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Texas State Bison Herd (Texas Country Reporter)

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Added by Mel in Variety


In the 1800's Charles Goodnight revived the population of bison in the panhandle. Their descendants now captured live in Caprock Canyon State Park.

Danny Sweptson
850 Caprock Canyon Park Road
Quitaque, TX 79255

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Video Script:: 

[Music] it is a land that defies distinction in a place as old as time each tin the age-old layers of deep red rock there is a line invisible to the naked eye but clearly drawn in the geology this is where the high reaches of the Yano estecado end and the rolling plains began it is the no-man's land of the Texas Panhandle a place they call the Camp Rock a lot of people don't know about Caprock canyons and people are familiar with college air Canyon and the Playtex is and and those are big certainly draws for that area but this is a unique area a lot of folks ought to come and see it as a member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Denney swept Stan's pins a lot of time here at cap Rock Canyon State Park there's certainly plenty to see here what with 15,000 acres of rugged country a lake and even an old railroad tunnel turned hike and bike trail but when Danny gazes across this vast expanse he sees something different than you and I Danny sees this land the way it used to be more than 100 years ago probably this rolling Plains area was the heart of the bison population [Music] they numbered into the millions with a range across the country the high plains of Texas suited the wandering herds and the American bison thrived for centuries but a crisis came during the mid-1800s when the animals were hunted to near-extinction the species salvation would come in the form of a pioneering cattle man and legend of the Panhandle Charles goodnight was of course he's probably best known for establishment of the goodnight loving Trail which was one of the major cattle trails that brought Texas cattle to northern markets after the Civil War he captured his first bison in 1878 and when he was manager the J ranch East Lamoreaux there in Parador Canyon there were just a few remnant herds left from the big commercial hunts of the 1870s and 80s and so he captured actually started with seven animals and eventually built his herd to about 250 and he eventually he turned it not only into a preservation project be tried to incorporate as a business part of his ranching and he left the Jays and moved to his own ranch he started selling breeding animals he crossed the Bison with domestic cattle tried to improve them develop a better a grazing animal that would stand that would withstand the tear of the time-it of the Panhandle at that time upon goodnights death in 1929 his buffalo herd was left to the state but before they could be moved from their home on the range the unruly bison escaped and disappeared into the vast canyons of the Panhandle here they roamed wild and free rarely seen again for the next 70 years [Music] they're part of the last heard that was captured off the southern plains and out of the millions of animals that want to once existed in Texas and Parks New Mexico and Oklahoma this is the last herd and it's also the last herd of wild bison in Texas [Music] they are the descendants of the original goodnight herd here in their new home in cap Rock Canyon State Park after an extensive capture operation the Bison were gathered together and brought here to be overseen by the state now this isn't some kind of drive-through wildlife park or exhibit at the zoo it is a herd of wild and woolly Buffalo and this is their turf we're really not set up you know like said for people to come through as you would anticipate in a lot of parts but we hope eventually to have a viewing area that people can see them from a distance I think a lot of people see bison they'll they'll see them in a zoo or in a Corral you know and they just kind of stand there and some of the animals have been in captivity all their lives so they really don't know anything but these animals like this they no one has ever worked with them before it has been designated the official bison herd of the state of Texas and honor that carries responsibility to as leader of the project it's Danny's job to keep this herd happy and healthy doesn't take much because these animals are survivors and the instinct remains strong these are still wild bison and that's that's one thing we want to preserve we're we're not gonna try to we just by taking them in captivity we've domesticated them to a point but we're doing try to maintain that wild behavior in them as much as possible they are symbols of the American West proud majestic creatures who live free on the land while their ancestors were casualties of history this herd of bison will forever be protected from harm the dream of Charles goodnight lives on in the cap rock canyons and on the high plains where this is the place where the Buffalo still roam this is the last wild bison herd in Texas and we feel like it's worth preserving for not only ourselves for future generations [Music] you


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