|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
In a three year period, starting in 1872, hide hunters killed eight million buffalo. The stench from the rotting corpses hung heavy over hundreds of square miles of prairie. The wife of an emigrant moving across the plains by wagon noted in her journal, "The valley of the Platte for 200 miles presents the aspect of a slaughter yard, dotted all over with the skeletons of buffaloes. Such waste of the creatures God made for man seems wicked. But every emigrant seems to want to symbolize himself by killing a buffalo." Her sentiments were not shared by many. - United States. Another 200 lived under very dubious protection in the newly created Yellowstone National Park and a few hundred more survived in various zoos. Hornaday predicted, "There is no reason to hope that a single wild and unprotected individual will remain alive ten years hence." And he was right. Eight years later, poachers killed a cow, a calf, and two bulls near Lost Park, Colorado—-the last wild buffalo in America. The final curtain was poised to fall on the remnant herds, but the efforts of one man great sport. At the sight of the herd, men ran for their guns and endlessly pumped bullets more than anyone else, breathed new life into efforts to preserve the species. Ernest Harold Baynes was a journalist living in New Hampshire at the turn of the century. Nearby a man into their unwitting victims. Still it was the hide hunters who, with astonishing speed, named Austin Corbin owned a small private herd of buffalo, but after his death, Corbin’s pushed the animal closer and closer to the brink of extinction. It was the buffalo’s gentle and slow-witted temperament that made the slaughter even more efficient. The hunters realized that chasing buffalo for the hunt left the carcasses widely scattered which made collection and transportation of the hides more costly. They discovered that if the herd was approached from downwind, if they killed the herd’s and support Shooting a buffalo from the window or roof of the new Union Pacific trains became leaders first, and if the hunters made a clean kill, the remainder of the herd would not run. In fact, they would barely move, even as more and more of their numbers were taken down. It was called "a still hunt," or making a stand. Incredibly, the animals appeared unaffected by the rifle fire as the carnage played out family feared that the rising cost Baynes dedicated himself to United States were now privately the government must step in. He of maintaining the herd might lead to its demise. saving the buffalo, He realized that most buffalo in the owned and that, if the species had any hope of surviving, began a letter-writing campaign and caught the interest of President Theodore Roosevelt. "I am much impressed by your letter," Roosevelt wrote, "and I agree with everything you say.” Baynes pressed on, writing more than forty articles and stories in newspapers and magazines across the country. Support for the cause grew dramatically and resulted in the creation of the American Bison Society in 1905 and three years later, the first federal buffalo range was established. The 8000 acre Oklahoma preserve was carved out of what was once the Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Reservation. Encouraged by the success of the first preserve, the Society moved to establish a second larger preserve in Montana. Although public support for the project was widespread, the states in the West continued to show utter indifference for the buffalo revival. Except for Montana, which contributed generously to the project, other western states offered very The hunters discovered that if the herd was approached from downwind, if they killed the herds leaders first, and if the hunters made a clean kill, the remainder of the herd would not run. little. Texas, the Dakotas and Kansas contributed nothing. It was called a “still hunt,” or making a stand. The only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn. around them. The hunters could not have been more delighted. Sometimes they kept killing buffalo until the barrels of their rifles became too hot to safely fire and so they always carried a spare. Hunters kept track of their stand kills and later compared their feats. Wright Mooar killed 96 buffalo in a single stand. Doc Zahl claimed 120. And Orlando A. "Brick" Bond may have taken as many as 300 in a single afternoon. On average, however, the hide hunter could kill sixty buffalo a day. The tanneries were so overwhelmed by buffalo hides that the price began to plummet. From a one-time high of $22 a hide, the price plunged to fifty cents. Still the killing continued. We did not think of the great open plains as ‘wild.’ Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame. earth was bountiful and we were surrounded by the blessings of the Great Mystery. Not until the hairy men from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved was it ‘wild.’ When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was for us that the ‘Wild West’ began. By 1875 the Plains Indians were finished. The southern buffalo herd had been and now, the starving southern tribes---the Kiowas, the Comanches, Apaches, and the southern Cheyennes--gave up the struggle and were moved public herds can be found across America and north into Canada. Their numbers represent a tiny fraction of their 1840 population. And yet, a century after we almost exterminated the buffalo, we can, incredibly, still wonder if we learned anything from our savage folly. At Yellowstone National Park since 1994---that’s Nineteen-ninety-four, NOT Eighteenninety-four---federal and state officials h laugt d more than 1900 buffalo. During one winter, 1100 of 3500 buffalo were killed. And why? Because ranchers in nearby Montana fear that, as the buffalo wander out of the national park, they may infect their cattle with the disease brucellosis. And yet, there is not a single confirmed case of brucellosis transmission from wild buffalo to cattle. Not one. But the government continues to make critical wildlife decisions based on the demands of the cattle industry, regardless how ridiculous or destructive those demands are. Here in southern Utah, the Bureau of Land Management maintains a small herd of buffalo that was first introduced into the San Rafael Desert in 1940. Supposedly to accommodate the herd and in classic government fashion, the BLM chained 7600 acres of Luther Standing Bear Oglala Sioux eliminated Earl Warren Today the buffalo’s future, in terms of its survival as a species, is secure. Private and the to reservations. They still starved. Only one great buffalo herd remained, far to the north in the Powder River country of Montana. But now in the early 1880s, even that herd’s days were numbered. The Plains Indians, after what was truly their "last stand" at the Little Bighorn in 1876, faced a bleak future. Custer may have met his death, but within a year the great warrior Crazy Horse was dead as well, Sitting Bull and a small band of followers had escaped to Canada, and the remainder of the once proud tribes faced the squalid prospect of reservation life. And the hide hunters went to work on the Powder River herd. In 1882, the Northern Pacific Railroad had laid tracks all the way to Miles City, Montana and 5000 hunters descended on the area. A herd estimated at 50,000 to 80,000 was discovered near the Yellowstone River and frenzied hunters raced north. By the end of the season there was not a trace of the herd left, but nobody could believe they were gone for good. Most convinced themselves that the herd had simply traveled into Canada and with that kind of deluded optimism, hunters prepared for the next slaughter. But there would be no more slaughter. There were no more buffalo. pinion-juniper forest in order to "convert" an area south of the desert to grasslands. On request, the BLM distributes a short article about the history of the herd and tells about the buffalo’s role in southern Utah today. And then it adds, "The herd also provides a unique hunting experience, management." (since) hunting has shown to be the best Touch the Earth: A self portrait of Indian existence. Edited by T.C. McLuhan. Touchstone Book by Simon & Schuster. Great Plains By Ian Frazier. Penguin Books. The Way West. PBS Documentary by Ric Burns. WGBH Boston For more information on the Yellowstone herd: Greater Yellowstone Coalition. 13 S. Willson, PO Box 1874, Bozeman, MT 59715. 406.586.1593. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org web page: www.desktop.org/gyc One dealer in hides spent the entire season searching for strays and could fill only one coyotes, foxes, eagles, vultures and ravens that were drawn to the poisoned buffalo as well. Now all that remained were the bones—the skeletal remains of an entire species. But there was money in that too. Entrepreneurs with heavy wagons crisscrossed the prairie in search of the bones. They were not all that hard to find, at least not at first. The bones were transported to the railheads where they were ground up and sent east for fertilizer. Ground - buffalo bones brought five dollars a ton. William Hornaday was the chief taxidermist for the U.S. National Museum in 1886. To his dismay, Hornaday discovered that the buffalo specimens in the museum’s collection were woefully inadequate and he hurriedly made preparations for an expedition to the West before it was too late. It almost was. Working out of Miles City, his group went 17 days without seeing a single buffalo. Over the next two months, however, Hornaday’s expedition collected 25 buffalo specimens and, satisfied that they had done their best, Hornaday returned to Washington. He was convinced that his collection might soon be all that remained of the millions that once roamed the continent. And sure enough, a year later, when the American Museum of Natural History sent its own collections expedition to the Yellowstone country, Dr. D.G. Elliot and his outfit spent three months crisscrossing the once abundant range and could not find a single buffalo. The scientific community was stunned. So were the hunters. Hornaday attempted a buffalo census in 1889 and determined there were less than 85 free-roaming buffalo in the of population For more on the Buffalo: The Time of the Buffalo By Tom McHugh. University of Nebraska Press. carload with hides. Just a couple years earlier, his take from the same country had exceeded 250,000. All that was left was the stench of the rotting corpses and the bones---they were made short order of as well. Bounty hunters poisoned the buffalo carrion and waited for the wolves to move in. Wolf pelts brought a dollar each. The wolfers claimed the hides and left behind the wolf and buffalo carcasses. They also left behind the remains of countless thousands of badgers, means It really says that. The August/September Issue of The Canyon Country Zephyr will be on newsstands July, 23 RETURN OF THE UNKNOWN INNKEEPER... The only innkeeper in all of southern Utah who would take out an ad in The Zephyr, only on the condition that we not mention his name, He says he has enough business as it 1s.