1901 William T. Hornaday checking bison in New York zoo.
The American Bison Society (ABS) was founded in 1905 by pioneering conservationists and sportsmen including Ernest Harold Baynes, founder; William T. Hornaday, president; Theodore Roosevelt, honorary president. to help save the bison from extinction and raise public awareness about the species. Because of the secure populations of bison in public herds, the American Bison Society votes itself out of existence, the ABS considered their work done, and the organization was disbanded in 1935.
In 1907 the American Bison Society arranged for 15 bison donated by the New York Zoological Society (now the Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS) to be shipped by railway from the Bronx Zoo to the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve in Oklahoma. Photo ©WCS.
A State Bison Herd ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY -Harvard 1909
The initial effort of the officers of the American Bison Society to bring about the establishment of a state herd of American bison, to be permanently located on state lands, and owned and maintained by the state of New York, has been thwarted. The bill introduced and vigorously pushed by Assemblyman Frank H. Hooper was by Senator Armstrong kindly translated into an item of the annual supply bill, where it met the approval of Speaker Wadsworth, Assemblyman Moreland, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, and all the members of the Conference Committee. It is a pleasing fact that the measure encountered no determined opposition, and all the leading Senators and Assemblymen have cordially favored it. The only necessity for the strenuous efforts in behalf of this measure that were put forth by Professor Franklin W. Hooper and the President of the Bison Society, ably assisted by Mr. Harry V. Radford, was by reason of the fact that the initial appropriation necessary is $20,000, and there were calls for state money beyond the amount available.
For a time it seemed that the proposed bison herd was desired by every citizen of this state. The item passed both houses of the legislature,
practically by unanimous consent, and went to (Governor Hughes in the supply bill. Without the slightest warning, and to the profound surprise of everyone. Governor Hughes picked out the item for the state bison herd, and
WICHITA BUFFALO RANGE.
We are advised by the Bureau of Forestry, of the Department of Agriculture, that the fulfillment of the contract for the erection of the fences, corrals, barn and sheds of the Wichita Buffalo Range has been satisfactorily carried
out. By July 15th, the work will be completed, and the range will be ready. For several excellent reasons, it is not best to send the herd southward in midsummer, but at the earliest satisfactory date the shipment will be made.
It is the opinion of those most interested that October will be the best month for the transfer of the nucleus herd, and arrangements will
be made accordingly.
American Bison Calves Born in 1907
The American Bison Society was organized in 1906 for the purpose of promoting the perpetual preservation of the American Bison. It is the belief of its members that this end can be assured only through national and state ownership of several herds breeding and roaming free in very large ranges. The effort of the Society to secure the establishment of a New York State herd, located in the Adirondacks on a range embracing about twelve square miles of grazing grounds, came very close to achieving success. The Society’s
measure was passed, unanimously, by both houses of the New York legislature, but was most unexpectedly vetoed by Governor Hughes, without a hearing.
The Society is now actively engaged in making a thorough examination of the Flathead Indian Reservation, in northwestern Montana, with a view to the establishment there of a national herd.
The active officers of the Society are Dr. William T. Hornaday, President; Professor Franklin W. Hooper and Mr. A. A. Anderson, Vice-Presidents; Mr. Ernest H. Baynes, Secretary, and Mr. Clark William.s, Treasurer.
THE NATIONAL BISON HERD.
An Account of the Transportation of the Bison from the Zoological Park- to the Wichita Range.
By Elwin R. Sankorn.
AFTER a lapse of many months, the National Bison Herd has become an accomplished fact, and the energy and perseverance of the Director at last realized in the establishment in the Wichita Preserve of fifteen of the Zoological Park’s finest bison.
In 1905, an agent of the Society visited the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve to select a suitable location for a range. The conditions proved to be all that could be desired, and Mr. Loring’s enthusiastic description of the wonderful possibility was a powerful incentive to the consummation of the plan.
The problem of successfully shipping these ponderous animals such a tremendous distance, was one of the utmost importance. Experience had shown that animals, confined in small crates, ride uneasily and with serious results, often reaching their destination tired, emaciated, and wholly off their feed, with bruised flesh and sore bones, which necessarily must be overcome. An inspection of the various crates in which specimens had been received at the Zoological Park, indicated that most frequently the animals could neither recline nor stand with perfect freedom, and often were ill-fitted to journey hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles, with the never failing delays.
The Director planned a series of crates, which would in every case be comfortable for each individual, and these were constructed after his ideas. Each crate was large enough to permit its occupant to lie down comfortably, and was carefully padded to relieve the inevitable jolting.
The Park herd was trained to the hour, and its members were as fine and healthy as human ingenuity and good food could make them. The animals had been selected months before their actual shipping time.
The work of rounding-up the herd was commenced in October, upon the arrival of Mr. Frank Rush, the Government agent, who was to accompany the bison on their long journey and the work of separating the selected stock from the main herd proceeded with precision and dispatch under Keeper McEnroe.
A chute, fifty feet in length, had been erected between the two main corrals fronting the Buffalo House, communicating with both and terminating with a very ingenious sliding iron gate. Against this gate the crates were placed. The herd of fifteen was driven into the north corral, and the animals, one at a time, liberated into the chute. As soon as each bison was selected, the properly marked crate, designated for this particular specimen, was fastened into position adjacent to the sliding-door. Most of the animals were rushed down and into the crate before they could realize it. Occasionally one became obstreperous and delayed proceedings by hurdling and various other tactics, but from eleven o’clock until five of Thursday, October 10th, thirteen were crated and loaded into the cars at Fordham. On Friday, the last two were disposed of, and by noon of that day the last crate was placed in position in the cars. The Arms Palace Horse Car Company, of Chicago, furnished two fortv-four foot cars, of the type used for transporting fancy stock. These were equipped with collapsable stalls, and water-tanks capable of holding water sufficient for the trip. The cars were arranged with high and low speed air-brakes and steam connections. And no one would have dared to believe that such inoffensive apparatus could make as much trouble as those several bits of hose swinging from either end eventually did.
Through the late Charles T. Barney, Esq., Mr. Dudley Evans, President, and Mr”. H. B. Parsons, Vice-President of the Wells-Fargo Express Company agreed to transport the cars free of charge from St. Louis to Cache, Oklahoma, on account of the public interest in the shipment.
Mr. James C. Fargo, President of the American Express Company, was then advised of their offer, and at once decided that he would also do the same, provided the New York Central would concur. This President Newman promptly conceded on behalf of his company.
These arrangements having been quickly and satisfactorily arranged, the cars were stored with hay and water for the animals, provisions and blankets for the attendants. On Friday night they were attached to train No. 37, of the Central’s fast passenger service, in charge of Chief Clerk Mitchell, and the long journey began.
We signed our lives away to the Express Company and secured accident policies at the Grand Central Station, for four days’ duration, to balance the account.
It was a bit awe inspiring, a train of thought super induced no doubt by our reckless barter, to realize that in the midst of this vast station with its multitudes of people, its coughing, booming trains, in the center of the greatest city of the new world, were fifteen helpless animals, whose ancestors had been all but exterminated by the very civilization which was now handing back to the prairies this helpless band, a tiny remnant born and raised 2,000 miles from their native land. Surely the course of Empire westward takes its way.
But sentiment is forgotten when at the conductors’ “all-aboard,” we clamber into Arms Palace Horse Car 6026, and in the dim light of a swinging oil lamp with the accompaniment of rumbling wheels and snorting bison, realize we are at last actually in motion. When we close the side doors and throw over the cross bar, we are cut off from the outside world entirely. No bell rope, no signal of any kind ! Enthusiasm is at its lowest ebb, 2,000 miles from our journey’s end, and anticipations only to buoy our hopes. As the train gathers speed, the clanking chains clash against the floor of the car, the partitions of the collapsable stalls thud dismally together, and the upper works in general creak and groan in the most cheerless way. It is then that we realize how very comfortable must be the “Pullmanites.” Smoking would be a solace, but is out of the question. A fire once started in the midst of all that dry hay, fanned by sixty miles of speed, we would be hurled furiously through the darkness of the night a seething mass of flame, for we were then as helpless as the bison themselves. No exit for us except by flying, and no ingress for others, unless they adopted the same means. Very soon we left the yards and dropped into a steady roll, plunging through the night along the banks of the Hudson, occasional glimmers of the water showing through the glass covers of the crated doors. Every swing of the train was echoed by hoarse remonstrances from the bison.
An ample space at the head of the car had been partially filled with bales of hay, and at ten o’clock we made up our bunk there, as there seemed little else to do. Mr. Rush decided to try an upper berth, as he facetiously termed it, on the tops of two of the crates, and by spreading his blankets there upon a pile of hay, composed himself at a right angle to our direction, with true western resignation to all sorts and conditions of things.
With more hay, Mr. Mitchell and I laboriously constructed on the floor a bed of voluminous proportions and turned in. I can boast all my life of having slept within seven eighths of an inch of an American bison. He resented it. and betrayed his feelings by stealing our bed ; not all at once, but piecemeal. Very dexterously thrusting his flexible tongue through the openings of his crate, he would carefully get a firm hold on a wisp of hay and wait until I slept, then give a good, healthy pull. I could feel that rope of hay start at my feet, and gradually extend itself with a snaky motion to the wisps which curled over the blankets at my head. After six or seven of these alarms, I made a rapid calculation of the number of hours I actually could sleep before striking bottom, and by dividing the pile of hay by his capacity, figured that I could just reach morning by throwing in the gunnys-ack-full which we dubbed “pillow.”
We awoke in the morning many miles from Buffalo in a raw, cold air. We were thoroughly employed, caring for stock, until the train rolled into Buffalo, and it was a great relief to have the animals contentedly feeding, and to find them enduring the journey so well.
The wisdom of the Director, in making roomy crates, was more than abundantly manifest even so early in the journey, for with but one or two exceptions, the animals were lying down. The big bull stubbornly resisted this provision for many hours, but before we reached Cleveland, he was glad to make use of it and stretched himself out with a grunt of satisfaction which was more expressive than words. We rolled into Buffalo late in the forenoon and gladly leaped out of our airy quarters to attend the needs of the animals in the rear car. Here we encountered the first obstruction to our journey, which afterwards occurred so frequently that it became a habit. The inspectors blandly reported to us that the steam-hose had been pulled off in the night and the bolts in one of the brake beams had loosened, almost dropping it to the level of the rails. The cars must be run into the cripple track and jacked up, and with the customary yards of railroad red-tape surrounding such events, Mr. Mitchell could readily understand what a delay this would mean. Moreover, to cap the climax, the Lake Shore road refused to handle the cars, declaring them not properly equipped for fast work. It was right here that the esprit de corps of the Zoological Park showed its true worth. Mr. Mitchell was a bulwark against all opposition, and his perfect familiarity with the proper railroad methods rendered him absolutely impervious to all opposition. Scarcely twenty minutes elapsed before the yardmen had expanded under the influence of Zoological Park spirit, and the cars were being whisked away to the repair yards. That was half the battle accomplished, but there yet remained the fact that we were denied the right to ride with the passenger service. Buffalo officials peremptorily refused. After a lengthy argument, Cleveland was reached by long-distance ‘phone and the Traffic Manager reluctantly gave his consent to couple us with the second section of 37. Our spirits arose appreciably and after assuring ourselves that the construction work was progressing rapidly enough to ensure our making this train, we awaited our leaving time with great satisfaction.
At 1.30 we were attached to a train of express cars, running as the second section of 37, en route to Cleveland. We skirted the shores of Lake Erie, feeling the first real breath of winter sweeping across its surface. The season was three weeks earlier than the New York region, and autumn had laid her finger heavily on all the vegetation. Out of Dunkirk we ran into a smart storm of rain ;a cold, penetrating one, which the rapid motion of the train drove into every nook and cranny, finally dripping into the remnants which the bull had left of our bed, so that we were forced to erect a shelter over it with a piece of oil- cloth. The broken windows were repaired with New York dailies and overcoats donned. At every station the trainmen crept into the car, drenched, condemning the weather and accommodations with one breath. It was so delightful to see others miserable that our spirits rose in ratio. In spite of these discomforts, this was our smoothest ride. We arrived at Cleveland promptly on the hour, the first, last and only time it happened. So far we had experienced some trials and tribulations, but the unvarying courtesy of the rail-road people amply compensated us. We were not surprised to learn at Cleveland that the steam hose had once more been left along the line. This completely forestalled making the proper connections for St. Louis, and it was 3.50 Sunday morning before the Big Four could handle the cars.
The steam connections had to be repaired again at Indianapolis, and this, together with delayed trains, held us there until nearly ten o’clock Sunday night. The temperature still remained low, and when the train crossed Ead’s Bridge into St. Louis, the structure glittered with frost.
At St. Louis we encountered the worst obstacles of the entire trip, with their resulting disappointments. Train service had grown visibly heavier, on entering the border lines of the West, and our scheduled time had long since been completely lost to sight and memory, both by monotonous accidents to our equipment and lost time. At St. Louis the conditions were more congested than ever. The Frisco Road had already informed the Terminal
Association that it could not possibly accept the cars together. One car might go with No. 7 at 8.41 Monday evening, and the other at the same hour the next night. Better service than this was impossible. Mr. Mitchell then called on the Superintendent to the Wells-Fargo Company, and explained how desirable it would be to retain something of our original arrangement. Together they went to the General Manager of the Frisco, but this was of no avail. As a last resort, the suggestion was broached of sending one car over the Rock Island to Oklahoma City, there connecting with the Santa Fe, but this the Santa Fe was unable to do, on account of heavy traffic. We, therefore, accepted the situation with the best grace possible, and divided the force in a manner suitable to the occasion.
The cars were thoroughly taken care of
and the stock watered and fed. We found every one of the bison in as good condition as we expected. All the animals had become thoroughly accustomed to the unusual situation, and behaved exactly as if peacefully grazing in the Zoological Park.
Mr. Rush, in charge of car 6026, left St. Louis at 8.41 Monday evening and without delay or accident arrived safely in Cache Wednesday afternoon at 3.00 o’clock. Wagons were in waiting and the seven animals were safely transferred to the corrals at the Reserve before midnight of the same dav. We remained until Tuesday evening at 8.41, at which hour we left St. Louis with the other car of eight animals.
No sleeping accommodations could be arranged in this car, and we transferred our blankets to the express car, where we slept on the floor the night through, arriving at Monette, Missouri, at 7 o’clock Wednesday morning. As nearly all of the western papers had described the bison transfer, our arrival at the various towns south of St. Louis was awaited with considerable interest, and in some places it approached enthusiasm. As the side doors would be opened throngs of men, women and children rushed up to get a glimpse of the famous animals, and if the stop was long enough, they climbed in, and inspected the bison through the openings of the crates. In some places the car was packed to suffocation, and the people only departed when they were forced out by the speed of the train. The signs attracted attention everywhere and the curious observers noted them all along the line, reading as long as the car remained in sight.
The word “Zoological” was pronounced in more ways than I thought ever possible. The air became milder hourly, and it was possible to open the side doors, and view a country at once both interesting and strange. Gradually the hills gave way to low swells and the wooded portions were confined to the streams, whose course could be marked for miles by the narrow ribbons of green which finally lost themselves in the distant blue of the horizon. Fields of corn, some standing, others stacked, with an occasional field of
cotton, lay on every side basking in the mellow light of the early fall. We reached Oklahoma City at 11.30 \\’ednesday evening, where we remained until noon the next day.
The station at Oklahoma City was thronged with interested people who crowded the cars on both sides; and in fact these visits developed into ovations, the farther toward the promised land we progressed. At Lawton, we were surrounded by citizens who pined to see the bison, and as our hunger had by this time superseded all other considerations, we left the car in charge of a strong man who had kindly volunteered his services, so that we might satisfy the cravings of healthy appetites. After a ride of seventeen miles from Lawton, it was a relief to arrive at Cache at last, and know that our railroad trip was at an end, just seven days from the leaving time at New York.
Mr. Rush and Mr. Mattoon, the Acting Forest Supervisor, met us here upon the arrival of the train at 7.30 P. M. We commenced early in the morning to transfer the crates to the wagons provided, and by ten o’clock Friday all were safely loaded. The entire population of Cache turned out, together with a band of Comanche Indians, resplendent in their gayest clothes. At eleven o’clock we started for the Reserve. One small bull persisted in thinking that liberty was the only thing he desired at that moment, and played a perfect tattoo against the ends of his crate, but aside from that, the caravan moved away without a hitch.
Mr. Rush had planned every detail with the greatest care, and the success of all the arrangements at Cache and the Reserve, was due to his tireless interest and forethought. We rode three miles over a flat, sandy road, bordered with prosperous farms, and through prairie land, studded with mesquite, and all along the streams with oaks, elms and various hard woods. The line of the Reserve is just within the borders of the Wichita Mountains.
Once inside, the road was more uneven, and except for short distances became fairly rough, making the progress of the wagons rather slow. The direction was almost due north for a matter of six miles as far as Pattersons.
The eastern boundary of the Bison Range crosses the end of the valley and five miles beyond are the corrals, where the bison arrived about twelve o’clock. The wagons were driven in and the rear wheels dropped into depressions dug in the ground. After spraying the animals with crude oil, each was liberated. Aside from a very slight lameness, they were in perfect condition, greedily eating their allotment of hay. The corrals, three in number, each about 200 feet square, are placed just inside the southern boundary of the line fence, separated from it by a passage of 15 feet in width. Two long sheds with mangers have been erected on the northern side. Individual members of the herd may be quickly transferred from one corral to the next, through the lane on the south side, the ends of which can be closed with strong wire gates. The fence is 74 inches high, made by the Denton Wire Fence Company, of Denton, Texas, supported on oak posts twelve inches in diameter, set three feet in the ground. Above the fence proper, for greater security, are three wires extending parallel to the line of the top, about five inches apart. One of these will be insulated for a telephone service, which is being installed. The gates are most ingenious, handsomely constructed, and can resist the rush of a big bull as easy as the fence itself. The grass in the corrals has been burned off, and the animal can get no other food but the alfalfa upon which they are now feeding almost exclusively. Large galvanized tanks, of the type used exclusively in the west, have been placed in each enclosure, and a constant supply of running water will flow into each as soon as the windmill on the banks of Cache Creek has been completed.
The bison will be kept in the corrals until spring, when Mr.Rush expects to liberate them into a range of some 200 acres. This pasture will be fenced in the winter and the grass burned. A number of cattle graze though the valley, and as it is quite well known that they carry the tick which causes Texas fever, the spraying with oil and burning of the grass have been thought expedient to prevent the bison from becoming infected. ^Ir. Rush is thoroughly familiar with all methods of prevention, and has adopted the most stringent measures to carry the animals through the dangerous season. Once they become acclimated, the danger line will be passed.
On October 23rd, with Mr. Rush, I rode along the line of the fence, which is being constructed, but scarcely more than half completed. Its ponderous character has made the task a heavy one, especially through the gorges, where in places but one post can be carried at a time, and even then by hands alone.
The fence is nearly fifteen miles around, and encloses 6,200 acres of the best of the valley and the mountains on the western side. Four rangers will police the range at all hours, and the dangers from forest fires and breaks in the wires can be detected and reported with dispatch, as telephone boxes will be placed at each of the five range gates. Mr. Rush gives his entire time to the bison, and Mr. W. R. Mattoon. Acting Forest Supervisor, is in charge of the construction and working of the station.
It would be churlish and a neglect unpardonable not to award to Mr. Mitchell praise for the admirable manner in which the details of the transportation were executed. In every instance, his knowledge of railroad methods and his tireless energy overcame obstacles which would have meant hardship and perhaps death to some of the bison, and their safe arrival at Cache was due absolutely to his splendid work. The people of Oklahoma are enthusiastic over the Reserve, and are duly grateful to the New York Zoological Society for having thus established, in the finest portion of the great southern bison range, a herd which will soon increase to grand proportions, and play its part in the permanent preservation of the great American bison.
Montana Nat’l Bison Range 1908
This fenced preserve was established by a special act of Congress, on May 23, 1908, at the solicitation of the American Bison Society. In response to the offer of the Society to present to the government the nucleus herd of bison. Congress has appropriated, in all, $30,000 for the purchase from the Flathead Indians of twenty-eight square miles of grazing grounds at Ravalli, Montana, and $13,000 with which to defray the cost of fencing it suitably.
In addition to the bison, this fenced range will be stocked as soon as possible with prong-horned antelope. The success of the bison in self-sustaining herds, on that range, is by no means an experiment. It is a demonstrated certainty.
The Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture is now at work erecting the fence around this great range, and it is hoped that it can be completed by October 1, in order that the Bison Society gift herd of about fifty-four pure-blood bison can then be delivered upon the range, and installed. This range can easily maintain 1,000 bison, and it is fairly certain that many members of the Bison Society will live to see that number of individuals grazing upon it.
The Bison Society has raised $10,560 in cash with which to purchase about forty-two bison, and fourteen head have been presented to the Society by their owners, for the benefit of the Montana herd.
British Columbia’s new game preserve.
On November 15, 1908, the Legislative Council of British Columbia issued a proclamation which converts into an absolute game preserve about 450 square miles of territory between the Elk and Bull Rivers, and around Monro Lake.
With a subtraction on the south and an important addition on the northwest, it is otherwise the “Goat Mountain Park” territory, for the preservation of which John M. Phillips and William T. Hornaday for two years or more waged a strenuous campaign of education and appeal. In the final half of the struggle (against active opposition) they were joined by some of the most prominent citizens of Fernie, Mayor W. W. Tuttle, J. B. Turney and Hon. W.’R. Ross, M. P.” and by Warburton Pike, Clive Phillips-Wolley, and other sportsmen and naturalists in Victoria. The Provincial Game Warden, A. Bryan Williams, played a highly important part in the accomplishment of the final result, and it was he who established the boundaries.
The result is a great victory for the mountain goat, mountain sheep, elk, mule deer, and grizzly bear. The area in question is an ideal home for the goat and sheep. Of the former, the new game preserve contains about one thousand head, and of the latter at least two hundred, all of them living and breeding there, all the year round. The scenery of the preserve is surpassingly fine, and it is well stocked with many important forms of Rocky Mountain mammals and birds. It was in this region that Professor Henry F. Osborn and Mr. Phillips obtained in 1905 their famous photographs of living mountain goats in their haunts.
The Grand Canyon National Game Preserve
Even to most persons who are interested in conservation work it will be fresh news that in northern Arizona the Government has established a game and forest preserve equal in scenic wonders as well as in area to the Yellowstone National Park. It is called the Grand Canyon National Game Preserve, and it consists of the Kaibab Plateau and Buckskin Mountain on the north, the first portion of the canyon of the Colorado, and also a great area southward there of. It contains, in round numbers, 2,019,000 acres, or 3311 square miles. It includes all of the area formerly comprising the “Grand Canyon National Monument,” and fully twice as much more.
The country south of the Colorado Canyon is comparatively well known, but to most Americans the Kaibab Plateau is a veritable terra incognita. It is in that wild and rugged region of broken country, rocks, hills, valleys, brush and a splendid pine-clad mountain plateau looming up over all, that “Buffalo” Jones has located his herd of American bison and “cattaloes,” for his latest experiment in breeding a valuable strain of bison blood into range cattle. Fortunately for those interested, there has recently been published about that region a book of thrilling interest. It is Zane Gray’s “Last of the Plainsmen,” published by the Outing Publishing Company. It is valuable as a general view of a wild and almost unknown region, and also as a record of the almost incredible exploits of Mr. Jones in catching alive nine pumas, by strength of nerve, arm and lasso !
Already the Grand Canon Preserve contains a few mountain sheep, many mule deer, and far too many “mountain lions.” Buckskin Mountain and its environs would make a fine sanctuary for elk, but it would be necessary to introduce them. The lower slopes would graze ten thousand bison, but very few persons would ever see them. With the lapse of time and ‘cattaloes’ it will be in order for the National Government to purchase outright the pure-blood bison of Mr. Jones and his partners, and let them alone where they are, to found another national herd.
Success of the Bison Subscription Fund
Immediately following the passage by Congress in May, 1908, of the bill appropriating $40,000 for the lands and fencing of the proposed Montana National Bison Range, the president of the Bison Society (W. T. Hornaday), set out to raise $10,000 by subscription. That fund was necessary to enable the Society to fulfill its pledge to the government that it would furnish the nucleus herd as a gift, as soon as the range was ready to receive it.
It was decided that the subscription should be national in scope; and accordingly the people of every state and territory were invited to participate, in sums from one dollar upward. The call was sent to 150 mayors of cities and forty-eight boards of trade, but without securing even one dollar through any one of them!
In view of the fact that the New York Zoological Society already had presented a herd of bison to the national government, the members of that Society were not called upon to subscribe, save through the membership of a few in other organizations. At the same time, three members of the N. Y. Z. S. generously helped to close the canvass with large subscriptions, to the great relief of the chief canvasser. Mr. Charles E. Senff gave $1,000, Mr. William P. Clyde $500, and ^Ir. Andrew Carnegie.$’250.
The campaign for the bison fund lasted nine long months, but finally closed in February, 1909, with a total of $10,560.50. It contained a number of surprises; chief of which were the following: The West, with but slight exceptions, was remarkably unresponsive, and makes a pitiable showing in the total. The East has cheerfully borne 80 per cent, of the burden.
The women of America subscribed more than one-tenth of the entire sum; and a lady of Massachusetts (Mrs. Ezra R. Thayer, of Boston), raised one-twentieth of the whole fund!
The funds now in hand are sufficient to purchase forty-two pure-blood bison, and deliver them upon the range. The government is now acquiring and fencing the twenty-eight square miles of range that were selected by the Bison Society, and it is hoped that the fence will be completed in time that the nucleus herd can be delivered next October.
Ex-President Roosevelt’s Record in Wild Life Preservation
AMONG other things left behind him of which he and his friends may well be proud, ex-President Roosevelt has gone out of office with a most enviable record as a promoter of measures for the protection of wild life. Of course those who knew him best expected much of him, but it is safe to say that even the most hopeful anticipations have been surpassed.
In one short article it is quite impossible to enumerate more than a very few of the measures that should be named in this connection. It is safe to say that during the whole of his six years as president, no measure calculated to benefit the wild life of North America ever was put before him without receiving his instant sympathy and consistent support. He never ignorantly and parsimoniously killed an act for the perpetuation of the bison, nor left the gray squirrel a prey to gunners because it was too much trouble to sign the bill that had been passed in its behalf, as did an executive officer of a most important state.
Even the briefest enumeration of the wildlife measures favored and promoted by ex-President Roosevelt must include the following:
The Alaska game laws of 1902 and 1907.
The establishment of the Wichita Game Refuge, Oklahoma, in 1902, and the acceptance of the bison herd in 1907.
The establishment of the Yellowstone Park bison herd in 1902.
The increased attention given the big game in the Yellowstone Park, including the vigorous prosecution of poachers in 1907-08.
The creation of the Grand Canyon game refuge, in Arizona, 1906.
The order prohibiting hunting or trapping of game on the Fort Niobrara ^Military Reservation, Nebraska, 1908.
The passage of the bill providing for the Montana National Bison Range in 1908, and two supplementary measures in 1909-
The creation of 53 Federal Bird Refuges, 1903-1907.
The creation of the Mt. Olympus National Monument, Washington, 1909.
The creation of the Superior National Forest and Game Preserve, Minnesota, 1909.
The meting of the North American Conservation Commission, and its declaration for game protection, 1909.
Is not this record sufficient of itself to make a reign illustrious ? We think it is.
The Wichita National Bison Herd
Presented to the Nation by the New York Zoological Society.
It seems strange that the East should undertake the task of restoring to a permanent basis in the West an important wild-animal species that was destroyed by the men of the West.
Greed and blood-lust is not, like the tariff, a local issue. It is thoroughly cosmopolitan. Wherever there is found an abundance of wild animal life, there will be found also the buzzards of commerce destroying life and “wrecking” carcases. It was the men of the West who got up the wild and bloody orgy of the buffalo plains, and left behind them only foul carcasses, poisoned air and desolation.
Strange to say, however, the West has shown little more than a bystander’s interest in the effort now being made to establish the American Bison species on national ranges with such a degree of permanency that it will endure for the centuries of the future. Most of the appeals of the Bison Society for contributions from beyond the head of the Ohio River have fallen on deaf ears and tightly-closed purses. The West as a whole has yet to learn what it is to give dollars for the preservation of wild life ; but the record of Wyoming and Colorado in feeding starving Elk, last winter, constitutes a fine exception.
For many years, various individuals have urged Congress to “do something” for the Bison. I think it was the efforts of Col. “Buffalo” Jones, of Kansas, that finally resulted in the establishing of a national Bison herd in the Yellowstone Park. It cost a mighty effort, backed by the Biological Survey, to secure through that grand champion of wild life. Congressman John F. Lacey, of Iowa, the sum of $10,000 for that nucleus.
Later on, the New York Zoological Society conceived the idea of a corporate sacrifice in behalf of the Bison, and proposed to the government a partnership arrangement for the founding of a new herd. The Society offered a nucleus herd of 15 pure-blood Bison as a gift, delivered on the ground, provided the National Government would set aside 12 square miles of fine grazing grounds, on what once was the range of the great southern herd, fence it in, and permanently maintain the herd.
The offer was promptly and graciously accepted, the money involved was immediately voted, and the fence was erected in a very satisfactory manner. Without any unnecessary delay, the Zoological Society selected 15 of the finest Bison in the Zoological Park herd, and with most generous aid from the American and Wells Fargo Express Companies (who carried the herd free of all cost), the gift was delivered at the southern boundary of the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve in southwestern Oklahoma.
The National Bison Herds
Very satisfactory reports have been received from the wardens in charge of the Montana National Bison Herd, and the Wichita Herd. Concerning the former, Warden Andrew F. Hodges reports that the herd came through the winter in very fine condition, and that up to May 20, several calves had been born.
From Warden Frank Rush, in charge of the Wichita National Herd, we have received the following report:
“The five calves which were due to arrive in the Wichita Buffalo herd are all here, 3 bulls and 2 heifers. This brings our total number to 23 head, 10 males and 13 females, all in the very best condition. I wish you could see them. They certainly look very prosperous, and if you were here you could see in reality what you had predicted for the Wichita Bison herd many years ago.”
The Wellsboro Gazette August 17 1910
Starting A Bison Herd
Uncle Sam Has Three in All Now, Numbering 161 Animals
It is only within the last few years that people have awakened to the fact that if the American buffalo were not going to disappear from the face of the earth something would have to be done to preserve the species. There was a time when the whole Northwest of North America, as well as parts of the South, were thickly tenanted by wandering herds of these big, clumsy looking, wooly animals. The Indians used to hunt them, and use their meat as well as the hides and horns. The beef was good eating, and the red men dried it into a kind of pemmican. The skins made comfortable robes and clothes, and the hides were turned into huts and boats. And so the buffalo was a useful fellow to the red men who hunted him fair and square in the open and killed in rational numbers, so that the stock was never really diminished.
But it took the white man – the civilized white man- to do the work. When he came into possession of the New World he went at it. The buffalo were hunted and trapped in millions. Sometimes an animal was killed and just one slice of steak taken from his hump, the rest thrown away to be eaten by coyotes. As short a time ago as seventeen or eighteen years there were stacks of buffalo horns and bones piles along the line of the Canadian pacific railway – for all the world like old stump fences, only much higher. Between 1855 and 1865 the slaughter was so great that by 1870 the species had all but disappeared from the continent.
Then the people began to think. Naturalist and men of science generally wanted to see the bison or buffalo, saved from extinction, and they set their heads to heads to try to accomplish this end. Small remnants of herds still lived in secluded mountain fastnesses and prairie wilds, and a few stray animals had been captured and were living in captivity. To set apart a tract of land specially for the use of the defrauded monarch of the plains, just as reservations have been made for the Indians, was the thing decided upon. And so there are several parks in existence now where the great bison has full sway, and runs things to suit himself.
The American Bison Society is the leading force in the movement to preserve this American species of animal. The big work undertaken and accomplished by this society since its beginning about three years ago, has been the buying and establishing of the Montana national bison herd.
The first thing the society did was to send out Professor Morton J. Elrod, of Missoula, Mont., to examine available sites with an eye to finding a spot suitable for a bison park. After a careful search a tract of land covering some 29 square miles was hit upon. It is a splendid range, extending over mountains and valleys, rich in bunch grass and fringed with dark green foliage – just such haunts as the natural wild bison would choose for himself are to be found within it’s limits. The Jocko and the Flathead rivers wind about two side of the tract, giving rocky variety to the scenery. So, having selected a spot that it wanted, the society went about having Congress appropriate money to buy it. Through Senator Joseph M. Dixon this was done. The cost of buying the range and fencing it in with a fence strong enough to keep buffalo within amounted to $40,000.00.
The society had pledged Congress in return for this expenditure to buy a herd of buffalo as a nucleus. So it went about raising $10,000.00 for that purpose. Having done this, the next step was to secure the animals. Several private owners of bison had promised to contribute beast, until ten were assured. A buying committee was then appointed and the business of buying buffalo was made a real business.
At Kalispel not far from the range selected, was a herd of bison founded by the late C.E. Conrad and managed by Mrs. Alica D Conrad, after her husband’s death. After much considering and talking and making of prices, to say nothing of naming the animals and selecting the best a purchase was finally made of 34 buffalo. These were the pick of the 32 contained in the Conrad herd.
There are 95 bison in Yellowstone Park reservation, 19 at Wichita and 47 on this Montana range, making a total of 161 head owned by the United Sates Government. In choosing these animals care was taken to pick specimens that were of absolutely pure blood and free of disease. It is supposed that within our time, would be enough to save the bison race from extinction and to make up the United States for the loss of the Pablo herd to Canada.