Bison Quest Adventure Vacation Blog

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Filed under: bison,film crews — bisonquest @ 9:44 pm

I just returned from a week in southwestern North Dakota conducting sharp-tailed grouse surveys and got to view the 20/20 clip on game farming.  The title of ABC’s 20/20 show is “WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU”.  Ironic, indeed, since there is a lot that ABC didn’t tell you.  They identified us as bison ranchers, when in fact we are really wildlife biologists.  We keep a small herd of bison to use in helping guests connect with wild animals and the natural world via Bison Quest.   What they didn’t mention is that Pam and I have graduate degrees in wildlife biology and zoology, and that we have earned our living for over 30 years working with wildlife (including endangered species) both in, and out of, the US.   They promoted the idea that raising bison was economically viable despite our telling them the sale of bison meat barely covers the cost of hay and other operating expenses.   They never mentioned that they interviewed Pam and I for over an hour (and spent most of the day with us), during which time we outlined the problems with game farming –  they are many.   This interview was reduced down to part of one sentence where Pam was talking about comments made by some 19th century naturalists and fur trappers as they watched the great bison slaughter unfold.   I even told them that, under contract with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, I visited about 30 game farms in Montana and wrote the biological sections on Environmental Assessments for these game farms.   As such, I am something of an authority on game farming.  I explained that raising elk in game farms in Montana did not stop the poaching of deer and elk for antlers and trophies, and that the biggest impact on the antler trade was Viagra.  However, on this film, there was not one word from me on game farming.  Instead they present an economist as an authority on wildlife and game farming.   During our interview, I explained that holding wild animals in captivity for multiple generations results in domestication.   Two obvious cases of this are domestic cattle and sheep, whose wild ancestors are now extinct.   And this is a real wildlife success story?  I also find it ironic that they use, as their example of “success” stories, a series of animals in cages so small and dismal, that there’s no wonder the animals go insane.  Do they think that a pacing mink (with non-wild fur color) in a 2- foot by 2-foot cage is a great solution?  Or, how about that tiger laying on a concrete floor of a small cage with a bunch of cubs.   Is this what we want to hold up as a way to “save” wildlife?  We also pointed out that any program discussing game farming must include discussion of bear bile farms in China, and the horrific conditions these bears are subjected to, along with the associated ethics.  But Stossel made no mention of any of these things.  Now you know what they didn’t tell you.



One Response to “WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU”

  1. Susan Lucci Says:

    Craig, We need to get you a platform. TV isn’t it….there’s a reason the show is called 20-20 – it’s not 100% coverage! Keep on doing what you’re doing. I am proud to know you wildlife biologists. You really stirred the naturalist in me. If only we were returning to Bison Quest this year…. We all miss you!! XO to LeeLee and the rest of the gang!

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