Turns out that all the meat from this Winter’s thousands of slaughtered Yellowstone bison (upwards of 1/3 of the entire herd) will be sold to food banks across Montana.  15,000 pounds of meat were sold.

The spokesperson for the deal said it was coming at an opportune time, since the recall of the 143 million pounds of beef were recalled after Humane society footage caught the business trying to raise “downed” cows (those to sick to stand) to get them to walk to their deaths in the slaughter house and that had diminished the amount of meat the food banks were able to offer to their clientele

(Nothing made me more sick than watching those videos of the poor, sick and dying cows, being hosed with water with fire fighting-strength water pressure to get them to stand.  It is an image that will forever linger in my mind.  Hosed. Sickening. Go support the Humane Society for their work in discovering this….)

But I digress. 

These bison that have been butchered (literally, now, it seems) for DARING to leave Yellowstone in search of winter forage (snow too high in the park, hard to get to the scant forage below) migrate down and out to lower elevations.  Seems natural, right? Elk do it; deer do it. Pronghorn do it. None of them get shot for trying to eat.

Problem here is that bison can carry a disease (brucellosis) that can cause cows to abort their fetuses. And if any cows in Montana get diagnosed with this disease, the whole state loses it’s “brucellosis free status” which is an economic disaster for people who raise cows to be killed in slaughterhouses described above so that fast food restaurants, school cafeterias etc. can have an abundant supply of beef.

So the bison — Yellowstone’s iconic animal, the symbol of the west — take the hit.

That’s the “buffalo problem” in a nutshell. Because Montana is a big “producer” of beef, the state and the Feds need to “protect” those “producers” from losing their ability to “produce.”

And the bison suffer for it.

I was heartened in a somewhat pathetic  way to see that the bison slaughter had some meaning; I have long been completely unable to understand how anyone in America could be hungry with all our wealth, sophisticated philanthropy, and abundance of “producers” of beef, chicken, etc. I support Food Banks because I think that being able to feed yourself and your children is a basic right.

The announcement that the Yellowstone bison’s death will help those who cannot afford to purchase beef is somewhat ironic, no?  But I am glad for it nonetheless. If they had to die, best they and their spirits should live on in service to those who are in need.

But it’s ironic all the same.

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