Texas Bison Week
Buffalo Drum News
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The first week of May is Texas Bison Week since 2008 and through the year 2022 as a ceremonial proclamation. Debbie Northrup was first to initiate the proclamation to coincide with a Texas Bison Festival; after which the Texas Bison Association secured the proclamation until 2012. During the 83rd Texas legislature, 2013, S. Craig Estes introduced CSR 20, making Texas Bison Week effective through the year 2022. The timing was selected, and has remained in place, for creating awareness of Texas bison and celebrating a new generation of American icons born to the great state of Texas. Texas has been a big part of the bison conservation story, and remains as such, with more farms reporting bison operations than any other state in the union according to the 2008 USDA Ag Census report.
Historically, Texas is note worthy among the states that recognized bison as important to Texas State and western heritage, as well as part of the American frontier fabric. Texas now protects bison, private and otherwise, as property the same as livestock under the Estray laws in the Texas Agricultural Code. One of the earliest documentations of bison in the New World was by Cabeza de Vaca in 1525, in Texas, on a beach known today as Galveston. In 1875, Texas considered legislation to protect bison on tribal lands from poaching, which failed as a result of the scorched-earth military plan argued by G. Phillip Sheridan. Sheridan, as recounted by buffalo-hunter John Cook, argued that eradicating the food supply of the first Americans would end the conflict and force them onto reservations thereby advancing civilization. Legendary Texas Ranger and panhandle frontiersman, Col. Charles Goodnight, is a note worthy figure in bison history. In 1866, at the behest of Col. Goodnight’s wife Mary Ann, a number of orphaned calves from the southern herd were rescued during the [great slaughter] and began the Goodnight legacy of bison preservation. As a visionary and rancher, the Goodnight’s and other ranchers contributed bison to Yellowstone National Park. The genetic remnants of these calves roam Caprock Canyons State Park today and were named the official Texas State bison herd during the 83rd Texas legislature in 2013. The USF&WS bison population time-line report, 1902, marks 700 bison in private herds and 23 in Yellowstone National Park with Texas, from the Goodnight herd, sited as contributory. Texas and bison are truly ‘partners in time’ and is the only state in the union with an official ‘Bison Week’.
Texas is quintessentially pro-agriculture with a tradition of embracing innovations to that landscape. Bison have become a feature of it and a growing contribution to her diversity in bounty. Texas Bison Week is conceived and perpetuated to avail the general public of awareness and opportunity to participate in bison conservation by engaging the economy of it. Just like the visionary ranchers and frontiersmen of long ago, today’s bison ranchers are the strong-hold of bison conservation. This is made possible by support from the consumer in exchange for a tasteful and healthy addition to their diet. Texas Bison Week carries a message of commerce-based conservation and knowledge that when you choose bison, on whatever schedule suits you and your family, that purchase directly helps bison remain on the American landscape for future generations. You might be surprised while on a mission to participate, just how available bison becomes once it’s on your radar. You may also be surprised, if you’ve never tried it, at the uniquely flavorful and healthy dining experience it rewards with.
There’s something going on in Texas. It’s bison! During Texas Bison Week; you the consumer can be a part of it. Be careful because once you try it, you will most likely be back for more. The current herd in North American [US & Canada] boasts a recovery from less than 1,000 bison to about 500,000 head. This number will grow with consumer support and Texas Bison Week is a great time to get started. With regard to taste and healthy diet, conserving the species for the future and the enhancement of environmental integrity, it’s truly the ‘meat that matters’. Try it – you’ll like it!