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Bison Grazing (info unknown) c1900

1900 Bison Grazing


The Burlingame Enterprise, Mar 8, 1900

Col. Buffalo Jones’ Plan Indorsed by Many Congressmen
Asks for the Setting Apart of a Large Preserve for the American Buffalo in the Territory of New Mexico

(Special Washington Letter)

“Buffalo Jones” is here, and will remain until he can accomplish the object of his coming.
……Congressman Lacey, of Iowa, chairman of the committee on public lands, has introduced a bill “to set apart a preserve for the American bison,” and it is proposed to place this preserved in charge of “Buffalo Jones.”
Inasmuch as Congressman Lacey has great influence in the house of representatives, because he is chairman of the committee on public lands, and inasmuch as that committee will have charge of the pending bill, it seems likely let the measure will, in due season, become a law. It is regarded as a very important proposition by all congressman who have had time to give it consideration, and a majority of them seem to spontaneously favor it.
……The proposed preserve is to be located near the southeast corner of the territory of New Mexico, and is to be 40 miles square. Col. Jones says that any smaller area would be useless for many reasons. In the first place, he says that the buffalo is a living barometer. He can tell when it is going to rain, or snow, or blow and he knows how to conduct himself accordingly. In a range of 40 miles a buffalo can care for himself, and hide in canyons, or race across the plateaus to dry places, when snow or rain are coming. There may be clear weather on one portion of a tract 40 miles square, while exceedingly inclement weather exist in some other part of the tract. Moreover, Col. Jones says that the buffalo is the greatest of all liberty loving animals, and close confinement has caused many a one to die of a broken heart.

The Burlingame Ent KS march 8 1900 wagon

I am not a philanthropist,” says Col. Jones. “I am simply trying to do what seems to me a duty. No man has killed so many buffaloes as I have killed, for my victim’s number many thousands. For years I made it my business to kill them, and make money out of their hides. Moreover, in my early days, I used to kill them for sport. Now I deem it my duty to the buffalo, and also to mankind on this continent, to preserve the American bison from extinction. Only a few years ago countless millions of these animals roamed over the plains of North America. They had an absolute title to, and possession of, many millions of miles, as the Indians had to their hunting grounds. They were the invincible tribes of the plains and prairies. They would never have been subdued but for the extension of railroads across the continent. Their territory had been well nigh inaccessible, but railroads made transportation cheap, and immediately there followed a demand, from all over the world, for the beautiful, warm, soft robes of the buffalo.
……“The supply had to equal the demand. Millions of buffalo hides annually were sent abroad, and other millions were taken up in our own country. The slaughter became so widespread and of such proportions that annihilation became simply a question of a brief period of time.
……“In 1875, when I first began thinking of the necessity of preserving the buffalo, there were fully 1,000,000 still living. Now there are less than 400 left. I estimate that before the trans-continental railways were built there were between 15,000,000 and 20,000,000 of them. When I first seriously talked of domesticating the buffalo I was ridiculed by people who declared that the wildest of all animals could never be brought within the control of man. They said that nothing but a stone wall like the Chinese wall whatever hold them. The vicious old bulls had smashed away a board fence, and scattered the rails from rail fences. I tried many kinds of fence, and finally stretched barb wires around a section of 640 acres of land, and kept 150 buffaloes for a year, without any difficulty. The wire itself might have been broken by them, but they accepted it as the limit of their range, and they had no desire to break it. The wired offered no obstruction to their vision, and hence, as long as they could have freedom of site around them, they had no fear of danger, and desire to break loose from a confinement which was made agreeable to them.
……“I have demonstrated that the buffalo can be domesticated. I have buffalo milk which is sweeter, richer and more nourishing than the milk of any other breed of cows. The meat of the buffalo is better than any produced by the cattlemen of this country. The tallow is better than any butter that has ever been made, except butter churn from the cream of buffalo milk. With the aid of the government I hope to be able to preserve for prosperity the finest domestic animal given to man for this continent. Inside of 20 years there will be 10 full generations of buffalo growing into domestic habits. Their wildness will disappear, and their domesticity will increase by hereditary with each generation.
……“I have had considerable experience in taming these animals and teaching them to work in yolks like steers. It takes time and perfect patients. But when they are properly and completely ‘broken’ they become accustomed to restrain, and they exceed and courage and strength any animal subjected by man to assist in his burden of labor. I have a team of seven-year-old bulls one of whom killed a keeper who did not know how to handle him. They are gentle and work well together. They draw feed to the other animals on my ranch in winter, and are used in plowing with excellent results in summer time.
……“It was very difficult to teach the vicious fellows to carry bits and their mouths. But they do it now all right. I have hemp rope lines of the best material attached to heavy forged iron bits. Formally I had a small windlass attached to each line, and by turning the crank I could control the bulls, no matter how hard they might pull. Nowadays, however, I drive them without the use of a windlass, with as much ease and pleasure as though they were a pair of carriage horses.
……“In addition to the superiority of the buffalo cow over any of the standard breeds now generally regarded as the best in the world, her longevity must be considered. I have seen some of them sold that their horns had decayed and dropped off. I saw buffalo cow in a zoological garden which was known to be 31 years old, and I am sure I have seen wild cows 10 or 15 years older. They are good milk cows as long as they live. They are very intelligent, too, and there is no domestic animal that is more affectionate.”

The legacy bill, after carefully describing the metes and bounds of the proposed “preserve for the American bison,” fixes the status of the contract in the following words: “The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to lease to Charles J. Jones, of Topeka, Kan., his heirs and assigns, the tract of land described in section one of this act for a period of 20 years, free of rental charge. Said lease shall provide that the said Charles J. Jones, his heirs and assigns, shall place upon said tract of land, within one year from the passage of this act, suitable inclosures for bison, and no less than 100 full-blooded American bison, of sufficient number of males and females for breeding purposes: that it shall be unlawful to sell, kill, maim or destroy, or otherwise dispose of or removed from said tract of land by the said Charles J. Jones, his heirs or assigns, or any other person or persons whomsoever, any female bison except for sanitary, scientific or humane purposes, during the continuance of this lease, unless the increase should be in excess of one bison to each 500 acres of land in said tract and except the excess of one mailed to every 20 females.”

……The bill is a long one, but this extract shows how carefully it has been drawn, in order that the government may be protected, and the bison protected, from any possibility of Jones or any other persons been tempted to take undue advantage of the privilege granted. A penalty is also provided that “any person violating any of the provisions of the act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment of not exceeding 90 days, or both fine and imprisonment.”
……“The proposed safeguards in the bill meet with my entire approval,” says Col. Jones.” While I may be honest myself, and the committee may have perfect confidence in my integrity, my life is like all other lives, and may not last and other day. I am 56 years of age, and hope to live another 20 years at least. But if my life should be snuffed out I want the work to go on, and I want it so guarded that nobody can willfully use this grant or lease for any personal gain.”
Smith D Fry.


The Scranton Republican May 11 1900

From the North American.

……Congress seems to be giving but scant attention to the efforts of C.J. Jones and others to save the American bison from utter extermination, but the subject is worthy of serious attention, and it requires prompt and effective action. The promoters of the movement are not actuated by mere sentimental motives, but give strong practical reasons why the bison should be preserved. Mr Jones has preserved a herd of more that a hundred of the animals in Texas, and has demonstrated that by crossing the bison with hardy breed of cattle a variety very valuable for beef and for hides can be produced. The cross-breed retains the characteristics that make the bison capable of taking care of himself under conditions that are disastrous to cattle. For example, the bison does not destroy the grass of the ranges, but leaves untouched enough of the seed grass to insure the next year’s crop.
……When traveling to water or migrating, the bison herds move in Indian file, making a narrow trail and doing the least possible damage to the grazing land. Cattle, on the contrary, destroy more than they eat, and, infact, they have nearly ruined the bunch grass and gamma ranges of the west, and have reduced by 50% the pasturage capacity of the land.
……Mr Jones suggests that of the 30,000 acres of waste land in Mew Mexico and 2,500,000 near the Guadeloupe mountains be reserved for the bison, and that 200,000 acres be granted ti him for breeding grounds, offering to give all the cows to the government and to use the proceeds of sales of surplus bulls for the care of the herd. At the end of 20 years the entire herd is to be turned over to the government. The position seems reasonable and practical, but a committee of the House has rejected it, and recommended a lease of 20,000 acres to Jones at about six cents an acre per year.
……Opposition the proposed plan for preservation of the bison was led by Pedro Perea, delegate in Congress from New Mexico , who stated before the committee that the buffalo and Indian are things of the past, and should have been exterminated long ago. Perea’s animosity to the Indian is a survival of the conflict that was waged from the days of De Vargas to the American occupation between the Spanish settlers and the wild tribes, but the Apache and Navajo have been subdued, and the restoration of the bison would not revive the hostile activity of the Indians, as Perea seems to fear. The mongrel native population of New Mexico is unprogressive and devoid of enterprise and will not reclaim or make any use of the waste lands of the territory, and therefore any opposition to Jones’ plan by New Mexico lacks reason.



Lawrence Daily Journal Dec 25 1900

Relic of Old Days Appears In North Dakota Herd

……An immense Buffalo bull has put in an appearance among the cattle owned by the Sioux Indians and ranged near the Standing Rock reservation, 60 miles south of Bismarck North Dakota. The animals came unheralded, whence nobody knows, says the Chicago Record. For years it has been supposed that every bison was extinct in North Dakota, and the last time that any were seen in the state was back in the middle of the 80s, when Gov. Roosevelt, hunting along the Little Missouri River, killed one at the crossing of the river. The animal that has made its appearance near Standing Rock is unusually wild and fierce and disposed to attack herdsman who attempt to get near it. Strict orders have been issued by the agent against killing the animal in the hope that it will remain in that others may be discovered.
……The presence of this loan monarch of the prairie recalls the time when the bison ranged the vast prairies in the western part of the state by thousands if not millions, when every waterhole was a gathering place for them and the hills and the valleys were worn deep with trails along which the animal went from feeding ground for watering places. Even yet all through the western part of the state there are deep trails that were made by the bison and that have not been wiped out in half a century. The suddenness of the extinction of the bison is among the most remarkable features of the development of the West. From thousands and hundreds of thousands they dwindled away almost at once.