In the spring of 2012, I read Fuller’s (1960) paper on the “Behaviour and social organization of the wild bison of Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada”. It taught me that bisons (Bison bison) are decidedly very cool creatures. They have developed senses which allow them to detect danger from up to several hundred meters away, they produce a multitude of sounds in relation to the social situation, they run fast and swim with ease. The paper also taught me that researchers, and in all likelihood other people, killed bisons.
…Yup. Bisons were rounded up each year in ‘corrals’ where they were kept until the “slaughter”.
Why?!?!? Why did they do that!?! Maybe the answer is evident. Maybe I am ignorant, but I find these methods outrageous. Fuller later mentions cows’ and calves’ behaviour in corrals:
Oh really, they bawl? Well that is a surprise. No, really, who would expect them to be freaking out in these situations?
Actually, Fuller himself shot at least three individuals for research purposes. At this point in the paper, my disconcertment was due mostly to the matter-of-fact tone of his writing.
Hahaha: “had to be shot”, as though he had no other choice whatsoever. Like, for example, let her stay with her calf, you know, the one that he shot. Or maybe not shoot the calf in the first place.
Granted, these were not the only ways that Fuller gathered data. He also stalked herds, did road and plane counts, thus observing bisons for long periods of time.
I do not wish to undermine his research, which was genuinely interesting, but rather to express my astonishment at some of the methods of the past. I do hope the slaughters and unwarranted shootings are over.
Fuller, W. A. (1960). Behaviour and social organization of the wild bison of Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. ARCTIC, 13(1), 2-19. Retrieved from http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/3685