Washington, District of Columbia Jan 13, 1917
There are over two hundred million buffalo nickels in circulation. Long after the extinction of the bison, the buffalo nickel will continue to roam the continent.
The Houston Post
Houston, Texas Jan 21, 1917
“The original buffalo herds have been estimated to have contained from 30.000,000 to 60,000.000 animals (the latter figure is 6,000,000 greater than the total number of cattle in the United States according to the census of 1910), and in 1870 it was estimated that about 5,500,000 still survived – exceeding by 1.400,000 the number of mules in the United States in 1910. A number of men now living were privileged to see some of the great herds of the West before they were finally destroyed. Dr. George Bird Grinnell writes:
TRAINS HALTED BY MIGRATING BUFFALOES. ‘In 1870, I happened to be on a train that was stopped for three hours to let a herd of buffaloes pass. We supposed they would soon pass by, but they kept on coming. On a number of occasions in earlier days the engineers thought that they could run through the herds, and that, seeing the locomotive, the buffaloes would stop to turn aside; but after a few locomotives had been ditched by the animals the engineers got in the way of respecting the buffaloes’ idiosyncrasies.”
“Astonishing as was the-number of buffaloes which roamed the plains of old, even more numerous were the antelope, though the latter did not attract as much attention as the larger mammals. Besides these, the chroniclers of the colonial days give many interesting accounts of the incredible number of other wild animals, including bears, wapiti, white-tailed deer, and turkeys, on which the wolves made fierce war. One writer narrates that during the winter of 1670-71 fully 24O0 moose were snared on the Great Manitoulin island, at the head of Lake Huron.
The Pittsburgh Daily Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Jan 28, 1917
Colonel Cody’s Death Recalls Buffalo Hordes of Plains
From 75,000,000 Bisons Shrunk to 1,901 in 1889;
Now Are On Increase.
MAY AGAIN BE HUNTING
By A McD Stoddart
Curious as it may seem, on the vary day that Colonel William Frederick Cody (“Buffalo Bill”) died in Denver the mails were carrying the annual report of the biological survey telling that the danger that once threatened the complete extinction of the bison apparently had been passed. It was his extraordinary hunting of the bison or buffalo that gave Buffalo Bill his famous sobriquet.
In 1867, when the Kansas Pacific railroad was laying its rails through the wilderness, 1,200 laborers were employed and it soon became a problem to General Webb as to how to feed these men.
It was suggested to him that General Cook’s chief of scouts, Cody by name, was a noted big game hunter and might be induced to enter the employment of the railroad. An interview was arranged and it was agreed that the scout should get a leave of absence and be paid $50 a month, on the understanding that he would supply a certain number of buffalo, deer, and antelopes a week. In the I8 months of his employment, Cody furnished 4.2S0 buffaloes. Thereafter the titles he previously acquired in his early frontier days were supplanted with the one he afterward made famous, that of “Buffalo Bill.”
Buffalo Bill was not only an excellent horseman, but he was what someone has called the noblest work of God, a crack shot. Also he had courage. In the days when he sought buffalo meat, he would ride into a herd of buffalo with pistols in both hands, holding his mount with his knees, the reins clasped between his teeth. With six shots in each pistol, he has had eight buffaloes at his feet when the chambers were empty.
ONCE NUMBERED 75,000,000.
That was in the days when vast herds halted steamboats on the upper Missouri when on the plains they stopped wagons and even railroad trains. Hide hunters, shipping 2,000,000 hides annually, depleted the herds of the great, unwieldy creatures that once numbered 75.000.000 on the North American continent until in 1889 the number had decreased to 1,091 wild and captive animals.
Since 1889, which marked the lowest ebb of the animal, the herds in various parts of America and Canada have now been brought up to 4,000, and perhaps In time, under proper conservation laws, this generation may see the American bison “come back” and even hunting may be indulged in the manner Wyoming permits the killing of moose. Wyoming has some moose left and during the season of 1913-1918 permitted the killing of 50 bull moose throughout the state under a special $100 license.
Some years ago, when Buffalo Bill was in New York on one of his annual visits, in speaking of the changes in the West he remarked: “It Is almost as difficult now to find one of those old-time Indians as it is to find a buffalo. There are of these latter, I believe, only 300 in the United States now and at the time of which I speak the army officers used to have to camp for a couple of days waiting for them to tramp by. In 1865 there were about 9.500.000 buffaloes on the plains between the Missouri river and the Rocky mountains – all now gone, killed for their meat, their skins and bones, all except this pitiful remnant.
MEN WHO SAVED BISON.
“And the Indians, the good, old-time, bloodthirsty, menacing, war-whooping Indians – well, they are either playing football at Carlisle or some similar place, or else their children, clad in top hats and frock coats, are going to pink teas. All the Pawnees, the Arapahoes, the Kiowas and those of other tribes who furnished us our original leading men and women have given way to or have become affiliated with the whites and are helping them to make the prairie blossom like the rose.”
A few men whom future generations will thank for saving the bison, including former President Roosevelt, W. T. Hornaday, David Starr Jordan, Dr. T. S. Palmer, Gifford Pinchot, Prof. F. W. Hooper and Ernest Harold Baynes, are more or less responsible for saving the animal from extinction. They formed themselves into the American Bison Society and called attention to the need to save this particularly American animal.
BOUGHT FINE SKIN FOR $4
Worth hundreds of dollars each now, at one-time bison were looked upon as encumberers of the Kansas prairies, and along the line of the old Santa Fe trail bison hides sold for a dollar or two and a few cents a pound was paid for the bones.
In 1912, when the bill to provide for a herd of bison was before the Senate, it was amended to read “buffalo,” the name best known to the American people, which led Senator Borah of Idaho to remark: “What possible benefit can they be to anybody? They look just as well in photographs as they look in reality and when they are gone the country and the world will be no worse off than before.”
Then rose up Knute Nelson, the noble old Scandinavian from Minnesota and a fine type of American, who responded thus:
“Mr. President, if the senators will yield to me I will explain to them the great value and use of the buffalo. When I first came to Minnesota In 1871 nearly every farmer and all the people I met had fur overcoats and they were of buffalo skins. They were the very best of overcoats. A farmer at that time could buy an ordinary fur overcoat for $16 and if it was silk lined you could get elegant coats for $25. I have worn them when the weather was 23 and 30 degrees below zero, and our people have to wear fur coats in such weather. Those coats were used by everybody.
“They kept on slaughtering those bison. I remember one winter when a fellow came through our little town. He had four or five sled loads of buffalo skins. I bought a fine one for $4 and another one not quite as good for $3 and out of the two I had a line overcoat made that lasted me for years and years.
“What have our farmers got to wear now? Most of their fur coats are of dog skin and other kinds of plunder. I should like to see the bison herds restored so that all farmers could have the old-time buffalo overcoat that we used to wear in the old days in Minnesota. There is nothing, either for warmth, for protection or for wear, equal to the overcoats made from Buffalo skins. I hope to God we can have the buffalo herd restored so that all the farmers in the northwestern country can have heavy buffalo robes and over-coats as in the good old days before we had the initiative and referendum and the recall and all other fads.”
When the American Bison Society was organized in New York in 1905 to interest the United States Government in saving the American bison or buffalo from threatened extinction, there were only about thirty buffalo in Yellowstone Nationa Park. The privately owned buffalo were being sold off (most of them were bought by the Canadian Government ) or becoming infused with the blood of domestic cattle. To-day the Yellowstone Park herd of pure-blood buffalo., as illustrated by a photograph made this winter, is more than three times larger as it was then, and on the increase. There are two other large herds on Government ranges in Montana and Oklahoma.
The Bridgeport Evening Farmer., March 29, 1917
CONSERVATION’S: HIGHEST TRIBUTE THE BISON HERD
Now Over 3,000 Perpetuated; by Mankind, Former Enemy of the Useful Animal.
The rescue of the buffalo more properly called bison, from extinction is a romance of that fight for conservation that goes on in this country with ever-increasing vigor. Very many species of useful and beautiful I wild life are to-day threatened with extinction throughout the length and breadth of the land, yet comparatively few of our people realize this and fewer yet are willing to make a personal sacrifice to save this wonderful heritage to the children of the future.
Scarcely a half-century ago, the buffalo roamed our western plains in most uncountable number, from Canada to Mexico. To the red men who then roamed the plains with them they were an unfailing source of supplies, food, clothing, housing, and fuel. To the white men of the region, they were all these and represented also the wonder and romance of the primitive open world and the historic past. Cortez and his band of Spanish conquistadors were the first white men to see one, writes Winthrop Rickard in Our Dumb Animals. They found him confined in the menagerie at Montezuma’s capital as a rare and wonderful animal from the untrodden wilds to the north, for Mexico city is 300 miles south of the natural range of the bison.
“A. wonderful composition of diverse animals,” says the Spanish chronicler who described the specimen, referring to it as “the Mexican bull.” It has crooked shoulders, with a bunch on the back like a camel; its tail large, and its neck covered with hair like a lion. It is cloven-footed, its head, armed like that of a bull, which it resembles in fierceness and has no less strength and agility.”
In 1612, Englishmen saw bison near, what is now the city, of Washington, D. C, and after that date, they were more commonly seen roving throughout various portions of what is now the United States, and occurring in some parts in immense herds. The open region of the Mississippi Valley, ‘where the land was unforested but well watered, was the true buffalo range. There the early explorers found the animals in such numbers in herds of such size, that only superlatives could be used in attempting to describe them. “Teeming myriads,” “countless herd,” “incredible numbers,” are favorite phrases, which can give only an inadequate idea of the extraordinary spectacle often presented. It has been estimated that on the plains alone were forty millions, on the prairies thirty millions, and in the wooded sections five millions, a total of seventy-five millions of these superb animals, a wonderful heritage scattered over an area of some three million square miles.
Looked at from an economic point of view, here was a marvelous source of free food, fur, leather and, other products that might easily have been conserved as an unfailing supply to help lessen today’s high cost of living. The Indians of the earlier days thus utilized the herds; their inroads upon them for meat and skin in no wise equaling the natural increase. Then came the white men, supplying the wandering tribes with horses and later with firearms and the decrease in the numbers of the buffalo began. Yet even this did not presage extinction. But when the railroads crossed the plains, giving the white hunters easy access to the hitherto distant and inaccessible places, and the vast rush to slaughter for the hides alone began the end was in sight. It took, the buffalo too long to learn the meaning of a rifle shot and the danger of man’s presence, and when they did learn it, in part at least, it was too late.
A buffalo “robe” to-day is a curiosity, hardly to be obtained, and worth in good condition, perhaps $100., Fifty years ago one or two were in every farmer’s sleigh, and they could be bought for only a few dollars. Yet no finer robe for warmth and comfort could be found. The ruthless robe hunter at the railheads on the western plains were slaughtering the great animals by the thousand, taking merely the pelts and leaving the carcasses to rot or feed the vultures where they fell.
Thus the buffalo passed with amazing and disconcerting suddenness, and thus much of our wild life is passing to-day, unnoticed in its going by the thoughtless crowd. Even of these who knew, not many could believe that such amazing numbers could pass from the face of the earth so rapidly. Now only a few scattered remnants remain, here and there, mainly on reservations where they are carefully protected under government supervision.
That we have them at all is due to a few large-hearted men who formed the American Bison Society and generously gave funds and valuable time to the work of preservation. That there are to-day in the world several thousand bison, slowly increasing in number, is due entirely to the philanthropic and humane activities of these men. There were but a few hundred buffalo left when the work began, and it is rarely that a race has reached such small numbers, and had the opportunity and the vitality to survive and increase. For a race of wild creatures to fail almost utterly, passing in little more than a century from seventy-five millions to a few hundred, is extraordinary. That there should be brought about an increase from the few hundred to several thousand in little more than a decade is still more unusual.
In our country, twenty-seven states to-day have buffalo, ranging in number from a solitary specimen or two in a zoological park to a few score or a few hundred in a state reservation. Canada has nearly thirteen hundred in three large reservations, and it is estimated that in far northern Athabasca are four to five hundred roaming the wilderness unrestrained. There may be, altogether 3,500 to 4,000.
In the United States many of the buffalo are closely confined, but most of the larger herds. roam the ranges as free and far more safe than their wild progenitors, always owing their safety, of course to the watchful care of the same human race that came so near exterminating them.
Minneapolis, Minnesota June 10, 1917
Northwest Canada Asks Big Game Aid
Ottawa, Canada, Juno 10. More rigorous protection is asked for “wood” bison, or buffalo, and the caribou in the Northwest. It is urged that the killing of female and yearling caribou be prohibited absolutely, the prohibition to extend to the Eskimos and Indians.
The Washington Herald
Washington, DC August 06, 1917
Bison “Herd” Is Small.
Were a census to be taken of the number of American bison in the world the total would be found astonishingly small. Though it is frequently remarked that the bison is fast becoming extinct, there is probably little understanding on the part of the majority as to how soon this massive and picturesque animal of pioneer days will vanish.
At the Zoo here will be found two plain-like allotments given over to excellent specimens of the American bison. In the first of the cage yards will be found nine bull and cow bisons with two of their young, while in the other are six adults and one baby bison.
Located as they are, on the back road just beyond the main Connecticut avenue entrance, few parties. except autoists, are able to find the bovine ruminants which for so long a period gave an inimitable touch to early American scenery.
Officials at the Zoologican Gardens regret this inadvertent’ isolation, due to the fact that they must have extra large yards and feel that Zoogoers, especially the younger ones. should not neglect to avail themselves of an opportunity of viewing these choice specimens of bison before they attain their last rest “in the happy hunting ground.”
The Ronan Pioneer
Ronan, Montana Sep 7, 1917
GAME LAWS AT A GLANCE (extract)
Moose, bison, buffalo, caribou, and antelope – Closed indefinitely
Dakota County Herald
Dakota City Nebraska., November 01, 1917
DADDYS EVENING FAIRY TALE
By Mary Graham Bonner
Bison Buffalo Nursery Rhyme “Mrs, Buffalo, said Daddy, “was watching the children growing tip. “Little son Henry,’ she said, ‘will soon be a big buffalo. His horns are curved. For such a long time they have been quite straight – the way all my sons’ horns have been when young. But now it shows Henry is growing up – he has beautiful horns which go off in semi-circular curves.”
“What are semi-circular curves?” asked Nick.
“They are curves which only go half round – just like a half circle,” answered Daddy. And so Mrs. Buffalo gazed with fondness at her son.
“Henry, Mrs. Buffalo’s child, was really much older than I think we would guess.”
“How old was he?” asked Nancy.
“About six months old,” said Nick.
“Maybe a year old,” suggested Nancy, “if Daddy says he was older than we would imagine when full-grown.”
Daddy laughed and shouted, “Both wrong I
“Now Henry was born one May, seven years before Mrs. Buffalo made this speech. She did not know that he was seven years old. She had not stopped to count the years, but she did know that he was at least a grownup son because of his horns.
“To be sure every spring of the seven years she knew that she and her family and cousins and relations had all shed their coats and that they had not bothered about new ones until the fall. This had happened every year. It was simply that Mrs. Buffalo had not counted how many years there had been.
‘”Come and talk to me, said Mrs. Buffalo, as she noticed Mrs. Bison not far away.”
“What kind of an animal was Mrs. Bison, Daddy?” asked the children.
“Mrs. Bison belonged to the same family of animals as Mrs. Buffalo. Sometimes one is called a buffalo, then it is also called a bison. It is like having two names that mean just about the same thing.
“But this buffalo had always been called Mrs. Bison, and when Mrs. Buffalo called her she went right over.
” ‘Good morning,’ she said politely.
” ‘Good morning,’ said Mrs. Buffalo.
“Well, and how are you feeling?”
” I am feeling rare,’ said Mrs. Bison.
‘”What in the world does that mean? asked Mrs. Buffalo.
” ‘It means the way I am feeling of course, answered Mrs. Bison.
“‘If that’s the way you feel I am sure I don’t understand. Are you ill at all?’
” ‘No, not at all,’ said Mrs. Bison.
“Then whatever do you mean?’ asked Mrs. Buffalo, who was becoming more puzzled every moment.
“1 heard some people from a long distance off shout to each other, and this is what they said when they looked at me: “Do you see that buffalo over there?”
” Then someone else said, “Yes.”
“‘And after a little bit I heard a third person say, “The buffalo is getting to be very rare these days.” So, you see, I am right. I am rare – very rare.’
” ‘Then I must be feeling rare too,’ said Mrs. Buffalo. “’Your name is Bison though you are the same as I am, and so I am every bit as rare as you are.’
“‘I suppose that is true,’ said Mrs. Bison. ‘But you must give me the credit for having heard that we are rare. If I hadn’t, we might never have known it’
” ‘No, we probably never would have known It,’ said Mrs. Buffalo.
“‘It must mean that we are gentle and nice, even If we are stubborn and always insist upon having our own way. Of course now and again the bulls get very angry, but we don’t. And perhaps it means that we are so very large.’
“‘No, said Mrs. Bison, ‘I’m sure from the way they were talking it didn’t mean anything usual like that. It must have meant that we were considered very wonderful.
” ‘Perhaps,’ said Mrs. Buffalo, ‘but it is nice to be feeling that way.’ For even though they did not know that rare meant something unusual and scarce, they liked the new word.”