I affirm. Life is out of balance: this news article and oral interview (on the primary NPR site link) brings out the worst on both sides of the fence here in Texas. Ranch managers and owners, near Benjamin, Texas, clash over the buffalo of QB Ranch (diversified operation, but also a hunting ranch) straying consistently upon the Niblo Ranch, a traditional operation. After pushing through the fence, fifty-one buffalo of QB ranch were shot on the Niblo Ranch.
Buffalo, by law in Texas, are classified as indigenous animals and have not the same protections as cattle or sheep. The Niblo ranch foreman who shot the buffalo has been charged with criminal mischief.
“Two hundred years ago, great herds of plains bison — massive majestic animals — roamed the endless prairie of West Texas. What happened to those herds stains the national conscience. The bleaching white bones of the 51 animals rotting in the Texas sun near the QB Ranch are a throwback, a reminder of the carnage a man with a rifle can do.” — Wade Goodwyn of NPR.
I affirm. The placement of buffalo on a ranch for trophy-hunting purposes may be legal, but it is base and immoral. It is base because it reflects a lack of refinement of virtue, the virtue of preserving life for its own sake, be it buffalo or the sage grouse. It is immoral, for the act of killing buffalo is killing another life without just cause. It never was just to kill buffalo except for the family and tribe to survive in the time before the railroads came. At that moment in time, the buffalo kill sustained life and the animal itself was worshiped for what it gave to keep tribes and families intact — so different from now. Much has been written about the near-extermination of the buffalo in the nineteenth-century and it is not my purpose to go over the historiography of America’s western expansion. I am an historian and I know the canon. And, the process of settling the New World was based on erasing the wild, stomping out the natural, and assimilating all things New World to the Old.
The big ranches at Benjamin are costly monuments to the Old World’s erasure of the New. The Dallas oilman that stocks his ranch with buffalo for bloodsport reflects European kings that killed stags throughout the day and the next day and the next. NPR states there is a culture clash. That is correct, but they stopped short of indicting the largest cultural clash of modern times: the artifices of man versus the naturalism of the world, death versus life, the city against the garden. The rotting buffalo near the QB ranch do not stink, it is industrialized culture that settles over their spirits that stinks to hell.