Current battles in a centuries-long range war
The last wild herd of Buffalo in North America spend most of the year in Yellowstone National Park. They are descended from a mere 23 individuals who survived the massive Buffalo slaughters of the late 19th Century by hiding out in a valley there. Today the herd numbers in the low thousands, but is still not allowed to live a life free of harrassment from humans. The Buffalo Field Campaign was formally founded in 1997, and they employ a variety of tactics to defend and advocate for these Buffalo. On December 16th, I spoke with the campaign’s media coordinator, Stephany Seay. She’s been an earth activist since the late 80’s, has apprenticed as a wildlife rehabilitator, and is a student of horses. In 2003, she looked into the eyes of a wild buffalo and was never the same again. Since 2004 she has been on the front lines with BFC.
In our conversation, we talked about the history of the Yellowstone herd and what makes it unique; the annual killing of Buffalo every year when they migrate out of the park to forage; the Brucellosis myth; how the ranching industry opposes Buffalo; the effort to have Buffalo listed under the Endangered Species Act; how the Park Service rounds up buffalo every year and sends them to slaughterhouses; the genetic concerns with a herd that is kept so small; the importance of Buffalo as a keystone species; how domesticated cows do not fill the same ecological role as Buffalo; the relationship between Buffalo and Native Americans; how activists have mostly halted the “hazing” of Buffalo; and the work of Buffalo defense, which has included direct action.
This interview was short, so I filled out the episode by adding a reading from my 2019 book, “Roadtripping at the End of the World.” The excerpt is from a section about Nine Mile Prairie in Nebraska in which write about the Tall Grass Prairie ecosystem and the Buffalo’s place in it. “Roadtripping at the End of the World” is available at my website as an autographed paperback or a digital download.
The music in the background of the episode introduction is “Synth and Percussion Loop Created with Moog Mother 32 and Novation Circuit” (124 BPM, Key of C Minor) by Doctor Dreamchip of Portland, OR, downloaded from freesounds,org.
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