Oh, give me a home - where the Buffalo roam!

By Dave Hanks

BISON lost their home, but, thankfully, they have been brought back from the edge of extinction. This has been done, not only in National and Provincial Parks, but by a few private individuals that hated to see them disappear.

Lands where original Bison herds were common, have since felt the plow. But, domestic crops couldn’t thrive under the harsh conditions that the natural grasses could. Nor could domestic cattle fare as well on those same ranges. The resulting effect has left many areas of the northern plains in desolate condition. Some of those areas are now undergoing rehabilitation in an attempt to return them to their original state.

Some ranchers believe that Bison have some distinct advantages over cattle. I know, from personal experience, that feed costs are what can sink a cattle operation. Bison can skirt this issue, because they can survive winter on the available grass. Cattle require extra winter feed - which can run up operating costs drastically. Bison do need more space, better fences, and you must avoid the temptation to over-stock your ranch. Bison move around better than cattle, utilizing the food source more evenly. Also, Bison can be bred with cattle to produce hybrids known as Beefalos.

One of the most devoted individuals to Bison recovery is Ted Turner. He has used some of his wealth to finance his new found passion. He owns 55,000 head on his 15 ranches. His huge, original ranch is south of Bozeman, Montana.

Restaurants that feature Bison meat realize that people can acquire a taste for Buffalo burgers. Some folks like them better than regular burgers. The meat is leaner and has a lesser cholesterol content.

(At home in Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota)