Santa Ana Register
Santa Ana, California Mar 2 1929
America Makes Some New Animals
The peculiar creature at the right . . . looks like the sacred zebu of India but has three sixty-fourths cattle blood. It’s parents are sketched above and at the right.
By Frank Thone
In the old west, the hard-riding, hard-hitting, hard- drinking west, where you called a man “pardner” on sight and bought him a drink, it was not considered good form to have curiosity concerning where a man came from, or to inquire overmuch into his ancestry or antecedents.
The great open spaces of those days were the mouth of an undiscriminating melting pot into which all kinds and conditions of human materials were dumped and out of which some of the most amazing human alloys—both good and ill—have been poured.
The human melting pot west of the Missouri is quieter now, though it still simmers; but from the Gulf to the Bering Sea another melting pot has been set a-cooking. Into it go various domestic animal stocks, both immigrant and native, and out of it shall come—if the preliminary samples be any basis for judgment—new races of beasts such as have not been seen since Noah, ancestor and patron of all stockmen, stood at the loading chute of the Ark.
Crosses between cattle and the native bison, between cattle and long-haired yaks from the Himalayas, between Siberian reindeer and Alaskan caribou, between fat- tailed sheep from Persia and domestic sheep from England, are among the new citizens of the North American west.
There won’t be any undesirable citizens among them. Such will be born, no doubt, but the breeder can weed them out as infants. They do not have a chance to survive, as did some of their human prototypes, who later succeeded in escaping even the sheriff’s six-gun or the ready noose of a vigilance committee.
That is one advantage the animal melting pot has over the human one. The undesirable animal crosses are either eliminated at once or survive only as caged up curiosities, to show breeders how not to do it next time.
The secret behind the efforts of breeders to produce cattle hybrids of kinds that were never seen even in the prophetic dreams of Pharaoh is to be found in a climate and geographic paradox. The “cow country” of our west is really not now cow country at all. At least it isn’t in the modern economic sense, which considers bookkeeping more closely than it does romance.
The breeds of beef cattle that have become standard in this country originated in western Europe, on rich pastures where blizzards never howled, and where there was shelter from even the relatively mild storms that did come. Their names tell that: Angus, Durham, Hereford, and so on. They have furthermore been bred in this country to meet the needs of the moderately humid East and not to face the sterner life of the thin-grassed western range where they must shift for themselves as best they can even when a “norther” catches them in the open.
The old Spanish cattle, famous in thousand novels and movies as “Texas Longhorns,” came of a stock more easily adapted to drought and cold. That they were not shaped right for moderate beef fashions, and had to give way before that eastern breeds which affected the boxcar silhouette, and carried more meat aft.
Because these could not stand the climate so well and because they felt easier victims to the terrible tick borne fever, stockmen early began casting about for possible party mixtures to add to their blood.
The first possibility, actually, was the Native American buffalo, or bison. Most of these ancient “cattle of the Indians” had been wiped out in the terrible slaughter of the 80s, but a few cattlemen, either more sentimental or more farsighted that their contemporaries had small private herds going on their ranches.
Here was a bovine stock inured to western range life, able to travel and feed at the same time, heedless of blizzards, resistant to disease.
So they tried crossing bison had cattle. The result at first, were not an unqualified success. Domestic cows bore calves in a fair proportion of cases, though frequently with considerable trouble, and at first the offspring were all heifers. It was thought that in such a cross could not be born alive.
The trouble was that though such hybridization had been tried sporadically for more than 100 years, it had never been tried on anything like a large-scale. Finally, however, Mossom M Boyd, a Canadian breeder, succeeded in obtaining a bull that was almost one half bison, by mating a purebred bison bull with cow that was one quarter bison.
A number of other male calves with a high percentage of bison blood have been obtained. With these the experiments are being continued in Canada, where the shaggy mane of the bison is of especial value in protecting the animal against the blinding snowstorms that sweep the range.
The great hump of flesh on the bison shoulders tends to be reproduced in that domestic cross offspring also, so that Mr. Boyd has said “It does not seem unreasonable, therefore, to suggest that the fur of the bison and his great back may be carried by means of selection without any diminution through succeeding generations of diminishing bison blood and till the coat and hump have been practically taking from the bison and placed upon the back of the domestic ox.”
Charles Goodnight, a pioneer breeder of Texas, agrees with Mr. Boyd and his high estimate of the cattle bison cross. “They are immune from all diseases as far as I have tested them,” he has stated. “They are much greater in weight, eat much less and hold their flesh better under more adverse conditions…. They have a better meat, clear of fiber, and it never gets the like beef. They have long and deep backs, enabling them to cut at least 150 pounds more meat than other cattle. More of them can be crazed on a given area.
“They do not run from heel flies nor drift and storms, but like the buffalo, face the blizzards. They rise on their fore feet instead of their hind feet. This enables them to rise when in a weakened condition. They never lie down with their backs downhill, so they are able to rise quickly and easily. This habit is reversed and cattle.”
The name of the final product of the crossbreeding of cattle and bison is itself a cross: “cattalo.” Several spellings were put forward, but this one was accepted as standard by the American Genetic Association, of Washington, D.C.
A more recent cattle hybrid than the cattalo, but one which has been more favorably received and the Texas area, is a cross between the humped zebu, or sacred Brahmin cow of India, with domestic stock. It was discovered that the zebu does not fall victim to the tick-borne cattle diseases that take heavy toll of the native stock of European origin.
Since the zebu is more nearly related to domestic cattle than is the bison, the two species amalgamate more readily and there is less loss in breeding. Moreover, after a couple of generations a ‘grade’ animal shows little sign of the Indian admixture, but looks very much like its European ancestors. This of course interferes less with conventional market requirements. For these reasons, males with Brahmin blood in them have come to be in considerable demand and the tick-infested parts of the southwest.
Since quarantine regulations do not permit the importation of any more breeding stock from the Orient, then there are relatively few full-blooded zebu bulls in Texas, and the highest proportion of Brahmin blood usually encountered runs from three-fourths to seven-eighths.
From a much more remote quarter of the world then the southwest, and closer to the zebu’s own home, a weird out cross has been reported to the American Genetic Association, although that organization discreetly declines to vouch for its authenticity.
This is the offspring of a Philippine carabao, or water buffalo, which unlike our bison is a real buffalo. This animal looks as though it might have been sired by a zebu; at any rate, it is very queer looking for a carabao. But when all is said, the verdict will probably have to remain like that in many another doubtful case east of Suez: “the paternity remains in doubt.”
Up in northern Canada, where the Dominion government maintains the greatest bison ranch in the world, they have been trying out another Asiatic animal as a possible contributor to the solution of the range cattle problem. This is the yak, a long-haired, brush-tailed, slow-moving, patient, stubborn animal from the cold, storm-swept plateaus of Tibet.
The yak has to be patient, for his age-long owners and drivers have been the Tibetans. He has to be stubborn, or he could never have survived association with them. But what is more to the point, he can endure the worst winters in the world.
As mates for the yak, the Canadians have brought in some Galloway cattle – those rough coated, hardy beast that can thrive in the stormy west of Ireland country. The yak’s and the Galloway must have realized a mutual affinity bred of their respective upland homes, for they have taken kindly to each other, and the result of their union is known as the “gal-yak,” an animal looking rather like a long-haired cow, that still swinging astern the long, white ended, sacerdotal brush of a tail that is the pride of the yak.
The galyak is the serious effort of the Canadian breeders, but they have also tried a cross between the yak and the bison. Only one of these hybrids has ever been produced, and it is certainly a most strange creature. In body outline, it is intermediate between bison and yak. It wears its coat thick all over, yak fashion, instead of heavy in front and thin behind, like a bison.
What it may be like in temperament must be a puzzle to its keepers: for the bison is and unstable, stampedeable animal, while the yak wouldn’t go faster than three miles an hour if you built a fire under it. But whatever may be the use or interest of this yakson or bi-yak, which ever you may choose to call it, certainly if zoological cousin, the galyak, gives promise of being an animal of real value on the northern Canadian range.
Northward still, on the Alaskan tundras where no imaginable hybrid of the domestic cattle could gain a living, a considerable livestock industry based on the reindeer has grown up, and large groups of Eskimo have abandoned their old nomadic hunting life to become well-to-do herdsmen. The reindeer are descendants of animals imported from Siberia by the Department of Agriculture about a generation ago.
There is in Alaska and northern Canada a native cousin of the reindeer, the caribou. This animal is the staff of life of hunting tribes of Eskimo, but it has never been domesticated. It is a larger animal than the European reindeer and has more meat on it, so that experiments are being made in the crossing of the two stocks.
The hybrids are undoubtedly better meat animals, and can probably scrape a living out of the snow more effectively than their European cousins. If they can be kept in herds (the wild caribou tends to scatter rather than to bunch), and if they prove tractable as draft animals, the cross will be rated a big success.
The old dictum that hybrids are all sterile and can’t reproduce has, of course, been handled pretty roughly in all these experiments. In some cases it bolds, in others it doesn’t
Anyhow, the doctrine seems to have been established originally by reference to the most familiar of domestic hybrids, the mule. Mules as a rule do not breed, yet in the recent past two undoubted cases of mule mares giving birth to healthy foals have come to light.
Erasmus Haworth of Lawrence, Kansas, reports the case of a mule mare that produced a foal sired by a jack. And rare as such cases are, this same mule is now believed to be with foal for a second time.
“Old Beck” is only an ancient Texas “cotton mule” mare who has been on this planet long enough to vote, but she has done her bit toward breaking the age-old reproach of sterility leveled at her hybrid race. For she has not only borne offspring—two lusty colts—but now has a
This grandchild is a horse in appearance, although one-quarter mule.
For a mule to have a foal is an almost miraculous rarity, but for one of these to propagate is practically unheard of.
Yet this is the record of “Old Beck.” as reported by A. H. Groth of Texas A. and M. College. Her first offspring was a daughter, sired by a jack, and foaled in 1920. This feat brought her to the attention of the college authorities, and she was soon given a home on the campus. Subsequent matings with other jacks failed to produce another colt, but a noted stallion of the college stud sired a foal that has grown up to look quite like a horse—and a fine horse at that.
“Old Beck’s” mule daughter has remained without issue, in spite of several attempts to breed her, but the horse-like colt, a stallion, has sired one healthy colt, now over a year old.
Every once in a while someone takes a notion to hybridize the zebra with the horse or the donkey. It isn’t especially hard to do, for all three animals are fairly closely related —as closely, say, as cattle and zebu are, and more closely than cattle and bison.
The offspring are called by various names, sock as “zebrass” and “zebrule.” As a rule they are of no practical use, for they usually inherit the wild intractability of their striped ancestors; but at any rate they are interesting and make nice specimens for zoos.
At present the U. S. Zoological Park in Washington has two of these zebra hybrids, one a cross between a zebra and horse and the other between zebra and ass.
The physical characteristics of the parent stock are apparent in both these unusual animals.
The Billings Gazette
Billings Montana June 9 1929
Riding Herd on Buffalo
The Annual Round-Up Is About to Begin at Canada’s Buffalo Reserve, From Which 1,200 Will Be Shipped to New Hunting Grounds
By Earle W. Gage
Hi-Yi Up there! Move!”- shouts the ranger astride the cow-pony as the thunder of a hundred drumming hoofs pounds the velvety turf of the world’s largest animal reserve. Speeding brown forms, hidden in the poplar grove, leap forward, followed closely on the flank by a score of riders, shouting themselves hoarse.
The thrilling round-up of 1.200 two-year-old bison soon will open at the Wainwright, Alberta, reserve. This will start the first lap of a thousand-mile journey to their new home in the heart of the far north, within the shadow of the Arctic Circle. The old Indian prophecy that “one day the buffalo shall return to his northern pasture” is fulfilled, but the bison hordes do not journey peacefully and calmly back to their old haunts. The migration is a stampede of thrills wherein cowboys become buffalo-boys and play a leading role in a spectacular and romantic drama.
Goaded by the cries of the horsemen, the line of, flying young buffalos plunges out into the open. Heads down, they dash madly ahead to where a narrow enclosure leads to the wide gate of the corral. Scenting danger, the herd attempts to break and turn. High in the air rises a column of prairie dust, through which, a: intervals, as the ponies fork with almost human intelligence to urge the animals forward, appear tossing horns, mounted men, wildly leaping buffalos.
Again the line straightens. Sweeping down a short declivity, the herd streaks up the incline on the opposite side. Through the gate the mass of bodies surges. Snap! The great gate swings to, and the herd is locked in the first corral. From here they are driven to a smaller corral, which, in turn, leads to the “squeeze.” or chute, a narrow passage wherein each buffalo receives the famous “W” brand of Wainwright Park.
Then comes action aplenty in the little corral, for the buffalos, now certain that they have been trapped make a mad dash for freedom. Cowboys swarm over the corral bars, and, swinging low among the young buffalos, urge them one by one to the chute.
The sturdy bars vibrate like harp cords, quivering with each array of powerful bodies, but one by one the buffalos pass into the chute until only two or three of the “wild boys” of the herd remain.
It is now time for “Smilin’ Slim” Johnson, famous daredevil cow-puncher and buffalo-ranger, to do his stuff. He crops lightly from the top rail of the corral, right in the path of one of the great, lowered heads, and starts flapping his broad-brimmed hat, trying to “shoo” the animal toward the chute. Blindly the animal comes on, head down, raring to fight. “Slim” scales the fence. The wicked horns brush his chaps. Corral cars rattle with the impact of the heavy body, but “Slim.” perched on the top rail, is not disturbed. He shakes out his lariat, drops its noose neatly over the horns of the infuriated animal and tosses the end of the rope through the chute.
Quickly a half dozen punchers’ grasp the end of the rope, and now it is “Pull buffalo; pull cowboy!” with the battling animal forced to step forward, little by little, as he edges toward the opening of the chute.
Like a flash of lightning the buffalo changes tactics. With a leap, he plunges for the chute, and the six punchers pile in what would be a ludicrous heap inside the chute were it not for that flying death that thunders down upon them.
Up aloft the top rail of the chute, “Slim” pulls a rope. A gate in the chute swings shut between the stampeding buffalos and the prone cowboys. The nonchalant rope tender gnaws a great bite of tobacco and grins puncher witticisms at the squirming heap beneath. Out on the sidetrack beside the corrals a string of “buffalo Pullmans” await the herd. These are steel-ribbed cars, especially designed to transport the 1,200 buffalos on the first leg of their northern journey. The cars will carry the herd to Edmonton, thence to Waterways, and here they will be transferred to the special “buffalo rafts” which operate down the historic Athabasca River to Fort William.
The “starch” seems to have been taken completely out of the yearling buffalos’ backbone and they are inclined to permit fate to have her way. They are herded into the cars, thirty or so in each, the gates swing to and are locked. With a sigh of relief, the top man of the buffalo herds wipes the chocolate dust from his face and declares: “I guess we’ll call it a day, boys.”
Far down the tracks the big locomotive snorts and the whistle blasts for an “All clear; go ahead.” The cars rattle and bang as they start to roll, and the first of the yearlings are bidding farewell to Wainwright on the way to their new Fort Smith home, where a vast empire of primeval wilderness, 10,500 square miles in area, awaits them. Here in the heart of the far north they will meet their cousins of the plains, the wood buffalo, and find feed and natural conditions which are ideal for buffalo propagation.
Established more than twenty years ago, Wainwright Park is now the world’s largest buffalo preserve, where roam more than 12,000 head of bison. Here the Canadian government inclosed more than 105,000 square miles of natural prairie land with a nine-foot steel wire fence and provided natural conditions and protection for the animals. There were 716 bison there then. Today the herd has multiplied to such an extent that it becomes necessary each year to cut out and remove between 1500 and 2,000 yearlings to the northern preserve. Otherwise, the Wainwright pasturage would become overtaxed.
It was all because an Indian had a quarrel with his father-in-law years ago that Canada now boasts the greatest herd of bison in the world.
The buffalo had nearly become extinct. For more than half a century red men and white had carried on such wanton warfare against the bison that Dr. William T. Hornaday, the distinguished zoologist, estimated that in 1889 less than 1,000 buffalo were running wild in the United States and Canada.
What a contrast with the time not so many years before when vast herds of bison roamed right up to the rim of the Arctic Ocean, their annual migrations extending down to the Rio Grande. From Great Slave Lake to the Rockies was a favorite range, for here the lush prairie grass grew to their shoulders.
From the diary of “Kootenay” Brown, one of the first white pioneers to cross the western prairies of Canada by pack horse, we learn something of the numbers ranging over the plains before the advent of the railroad builder and homesteader:
“Well do I remember my first sight of buffalo on the plains of western Canada. Emerging from the South Kootenay Pass, I crossed the foothills near the mouth of Pass Creek and climbed to the top of one of the lower mountains. The prairie as far as I could see was one living, moving mass of buffalo. Thousands of head there were, far thicker than ever range cattle graze the bunch-grass of the foothills.”
It was no mere incident that these vast herds of buffalo were nearly depleted to the point of extinction. They were the victims of a slaughter as thorough and systematic as it was heedless. This slaughter has been divided into two rather sharply defined periods that of desultory destruction, which continued up to 1830 when the Indians and early settlers found in the animal their principal means of subsistence; and the systematic slaughter, from 1830 to 1888 when the buffalo was hunted ruthlessly.
The construction of the trans-continental Canadian Pacific Railway in 1865 divided the herd into two bodies. One spread north into Alberta; the other turned south into Saskatchewan, to be slaughtered by the Plain Crees, though the animal constituted their chief food supply. Persecuted by the Crees, the southern herd fled further south over the boundary into the United States, where a similar fate befell it at the hands of the white men. Settlers, wolves, Indians and winter storms took dreadful toll of the northern herd, and by 1880 it, too, had disappeared.
During the last ten years of this period, thousands of buffalo were killed for their tongues alone. Tongues were sold for twenty-five cents each, and white men encouraged the Indians to collect them.
Thousands of buffalo cows mothers of the race were slain in order to supply the preference of hunters for their robes and flesh. Countless others were murdered by men who shot them from the windows of moving trains. Entire herds were driven over rocky precipices, into canyon and gorge, simply to provide the “thrill hounds” of the day with a new type of excitement.
This was the period during which the barbaric still-hunt flourished; when the surrounding, impounding and decoying all were brought to a high degree of efficiency as methods whereby the greatest number of buffaloes, might be slaughtered within the shortest space of time. It was estimated that on the northern range alone 5,000 professional “skinners’ found an abundance of work, following the hunting parties.
As the herds were reduced In number they crowded together for protection, and thus practiced an unwitting deception as to their inexhaustibility.
When the buffalo migrated in 1878 they left Canada never to return of their own will. It is said by some authorities that a terrible storm caught the herd and destroyed it. Others believe that a fatal disease attacked the buffalo.
Of all the versions it would seem that the most logical explanation of the disappearance of the Canadian herd is that it was exterminated in a frightful slaughter on the Missouri River, ‘where for miles carcass touched carcass.” Thus the.herds of Canada were lost, not to be regained until the establishment of the foundation herd at Wainwright Park. That very briefly is the sad story of the buffalo, one of America’s most majestic monarchs.
London, Greater London, England July 9 1929
Big Bill, the American bison, who weighs a ton and a half, the murderer of a European bison valued at £1,000, is now the father of a month-old bull call. Until two days after the birth of the calf the keepers dared not enter the cow’s den, but after a short time the calf learns to follow its mother, and then if the keepers completely ignore the baby it is safe for them to go into the enclosure. They can also go into the den of Punch, the Canadian bison, for he comes from a ranch and is used to horsemen who ride among the herds, but Big Bill, from Wobern, has a long casualty list to his credit and is not to be trusted. If you stand behind him with your hand stuck through the bars to pat him, on account of his eyes being placed so far apart he can see you without turning round, then watching his opportunity he will quickly swing his head round and probably break your arm.
A hare running, or a kangaroo, because of the placing of its eyes, will crash into an object directly in its path, and a bison will do the same. It is said that hunters have taken advantage of this propensity to drive a herd of bison over a precipice.
Many American visitors, including an official from the Chicago Zoo, have remarked that Big Bill was the finest bull they had ever seen, with the result that he is now described as the biggest bison in the world. His epic fight with the European bull took place in the night, and although bison when roused roar more terribly than lions, the Zoo night-watchmen heard nothing, or perhaps thought it wiser to ignore the bellowing. Bill bashed the door down, and his wife and child and the European bull’s wife and child looked on unhurt at the affray. In the morning keepers found a corpse stretched out and the doors covered with shreds and patches of the fighters coats. Another bull, Silly Bill was killed by an American bison, but now concrete partitions have been erected, and such battles are no more.
The natural history books assert that the European bison smells of musk and violets. It is impossible, however, to persuade the keepers to uphold this statement. When they ore in the den with a bull, if his tail should go up and he begins to scrape with his feet, then they know that he is getting ready to trample, and they get hastily out of his way.
Missoula Montana Dec 8 1929
Bison Slaughter Is On
Dressed Meat Loaded for Shipment to Eastern States.
Slaughter of bison for market purposes at the bison range headquarters near Molese is underway. Yesterday the first refrigerator car was loaded with dressed bison meat for dispatch to the East. Two additional cars were dispatched by the Northern Pacific this morning to Molese for the same purpose.
The bison meat is to be a holiday special as far East as the New England states, it is said. Approximately 100 head are to be killed and the carcasses disposed of by W. S. Custer, who submitted the best bid when the biological survey decided to dispose of the animals in this fashion.
Twenty years ago the bison range was instituted for fear that the bison would be exterminated entirely in the Northwest. This year it is necessary to kill a hundred head so that the bison will not destroy the range and future forage by overgrazing. The animals propagate rapidly and the herd has been showing a steady, healthy growth for years.