The Buffalo War
The Film

presented by ITVS

Filmmaker's  Statement by Matthew Testa

Matthew Testa
Photo: Scotty Guinn
When I first learned about the controversy over Yellowstone's bison herd, I was working as a newspaper reporter in Wyoming near Yellowstone's southern gateway. I had witnessed many battles fought in the West over public lands, wilderness and wildlife, but this one affected people in ways I had not expected.

This is more than a story about a livestock disease, animal management or a range war, as the bison conflict has stirred people from vastly different backgrounds, offering a fascinating cross section of life in the Rocky Mountains today. It's a story with historical tragedies embedded deeply in our national consciousness, evoking a sad past, but offering a chance for redemption. At the center of the battle is the buffalo, an animal that, in its silence, manages to tell us a great deal about how we see the world.

I wanted to make a film that explored all the dimensions of the bison conflict, one that elucidated the scientific and political facts of the issue but didn't shy from the emotional aspects of the story. I also wanted to represent the public that seemed to be overlooked in a controversy dominated by industry and government agencies. All of these groups, along with the buffalo, have a great deal at stake in this story.

This is also a film about activism and expression, meant to inspire reactions and dialogue. My hope is that this documentary will move audiences to voice their opinions on this perplexing conflict. With more discussion, awareness and thought, maybe the buffalo war can be settled.

The Buffalo War The Filmmakers Guides Resources Talkback In Their Shoes The War The Buffalo The Story