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American BisonA Natural History$
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Dale Lott, Jan van Wagtendonk, and Kevin Shaffer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233386

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233386.001.0001

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Close Encounters of the Buffalo Kind

Close Encounters of the Buffalo Kind

(p.150) (p.151) Chapter 19 Close Encounters of the Buffalo Kind
American Bison

Dale F. Lott

University of California Press

We, humans, sometimes want more from animals than just their hides and meat. We want, in a certain sense, companionship. This chapter explores that desire, and the ways it has connected us to bison. Few animals have much social flexibility. They assign each individual they encounter to one of a small number of categories: members of other species are predators, competitors, or neutral nonentities. Any change in one's behavior, or in the beast's mood, can easily lead to reassignment to a more dangerous status. A relationship with a buffalo is a dangerous liaison. Bison are immune to our charm, sincerity, personal integrity, and peaceful intentions. Expecting reciprocity is part of our romantic illusion about other animals, sometimes wild ones. People don't tame bison to be beasts of burden, they tame them to prove either that they are tamable or that somebody has got the means to do it.

Keywords:   companionship, humans, bisons, wild animals, taming, domestication

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