Our most popular question at Buffalo Lodge is: “Why did you decide to raise Buffalo?” Typically my answer has many facets including the health benefits, adaptation to our climate, and the fact that buffalo used to “roam” here once upon a time. What it really boils down to is that raising buffalo is the right thing to do.
Our ancestors aggressively raped and pillaged the land from the animals and plants that once formed the richest, sustainable ecosystem in the world. The New World was so teeming with life and abundance, it was thought impossible to deplete it all. Killing for the sake of killing wiped out the Passenger Pigeon who once blanketed the sky in the billions – that’s not a typo: billions of Passenger Pigeons were driven to extinction over the course of a few decades because we didn’t like it when they pooped.
The case for buffalo was more complex. The remaining Native American tribes relied on buffalo as their primary food source. An age-old war tactic is that whoever controls the food supply & resources wins. Our government sanctioned the wholesale slaughter of buffalo to starve out the remaining Native American strongholds. It worked. And then something stupid happened. Everyone realized the buffalo were nearly gone, so the response was to go shoot as many as you could before the fun was gone forever.
Fortunately, the right combination of thinkers and conservationists lived at the time of the near extinction of Buffalo. Imagine, if you will, how well received a conservationist would be in the late 1890s. Today they are regarded as impediments to progress but back then, they would have been regarded as fanciful fools. Fortunately one of those fools happened to be our president, Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy managed to balance the bridge between hunting and conservation. He loved the sport but also loved preserving the natural world. His sympathetic ear to conservationists led to the establishment of the National Park System and the first efforts at species restoration. The Bronx Zoo was the initial site of the breeding program to restore the American Buffalo herds. It is because of Teddy Roosevelt and his conservationist allies that we have the privilege of looking upon the great and majestic keystone species of the Plains.
So, why do we raise Buffalo? Because they deserve to live and thrive and reclaim that which was taken from them. We are stewards of their land, “owning” 185 acres that rightfully belong to them. We raise Buffalo to right wrongs of the past and set an example for the future. We raise Buffalo to repair our damaged relationship with Nature and all her beautiful creation.