Diseases of Man & Beast

By Colton Jones

On the ranch, we are fortunate our lifestyle permits social distancing with ease. Camping trips on the river, fishing expeditions and a trip to check on the herd can all be done without seeing another human. And for a moment, creates a sense of normalcy.

Large Landscape Bison Herd

I’ve always been infatuated with space, and I have to admit, five months ago I didn’t think I could appreciate it any more than I do now. We are in drought conditions on the ranch. Dams are low and some are empty. This makes water and pasture monitoring critical. Tanks need to be checked daily, which has provided me an excuse to spend time with the buffalo.

Bison Watering

While checking on the herd, the biologist in me can’t help but search for relationships between man and beast. I try to make my rounds in the morning before it gets hot. The herd also utilizes the cooler temperatures to move and graze. They look happy, healthy, and carefree. The environment that they reside in provides large expanses of land that allow them to behave as evolution has intended.  

In contrast, we now know that human influence on the environment can dictate our ability to contract, and/or combat disease in a negative manner.

Much like large highly populated cities, feedlots act as a vector in transmitting diseases. Diseases such as mycoplasma (respiratory infection), pink eye and Johne’s disease (intestinal fatal infection) have a higher infection rate among beef and buffalo in feedlots, as well as large commercial dairy operations. The close proximity from one individual to another and unsanitary conditions, increases the chance of transmission. This, along with a poor diet consisting of grain-based feed for animals and sugar-based diets in humans, hinders the body’s natural ability to fend off disease.

Bull Close

Because both man and beasts’ environments have been so greatly altered in the name of “Big Ag”, both are becoming increasingly dependent on pharmaceuticals, many of which can have negative side effects. Prescriptions for heart disease and diabetes are among the top prescribed drugs in America. Antibiotics and “pour-ons” are most common in confined beef and buffalo operations.

Climate change has also manipulated the way in which some diseases spread. Lyme disease, waterborne diseases and mosquito borne diseases are seeing more opportunistic environments caused by the increasingly dramatic changes in weather. Poor air quality has increased the number of asthmatic patients along with a decrease in available, safe, drinking water.

Bison Watering

Our commercial food supply system’s vulnerability has become exposed as it travels through a gauntlet of similar man created issues.  There is hope as consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how their food is produced, from the roots up.

Bison on Prairie

During my time with the herd, I always try to make a conscious effort to be thankful. Thankful for my time with them. Thankful for the privacy and vastness of the plains. And thankful for a particular moment that provides solace and gives me hope for restoration of all man and beasts.  

Photo Credit: Jill O'Brien

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  • Great JOB Colton, there

    Bob Mahoney
  • I agree with many of the sentiments shared in the comments. For those of us that agree with what your saying, it’s so obvious what must be done. But it’s clear we have a long way to go. I stopped eating factory farmed meat January of 2018. I stopped eating beef in January of 2019. I’m doing what I can. Wild Idea is definitely a beacon for some of us. Many Thanks,

    Jason Campbell
  • You guys absolutely rock. RIGHT ON! I am also grateful you express yourself for us. Namaste~

    Kelly Valandry
  • The basis for all of God’s Grace in our lives is genuine gratitude. It resonates in my heart that you express yours in the light of the herds of bison, their health and well being so beneficial to our families, and the symbol of their resurgence on the great prairies at a time our country needs it the most. As the flotsam of the information age sluices into the age of truth telling this century will surely see a continuing rebound of the mighty bison herds and their original stewards. What a thrill it gives me to know I can sense your unwavering loyalty to what ultimately sustains us, the land, the flora and fauna, and the water refreshed.

    Vernon Cross
  • “We are what we eat!.” Good food is the best medicine." Two mottos I try to live live by and they have served me well over the many years I’ve been on the planet. Thanks for the reminder here and oh, so beautifully illustrated with Jill’s photos!

    Linda Clark
  • Mr Coltan,you seem so happy to be around the Buffalo,and Jill takes beautiful photo’s.To Native Americans Buffalo are made by our Creator,they are sacred t many tribes.The White Buffalo especially.You take special care of the Buffalo and the babies are adorable.Your meat is the best without question,this year will go down in history for the things that have occured.Way back it was the useless slaughter o buffalo by the washicue’s.But you created something no one has done before you,you gave the buffalo ground to roam,their very healthy and happy,the coats are beautiful,the way buffalo should look.For this i thank you,you gave us our history back,and meat that is so good,your heart is in the right place.

    Deb Little Wolf Cieslewski
  • Thank You to ALL that you do, all of us appreciate it very much.

    Priscilla DePetris
  • I have been eating your meat for a year now as a result of needing to change my eating habits due to severe anemia. I prefer the organ meats, (kidneys, heart, and the liver) as they contain the most nutrients. I live off of bison meat and pretty much have it daily. My anemia was gone within a couple of months and I have been able to work out and run again and I never get sick. If everyone would eat bison liver I believe no one would get sick. Oh yea, it’s delicious 😋
  • Great read Colton and as always, beautiful photos by Jill. We came across you almost three years now and since our first order of WIB bison, we said good bye to store bought industrialized meat and you have become our sole source. Not only is it delicious, but healthy too. As you wrote Colton, the poor diet of the animals in the industrialized agriculture world results in a poor quality product. Thankfully, WIB raises and harvests bison the RIGHT way. All of our friends who have dined at our house rave about the WIB bison burgers and steaks. They bring side dishes and always ask if we could grill bison again. All our international business colleagues returning overseas and spread the word about WIB bison. Lastly, if that were not convincing enough, I’ll conclude with the comments from my primary care physician: “cholesterol looking great, bp and ekg great, blood panel great – whatever you are doing Chris, keep it up.” And all I have done is sole source our red meat from Wild Idea Bison and enjoy more of it. Thanks to all of you there at WIB for all you do for the Great Plains, for the bison and for maintaining a standard of excellence, “beyond organic” with your bison meat. Cheers to you!!

    Chris and Kim
  • You nailed it. Wake up, people.

  • Well said. And beautiful photos. Gosh I wish our herd had that kind of space!! It does lend itself to a more symbiotic relationship! Until we all have thousands of a acres in our back yard….. ;) Lovely job! Just lovely!

    Liz Riffle
  • Great one Guys 🥰

  • Introduced to you via a PBS documentary, it was a pleasure to research more and appreciate what we saw and learned. We then received our first shipment of your product and have shared it with family.. When choosing to eat red meat - sustainable buffalo, naturally raised, and humanely sourced - is the way to go! The videos and photographs also go a long way in providing gentle nourishment. Thank you.

    Kristen Goff
  • Hi All – I always love the pictures and all of your comment too. Please keep up your work forever as your buffalo is about the only meat that I can eat because of various health issues. Pure and clean land and food makes pure and clean animals, so we put all of you and all the buffalo in the loving arms of God. Love, Don

    Donald G Meyer
  • Another good read and pictures from the Wild Idea team. A question: dogs have demonstrated the ability to smell disease. Have bison in a natural habitat like yours shown the same remarkable sense of smell, resulting in natural social distancing amongst the herd?


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