The return of 64 Yellowstone bison to Montana tribal land has caught angry proponents by surprise with the genetically pure animals' quiet shipment to Fort Peck, a final step in an effort to re-populate the West with the iconic animal to its origins.
It has been reported by Fox News, that "'Tribal and state officials signed an agreement late Friday allowing the transfer to take place,' said Robert Magnan with the Fort Peck Fish and Game Department in Montana."
"This is where we're going to establish the beachhead of genetically pure bison that will be available as their numbers grow to go to other reservations and other public lands all across the West," said Montana's Governor Schweitzer.
According to ABC News, the shipment date had been kept hidden by the Montana governor and state officials in order to halt a court injunction by land owners, cattle producers and property group owners who filed in January to halt the movement.
The long-stalled relocation initiative controversy has been fought for several years as the genetically pure Yellowstone bison were being quarantined for brucellosis, a disease that causes pregnant animals to abort their young --- a political ploy used by cattle producers to prevent the bison from being moved to tribal land.
The majority of bison are cross-bred with cattle for meat production in a fertile hybrid called beefalo. Priced at approximately $6.45 per pound for a quarter, buffalo/beef mix are choice cuts as it is lower in fat than beef alone, used as a diet for many chronic heart diseases. It would obviously be to the benefit of cattle producers to stop the bison movement. Wikipedia posts that "Beefalo are primarily cattle in genetics and appearance, with the breed association defining a full beefalo as one with 3⁄8 (37.5%) bison genetics, while animals with higher percentages of bison genetics are called 'bison hybrids'. "
This same mind-set occurred from 1872-1873 when the white men senselessly slaughtered over three million buffalo from the plains, not only for economic reasons but to destroy the basis of life for the American Indian --- knowing that without the buffalo, they would starve to death.
"Some were shot for sport, some out of ennui from passing trains, others were shot for meat, for example to feed railroad workers. Large private hunts could be arranged for people of sufficient importance or money. Several with important guests came out to hunt under the guidance of the Wild Bill Hickock of the romantic magazine and newspaper stories.”
Fifty one buffalo that roamed onto a west Texas ranch have been shot and killed by the ranch foreman.
To this day, the slaughter of buffalo is still going on. "Over the last 10 years nearly 3000 bison have been killed as they leave Yellowstone and enter Montana. 'This is the greatest public slaughter of bison probably since the heyday some 125 years or more ago,' says Joel Berger of the University of Nevada in Reno."
After fleeing the United States in 1878 to escape persecution of His People, Sitting Bull spoke to the Canadian Government.
"We know that on the other side (of the Canadian border) the buffaloes will not last long. Why? Because the country there is poisoned with blood...a poison that kills all the buffaloes or drives them away. It is strange, that the Americans should complain that the Indians kill buffalo. We kill buffaloes, as we kill other animals, for food and clothing and to make our lodges warm. They kill buffaloes...for what?
Go through your country. See the thousands of carcasses rotting on the plains. Your young men shoot for pleasure. All they take from a dead buffalo is his tail or his head, or his horns, perhaps, to show they have killed a buffalo.
What is this? Is it robbery? You call us savages. What are they? The buffaloes have come North. We have come North to find them and to get away from a place where the people tell lies."
NOTE: Two bisons were lost during the trip. One died during the trip and one was gored by another animal, and died before reaching Fort Peck. Also, over 200 bison are on tribal land for hunting and food, with the Yellowstone bison to be penned separately and kept apart from other bison in the area.