Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is What I Should be Doing . . .

. . . because of the 97-degree heat index, but instead I'm going over to the Princess Palace and cutting up a huge downed treee limb for the city to collect. I'ts such a big limb that I can also get some firewood out of it. All this from the recent rainstorms, of which we've had quite enough.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Senseless, Yet It Continues

This buffalo calf, if it survives predation by wolves and grizzlies and the bitterly cold winters at Yellowstone National Park, may grow to prosper if left to its natural tendencies. But much of the time that doesn't happen at Yellowstone; instead, the following does . . . .

Look closely at this, especially the segment that starts in about the middle of the video: a lame buffalo calf and its irritated mom tell the story; a result of the hazing. You would think that descendants of the wild buffalo that fed, clothed, and sheltered Native Americans, pioneers, soldiers, railroad workers, and countless others in the settlement of America would get a little slack today. They're aren't a lot of wild buffalo left in the country, and these particular buffalo are a special lot. The buffalo here have wandered out of the park boundary and onto the Horse Butte peninsula near West Yellowstone, a favorite area for them in the spring, especially for the births of new buffalo. The "cowboys" of the Montana Department of Livestock are hazing not only buffalo, but also any other wildlife in the area as they are pushed back onto park land. The cowboys are on private property where there are signs posted by residents stating that the area is a welcome zone for buffalo. If left to their natural tendencies, the buffalo would wander back to the park, but the threat of brucellosis, a disease that buffalo can transmit to cattle, is a powerful tool that livestock growers use to protect their cattle grazing interests. HOWEVER, there are NO cattle in this area when this hazing happens every spring, and there has not been a single case of brucellosis transmsitted to cattle by buffalo. In fact, the brucellosis that infects some of the Yellowstone bison was passed on to them by cattle. I am a staunch supporter of The Buffalo Field Campaign, which shot this video. They and many others out West are doing their best to try to stop the hazing, but the political choke hold of the cattle ranching industry is strong. It's a shame that the magnificent buffalo herd is treated like common livestock, not the wildlife that are admired by so many Yellowstone visitors and buffalo lovers from afar, like me. As I was preparing this, a press release by the Buffalo Field Campaign came out:

"June 17. Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents captured three bull bison this morning in the Duck Creek bison trap located on private land less than 200 yards from the western border of Yellowstone National Park. The bison were loaded onto a livestock trailer and shipped to a slaughterhouse. They had been grazing peacefully near the Park border for the past several weeks on and around National Forest lands purchased for wildlife habitat."


Friday, June 12, 2009

Join the Buffalo Fleet? Duty Calls

Well, I've joined the world of Facebook. In that world is a group called the C-U Water Buffaloes, an offspring of our landlocked Buffalo Warriors. Seems this paddling herd has kayaks and canoes and travels the waterways of central Illinois. Several buffalo have tried to recruit me for the fleet, but . . . I ain't got no boat. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Time to Stir Things Up

Rejoining the herd on the trail? Tennessee in the fall with Wolf Woman and llamas? A new boarder in my home (Mr. Ali Baba; see cast of characters at right)? And what are they doing to my buffaloes at Yellowstone? Much going on these days as I kick up dust and hope for good days ahead.

Monday, June 01, 2009

With the Awesome Centaur at Bob's Place

Red Chief and I paused to eat lunch here on the steps of the Sun Singer statue at Allerton Park this past Sunday. We were in Allerton for the second time in a week, the trails still muddy from the rains of our earlier visit. We hiked for almost three hours, and Ethan did not complain once. After our hike we passed by a buffalo farm, but none of the 20 or so giants could be seen; all we saw were enormous, sturdy fences and the lush fields of grass that the buffalo crave.

Ethan at my favorite statue at Allerton Park, The Death of the Last Centaur. This is said to be the most expensive of the more than 100 statues at the park because in the bronze are flecks of gold. The sculptor, Frenchman Emile Antoine Bourdelle , called by many the greatest sculptor of his generation, considered the Centaur "the summit of my achievements." The park's namesake, wealthy Robert Allerton, gave more than 6,000 acres of land, including a stately mansion and manicured gardens, to the University of Illinois in 1946. This would become Allerton Park. Allerton visited the sculptor's studio in France and bought the statue directly from Bourdelle shortly before the artist's death in 1929. Red Chief's assessment of the huge sculpture? "Awesome."