The Bison Roundup the Government Wants to Hide

Posted on Feb 18, 2016


New York Times

By CHRISTOPHER KETCHAMFEB. 15, 2016

 

THE National Park Service is set to begin its annual roundup of wild bison in Yellowstone National Park today. A portion will be slaughtered to reduce the number of animals that migrate beyond the park’s borders.

This culling is done largely outside of public view. Journalists have been barred in the past from watching the roundup, though it takes place on public land. The reason, according to the park service, was “for the safety of the public and staff” and also for the bison’s welfare.

This year, in response to litigation, the park service will allow a glimpse of what goes on. But only a glimpse. Access for journalists will be severely limited.

Let’s be honest here. This isn’t about “safety and welfare.” The real reason the park service doesn’t want journalists to view the roundup in its entirety is that the brutality of the cull would be revealed.

The buffalo is perhaps the iconic American mammal. More than any other animal, it is emblematic of the American frontier.

It also symbolizes the savagery with which we have treated the natural world. Tens of millions were slaughtered in a few brief decades during the 1800s — for their hides and fur and, not least, to subjugate restive Plains Indians by eliminating their food supply.

By 1900, out of a population once estimated at as many as 60 million animals, as few as 700 bison remained in private herds, and only 23 at Yellowstone.

Under the protection of the park service for almost a century, the bison have multiplied to an estimated 4,600 animals in Yellowstone.

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