Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Return of the Bison

Colorado bison

Years ago, after moving to Colorado, my husband and I would see a road sign driving west along Interstate 70, at exit 254, that said "Buffalo Herd Overlook." One day we traveled off that exit to finally see the herd.  I did a blog post about it then--click here--to read that post.  The road sign is incorrect as it is bison, not buffalo, that live protected at this Denver Mountains Parks preserve location. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, buffalo and bison are distinct animals. Old World “true” buffalo (Cape buffalo and water buffalo) are native to Africa and Asia. Bison are found in North America and Europe. Both bison and buffalo are in the Bovidae family, but the two are not closely related.  Bison have large humps at their shoulders and bigger heads than buffalo. Bison also have beards, and thick coats which they shed in the spring and early summer.  You can read more about the characteristics of the American bison at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute website here.



Before 1800, it is estimated that 30 to 100 million bison roamed the Great Plains of North America from Alaska to northern Mexico. By the 1980s, fewer than 1,000 remained. Sadly, many were slaughtered by the U.S. government in an organized effort to destroy the major food source and livelihood of Plains Native American tribes in order to weaken the tribes and allow western expansion pioneers to take over their lands. Today about 30,000 American bison survive in conservation herds. Another approximately 500,000 are managed commercially as livestock. The largest herd of free-roaming bison today is in Yellowstone National Park, with approximately 3,500 bison. Although their population has since recovered, the species is still considered near threatened, and these animals depend heavily on conservation efforts for survival. 


Happily, the state of Colorado maintains bison conservation preserves, many of which can be visited.  You can see a list of some of these bison preserves on this link.



This year, by unanimous approval by the Denver City Council, Denver Parks and Recreation will begin donating bison from its herds to tribal nations and tribal nonprofit organizations. This first-of-its-kind gift provides 13 American bison to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, located in Oklahoma, and one bison to the Tall Bull Memorial Council in Colorado. All are female bison and many are expecting calves which will increase their herds.

This marks a change from the traditional surplus auction Denver held to keep its Genessee Park and Daniels Park bison herds at a healthy population and promote genetic diversity in managed herds across the nation. Now, instead of an auction, surplus animals will be donated to enhance the conservation of bison herds that also exist on tribal lands. The donation of bison will continue through the year 2030, in consultation with Denver Parks and Recreation's tribal partners, the Denver American Indian Commission, the Tall Bull Memorial Council, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council. 

The bison may never roam freely, as they once did, but it is nice to think that their numbers will increase through these conservation efforts and that they will again flourish with the native people whom they sustained from the beginning of time!


An update to what is new in our days...

All my grandchildren are playing spring sports and we have been having fun watching soccer, lacrosse, and Little League baseball games.  I saw this unusual cloud formation while at one of their games, and it reminded me of a "smoke signal" from the times of old. How far the world has come since then!

 My husband and I had our first get together in over a year at a friend's house last week, along with other friends who are all fully vaccinated against covid.  It was so good to see everyone in person and not to have to "gather" virtually on Zoom! My book club also had its first meeting in over a year that was not on Zoom.  Thankfully, life is beginning to feel more normal again, and I know being able to go to outdoor activities in summer will help. I'm still remaining a bit cautious, as I know there are very contagious virus variants in many areas.  Being vaccinated, however, has made me feel so much more at ease that I have some protection against hospitalization and death. 

It has been such an unusual year but there is hope on the horizon. In the meantime, I hope you all stay happy and safe.  Thank you for your visits to my blog and your comments--I appreciate them all!



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38 comments:

Angie said...

Pat - for a long time, I could not remember which was the right term, but now I always think Cape Town Buffalo, and that helps me remember we have Bison!!! This week, I watched a webinar about pasture management, and the speaker talked about how important bison have been to keep our grasses the right length - not too short - and not too long, helping limit prairie fires. It is a system!!!

It is wonderful to hear that tribes are receiving bison to help with their herd diversity.

I am recovered from my second shot and hope to be back to normal activities soon. Glad to hear you are already there! Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

EricaSta said...

I enjoyed reading, fantastisc captures too. What a fascinating Story about the bisons. Thank you for sharing.

Happy MosaicMonday

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

I was amazed seeing the Bison roaming free in Yellowstone. It is wonderful to hear that Colorado is donating part of their Bison herd to the Tribes. Thanks for sharing the info, great post. Take care, have a happy new week!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

How great the bison will be donated! Loved the smoke signal cloud. This post reminded me of Westerns I use to watch on TV as a child.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

I also meant to say, that I am glad you are able to see your grands sports games and spend time with friends!

Barbara Rogers said...

That's great news about Denver changing from auction to donations of Bison. They are amazing animals...and BIG.

Laura | Everyday Edits said...

HI Pat,
I love this post. I am going to share it for the Weekend Edit next Saturday. We live near the Daniel's Gate herd and I would drive my kids up there to see them. My son always said, "buh-a-low. To this day that's what we call them. Thanks for the clarification and history on buffalo and bison.
Love this! laura

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

No matter what you call them, I love bison (buffalo) and am glad they are being protected. Great photos!

Taken For Granted said...

The Bison are also important here on South Dakota. There is a sizable herd in Custer State Park, and there are at least two large ranches that have private herds. But there is another threat to Bison, and that is cross beating with domestic cattle. Apparently there is some percent of cow in all Bison these days. Long may the Bison herds flourish. The meat is healthier than beef and also has a great flavor if cooked properly.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Bison are such huge animals and fun to watch. We have a herd just west of my town, that I like to check on regularly . These are fenced and I believe sold for meat.

ellen b. said...

Such amazing creatures. It's so much fun to see them in person...from a distance...:) Beautiful photos!

stevebethere said...

Good and interesting post I liked the photos too :-)

Have a bisontastic week 👍

Jeanie said...

Now, that is a bunch of bison! And they look quite handsome. Perhaps they don't know they can't roam freely -- it looks like a large area.

I'm glad you are able to finally enjoy the grands and their activities and gather carefully with friends. Yes, good to be careful -- me, too. The vaccinations seem like such a gift. I don't understand those who don't want them. Especially now.

Yes. Hope on the horizon.

Linda said...

Love Colorado!!! And all your posts!
Yes, life seems more normal these days even as we continue to take precautions due to our being so used to wahing hands, using wipes and hand sanitizer and keeping our distance - not that its 6 feet but just not in your face!

Lydia C. Lee said...

The Bison are amazing - so majestic. And good for you on the vax and easing out a little.

carol l mckenna said...

Hi Pat ~ good 'to see you' again ~ wonderful post and photos of the bison ~ so glad to hear they are being gifted to the Native American Tribes and that their numbers are being protected ~ finally ~ sigh.

Be safe ~ be well ~

Living moment by moment,

A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great post about the bison. I am glad that are so many widespread efforts to keep bison herds healthy.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I did not know about the donation to tribal herds. That’s wonderful. I knew there were some bison in Colorado. The biggest herds we have seen though we’re in Custer State Park, South Dakota. Even more than we saw in Yellowstone. It is good they are making a comeback. (W

Sylvia said...

Pat, We have a national park here where the bison live free - kind of. They are wonderful looking animals. Thanks for sharing and have a great week. Sylvia D.

Aditya Narayan Mohanty said...

Good post

I Hope you will visit mine blog.

s.c said...

I see a lot little ones. Very nice.

William Kendall said...

They are magnificent animals.

Rhonda Gales said...

The bison are such majestic animals, and I'm so glad our Native American tribes are being gifted with these animals that once roamed freely. There's a bison farm not far from me. My grandchildren didn't find them appealing; they were shedding and not very attractive, lol.

XmasDolly said...

Wow, great pictures & you saw them up close & personal? Fantastic & thanks so much for sharing your pictures. Hi I'm new here. My name is Dolly, but they all call me XmasDolly! My blog was shut down for a while because I was on with these 2 other gals and they folded so I had to go find my own website. I'm still not finished... guess I haven't found a place to call home yet. Great pics! Have a great day & be safe, be healthy to you & yours.

Unknown said...

I love all your bison pictures! We are headed out on a roadtrip this summer--Iowa to South Dakota to Wyoming to Utah to Colroado and home again....

Planning to see some bison ourselves!

Niky @ The House on Silverado

Donna @ Modern on Monticello said...

Thank you for sharing this information. I have never heard of the differences in the two breeds. I will be in Denver this summer and look forward to seeing some of the things you share. #HomeMattersParty

Lorrie said...

What a good idea to donate bison to the Native American groups. Bison herds are found here, too, and I think they are such interesting looking creatures. I can just imagine what a stampede of them would look like!

handmade by amalia said...

What an impressive looking animal, we have nothing like that here, no big enough spaces, I suppose. So good to hear that they have found a humane and generous solution to the surpluss.
Amalia
xo

Jim said...

Fantastic.

betty-NZ said...

That's something I would love to see, the bison grazing. The sharing of the animals with tribes around is just awesome to read about, too.
It's nice to know that things are returning to some semblance of normal for you.

It's great to see your post at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

Tom said...

...I find Buffalo to be fascinating animals.

Martha said...

I enjoyed seeing the bison shots, and I do hope their numbers will increase through the conservation efforts. Beautiful skywatch shot too!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

The thought of bison roaming free on Native American land is wonderful. You have some great photos here!

Michelle said...

Bison....a classic American animal. Growing up in North Dakota, I remember seeing them. Thanks for linking up. Glad to see on FB that you are able to get out more!

Daniela said...

Dearest Pat, here I am!
What a gorgeousness, I seem to watch a western film through your so wonderful shots!
I wonder what an emotion it is to catch them in pictures, and I'm sincerely happy to see that they are still numerous, although I'm sure that once they were many more, alas!
Thanking you for sharing always wonderful topics, I'm wishing you a most lovely Sunday,
Happy Mother's Day ✿⊱╮

eileeninmd said...

Happy Mother's Day Pat!

It is great to see these bison and to hear about the donation of bison to the tribes.
Your photos are awesome. I love the shot of the clouds. I am glad you and your family can return to more normal times. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Sunday, have a great new week! PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

Duwan @MakeLikeAnApeman said...

It is amazing to think that an entity would try try to destroy a whole species in order to control other human beings. I'm glad the bison survived and that their numbers are multiplying. We saw herds of bison in Yellowstone and Teddy Roosevelt National Parks this part year. What an amazing sight.

It is so nice to hear about people getting back to normal.

Anu said...

Hello. Very interesting post. Wonderful photos.