He spent decades protecting Buffalo. A microscopic invader threatens this work.

Jeff Martin, who grew up on a buffalo ranch in Wisconsin and now studies animals at South Dakota State University, said there was a link between the rising number of cases and global warming, which can cause stress to buffaloes, weakening their immune system. and makes them more susceptible to infection. The northern plains, where many epidemics have emerged, have experienced severe drought in recent years.

“This is just one of the expected outcomes of worsening climate change: drought, warming, wildfires,” said Dr. Martin, research director at the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies State of South Dakota.

The buffalo is integral to the creation story of the Lakota Sioux, said Richard Williams, a consultant on Native American issues who is Oglala Lakota and Cheyenne. The Lakota people, who for centuries migrated across the plains with the buffalo and lived off its meat, regard the buffalo as a relative.

“We believe that the strength of our people, the strength of our relationship to the world, was tied to the welfare of the bison,” Williams said. Watching animals die of disease in large numbers, he said, is painful. “It’s scary. It makes us nervous. What does it mean? What’s the future of this? And why aren’t we paying more attention to it?

Mr DuBray, whose livelihood comes from ranching buffaloes, said his business had already suffered as a result of the outbreak, an ordeal he expected to worsen as he spoke publicly about His experience. It was a risk he was willing to take, he said, to help the species.

Recently, while driving a utility all-terrain vehicle through his pasture, which stretches for miles across hills and riverbeds, he scanned the horizon for buffaloes standing alone, or limping, or coughing – all signs of infection. There was a lot.