I grew up in Germany on an organic farm. By that time we Germans had already wiped out our large mammals, the Wisent (German bison), the wolf, the bear, the lynx, the wild cats, the auroxen, the moose and in my part of the world the elk were gone as well. All we had left were some deer whose numbers skyrocketed every year because their natural predators were gone and who were now eating geraniums in the village. They and the wild boar were subject to annual driven hunts and their numbers were decimated by trophy hunters and hunters who used them for meat.
I felt lonely without the large animals and longed to have them back. Somehow, I always knew deep down inside that large herds of wild animals had roamed on this planet in earlier times. I was especially interested in the bison and the wolves that followed them.
Secretly, I wished to see them, to be around them, to spend time with them. I yearned for their presence and I missed them. I often bargained with Santa to take my dolls and legos back and to instead grant me the immense gift to spend time with the reindeer and bison. Needless to say, it never happened, I never met them as a child.
Fast forward to six years ago. I had already moved to the US to be around wilderness and wild animals and I was back backing in Yellowstone National Park when I came across a bison bull who stood broadside in my path. He looked at me with great intensity as if he was saying: “Don’t move.” I sat down and took off my back pack and told him: “I can go anywhere in this world. But you only have a sliver of your former habitat left. I will not make you move, or get too close and disturb you. I will not even go around you. I will just wait here.” He kept looking at me with this great intensity in his eyes, and I kept looking back at him in anticipation of what was to come. And then it happened: My childhood dream came true. Bison started coming down the hill from all sides, surrounding me. I was in the midst of them all. They kept pouring in and I counted 423 animals. I was able to discern the mothers, calves and the bulls were with them because it was rutting season. They were all very calm and communicated with each other in their snorting type of way, and I was able to discern what they were saying. My childhood dream had come true and I was filled with joy and awe. I told them: “Thank you for coming and being with me. Out of gratitude and to help you thrive on this planet I will tell your story.” A few months later I started on the documentary, “Bison Nation-Walking Sacred Sites” which premiered as an outdoor screening in Albuquerque, NM on October 29th 2016. Over 370 people came to see the bison’s story and bear witness to their return to the Northern Hemisphere.