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Digital impressionist hand-painting of the small herd of American bison restored to the Montana plains from pure stock from the Wind Cave National Park, SD herd. Derivative work from a reference photo in the public domain - US NPS
What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior
The American bison, also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds, became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle, and has made a recent resurgence largely restricted to a few national parks and reserves. Their historical range roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada's far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo Leon, and east along the western boundary of the Appalachian Mountains.
The term "buffalo" may be considered a misnomer for this animal, as it is only distantly related to either of the two "true buffalo," the Asian water buffalo and the African buffalo. However, "bison" is a Greek word meaning ox-like animal, while "buffalo" originated with the French fur trappers who called these massive beasts "boeufs," meaning ox or bullock - so both names, "bison" and "buffalo," have a similar meaning. In reference to this animal, the term "buffalo," which dates to 1635, has a much longer history than the term "bison," which was first recorded in 1774. The American bison is more closely related to the wisent or European bison.
Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the late 19th century primarily by market hunters and were reduced to a few hundred by the mid-1880s. They were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground. After the animals rotted, their bones were collected and shipped back east in large quantities.
The US Army sanctioned and actively endorsed the wholesale slaughter of bison herds. The US federal government promoted bison hunting for various reasons, to allow ranchers to range their cattle without competition from other bovines, and to weaken the North American Indian population by removing their main food source and to pressure them onto the reservations. Without the bison, native people of the plains were forced either to leave the land or starve to death.
The Antelope Island bison herd, an isolated bison herd on Utah's Antelope Island has also been used to improve the genetic diversity of American bison. The current American bison population has been growing rapidly, and is estimated at 350,000 compared to an estimated 60 to 100 million in the mid-19th century. Most current herds, however are genetically polluted or partly crossbred with cattle. Today there are only four genetically unmixed, free roaming, public bison herds and only one that is also free of brucellosis: it roams Wind Cave National Park. A founder population of 16 animals from the Wind Cave bison herd was re-established in Montana in 2005 by the American Prairie Foundation. The herd now numbers near 100 and roams a 14,000-acre grassland expanse on American Prairie Reserve.
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Textures: Smoko-Stock on DeviantArt for the grainy gold overlay and http://goodtextures.deviantart.com/gallery/ for the the cracked plaster.
Image Copyright - Lianne Schneider http://lianne-schneider.artistwebsites.com All rights reserved.
All images and my personal poetry/prose are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced, downloaded, distributed, transmitted, copied, reproduced in derivative works, displayed, published or broadcast by any means or in any form without prior written consent from the artist. Copyright on works derived from or based on images in the public domain applies only to the subsequent manipulation or painting resulting from my changes. The original image remains in the public domain and such images are used with in accordance with international copyright laws.
September 29th, 2012
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