When the Bison Returns, Will Life Be Followed?
Eisenberg, who has completed his study of wolves and buffaloes, uses Western science and natural sciences, part of the study of ecology based on ancient natural traditions. The field is vital to the buffalo’s recovery, he said, noting that the Indians of the Valley – a term used to describe the many species of Indians living in the vast valleys of the U.S. and Canada – depend on the animal and its habitat for thousands of years.
“Buffaloes would have roamed the area in terms of firefighting, Native Americans, mammals, and climate change,” said Kyran Kunkel, an environmental scientist and assistant professor at the University of Montana and a research assistant at the Smithsonian School. Kunkel is also affiliated with the American Prairie Reserve, a nonprofit organization that aims to restore buffalo, remove fences, and integrate special and public pieces to restore the natural habitat.
“He was moving and creating an environment that had great heterogeneity,” he added. “And that’s why they were touching the grass, on the contrary, and that’s what led to the diversity of life there – birds, small animals, large animals and insects,” he said.
“The changes we are seeing today are due to the direct impact of other species on animals – not only the disposal of buffalo but also the management of wildlife and fencing, weed cultivation, and the use of grazing land,” Kunkel said.
The tremendous potential for buffalo to affect regeneration, says Curtis Freese, a former biologist at the World Wildlife Fund and the American Prairie Reserve, could be felt after fences and man-made water sources were released, and buffalo could connect with fires. Fire is a natural and vital part of nature. Working together with herbivore grasses, it contributes to the decay that restores soil to the soil. Before settling in Europe, the Indian tribes used to light fires in the valley, knowing that once the grass was burned, it would produce several weeks, after which the buffalo would be shown to eat nutritious grass.
“Now you have an active species,” says Freese, “where the pastures graze as they have in the past to create a variety of habitats that have been needed to support the evolution of local birds.”
Buffalo is a valuable source of protein for wildlife and tribes, who also want to return buffalo meat to their diet. Their carcasses help fast foxes, golden eagles, grizzly bears, wolves, even beetles and nematodes. “And the reality is like taking a bag of nitrogen fertilizer and throwing it down,” Freese said.
In addition to the Native American efforts to repatriate buffalo, U.S. security forces have been waging a long-running campaign to restore buffalo to other areas. The American Bison Society, Boone and the Crockett Club, and the New York Zoological Society have all been researching natural bison and distribution. One of the best developments is the growing buffalo habitat in central Montana, led by the American Prairie Reserve. Nonprofits have a herd of about 810 buffalo on the land they have so far acquired, but many cattle ranchers see this practice as a major threat to their health and well-being that could jeopardize their businesses.
At County Glacier, At the Blackfeet Reservation home, livestock management manages the local resources. Many farmers – including Native Americans – view buffalo as a threat, as a competition for basic necessities, such as grass and water, and who could be infected with cattle pox. However, some farmers are trying to reclaim the land by changing their herds of cattle, which sometimes include herding cattle in ways that resemble buffalo pasture and cross the country.