North Dakota bison ranchers come to Denver to replenish herd diminished after pipeline protest

Ranchers win six bison at Genesee Park auction
Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-03 21:06:56-05

DENVER -- The Genesee Park’s annual bison auction drew ranchers from several states – including a pair of ranchers from North Dakota who said pipeline protests near their land have diminished their herd.

Ernie and Beverly Fischer won six bison at the city of Denver’s auction, held every year to help control the size of the herd roaming at Genesee Park. The Fischers said they’re boosted by their victories after a very trying year for their herd, which is living on pastures adjacent to protest camps established to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“I’m sure they didn’t intentionally go out to hurt animals but that’s exactly what happened,” Beverly Fischer said. “We lost a few buffalo and we’re quite saddened by that.”

The Fischers said dozens of their calves are unaccounted for, and they tie that to the massive protester presence. The couple also said some of their animals miscarried calves, something they believe is due to the stress of the situation.

“Buffalo like it nice and quiet and away from people,” Ernie Fischer said. “So you have 7,000 to 8,000 people honking their horns, drums beating. The animals are running, little calves are getting trampled.”

Ernie Fischer also said he suspects at least 13 of his bison were slaughtered for food.

“We know that people left the protest camp … went onto private land that we leased, killed our buffalo, quartered it, took it back and ate it,” Ernie said. “I’m not saying they had a big picnic and sent invites out on a Sunday afternoon with a red checkered table cloth. But I’m saying it happened. That’s my first amendment right, to say what I want.”

Denver7 reached out to protest organizers for comment Friday afternoon but have not yet received a response. In November, a protest leader told KFYR-TV the Fischers’ animals died after consuming poison and protestors actually alerted the couple after finding dead buffalo.

All 23 of the bison offered for auction by the city Friday sold, most for more than $2,000 each. 

The Fischers are optimistic for the futures of the six calves they’re driving back to North Dakota.

“They're going to have an easier life than last year's calf crop. Last year's calf crop was under stress,” Ernie Fischer said. “[We’ll] put them with their other little brothers and sisters that we got at home and hopefully God blesses us with a lot of rain and a lot of grass and hopefully a good market again next year.”


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