AR-News: (US IL) Bidding farewell to the bison
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Mon Jan 12 06:24:06 EST 2004
Rick West/Daily Herald
The bearded man wearing neck-to-ankle Carhartts coveralls and an Elburn Coop
baseball cap rumbles through the small herd of bison from behind the wheel of
a pickup truck.
They shuffle away as his truck creaks forward. But they are used to Don
Hanson and his routines, as used to him as bison can be. After all, he's been like
a father to the Fermilab herd for 27 years.
But when Hanson finally retreats to his retirement - "in the next few years"
- on a 40-acre farm he's been readying in southern Illinois, he won't be
taking even one along, nor looking to start a new a herd.
Hanson plans to have dairy cattle and horses.
The bison will stay at their 80-acre Fermilab pasture for the same reason he
doesn't feed them by hand - or even identify them beyond the two-digit tags
stapled to their ears.
"They're so unpredictable, you don't have the luxury of getting close,"
Hanson said. "I want to be able to walk out there and pat them on the head and say,
'How are you doing today?'æ"
For sure, Hanson, 56, didn't get into this job because he wanted to be a
The ranching life is a simple one. Sunshine. Cloud cover. Farm feed. Slow
roaming. Pasture grazing.
He's comfortable with the high-energy physics sitting a half-mile away in the
alien-looking, 16-story Wilson Hall, itself inspired by a Gothic cathedral in
Over on this side of the lab, Hanson and the bison in his care look perfectly
at home roaming their stretch of prairie. No microscopic acceleration, no
creating the future - just living history.
"I like things a little dull," Hanson said.
He's managed to find his Dullsville - and his paradise - in the unlikeliest
At first blush, Fermilab seems like an odd place to have bison - the correct
term for what some called buffalo after French fur traders compared them to
cattle, or boeuf.
The first director of the U.S. Department of Energy facility, Robert Wilson,
wanted to give residents and visitors the opportunity to see Americana with
their own eyes. That led not only to the bison but also the ambitious 1,000-acre
prairie restoration program on the 6,800-acre laboratory grounds.
"The world is a dangerous place,
not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.",
>' .' <
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