American Bison Tears

Bison TearsBison Tears – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, -1.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

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.



  1. Mia McPherson April 3, 2017 at 6:50 am

    My thanks to all of you who commented and shared your own thoughts about what is going on in our world now.

  2. Bob McPherson March 31, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks Mia, for your sharing of all outdoors and God’s Creations to share this earth with. My feelings parallel yours about taking care of what
    has been ours to enjoy for Eons. Check my Facebook profile pic. Thats a photo of me doing photos of a Texas Bison at QuitaQue, Texas.

    State Park has a herd of 100 or so and does an admirable job of caring for them. Thanks to the Father of the Texas Panhandle, Charles
    Goodnight for saving a herd of 100 from the hide hunters. They now roam approximately 700 acres there. Worth a trip if you enjoy viewing
    or taking photos of them. They don’t seem to be afraid of autos.

  3. Patty Chadwick March 31, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    That BISON TEAR would make a good poster image re: resistance to what’s happening to the EPA (and the future of us all)….

  4. Elephants Child March 31, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Loud and emphatic agreement.
    And tears. Of anger and of shame.

  5. Utahbooklover March 31, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to express your empathy for nature. I too have no problem being called a tree-hugger by short sighted, self-centered individuals. Many extinctions in the distant past paved the way for us, but the climate change deniers are just showing their ignorance.

  6. Trudy March 31, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Oh wow, Mia. I love your compassion and sensitivity. I’m always refreshed by your photos, and this buffalo tear you captured moves my heart. This week my grandson told me someone shot a bald eagle in Aberdeen, SD, and there is a reward out. He and his sister said, “Why would someone do something like that?” Yes, it’s very sad.

    I don’t often comment, but I do appreciate your photography and love for wildlife so much. After reading this post, I thought I’d share a quote I recently found:
    “Our task must be to free ourselves
    by widening our circle of compassion
    to embrace all living creatures
    and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
    ~ Albert Einstein

  7. richard burnett March 31, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Earth’s largest, last free-roaming herd is slaughtered in Yellowstone on demand
    of cattle conglomerates/lawmakers, National Park Service complies.
    The park could support seven thousand bison, moneyed interests dictate 3k.

  8. Roger Burnard March 31, 2017 at 9:12 am

    No species in the entire history of the earth has been more destructive than has been Homo sapiens.
    We seem “hell bent on multiplying, and subduing the earth,” and don’t seem to realize that in doing
    that we are running headlong toward our own destruction. I share your concern, and your tears… ;-((

  9. Patty Chadwick March 31, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I can’t add anything to what you and Beth said…you both spoke for me…eloquently.

  10. Beth Jochum March 31, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Mia, thank you for your beautiful words…what you do is so vital.
    I join you in sharing the tears, whether read into or not, for the bison, and for the beauty of our Earth.
    There are those who don’t care and will do anything to stand in the way of the right way – which is stewardship of these precious resources and beings.
    There is resistance and we must resist. Thank you for your exquisite and always poignant work.
    All the best.

  11. M Bear March 31, 2017 at 7:35 am

    It’s easy to concur with your column today, and there is hope: organizations are working to reverse current attempts to accelerate global warming by suing to stop oil pipelines; there is an active and organized resistance.

    Unlike the bison, we can pick up the phone and call our reps — on the bison’s behalf!

  12. Liz Cormack March 31, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Well said!

  13. Kim March 31, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Great image!

Comments are closed.