Last week I took some close up photos of American Bison on Antelope Island State Park where the bison roam freely. Very soon the young calves or “Reds” will be born and the population will grow from around 500 head to nearly 700.
What I didn’t notice while I was photographing this bison bull was that he had tears in his eyes. Normally I try to not assign human emotions to my subjects or anthropomorphize but when I saw this image this morning it struck me again how we almost nearly caused the extinction of these massive animals to control and contain Native Americans of the Plains and I felt tears start to form in my own eyes.
American Bison have made a comeback from near extinction and now herds of bison are being returned to areas that haven’t had wild bison in over a century. That is a start I suppose but their releases are not always celebrated and in some areas there have been legal battles that have gone on for years about planned releases.
On May 9, 2016 President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act which officially designated the American Bison as the National Mammal of the United States. The American Bison joins the Bald Eagle as symbols of our country, our freedom.
Isn’t it ironic that both of these national symbols were once pushed to near extinction? By human hands?
So why did I have tears form this morning? Because the bison are still at risk, because bird populations are declining, because nature is still being attacked, because widespread ignorance about climate change is rampant and science concerning it is being ignored. Because I can see how climate change is already affecting all of the locations where I photograph birds and wildlife. Because I know the current administration is undermining all the efforts of past administrations to protect wildlife, the environment and our treasured public lands.
I know that the people who read my blog care about the birds, wildlife, environment and our public lands. But I am fairly certain it does not reach those who have little regard for our planet’s health and even if it did I doubt they would care.
They would just call me a tree hugger and actually believe that they were being insulting without knowing that caring about nature, wildlife and this planet is an honor to me and to other intelligent, concerned and like-minded people and that we will continue to raise our voices and fight.
In this American Bison’s tears I saw my own tears and deep concerns for what is happening to our environment now and the potential threats that future generations will have to face if we don’t take action today.
Yes, I know, the bison may have had something in his eyes or the wind might have caused the tears but I saw something more.