“Although nature needs thousands or millions of years to create a new species, man needs only a few dozen years to destroy one.”
Rustic cage is at foot of pile. Handwritten on back: “C.D. 1892 Glueworks, office foot of 1st St., works at Rougeville, Mich.”
Homesteaders collected bones from carcasses left by hunters. Bison bones were used in refining sugar, and in making fertilizer and fine bone china. Bison bones brought from $2.50 to $15.00 a ton. Based on an average price of $8 per ton they brought 2.5 million dollars into Kansas alone between 1868 and 1881. Assuming that about 100 skeletons were required to make one ton of bones, this represented the remains of more than 31 million bison.
The quote accompanying the photo is also real, although it wasn’t originally attached to the photo of bison skulls; it originally appeared in the 1983 book Spires of Form: Glimpses of Evolution by American biologist Victor Scheffer.
The Inter Ocean Mar. 28, 1892
A BUFFALO CHASE IN 1892
……McCook, Neb.,March 4. – Editor Forest and Stream, -I witnessed last week, one of the most remarkable feats by a horse I ever saw. “Buffalo “ Jones was on his horse Jubar, and desiring to yoke up one of his wildest buffalo bulls (a 3-year-old) he singled him from the herd of about fifty others and endeavored to drive him a quarter of a mile to the corral. To say the buffalo was wiry and nimble does not express it; he was lightening on legs. Mr. Jones succeeded in driving him down an embankment into the valley; the buffalo, concluded he could outrun the horse, climb the bank and escape. He made a dash up the valley with all the speed that could be imagined, with Jubar flying to cut him off from the bank. Such a race is only seen in a lifetime. A point of the hill came down into the valley and stood directly in the path of Jubar, and must be scaled or he would lose the game. The roll was about 3 feet high and 5 feet wide where it must be crossed. Mr. Jones urged the steed with is spur just as the horse was nearing the critical point and away the flying horse went with a leap and a bound like that of a rubber ball. It really looked as if the horse had abandoned his feet and was flying in the air, as he held up in space so long. It is needless to say the buffalo did not climb that bank that day, but was corralled and yoked up after the stubborn running and dodging I ever witnessed in my twenty-five years of punching cattle on the plains. We took a tape line and measured the wonderful leap, which was easily done, as the prints of every foot was very conspicuous. Here it is- from front foot of starting to front foot of lighting, 23 ft. 2 in. ; from hind most foot of starting to hind most foot of lighting, 28 ft. Then by dividing the difference we have 25 ft. 7 in. Who can beat it on an up-grade at that? Mr. Jones has five yoke of buffalo bulls pretty well broken to the chariot for the World’s Fair, and Jubar will figure as the champion leaping and cutting horse of the world. – Frank W. Smith.
Daily Capital Journal, Salem, Oregon Nov 18 1892
Bison in Europe
……Concerning the extinction of our bison, the general belief is that are continent was the only one that had an animal of this distinct species. This is a measure true, but few know that the European bison or zubr (bison bonassus), bears the closest resemblance to our own bison. As Mr. Lucas describes him – and reference is made to specimen and the United States National museum, there being a capital photograph of the animal in a Smithsonian report- bison bonassus looks so much like Americanus that it would take more than an ordinary observer to note the distinction.
……The European bison, first cousin to our own, is taller, not so heavy as to his fore quarters, nor is his head so big. At present the zubr is restricted to parts of Lithuania and the inaccessible regions of the Caucasus. In Lithuania the animals are under government protection. Up to the year 1500 European bison were not rare in Poland. In 1514, in Transylvania, if old chronicles are to be relied on the zubr trampled down the growing crops. There is their reason to believe that in the middle of the last century of Polish king killed sixty bison in a day. In Lithuania, in 1880, there were 600 of these bison on the imperial range. – New York Times
The News Herald , Ohio , Sept., 29 1892
BISONS NOT YET EXTINCT.
At Least Four Hundred of Them Are Now in the National Park
……It has been very generally believed that the bison has become practically extinct, but that belief does not appear to be generally borne out by the facts, says the Great Divide. Not very long ago Capt. Anderson sent out Burgess, the civilian scout attached to the post in the National or Yellowstone park in Wyoming, to make a journey South of the Hayden valley. The purpose of the trip was to see whether any signs of poachers could be found and also incidentally to discover what could be learned as to game in the open country to the south. The scout has lately returned and made his report, which is to the effect that there is an abundance of elk in the Hayden valley, but it is in respect to the bison that his discoveries are most encouraging.
……In the Hayden valley he saw and approached quite close to several herds of bison, which he counted. One of these contained seventy-eight animals, a second fifty, a third one-hundred and ten and a fourth fifteen. Besides these several single bisons were seen, and at quite a distance some other scattering groups which could not be counted. Mr Burgess does not hesitate to say that he saw fully three hundred animals.
……It is not to be supposed that at the time of this visit anywhere near all the bison in the park were collected in the Hayden valley, and it is altogether reasonable to believe that there are one hundred and perhaps three hundred other buffaloes in the park besides those which Mr Burgess saw. Taking, however, the lowest number, there would be four hundred buffaloes in the National park at the present time. This is believed to be a conservative estimate, and to be considerably under the truth.
……These bisons are to be divided into six classes- calves, yearlings, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, bulls and cows. This would give us at the lowest estimate from fifty to seventy breeding cows. While all these cows may not produce calves each year, they must represent an animal increase of at least thirty-six to forty head. This is taking the most unfavorable view of the number of cows and the rate at which they breed. Mr. Burgess is entirely disposed to think that the calf crop among the bisons of the National park this year will be from seventy-five to one hundred animals. However this may be, it is quite clear that there is in the National park, living under entirely natural conditions, and yet protected from attacks by man, I breeding stock of bisons sufficiently large to keep that reservation fully stocked for all time – a condition which cannot fail to be very gratifying.