1909 The White House
Daily Industrial News, N.C. March 8, 1909
President Discusses Plans for Bison’s Preservation
Deeply Interested in the Work of the American Bison Association,
Which Has for Its Purpose the Care and Propagation of an
Animal Threatened With Extinction.
BY JOHN E. MONK.
……1909 Washington, D. C., March 7,
– At the White House recently there was a conference, and in the course of it there was nothing to be heard about, currency, tariff, anti- injunction measures, employers liability bill, or about any of the other half hundred things which recently have had a large place in the attention of people and the President.
……Theodore Roosevelt was talking to William T. Hornaday about ways and means to make certain the future existence of the American bison, ordinarily and improperly called the American buffalo.
……No one will make a mistake if he holds that the President was pleased at the opportunity to get away temporarily from matters very likely more important, but certainly less interesting in the chief executive than is the question of saving the remnant of a tribe of be used that once numbered its members by the millions.
William T. Hornaday is the director of the Bronx Zoological Park in New York city. He is also the president of the American Bison Association, which has for its object the preservation of the animal whose name is carried in its title. There are buffalo – the error form is the easier – in nearly all of the zoos of the country, but the lives of the confined animals are at best precarious, and no one knows when accident or disease may wipe the captives out of existence. Mr. Hornaday desires that a government range be provided for a herd of buffalo in the northwestern country, where they may live in large measure as they lived when their only enemies were the red man and the wolf, the condition of life that made for longevity and for increase.
……A Flathead Indian named Pablo, living in Montana, had in his possession a few years ago a herd of 350 buffalo. The Canadian government learned of the existence of the herd, and brought it from the Flathead chief – it is though he is a chief – who was tempted by the offer because of its seeming generosity, and because probably he did not know the full value of the buffalo in this day of their scarcity.
Would Purchase Remnant.
……The Canadians took about half the herd, divided the half into two parts and turned the animals loose on ranges on the other side of the border, where it is said they are thriving. The remaining buffalo included in the purchase are, it is assumed, to be carted into Canada, there are to be given their freedom with fence limitations. It is understood, however, that Pablo will have remaining in his possession about fifty of the animals, the increase cents he agreed to sell his herd, added to some animals that he has picked up recently. It is the hope of Mr. Hornaday and his associates of the American Bison Society to buy the animals that Pablo now owns, and turn them loose on the Flathead reservation.
……The help of the President and Congress is needed to accomplish the and in view. Sen. Dixon, of Montana, will introduce a bill to set aside on the reservation a tract of land containing twenty square miles. The Flathead land holdings are soon to be open to settlement, and the land that the government is asking too reserve as a bison range is almost totally unfit for agricultural purpose. In other words, it is practically waste land. It is Mr. Hornaday’s belief, and he is one of the best informed men in the world on the habits of the greater animals, that the buffalo on the wide range given over to them will double their numbers and three or four years, and that the question of the preservation of an animal which supposedly had been doomed to extinction will be answered.
To Be Left to Themselves.
……It is the intention, if Congress grants the legislation necessary, to fence and the range and to leave the buffalo to themselves. There is an abundance of bunch grass upon which the animals thrive, there is timber enough for shelter under certain weather conditions, and there are ravines which will afford perfect protection in hard times of winter. Running water from and unfailing source of supply is to be found at several places on the land which it is proposed to set aside. The naturalist of the country, among them men who have made the bison a special study, are a unit in declaring that the problem of preservation is to be solved only by giving the animals the freedom of range, the food and surroundings which were natural to their ancestors in the days before the white man began his war of extermination.
A year of ago Congress voted an appropriation of money for the fencing in of a bison preserved in Oklahoma. Fifteen of the animals were turned loose in the preserved, and they are increasing in number and are thriving physically. The range is known as the Wichita Preserve, and it is situated in the heart of a country where once vast herds of buffalo roamed at their own free will.
……When the American Bison Society was formed, the herd of 350 animals which has been sold to the Canadian government was still in the possession of Pablo, the Flathead Indian. The sale of the herd to the Canadian government, however, was completed before the American Bison Society had adopted its constitution, or was prepared to begin its work. The Western newspapers criticized the organization severely for allowing the Canadian government to forestall it in the purchase of the Pablo holdings. The criticism was severe, but absolutely undeserved, for the society was not in condition to do any active work, nor had it at that time either influence nor the money necessary to do what the members wanted to do. If the government will give its aid at the present time, however, it is a safe assumption that the American bison will not be allowed to perish from the earth.
……Most people do not know that there is still in existence a herd of wild bison. Little is known concerning it save the fact of its existence. How many animals there are and what their chance of continued existence are may be put down at best as mere matters of guessing. Up somewhere in the northern part of the province of Saskatchewan there are left a few, possibly more than a few animals known to the people as wood buffalo.
……The laymen’s belief is that the wood buffalo and the buffalo of the plains are different species, but they are not. They are identical except for the fact that the wood buffalo are a little larger than are their southern family members. How long a lease of life the wood buffalo may have no one knows, but it may be that the Canadian government will undertake ultimately their protection and preservation.
LAST WILD BUFFALO KILLED BY HIS HERD
Manitoba Morning Free Pres April 21 1909
Old Sir Donald, the Patriarch of the American Bison, Trampled and Gored to Death in Corral at Banff _ Was captured in 1872 When a Two-Year-Old bu the Late Hon. James McKay, of Deer Lodge – Head of the Band For Many Years –
PATRIARCH OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Old Sir Donald, the Last Wild Buffalo in Captivity, Killed by Balance of the Herd at Banff Recently
Many thousands of visitors to Banff, the delightful resort in the middle of the Canadian National park, had seen and admired the grand old buffalo bull, Sir Donald, ____ had been the leader and chief of his herd for upwards of 38 years. But he never again will be the grand head and massive proportions of this animal, the only really wild bison in captivity, be viewed in their natural environment, for during the early hours of Tuesday morning, April 6, old Sir Donald came to his final end. He was found lying dead out in one of the paddocks, having apparently stumbled over some blogs, probably owing to his being blind in one eye, and while unable to rise he was surrounded by the rest of the herd, and, alas, for _____ respect among the bison some of the younger bulls took the opportunity to help him onto the happy hunting grounds by goring that huge beast with their short and sharp horns. Not content with this, the herd pawded and butted at the prostrate monarch till, except on the head and the legs, there was no hair left. The cowboy in charge of the paddocks saw Sir Donald walking about at five o’clock on Monday afternoon, and on looking for him next morning saw that he was down and apparently dead. He covered the carcass with tarpaulins to keep it safe from the prowling wolves and coyotes; but the buffalo herd returned to the scene and indulged in a further display of indignities to their fallen ____.
For some time past the advisability of shooting Sir Donald had been discussed, as he was obviously weakening with advancing years, and about a month ago Howard Douglas, the Commissioner of the parks, with a local taxidermist, went to the paddocks to inspect him, but so lively was the old bull than that he charged vigorously at his visitors, who prominently took refuge outside the fence. This was thought to indicate plenty of reserve strength in Sir Donald, and he was allowed to wander away. So that when the news of his death was telephoned to the superintendent’s office it caused quite a considerable sensation, and steps were at once taken with that view of having the whole animal mounted to be placed in the National Park Museum. A number of the park workmen with a few other interested persons in the government taxidermist, Ashley Hine, went to the animal paddocks with a large sleigh to transport the body to the Sign at the Goat taxidermy store for purposes of preparing and mounting it. On their arrival, however, they had to wait till the keeper had driven the buffalo herd far enough away to make it safe to go inside their enclosure. All inspection of the body showed that with the exception on the head and four legs there was nothing left with hair on that would be set up for exhibition. The remains were mass of jellied flesh, hair and blood. This historic animal and the loss of him as a museum specimen is no small one. However measures were at once begun to secure pictures of him as he lay in his last sleep, and while this was being done and during the subsequent proceedings of saving the head and the four legs, several of the workmen had some exciting chases after the rest of the herd, as the animals kept closing in, in a compact half circle round the group engaged on the dead bull. The horses attached to the sleigh got very alarmed, and their drivers prompt action alone prevented a runaway. Highland Mary, a small bright colored cow buffalo, a very early daughter of the dead bull, was the most aggressive, coming within 12 or 15 feet of the workers, but as she was nearly as old as Sir Donald, she was treated with the respect she deserved.
It was the work of several hours to get the hide off, which was in some places 2 inches thick. This was finally accomplished and the remains were then loaded onto the sleigh for transference to the town; most of the men taking a short cut over the fence for home. But here the herd took a hand again. As soon as the sleigh load drew nearer them they charged up to it on mass jostling and crowding each other to get near the head of their dead companion which adorned the back end of the sleigh. Three times the driver of the team fell over obstacles before he reached the gates, having to keep his eyes on his frantic horses and on the bellowing herd hind him. His companion proceeded to open the gate, and for a few moments it looked as if the whole herd would escape into the adjoining paddock. Very fortunately the two men were able to close the gate, after driving in the buffalo which got through and so prevented what otherwise would have been a very awkward state of affairs. The head of Sir Donald is now in the hands of the government taxidermist, and will eventually adorne the walls of the museum in Banff.
Captured about 1872 by James McKay, of Winnipeg, at which time the bull was about two years old, he was kept with that gentleman’s herd which roamed between Silver Heights and Little Stony Mountain, and often mixed with the herd of the late Col. Benson. Mr. (afterwards Sir) Donald Smith was associated in business with Mr. McKay at that time, and on the death of the latter came into possession of his herd of bison. In 1898 Sir Donald Smith (now Lord Strathcona) presented his herd of 12 to the National Park, including the captured wild bull since named after his donor. These 12 have increased till at present there are over 95 in the herd, besides 13 head which have been presented to different ________ and coast cities. The __disputed headship of the herd remained with Sir Donald for over 30 years, but about five years ago a terrific battle for supremacy occurred between him and a young bull of almost equal size imported from Texas. The fight began early in the morning, the great lowered and little red eyes glaring, tearing up the turf with their hooves, and with tails straight up in the air. With the crash like colliding engines they met over and over again. Several mounted men endeavored to separate the infuriated animals, but were themselves charged and put to flight. Sir Donald at last lost his left horn in one of the shocks, at the same time getting a blow in the left eye which destroyed its sight. After being thrown on his back and pummeled while down by his victorious antagonist, he gave up the struggle and retired from the gaze of the watching herd to begin his lonely wanderings. Since that time he has seldom been seen with the rest, preferring to wander and wallow alone in some favorite sand whole. He was a grand specimen of the breed, measuring about __ inches from tip to toe of the horns, and about 15 ½ inches between the eye sockets across the four head. The remaining horn is 18 ½ inches long and its girth is 14 ½ inches. He answered best to the Indians description of the buffalo, being short and very thick and deep in the body, with great phone an extremely massive head in front. And he was undoubtedly a really pure-bred bison. W.H.K.
THE DAILY MISSOULIAN JULY 4 1909
ALL BUT OUTLAWS OF GREAT BUFFALO HERD MOVED
FROM FLATHEAD TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE SETTLER
PATRIARCH OF HERD (CENTER) WHICH DIED.
(By F. L. Baghy.)
WITH the shipment Wednesday of nearly 200 buffalo from Ravalli, Mont., to Canada,
all but the outlaw remnant of the largest herd of wild bison in the United States were removed from their native heath to the limited confines of a foreign park–to make: way for the advancing march of progress and development. Trapped into manmade corrals, roped and loaded into cages, bound down with chains and wire, hauled over long and rough roads, then dragged by main force Into freight cars and shipped like so many common cattle over the rail roads, nearly 600 of these lords of the plains have been dragged from the free and untrammeled range of their nativity into a national playground, where they will he kept as noble specimens of a rapidly vanishing species of American big game. And this is all done to maim room for the white man with the plow and the hoe, whose conquest of the soil has swept the red man, the buffalo and other wild game before him like mist before the wind. The settler, in the great battle of development,’ needed more lands to conquer. The Flathead reservation offered an enticing field for his activities. But there was not room for the red man’s buffalo and the white man’s cattle. perforce the bison had to make way for the munching cow, the tolling horse and the ravenous sheep and swine of him who was coming to transform the untamed wilds into an Arcadia of homes, farms ‘ and ranches. The grazing range of the buffalo was to become the feeding ground of domestic animals, so the bison were sold for a paltry sum and men were hired to capture and ship them into the country of the purchaser-the Canadian government.
And when the 150 head that remain upon, the reservation are rounded up and shipped this fall, there will be none of the noble animals left to dispute the right of the White man’s stock to- every blade of grass on the range where once the buffalo was lord of all he surveyed.
Countless Numbers. But a few years ago bison roamed the western plains in countless numbers. Herds so large that days were required for them to pass a given point frequently forced pioneer immigrants to encamp and wait patiently for them to pass before they could resume their journey over the new trail into the unknown wilderness of the vast west. In their migrations the beat of their hoofs resounded like the mighty rumble of thunder, and the dust from their heels clouded the sun itself. Running before a prairie fire or stampeded by a flash of lightning these great masses of shaggy, wild-eyed, snorting beasts made the very earth tremble beneath their majestic forms. But these days have swiftly glided into the past, and with them are vanishing the buffalo like a mirage at the setting of the sun. The thunderous pound of their hoofs is heard no more, and the plains where they once were went to graze in peace or rush in maddened fright before some impending danger, are crossed with fences, dotted with farm houses and producing farm products to sustain life and pour dollars into the pockets of their conquerors – the white man.
Whitened Skulls. A few years ago whitened skulls’ and scattered bones marked the great immigrant trails into the west, grew some monuments to mighty herds that fell under the ruthless slaughter of countless hunters. But even these relics of pioneer days have disintegrated and have become indistinguishable mingled with the dust of the earth. Man’s appetite for fresh meat and the discovery that buffalo tongue was a delicacy to tickle the palate of an epicure first led to the’ ruthless slaughter of the animals, the lives of countless thousands being sacrificed for the sake of their tongues. When the bison began to at scarce and wealth developed a. hobby for buffalo hides and heads, man’s greed for gold furnished a motive for the slaughter of more and more until he suddenly awakened to the realization that the bison was almost extinct. A desire to save and protect these noble animals found birth in the hearts of a few men, and the surviving buffalo were gathered together in small herds by animal fanciers, zoological gardens and bison societies in various parts of
UNLOADING THE HAULING CRATES.
the. country. The Canadian government took an interest in the matter and established herds in some of its parks. The United States government has, at last, been interested and has
established a bison range in Montana, but it failed to act in time to prevent the loss to this country of the largest herd within its borders.
The Allard Herd.
Among the individuals who took an Interest in preserving the buffalo was
BUFFALO IN LOADING CORRALS.
Charles Allard, who secured a few. animals and started a herd on the Flathead reservation near Ronan in the early eighties. He increased this herd by breeding and purchase to more
than a hundred head in a few years. In 1893 he purchased the herd owned by “Buffalo Jones” of Kansas, and drove them across country to his herd on the Flathead. Accompanied by his family and riding in an old-fashioned barouche, he followed the herd across plain and mountain until the members of the band were safely delivered on the reservation In Montana. This herd consisted of full-blooded and half-breed animals. The latter were products of cross-breeding with cattle, but they did not prove to be desirable animal, having all the undesirable and none or the good qualities of either ancestor. The mongrels were separated from the blooded animals, and the latter were permitted to range in a wild state on the reservation. They thrived and the herd grew until it numbered almost 800.
When Allard died the herd trussed into the possession of his partner, Michel Pablo, a half-breed Indian and an expert buffalo raiser. Pablo was induced to dispose of a few of the animals to zoological parks, but kept the larger portion of the herd intact until he learned that the reservation was to tie thrown open to settlement and that his buffalo must make way for the settler and his cattle. Then it was that Howard Eaton, expert hunter of Wolf, Wyo., attempted to interest the United States government in the purchase of the herd. Falling in this he turned to the American Bison Association, but again was unsuccessful.
Makes an Offer. It was at this juncture that the Canadian government sent Howard
Douglas, superintendent of the western Canada national parks, out to the Flathead to see the herd and make an offer for It. Mr. Douglas recommended the purchase of the animals and an offer of about $130,000 was made. This was accepted, Pablo agreeing to deliver the animals in Canada for that price. Then came the task of rounding up these animals, transporting them from their range to Ravalli, Mont., i;f miles away, loading them upon freight cars and shipping them to Canada, where they had to be unloaded and delivered
in the parks. To say that such a task was Herculean is to express it mildly, but Michel Pablo was not daunted. He employed a force of expert riders, mounted them upon his own best horses and set forth to accomplish the task, riding at the head of his men on his own favorite mount. A corral into which the animals might be driven from the range was the first necessity. Taking advantage of a horseshoe bend in the Pend d’Orielle river, the outside bank of which Is of clay and stands almost straight up and clown, he had a fence constructed across the neck of the horseshoe and wing fences built for a distance of a mile or more from the end of this fence and a cut in the bank of the river out into the range.
Into this the buffalo were driven in three separate hands at different times. It required much hard and dangerous riding on the part of the buffalo punchers, and many of the animals escaped numerous times, but perseverance prevailed and two years ago 400 of the herd were successfully rounded up and then driven down the Mission valley into the corrals at Ravalli. From these corrals the animals were pulled and dragged by means of block and tackle into the railroad cars. Last year another round up was made, but just when the riders were about to drive the herd to Ravalli the band stampeded and made its escape from the corral at Ronan.
A New Plan.This spring it was decided to make no further attempt to drive the animals from Ronan to Ravaili. but to corral them, load them in crates mounted upon wheels and haul them over the mountains to the loading corrals. For this purpose heavy crates, large enough to hold two buffalo each, were constructed of heavy timber fastened together with steel and wire. Through a loading chute the animals were driven into these crates, securely roped in and hauled by means of six and eight-horse teams over the long and dusty journey to Ravalli. Here they were turned out into a series of corrals from which they were driven, one at a time, into the loading chute. A noose around each buffalo’s neck and the tugging of a score of men landed the animal in his car, where the struggling beast was held until a partition to separate him from his companions could be firmly put into place.The dangers attending the work of handling the buffalo were many and there were numerous narrow escapes from death and injury on the part of, riders and loaders, Fred Decker had
FEEDING FROM THE HAY RACKS.
his horse gored under him, and his brother. Johnnie Decker, twice had his mount gored and was slightly injured, his life being saved only by the prompt action of Pablo and his brother in firing pistol bullets into the neck of an infuriated beast that was trying to kill man and horse. In their maddened struggles against being dragged into captivity 20 or the animals were killed, some iof them rushing blindly against the sides of the corrals with such force as to break their necks. One, the patriarch of the herd, fought with a younger
It was a pathetic picture to one who stopped to think, as he gazed at the
SHAGGY MONARCHS OF THE RANGE.
lacerated, bleeding, ragged animals that stood in the corral at Ravalli, gazing longingly through the cracks of the high, strong fences out upon the hills, beyond which lay the wild free range from which they had been dragged in ignominious captivity to be loaded Into cramped stalls of rail road cars, there to be left to vent their fury in vain kicks against the walls of their prisons until steam and steel landed them at their new home. Slowness in hauling the bison from the round-up corral necessitated some of the animals standing in the cars for eight days before the last train started for Canada. At last all of the shipments save those that were killed and two that escaped were loaded, aboard and the long trip of 1,200 miles to the point of unloading was commenced. Canada has secured a bargain in buffalo and the United States has lost an asset which it may never be able to replace.
Much interest Is already being manifested in the coming roundup of the remaining portion of the herd which is scheduled to commence about the first of September. The riders who have been leading the strenuous life on the buffalo range for the past two lmonths will now turn their attention to, gathering together the cattle that have been wintering on the reservation, and this work will continue until haying time. When the season’s crop is gathered the sunburned riders will again dog their ‘”‘schaps,” high -heeled boots and spurs, mount their favorite steeds and ride forth to the buffalo range. Then the work of maneuvering the outlaw buffalo from their stamping grounds into the corral at Ronan will he gotten under way. Since the work of shipping the present hand was begun the wilder members of the herd have strayed some 40 miles from their usual feeding grounds, and it was feared that they would migrate so far from their usual haunts that it would become an, almost impossible task to drive them a back. But Indian riders report that within the past two weeks the straying bands have turned their noses back toward their accustomed range and are gradually moving back in that direction. It is hoped by the riders and Pablo that by the first of September the animals will have forgotten the excitement that has been in progress in the vicinity of Ronan and be back in that district, for enough trouble is anticipated in handling the beasts is it is without t having to search for roving bands of them over the entire reservation and rounding them in a bunch of three or four at a time.
The same methods and tactics used in handling the recent shipment will be employed in handling the outlaw herd, provided the herd does not upset all plans. Some changes are planned in the corral at Ronan, as experience has taught the riders that the buffalo is a wily animal and cannot be trapped twice in “the same place or manner.
A buffalo that has been driven into a trap once and succeeds in making hIs escape cannot be driven into the trap in the same place again, and will always attempt to escape from the place that afforded him freedom before. The entrance to the corral will be changed to another location, the loading chute will be moved and the entire corral will be strengthened to withstand the onslaughts of the obstreperous beasts. New crates of a little better construction than the ones used last time will be constructed for time hauling of the animals from Ronan to Ravaili to the loading pens. An effort will also be made in the fall to load and haul more bison at a time from the roundup corral, so that those loaded into the cars at Ravalli will not be forced to stand in their cramped stalls so long as many of the recent shipment were forced to do.
Though the riding on the recent roundup and the incidents attendant upon the work were more thrilling and sensational than any “wild west” performance ever dreamed of being, still greater excitement is anticipated when the next round up is gotten under way. But notwithstanding the dangers they have passed through and the narrow escapes from death that some of them have had, the riders face the coming roundup with eager impatience. Those bronzed men who sit the saddle with as much comfort as a millionaire rests in his up holstered chair, and find more enjoyment and actual life in doing so, would rather ride than be the president of a railroad.. To them the excitement, the danger and the thrill attendant until a chase either before or after a rushing herd of bison, constitute life.
The Wainwright Star
Wainwright, Alberta JULY 9th, 1909.
Canada’s Great Buffalo Herd at Wainwright
Second Shipment Received at Buffalo Park Direct From Montana
Made Journey in Seventy-Two Hours -Visit to the Park – History of the Pablo Herd
On Saturday last, fifteen cars of buffalo arrived here from the Pablo herd in Montana, and were immediately unloaded in the Buffalo Park. Howard Douglas, Commissioner of Dominion Parks, A. Ayotte immigration agent in Montana, and H. C. McMullan, C. P. R. livestock agent, Calgary, accompanied the shipment.
The bunch consisted of one hundred and ninety head and at times what seemed almost insurmountable obstacles have been overcome in rounding up this bunch. There are still at least 150 head on the Flathead Reserve, which will be shipped in September. Before these arrive, however, 75 buffalo will be sent to the Park here from the Banff herd.
The animals comprising this shipment were immediately unloaded and despite expectations did not take unkindly to the fence around the corral at the unloading place. They had been in the cars for periods varying from four to fifteen days and were consequently quite weary. The railway journey from Ravalli was made in the fine time of seventy-two hours and the bison stood the journey fairly well. No time was lost in releasing the buffalo and before dark the entire trainload were quietly grazing in the park.
On Sunday, the writer, accompanied by R. C. W. Lett, travelling passenger and colonization agent of the G. T. P., and H. W. Foster, manager of the Canada Railway News Co., and C. W. Holmes, a fellow newspaper man, from Milestone, Sask., made a trip through the immense corral of 2,000 acres in the north end of the park, in which these animals will be confined for the present.
Superintendent Ellis and his assistant, Louie Bioletti, gave every assistance to the party and we were enabled to see the buffalo at ease in their new home. They were scattered here and there in small herds, while an occasional one would be found enjoying a dust bath in one of the innumerable buffalo wallows, which were made by the wild herds many years ago. They seemed to take well to their new home and the majority paid scant attention to the visitors. Occasionally, we ran across a small herd which viewed us with suspicion and started pawing the ground. When their tails began to raise with an ugly looking crook, we considered discretion to be the better part of valor and immediately left for other sections of the park. The 508 buffalo now in the park have an ideal home.
Following is a short history of the buffalo, several parts of which we have extracted from a recent article in the London Times:
Passing of the Buffalo
The destruction of the immense northern herd of bison, which is stated to have numbered 4,000,000 head at the beginning has never been told with any degree of accuracy. It is certain that very few were left in the Canadian west when the Canadian Pacific Railway had been completed. The construction gangs of this road disposed of the stragglers of this once mighty herd, as was the case in the building of the Union Pacific railroad in the U. S.To this day, however, the whole of the vast west is scarred and pitted with their groove-like trails and basin-like wallows, which are permanent records of the migratory marches and daily dust-baths of these heavy beasts.
Old-time Hudson’s Bay factors who still survive, tell of the great hunting expeditions of the fifties and sixties, when the employees of the pioneer fur company with their creaking Red River carts took part in these hunts in order to secure the yearly supply of pemmican for their northern hunting and trading posts. At one time the prairie around the present capital of Saskatchewan was covered by piles of whitened bones, but which have nearly all been gathered up and shipped to be used as fertilizers. “Pile of Bones,“ or Regina, was the head of this peculiar industry which flourished shortly after the Riel rebellion.
The Last Buffalo
The last buffalo to be killed in Western Canada met his death in 1886. He had been wounded twice during that year but escaped, to meet his fate on the range of a couple of ranchers near the south branch of the Saskatchewan, who had a herd of several hundred Highland cattle and it happened that about the time when the sandhill crane flies south, two of the ranch men were sent out in search of them. They caught sight of the band at noon on the second day out and were amazed to see it massed together for all the world like a bunch of horses about a smudge or smoke-fire, when the flies and mosquitoes are at their worst on a still, cloudy summer evening. With much difficulty they broke up the throng and there where the center of the swirling crest of blood-maniacs had been, they found the torn and trampled carcass of the mighty wanderer. What an end!
For a considerable time it was believed that with the exception of the herd at Banff and the few animals at Winnipeg, the most magnificent of the North American fauna was extinct. The Banff herd had increased considerably, but it was thought that the evils of in-breeding would eventually cause the cessation of its growth.
Yet all the time there existed on the Flathead reservation in the State of Montana a herd of several hundred thoroughbred bison, the natural increase of which was being maintained year after year. It was a fortunate accident which led to the formation of this fine collection.
In 1873 one of the Pend d’Oreille Indians captured four little bison calves—two bulls and two heifers—by cutting them out of a stampeded herd numbering many thousands. In accordance with the peculiar characteristics, often noticed by old plainsmen, these young creatures obediently followed the horses of the hunters who had slain or driven off their mothers.
The Indians in question gave them to the Mission of St. Ignatius, where they were kept as pets and became as domesticated as ordinary cattle. When the heifers were four years old, each had a calf. From that time on they gradually increased in number, until, in 1884, there were thirteen head, and the Indian owner, finding the care of them too great a tax on his scant resources, decided to sell them.
Start of Pablo Herd
Ten head were purchased for $250 apiece, by C. A. Allard and Michel Pablo, who were ranching on the reservation, and were shrewd enough to see that specimens of what was even then supposed to be practically and extinct animal would eventually become very valuable. The herd rapidly increased under their careful supervision, and in a few years it became possible to sell specimens at very high prices.
Many head were sold to private individual collectors in the United States, and it from this source that those in the Yellowstone Park were secured.
In 1893 Messrs. Allard and Pablo bought a collection belonging to one “Buffalo” Jones, of Omaba, and in that year they had 36 thoroughbred animals in excellent condition, the nucleus of the great herd which has been bought by the Dominion Government. The hybrid, or “cattloes” were never allowed to mingle with the thoroughbreds on the ranges, but were collected and kept on island in the Flathead Lake. These hybrids are large, fine-looking animals, and it has often been suggested that they would be worth breeding for commercial purposes. But the sterility point is reached in the second generation.
The record of the herd of living antiques originating in the four calves captured by an Indian hunter shows what can done by private enterprise to perpetuate an almost extinct type of animal life. In twenty-three years a herd of thirty-six increased to thirty times its original number. Some idea of the average rate of increase may be deduced from the observed fact that half the cows give birth to calves every year, while twin calves are not uncommon, inasmuch as in a party of a 100 head corralled one autumn, there were two cows having two calves at foot. The percentage of loss among the calves is slightly lower than is the case with ordinary range cattle. As a rule the bison calf is a very hardy creature. There are instances of the Pablo-Allard calves finding their feet in less than a minute after birth and showing sight within half-an-hour.
New Canadian Herd
In 1906 Hon. Frank Oliver, Minister of the Interior, obtained for the Dominion Government an option on the 600 unsold head belonging to Messrs. Pablo and Allard, and eventually they were all bought for $200,000. Today five or six times as much could be realized by selling the herd piecemeal to American private collectors and the Governments of Western States which are now lamenting a lost opportunity. But Canada has no intention whatever of selling a single head.
The round-up of the first shipment lasted two months, and was successfully carried out by 75 cowboys, horsemen picked for their ability from every part of the great Montana ranges, who were paid at the rate of $5 a day. For some weeks the round-up was a failure; only three times in more than a month of daily drives did the cowboys succeed in getting a few head into the rail-side corrals. The bison, finding themselves being driven from their familiar pasturage, and not knowing that the hay of the Saskatchewan Valley is better than that of the Montana ridges, would charge the encircling line of horsemen with the wildest fury and break and scatter it to the four winds. Eventually, in order to save time and horse-flesh, Mr. Pablo—himself a cowboy famous throughout the West—decided that it was necessary to build a bison-proof fence, 26 miles in length, from the pastures to the corrals, so as to cut off retreat in one direction. Down this fence, in spite of their many successful efforts to break away, the bison were eventually driven into the corrals and, not without much difficulty, loaded aboard the enclosed cattle-trucks of the Northern Pacific freight train at the little station of Ravalli. The long railway journey 1,200 miles over five railway systems to Lamont in Alberta was accomplished with a loss of less than one per cent.
The herd wintered fairly well and were the ones received here on June 13 and which were turned loose in the park on that day.
The park, which has an area of 160 square miles and contains many clean-bottomed lakes, endless chains of hay-sloughs and sheltered river valleys, has been securely enclosed with a high fence of wire and tamarack posts. A number of deer were enclosed in the building of the fence, so that the bison will have companions in the spacious reservation. In twenty years there should be 10,000 head at Wainwright.
The artificial revival of this magnificent animal is an object lesson to those who deplore the threatened extinction of the most imposing of the South African fauna. Game preservation laws will generally enable the smaller animals to survive, even if they have the ill-fortune to wear the furs coveted by the ladies.
The return of the beaver to many of its deserted haunts in Eastern and Western Canada is a case in point. Ten years ago the living symbol of Canadian enterprise and industry seemed in danger of extinction. Now it is once more busy building the water-breaks which helped to store up the rainfall of the country instead of allowing it to be dissipated in disastrous floods. But, if the heavy beasts which can be eaten by the most shameless of the carnivora—man, to wit—are to be preserved, something more is needed than the translation of the sportsman’s First Commandment—“Thou shalt not kill needlessly”—into laws and by-laws.
Fitchburg Sentinel, Massachusetts, July 15 1909
Largest Herd in the World Was Started by an Indian Outlaw
……On a stormy night, in 1871, of mud spattered rider galloped into St. Ignatius, Mont., with the news that Walking Coyote, a Pend d’Oreille Indian, had shot his wife and had fled over the mountains to the Blackfeet country. The crime created a brief sensation in the sleepy little Indian village, but Walking Coyote was not apprehended and for a time live quietly among the Blackfeet. By and by, however, he wanted to return to his own people, but feared he would be punished for his crime. He talked the matter over with the trader.
……“If you want to go back,” said the trader, “you ought to do something that will make people forget all about the shooting. Now, there are no buffaloes over in the Flathead Valley; why don’t you catch some calves and take them back with you? They’ll cause so much excitement that the people will forget to punish you for shooting your wife.”
……The Coyote acted on this suggestion and as a buffalo hunt was then in progress, he soon captured four calves and returned with them to St. Ignatius, writes Ernest Harold Baynes, in July Recreation, in a beautifully illustrated article on his recent inspection of the buffalo herds that still remain in the United States. The result was about what the trader had predicted, and the Indian was never punished. The little buffaloes grew up, and when the two heifers were four years old, each of them had a calf, thus was started what after word became the largest herd of buffaloes in the world.
……In 1884, the Flathead buffaloes numbered thirteen head. At this juncture C. A. Allard, who was ranching on the reservation and who had long had his eye on these buffaloes, finally persuaded his old friend and neighbor, Michael Pablo, to join him in a deal which involve the purchase of Walking Coyote’s herd. The Indian refusing to accept a check, it was necessary to get the money, something over three thousand dollars, in currency, and Mr. Pablo told me how he and his partner set by the side of the road counting this money, laying a stone on top of each stack of bills. “We got it in small bills,” said he, “and it looked like a pile of money to pay for buffalo.” Apparently fate had not forgotten Walking Coyote, for with the money received for the buffaloes he indulged in a short round of dissipation, which ended in Missoula, where he was found under a bridge, dead.
The Evening Chronicle N.C. Nov 4 1909
MOVING A HERD OF BUFFALO
……Among the individuals who took and interest in preserving the buffalo was Charles Allard, who secured a few animals and started a park on the Flathead reservation, near Ronan, in the early eighties. He increase this herd by breeding and purchase to more than hundred head in a few years. In 1833 he purchased the herd owned by “Buffalo Jones,“ of Kansas, and drove them across country to his herd on the Flathead. Accompanied by his family and writing in old-fashioned barouche, he followed the herd across plain and mountain until the members of the band were safely delivered on the reservation in Montana. This herd consist of full-blooded and half-breed animals. The latter were products of cross-breeding with cattle, but they did not prove to be a desirable animal, having all that undesirable and none of the good qualities of either ancestor. The mongrels were separated, from the blooded animals, and the latter were permitted to range in a wild state on the reservation. They thrived and the herd grew and tell it numbered almost 800.
……One Allard died the herd passed into the possession of his partner, Michael Pablo, a half-breed Indian and an expert buffalo raiser. Pablo was induced to dispose of a few of the animals to zoological parks, but kept the larger portion of the herd in tact until he learned that the reservation was to be thrown open to settlement and that the buffalo must make way for the settler and his cattle. Then it was that Howard Eaton, expert hunter, of Wolf, Wyo. attempted to interest the United States government in the purchase of the herd. Failing in this he turned to the American Bison Association, but again was unsuccessful.
……It was at this juncture that the Canadian government sent Howard Douglas, superintendent of the Western Canada national parks, out to the Flathead to see the herd and make an offer for it. Mr. Douglas recommended the purchase of the animals and an offer of about $130,000 was made. This was accepted, Pablo agreed to deliver the animals in Canada for that price.
……Then came the task of rounding up these animals, transporting them from their range to Ravalli, Mont. 36 miles away, loading them upon freight cars and shipping them to Canada, where they had to be unloaded and delivered in the parks. To say that such a task was herculean is to express it mildly, but Michael Pablo was not daunted. He employed a force of expert riders, mounted them upon his own best horses and set forth to accomplish the task, riding at the head of his men on his own favorite mount. A corral into which the animals might be driven from the range was the first necessity. Taking advantage of a horseshoe bend in that Pend d’Oreille River, the outside bank of which is of clay and stands almost straight up and down, he had a fence constructed across the peck of the horseshoe and wing fences built for a distance of a mile or more from the end of this fence and a cut in the bank of the river out into the range. Into this the buffaloes were driven in three separate bands at different times. It required much hard and dangerous riding on the part of the buffalo punchers, and many of the animals escaped numerous times, but perseverance prevailed and two years ago 400 of the herd were successfully rounded up, then driven down the Mission Valley into the corrals at Ravalli. From these corrals the animals were pulled in dragged by means of block and tackle into the railroad cars. Last year another roundup was made, but just when the riders were about to drive the herd to Ravalli the herd stampeded and made its escape from the corral at Ronan.
This spring it was decided to make no further attempt to drive the animals from Ronan to Ravalli, but to corral them, load them in crates mounted upon wheels, and hauled them over the mountains to the loading corrals.
For this purpose heavy crates, large enough to hold two buffalo each, were constructed of heavy timber, fastened together with steel and wire. Through a loading chute the animals were driven into these crates, securely roped in and hauled by means of six and eight horse teams over the long and dusty journey to Ravalli. Here they were turned out into a series of corrals, from which they were driven, one at a time, into the loading chute. A noose around each buffaloes neck and the tugging of a score of men landed the animal in his car, where the struggling beast was held in till of partition to separate him from his companions could be firmly put into place.
The dangers attending the work of handling the buffalo were many, and there were numerous escapes from death and injury on the part of the riders and loaders. Fred Dekker had his horse gored under him, and his brother, Johnny Dekker, twice had his mount gored and was slightly injured, his life been saved only by the prompt action of Pablo and his brother in firing pistol bullets into the neck of an infuriated beast that was trying to kill man and horse.
……In their maddened struggles against been dragged into captivity 20 of the animals were killed, some of them rushing blindly against the sides of the corrals with such force as to break their necks. One, the patriarch of the herd, font with a younger bull, then laid down in the loading chute and died. It was a pathetic picture to one who
stopped to think, as he gazed at that lacerated, bleeding, ragged animals that stood in a corral at Ravalli, gazing longingly through the cracks of the high, strong fences, cut upon the hills, beyond which lay the wild free range from which they had been dragged in ignominious captivity, to be loaded into cramped stalls of railroad cars, there to be left to vent their fury in vain kicks against the walls of their prisons and tell steam and steel landed them at their new home. Slowness in hauling the bison from the roundup corral necessitated some of the animals standing in the cars for eight days before the last train started for Canada. At last all of the shipments save those that were killed and two that escaped, were loaded aboard and the long trip of 1,200 miles to the point of unloading was commenced. Canada has secured a bargain in buffalo, and the United States loses an asset which it may never be able to replace.