioned silently for her to come with him, as he bent into a low crouch in the grass. “No,” she whispered. The buffalo are angry with our people who have killed their people. They will run after us and trample us into the dirt. I will go back and see what I can do to soothe their feelings.”

And so Hunter’s daughter took the horn of water back to her husband who gave a loud snort when he took a drink. The snort turned into a bellow and all of the buffalo got up in alarm. They all put their tails in the air and danced a buffalo dance over the hill, trampling the poor man to pieces who was still waiting for his daughter near the buffalo wallow.

His daughter sat down on the edge of the wallow and broke into tears.

“Why are you crying?” said her buffalo husband.

“You have killed my father and I am a prisoner, besides,” she sobbed.

“Well, what of my people?” her husband replied. We have given our children, our parents and some of our wives up to your relatives in exchange for your presence among us. A deal is a deal.”

But after some consideration of her feelings, Large Buffalo knelt down beside her and said to her, “If you can bring your father back to life again, we will let him take you back home to your people.”

So Hunter’s Daughter started to sing a little song. “Magpie, Magpie help me find some piece of my father which I can mend back whole again.”

Magpie appeared and sat down in front of her with his head cocked to the side.

“Magpie, Magpie, please see what you can find,” she sang softly to the wind which bent the grasses slightly apart. Magpie cocked his head to the side and looked carefully within the layered folds of the grasses as the wind sighed again. Quickly he picked out a piece of her father that had been hidden there, a little bit of bone.

“That will be enough to do the trick,” said Hunter’s Daughter, as she put the bone on the ground and covered it with her blanket.

And then she started to sing a reviving song that had the power to bring injured people back to the land of the living. Quietly she sang the song that her grandmother had taught her. After a few melodious passages, there was a lump under the blanket. She and Magpie looked under the blanket and could see a man, but the man was not breathing. He lay cold as stone. So Hunter’s Daughter continued to sing, a little softer, and a little softer, so as not to startle her father as he began to move.

When he stood up, alive and strong, the buffalo people were amazed. They said to Hunter’s Daughter, “Will you sing this song for us after every hunt? We will teach your people the buffalo dance, so that whenever you dance before the hunt, you will be assured a good result. Then you will sing this song for us, and we will all come back to live again.”

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Posted on December 20, 2011, in ALERTS, ESSAYS. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Not only do the bison need to be preserved and saved from slaughter….but so do America’s wild mustangs…there won’t be any left if the government and BLMs don’t stop the inhumane and senseless roundups. It’s not the mustangs doing all the damage to the range, it’s the cattle. Besides Mustangs and Burros have land that is supposed to be theirs – so leave them on it and let them live freely! Stop putting them in pens and separating them from their families. Same for the Bison.
    The bison are as much a part of our American heritage as the mustangs and both of these species should be allowed to be free.

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