The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is a history/economics lesson about the buffalo as told by Jarrett Stepman. As you are probably aware, the buffalo, also known as bison, in North America was once heading to extinction. Now they will most likely become known as the “national mammal” if a bill currently in the Senate is signed by the President.
Conservationists and environmentalists may get the credit for saving the buffalo, but capitalism actually saved the huge and beautiful animals. There were once thousands - possibly millions - of bison roaming through the Great Plains of the United States and feasting on the tall prairie grasses growing there. The enormous animals were once hunted to the point of near-extinction for the price of their hides.
Mr. Stepman writes, “Though the social and economic dynamics of the 19th century came close to wiping out the American bison, the species survived and began a recovery in the 20th century. The wild-roaming bison had been hunted mercilessly to the brink of destruction, but widespread private ownership allowed them to flourish.”
There was a small herd of bison living in the Yellowstone National Park, but there were few wild ones elsewhere. People in the tourist industry tried to protect the buffalo, but ranchers are the real heroes. They recognized the buffalo meat was delicious and began raising them for commercial purposes.
Mr. Stepman concludes his article: “Ranchers … found ways to raise and profit from the bison. This led to a thriving national industry and ensures the bison will survive into the 21st century. Today there are around 500,000 buffalo in the United States, and about 90 percent are in private hands. And for that miracle resurrection, the world has capitalism, not Congress, to thank.”
Alaska has several herds of buffalo and rations hunting permits very carefully. By some strange twist of fate, I have drawn out permits and harvested buffalo on two separate occasions. My husband also drew a permit and harvested a big bull. I can verify that buffalo meat is delicious, and I am grateful for the capitalists that saved the buffalo!