Someone wants to deprive you of a useful life. But you might not even realize it. Here’s what I learned from bison.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:10
Does a Bison Have a Useful Life?
“Look!” I pointed to the side of the road, “I didn’t know they had bison herds in Canada.”
“Me neither,” Pedro said. He pulled over and I snapped a few photos of the cows and calves.
“They look different from the ones we’ve seen in Yellowstone,” I said. “They must be wood bison.”
“Makes sense, since we are driving through the woods,” he joked. He pulled back onto the highway, and my thoughts drifted back to what I’d learned about bison.
American bison (don’t confuse them with buffalo—which only live in Asia and Africa) once roamed North America in enormous herds. In the early 1800s, historians estimate more than 50 million bison made their home in the American West.
Native American tribes, especially those living in the Great Plains, used every part of the bison to sustain their way of life. But bison didn’t just prove useful to Native Americans. As a keystone species, a bison’s useful life includes weed control, fertilization, and aerating the plains ecosystem. The wallows where they scratch their backs help maintain the biodiversity of insects and grasses.
At almost 2000 lbs., a bison can grow up to 11 feet long and six feet high. Surprisingly, they can jump six vertical feet and run up to 30 mph. Despite their size and similarity to domesticated cattle, their power, combined with their running and jumping capabilities, makes them poor candidates for domestication. Bison just plow through fences or jump over them. Barbed wire and razor wire do little to their thick hides.
Driven to the Brink of Extinction
A hundred and fifty years ago, few people with a voice worried about the useful life of the bison in relation to the environment. Native Americans understood the importance of the bison herds, but without a voice, their concerns could do nothing to save the bison.
As the beaver population neared extinction from over-trapping, bison hides became the new currency of the West. At the same time, white settlers, railroads, and ranchers invaded the plains—and demanded protection from the U.S. Government in their efforts to wrest land from Native Americans.
Some U.S. government officials conceived a diabolical plan to hurt Native Americans by wiping out the bison herds. Doing so would ensure Native Americans would come to the reservations and submit to a life of dependence on the government.
“Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance.” – General Philip Sheridan
So-called ‘buffalo hunters’ would shoot into giant bison herds from moving trains, killing hundreds of animals at a time. They left the slaughtered bison where they fell.
By 1884, an estimated 1200 bison remained in the United States. Think of the untold damage this loss created—in both human life, biodiversity, and culture. All because of greed.
The devil wants to exterminate our useful life, too. He uses doubts, fears, and anxieties to cripple us. Like the buffalo hunters of old, the devil doesn’t care about the destruction he leaves in his wake. His goal? Steal, kill, and destroy. Whatever it takes to prevent us from living a useful life.
Has the devil been whispering lies into your heart?