Canada History


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 In 1786 statistics show that over 705,000 skins were exported from Québec alone, valued at over £203,000. Muskrat, 202,719; deer, 133,271; beaver, 116,623; raccoon, 108,521; marten, 48,463; otter, 23,684; bear, 19,362 (what a chance for the Zoological Garden!) : wolf, 12,923; elk, 7,555, with numerous others, the particular designation of which are now unknown. This was a single years business from one port, and at that date the traffic had fallen off largely, as the country was beginning to get drained of the supply. What a paradise must Detroit have been for the hunter! Indeed, much of the real zest of sport must have been lost when all the cook had to do was to step to the door of her cabin and with her unerring gun or arrow bring down from the encircling line of forest whatever description of game happened to suit her fancy.

The trade in bison skins had hardly commenced when Cadillac came, and during the lifetime of many readers hereof the race of animals furnishing this valuable item of merchandise will probably become extinct. History or tradition affords some light respecting the immense fortunes that were realized from this trade. Jacques Le Ber, of Montréal, was the Vanderbilt of that day, and it is well known that the great fortune of John Jacob Astor, with whom the last of our old traders had large accounts, was largely derived from this source.

Published by Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan Nov 4 1883

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The Lethbridge Hearld Alberta Canada

May 8 1850

Will Move Cattalo To Manyberries Area

……Plans are being made for the transfer late in May of the Cattalo cows and bulls from Wainwright Buffalo park to the new home of the cross-bred animals at the Dominion Range Experimental Station near Manyberries. The calves were moved to Manyberries last fall and wintered well in their new preserve.

……H.F. Peters officer in charge of the range station states it may be necessary to truck the cattalo-cross between native buffalo and cattle – from their Wainwright enclosure to the loading point at Wainwright. They will then be shipped by rail to Bain on the Foremost line of the CPR. They will be unkaced at Bain and tra ed to their new range.

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The Galveston Daily News Nov 18 1876

 

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A law was passed in Canada that forbade the use of pounds (corrals), wanton destruction, killing of buffalo under 2 years of age, and the killing of cows during a closed season.
Lt. Col. Samuel Bedson of Stoney Mountain, Manitoba (Canada) purchased bison from the Alloway herd, the McKay herd and from some Native Americans.

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Manitoba Free Press

April 8, 1878

THE BUFFALO PRESERVATION LAW

The ordinances passed at the first legislative session of the Council of the Northwest Territories, under the “North-West Territories Act, 1877, “ having been laid before Parliament in accordance with the requirements of the statute, we have now to hand the text of the law for the preservation of the buffalo which went into force on 1st June last. The particulars we have already published were strictly accurate, but of the excellent provisions contained in the first, fifth, and sixth clauses we were not till now aware. It will be seen that the Indians are not debarred from killing buffalo to satisfy their immediate wants, even during the close season for cows, which close season, so far as the Indians are concerned, commences three months later than for other persons. Under these circumstances we can but believe that the tribes will gratefully accept and support a law so obviously constructed in their own interest, if they only have its nature and object fully explained to them. The matter is of such importance to all persons dwelling in the North-West were visiting it, that we deem it wise to publish this full text of the ordinance, in order that there may be no excuses on the part of white men or half-breeds going west for infringing its provisions:

  1. No pound,., Or like enclosure or contrivance shall, at any time be formed or used in the North-West Territories for the capture of buffalo, nor shall it be lawful to destroy buffalo by running them into rivers or lakes, or over steep banks or precipices.
  2. It shall be unlawful at any season to hunt or kill Buffalo from the mere motive of amusement, or wanton destruction, or solely to secure their tongues, choice cuts, or peltries; and the proof in any case that less than one-half of the flesh of the buffalo has been used or removed shall be sufficient evidence of the violation of this section.
  3. It shall be unlawful to kill buffalo of either sex under two years of age, or to have the dead bodies or the peltries, or any other part of the bodies, of such young buffaloes in possession.
  4. On and after fifteenth of November, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven, and in every year thereafter, period between the fifteenth day of November in the fourteenth day of the following August, inclusive, shall be a close season for female buffalo: and during said season it shall be unlawful to kill such buffalo, or to have in possession the dead bodies, or the peltries, or any other part of the bodies of the female buffalo killed in the said close season:- Provided, that nothing contained in this section shall extend or apply to Indians or non-treaty Indians between the fifteenth day of November and the fourteenth day of the following February inclusive.
  5. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance, it shall be lawful for any traveler or other person in circumstance of pressing necessity to kill buffalo to satisfy his immediate wants.
  6. In order to convict any person of unlawfully killing buffalo, it shall be sufficient to prove that such persons was one of a party necessary to such killing: and taking the life of each and every buffalo unlawfully killed shall be deemed a distinct and separate offense.
  7. Every person convicted of an offense against any of the foregoing provisions of this Ordinance shall be liable for each and every offense to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, with cost of prosecution, and in default of payment to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months.
  8. When any offense is committed against this Ordinance, it shall be the duty of any sheriff, policeman, constable, sub-constable, or other peace officer, upon view their of or upon the information of any two persons, who shall declare their names and places of abode, to forthwith arrest such offender by the authority of this ordinance, and without further warrant to bring him before a judge, stipendiary magistrate, or justice of the peace, to be dealt with according to law.
  9. Every offense against any of the sections of this Ordinance may be presented in a summary manner before any judge, stipendiary magistrate, or justice of the peace.
  10. One-half of any pecuniary penalty recovered under this Ordinance shall be paid to the informer.

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April 21 1909

LAST WILD BUFFALO KILLED BY HIS HERD
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 –
Sir Donald

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 tip 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.

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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 Hunts

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.

Great Increase

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.

Buffalo Park

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.

 

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Buffalo National Park, 1909-1939

Near Wainwright, Alberta started as as a wildlife saving effort , experiments with bison and other species never proved fruitful and were never funded properly to operate the park effectively or to remedy the crises the animals faced.

The “cattalo”, by breeding together domesticated cattle with bison. These animals were bred back with full-blooded bison to remove their cattle-like physical characteristics, which  evident in the photographs below of animals that are 5/8 bison. These photographs  date from the 1910s and 1920s and most were taken in Wainwright.

Canada History

Quintoporto 5/8 Buffalo Bull, Wainright Park.” PC005148. Courtesy of Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

5_8 Buffalo Bull PC010948 Courtesy of Peels Prairie

5/8ths   Buffalo Bull PC010948 Courtesy of Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

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BACK IN THOSE DAYS

The Winnipeg Tribune
Dec. 25 1922

……The buffalo wandered over the prairies in their thousands. But the killing of them went on with such rapidity after the middle years of the last century that this species came close to extinction. If it were not for the Flathead herd, the buffalo, might now be pretty nearly as extinct as the Great Auk. The beginning of the Flathead herd was in the spring of 1874, when Walking Coyote, a Pend d’Oreille Indian on a Montana reservation, was with a hunting party in the Milk River country close to the international boundary, which killed some of the last of the buffalo. Pathetically, four little buffalo calves, whose mothers had been killed, followed the horses of the hunters. Walking Coyote took and cared for the four little creatures- two bulls and two heifers- and left them at the St. Ignatius mission, the centre of the Flathead reserve in Montana.
……They became pets and objects of interest around the mission. By 1884 their progeny numbered 14. And that year Donald McDonald, the last man to represent the Hudson’s Bay company on United States territory, entered into negotiations to purchase that little herd of last plains buffalo remaining alive. But C. A. Allard and Michel Pablo, two Montana ranchers, made a deal with Walking Coyote, at $250 ahead for the animals. Walking Coyote insisted on having actual money; he refused to accept a cheque. Allard and Pablo were busy counting out the greenbacks into piles of $100, each of which was placed under a stone, when they saw a mink. Instantly Walking Coyote and both the ranchers went after the mink, and for some minutes forgot the piles of money, to which they hurried back, to find it safe, with the lone Indian looking at it with covetous eyes.
……In 1893 Allard and Pablo bought the remnant of “Buffalo’s” Jones herd at Omaha, which had been purchased from Col. Benson, at Stony Mountain, who had got them from Hon. James McKay, at Deer Lodge, who was in one of the early Manitoba governments and had started his little buffalo herd shortly before Walking Coyote came into possession of the four little buffalo calves. The Buffalo now in Winnipeg are descendents of Hon. James McKay’s buffalo; the animals of that herd which Col. Benson did not get were bought by Sir Donald A. Smith, afterwards Lord Strathcona, and given by him to the Dominion government, Winnipeg, with a great deal of trouble, managed to get four of that lot. It is thus plain that all the buffalo in existence are closely allied.

Their Last Drink The Winnipeg Tirb Dec 25 1929 pic

……In 1906 the Dominion government bought the Flathead herd, which by that time had increased to some 700 animals, from Michael Pablo whose partner C. A. Allard, had died in 1896. About $200,000 was paid for the herd. Seventy-five cowboys made the last round-up, which was a work of tremendous difficulties, and took two months. Only three times in six weeks of daily drives did the cowboys succeed in getting any of the buffalo into the corrals. The buffalo, when they found themselves being driven from their native pastures, turned on the cowboys. Many horses were killed, and many cowboys injured. Finally fences 26 miles long, converging to the corrals at Ravalli, Montana, were built, and the buffalo were gradually brought together. From Ravalli they traveled by railway to the reserve provided for them near Wainwright, where they have increased and multiplied, until now numbering some 7,000. It was announced from Ottawa last week that the department of the interior has in contemplation killing of about 1,000 of them, to keep the reserve at Wainwright from being overcrowded.
……The accompanying illustration is reproduced from a photograph made during the roundup in Montana in 1906. On the back of the photograph is written: “Their last drink on their native range half-mile from the shipping corrals at Ravalli Montana.”

Old Timer

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HOW WE LOST A CHANCE AT BISON
Harrisburg Telegraph Pa.
Dec 7 1911
Offered Only $15 a Head For Animals Worth $200
CANADA HAD THEM
Paid $120,000 For a Herd of Six Hundred of Them

……Recently the Canadian Government, by a striking coup d’eta, secured the greatest herd of bison in captivity, and by returning them to an immense preserved tract in their native haunts on the plains of the great West have arrested natural extinction with such complete success that within a few years they anticipate possessing a huge herd of these animals. The story of how this deal was consummated, says a writer in the December Wide World Magazine, and how the United States lost a great opportunity of becoming possessed of one of the finest animal attractions the world, constitute an interesting romance.
……When the slaughter was at its height, some thirty years ago, a Flathead Indian known as “Walking Coyote, “made a raid into the plains of Alberta, and as a result of his buffalo-hunt secured about twenty prime beast, which he sold to another half-breed Indian of his tribe for $2000. Michel Pablo, the new owner of the animals is a shrewd business man, even for an Indian. Realizing that the bison in its natural state would soon become a thing of the past, he turned them loose upon the Indian reservation in Montana, leaving them to wander and roam of their own free will over an area of some fifty square miles. By freeing them in this manner, and protecting them against destruction, he concluded that they would propagate freely, since the conditions were highly conducive to such a result.
……When the United States Government took the bison under its protective wing it could not acquire Pablo’s herd, as it was the private property of an individual, and the Flathead was at liberty to deal with his animals just as he felt disposed. He himself was under the protection of the Government, but that did not apply to his stock, and so he felt perfectly secure.
……But one day Pablo received disquieting news. He was informed that the United States Government had decided at an opportune moment to throw the Indian reservation open to settlement. When that happened, what was he to do with his herd? He decided to offer the whole stock, just as it was, to the authorities, hurried to Washington and expressed his readiness to sell. The Government offered to relieve him of his stock at $15 per head. Pablo refused hotly and laugh out the parsimonious offer.
……At this juncture things took a sudden turn in his favor. Mr. Howard Douglas, the Commissioner of the Canadian Parks, had heard about Pablo’s wonderful herd and was cognizant of the American negotiations. He forth with hastened to Ravalli to open negotiations with the Indian for their acquisition. It was a delicate task, as Pablo, who could not speak a word of English, viewed the English-speaking race with extreme suspicion, heightened by the treatment he had received from the American authorities. The pourparlers were very tedious, as the Indians was still in treaty with the United States Government, but the deal was clinched in three months, when Mr. Douglas offered to take the whole herd of 600 head at at least, at $200 a piece making $120,000 for the whole consignment. The bargain was struck and Pablo signed a contract undertaking to hand the animals safe and sound to Mr. Howard at the point of shipment. Pablo chuckled with the light, for he had accumulated wealth suddenly, and his foresight in buying up “Walking Coyote’s” twenty buffalo, nearly thirty years before, had paid him handsomely. Today Pablo is reckoned a veritable Croesus among Indians.

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A BISON HUNT LIKE THE DAYS OF BUFFALO BILL!

San Francisco Chronicle Nov 18 1923

Canadian Hunters Will Slay Two Thousand Big Bulls at Their Round-Up in December

WORLD OF SPORTSMEN MAKE EAGER PLEA TO BE ALLOWED SHOT AT POWERFUL ANIMALS

……Because an Indian had a quarrel with his father-in-law, the dominion of Canada became the owner of the greatest herd of buffalo in the world, and American citizens will have an opportunity of ordering Buffalo steaks in the best restaurants and hotels this winter.

……The herd living under conditions almost identical with those which prevailed in the early days on the plains, have multiplied so rapidly, especially the bulls, that the dominion has been forced to dispose of some 2000 or 2500 of them. The Wainwright Buffalo Park at Wainwright, Alberta, contains 160 square miles, all fenced in and here resides 1500 Buffalo. These figures well convey an idea of the vast number that made black the territory between the Mississippi and the Rocky mountains less than 100 years ago.

……Within the memory of man now living buffalo were slaughtered for hides alone. Many are that picturesque figures of the early days on the plains that have had for backgrounds vast herds of the shaggy coated creatures. Buffalo Bill won his name because of his skill in shooting them, and members of European ruling houses have been entertained by buffalo hunts. But man and the elements played and havoc with the herds. The white man was not the only offender, for the Indian looked upon the buffalo as a sort of inexhaustible perambulating larder, and killed, with no thought of the day when his chief source of food would be gone. The fates play strange tricks in the destinies of men and nations, and though it may seem paradoxical, the red man, who played as inglorious a role as the white man in the virtual extinction of the buffalo, was unwittingly the original cause of its preservation.

ONLY 1000 LEFT THIRTY YEARS AGO

……For more than a half a century red man and white carried on such wanton warfare against the Buffalo that Dr. W. T. Hornaday, the distinguished American zoologist, is authority for the statement that in 1889 the total number of buffalo running wild and I’m protected in the United States and Canada was less than 1000. This contrast vividly with the writings of David Thomson, who, in 1901, said “the prairies are actually covered with buffalo,” and again in 1914, when he tells us, “the ground was covered with buffalo at every point of the compass, so far as the eye could see.”

……Their are very numbers invited destruction, commencing with the slaughter by the Indians for food and for the display of their powers as hunters- the successful Buffalo Hunter ranked high as the consistent slayer.

……The fate of the majestic animals was sealed with the building of the first Canadian Transcontinental Railway in 1865. The construction of this line divided the herd into two bodies. The one spread north into Alberta, the other South into Saskatchewan and Alberta, there to be slaughtered by the plains Crees. Persecuted by the Crees, the southern herd fled further south over the boundary into the United States, where similar fate befell them at the hands of the white man. Settlers, wolves, Indians and winter storms took dreadful toll of the northern herd and by 1889 it to had disappeared. That, very briefly, is the sad story of the buffalo.

……But fate, which had dealt so cruelly with these great animals had decided to preserve them to prosperity. Into the settling in 1873 there came Walking Coyote, a Pend d’ Oreille Indian, who was wintering with a squaw and son-in-law among the Piegans Indians on Milk river, where the town of Buffalo, Mont. Now stands.

INDIANS QUARREL OVER HORSE TRADE

……Over a horse deal, Walking Coyote and his son-in-law quarreled and parted. The sun fled north to Saskatchewan and their pined for the company of his tribe. One day, taking part in a buffalo hunt, he separated two calves-a bull and a cow-from their mothers, and with them in tow, as hostage of peace, he returned, a red prodigal son, bringing his “fatted calf” with him to the fold. Old Walking Coyote accepted them and the son-in-law, and the first link in the regeneration of the buffalo herds had been forged. Walking Coyote took the calves to St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Reservation, and there they thrived.

……The increase was slow, but in 1884 Walking Coyote had a herd of thirteen animals. These becoming too great a tax on his resources and _______, he sold them to A. C. Allard, who, with Michael Pablo, owned a ranch nearby. Pablo was shrewd Mexican halfbreed, and with greater wisdom than most men possess, he had foreseen the day when the buffalo would be worth much money.

OWNED NUCLEUS OF GREAT CANADIAN HERD

……It was at his suggestion that Allard completed the bargain and became the owner of the nucleus of the great herd of 3500 buffalo to be found in Wainwright Buffalo Park, Alberta, Canada today.
……The animals were let loose on the ranch and they realm the herd as in the primitive days of their existence. In 1903 they were augmented by the purchase of the remnants of the herd owned by Buffalo Jones of Omaha. This purchase totaled forty four animals of which twenty-six were thoroughbreds and eighteen hybrids. The latter were segregated and not allowed to meet goal with the purebred herds, and both herds showed an encouraging annual increase.

……Allard died (1896) and most of the herd past into the possession of Pablo. In 1907, this shrewd man foresaw another change. The invasion of settlers, of sheep ranches, the springing up of villages and towns, warned him that not for much longer could the ranches be maintained unfenced and un-protested.

PABLO DECIDES TO SELL BISON

……He decided to sell his buffalo. He looked about for a buyer. He tried that government of the United States, but his price did not meet with approval. He tried Canada, and Canada contracted for 1000 animals at $250 per head. Altogether, Pablo was able to deliver 114.

……The rounding up of these animals is a story in itself. Pablo had never given his herd particular attention and they roamed wild in the Hills. It was known, therefore, that the task of rounding them up would be difficult, but how difficult few really understood.

……In the early summer of 1907 Pablo collected a posse of the fastest horses and the best riders in Montana. The dangers were many, for a buffalo can out run a swift horse, and when cornered he will turn and fight to the death. Time after time a hand was on the verge of being impounded, on the threshold of the corral, when a wild revolt of the leaders would plunge the whole herd into a panic, permitting their escape to the four corners of the range.

TRAPPING HERD DANGEROUS SPORT

……During the first year 411 were captured and shipped. One shipment of 111 was made in the spring and the remainder in the fall. These animals were, for the most part, driven into the corral’s by means of a specially constructed guiding fence, which was twenty-six miles long. The following autumn another attempt was made to secure more Buffalo. After six weeks arduous riding, the herders succeeded in rounding up about 200 of the animals, and held them in readiness for driving to the loading corrals. In the night the whole herd escaped by climbing and almost perpendicular cliff and breaking away to the mountains.

……The following summer the riders were more successful and another shipment was made. By constructing cages were in animals were transported to the railway, the buffalo were finally dispatched to their home in Canada. Eight of the animals in the shipment destroyed themselves in their frantic efforts to escape.

TOO MANY BULL FOR SIZE OF HERD

……The Park at Wainwright becoming annually increasingly popular as a stopover point for tourist, contains 140 square miles of fenced-in prairie lands. It is estimated about 125 miles east of Edmonton, the capital city of the Province of Alberta. Here the Buffalo have found an agreeable environment and have propagated rapidly. At approximately half the herd of 3500 are bulls, and it seems to be the rule of the herd to allow one bull to have two mates, there is a surplus of bulls. The rapidity with which the herd has grown has created a problem in forage, and to solve it the Canadian government has decided to kill off 2000 bulls. The slaughter will take place in December, and will be under government supervision.

BIG HOTEL COMPETES FOR SHARE OF DELICACY

……In the marketing of the meat, which is said to be even finer than the best beef, the government will have the controlling hand. Already orders have been placed by hotels and restaurants in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago and other large American cities. Altogether 1,000,000 pounds of fresh Buffalo meat will be placed on the market.

……The hides, to, will be sold. Before that advent of the automobile they were in great demand for robes, and added trial sale at the Montréal for market two years ago these hide sold for $320 each. If the price offered is not satisfactory, they will be disposed of to woolen manufacturers, for the wool of the buffalo can be woven into yarn of extraordinary strength’

SOUVENIR HUNTERS BID FOR HEADS

……The demand by souvenir hunters for the heads of the animals is already very large. A substantial source of income will be thus created, for the last year the lowest price offered for Buffalo heads was $300. This was for a small head. A medium-sized had brought $610, and a large head $1035. The money realized will be devoted to the upkeep and expansion of the park and it is confidently expected that within a few years the great buffalo herd of Canada will be steady paying borders.

SFChron 1923 Art Pictures

Notes* The Canadian government established the park in 1922 to protect a remnant herd of wood bison (a sub-species of the American plains bison), setting aside a large area of boreal forest plain that straddles the border between the province of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Preserving the bison did not necessarily mean “hands-off” management, however, as government officials soon hatched a scheme to transport thousands of plains bison from the fenced and overstocked Buffalo National Park (a former park in southern Alberta) to the supposedly understocked range of Wood Buffalo National Park. Zoologists in Canada, the United States, and Britain vigorously and almost unanimously opposed the plan, fearing the loss of the wood bison sub-species to hybridization and the transmission of tuberculosis from the infected herds in southern Alberta. But government officials stubbornly persisted, transporting 6,673 plains bison to Wood Buffalo National Park between 1925 and 1928. (http://www.environmentandsociety.org/)

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Buffalo at National Park Wainwright Winnipeg Tribune Aug 21 1937

Buffalo at National Park Wainwright Winnipeg Tribune Aug 21 1937

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Bison Conservation: The Canadian Story
http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/24/bisonconservation.shtml
by Peter Lorenz Neufeld
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Manitoba History, Number 24, Autumn 1992

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.
Please direct all inquiries to [email protected]

……From time to time writers extoll North American’s unusually successful conservation project of saving the prairie bison from annihilation. Invariably the impression is left that virtually alone a tiny handful of Americans conducted this worthy undertaking, with Canadians playing a negligible secondary role—a 90% versus 10% at best. In fact, the percentages are in reverse. At least ten Canadians, mostly Manitobans, played pivotal parts in saving the plains bison from extinction. Even of the half dozen Americans usually so credited, writers of this era referred to one as “French Canadian,” and a second was an American Indian living in Canada.
……In 1870-71 two young brothers, Bill Alloway and Charlie Alloway, came to Winnipeg as privates in the Wolseley expedition from Hamilton, Ontario where their father was a Queen’s Own Rifles captain. Charlie became a keen hunter and horseman. Often he roamed the Prairies trading and hunting with Métis and Indians. A description of one of his adventures appears in Wild West magazine of January 1972. On a trip to the Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan, his party was warned by Indians to move camp, which moments later was plowed to pulp by a “brown river of buffalo” while “for 24 hours men watched the steadily loping herd go by at the rate of about 10 a second” Alloway estimated that over a million bison passed by. Charlie, who took over the amateur veterinary practice Bill began and added a trading post, saw the handwriting in 1873 after buying 21,000 buffalo hides at $3-$4 each from a single brigade. He turned his attention, instead, to trying to stop the senseless slaughter of these fine animals.

Caricature of Charles Alloway, 1909.Caricature of Charles Alloway 1909
Source: Manitobans As We See ‘Em, 1908 and 1909
Nan Shipley calls James McKay “Manitoba’s most outstanding citizen.” Val Werier depicts him as “a man of great girth and reputation, a buffalo hunter who weighed 350 pounds and was first speaker of the House” Edith Paterson refers to “a noted trader and hunter.”
In spring 1873 Alloway and McKay travelled west to capture buffalo calves. Taking along a domestic cow as foster mother they joined a Métis brigade and spent the whole summer capturing three young calves near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and bringing them safely to Winnipeg. Next spring they captured three more, but one died enroute home. Four years before his death in 1929, Charlie described these expeditions to a Winnipeg Tribune reporter.
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James McKay, circa 1870s.James McKay cir 1870
Source: Archives of Manitoba
The bison calves were placed in an enclosure near McKay’s home, just north of today’s Assiniboine Park. By 1878 the herd had grown to 13. James died next year and Charlie sold the animals to Col. S. L. Bedson (see below) for $1,000 because he was joining his brother Bill in banking with the private bank of Alloway and Champion (W. F. Alloway founded The Winnipeg Foundation). Long after Charlie’s death his widow, Maude, told the Manitoba Historical Society of her husband leading
a third bison-capturing excursion. In late winter of 1883 the party set out. Aside from the “capture of a number of fine specimen made with the assistance of several Indian buffalo hunters” in the Battle River region about 100 miles from Edmonton, Alberta, their greatest problem occurred crossing the spring-flooding Little Saskatchewan River between Minnedosa and Rapid City, Manitoba.
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Samuel Lawrence Bedson, circa 1890.Samuel Lawrence Bedson, circa 1890
Source: Archives of Manitoba
These calves too were corralled in the recently-vacated 30-acre pasture and “as with the other herds, these few multiplied to quite large proportions. A number of the buffalo in Assiniboine Park today are the progeny of this herd” At least three calves from that trip were acquired by Howard Eaton. Mrs. Alloway concluded: “It has been said that to Charlie Alloway should go the credit for the preservation of the buffalo in Manitoba for if it had not been for his foresight years ago, the American bison would be but a mist vision.” Samuel Lawrence Bedson also came West with Wolseley. A Montreal army officer’s son, he was placed in charge of Lower Fort Garry just down river from Winnipeg. When Ottawa established a penitentiary-mental hospital there in 1871 he became its first warden. Later he selected the Stony Mountain site a few miles westward for a new prison and upon its completion in 1877 continued in
charge there. A popular sportsman always surrounded by friends, Sam proved a kindly but just warden. A wildlife lover, he kept a menagerie of bears, badgers, wolves, deer, moose, geese and other game birds on his nearby farm.

……The same morning the Alloway-McKay bison were moved to Stony Mountain, one cow had a calf. That night the herd escaped and tramped back to Winnipeg through deep snow. In the morning they were herded back to the prison, a total of 62 miles for the newborn calf. Under Bedson’s tender care the bison multiplied rapidly to over 100 by 1888. In 1928 the colonel’s son, K. C. Bedson, told a reported of how, as a youngster 40 years earlier, he had herded bison on the prairie near the prison. His popular mother, Jemima, was of great help to her husband in his various unusual endeavors.
……By 1888 the settler influx and failing health forced Bedson to conclude it was no longer practical to keep his beloved bison. About six were donated to New York and London Zoos. At least 27 were given to Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona) to repay a loan. Most of the remaining herd, listed as high as 98 by some researchers and low as 56 by others, eventually went to C. J. “Buffalo” Jones, manager of Garden City (Kansas) Buffalo Company. No conservationist, he had hunted with Teddy Roosevelt in Africa and dreamed of creating a huge game preserve for hunters to hunt bison for a fat fee.

……In November ‘89 when Jones was negotiating in Winnipeg, he had a standing offer of $60 per hide he could produce, $.50 per pound for meat to U.S. restaurants and $100-$500 a trophy head. Also he was besieged with telegrams from persons in Minnesota and the Dakotas anxious to buy bison at $500-$1,000 each. The sale was delayed briefly when some Winnipeggers tried to form a company to buy the bison to raise commercially. Bedson died in Ottawa at 49 in 1891.

……Smith donated all but five of his bison to the Canadian government which installed them in Banff National Park where they flourished under Superintendent Douglas’ able care. Winnipeg’s street railway company bought the other five plus three from Eaton to donate to Assiniboine Park Zoo, where descendants are still popular with countless visitors each year.
During the mid-1870s one of the original nine Mountie commanding officers, Quebec-native Ephrem Brisebois, had fought a valiant but losing battle in what became southern Alberta to slow down the bison slaughter by developing strict hunting regulations. Unfortunately, this colourful, somewhat controversial sub-inspector who founded Fort Calgary (originally Fort Brisebois) was ignored by his own superiors, consequently made impotent to enforce the judicious restrictions, and resigned.

……Much has been written of the role played in saving the plains bison by the Montana Pend d’Oreille, Sam Walking Coyote. Some hail him as a devoted conservationist, others laud his actions as a “ray of light in all the ruthless killing” of these noble beasts. Most have him capturing bison calves in Montana. However, we can thank the Montana Historical Society for separating fact from fiction. George Coder of Ohio State University has conducted detailed buffalo history research. As to who caught Sam’s bison, where and why, Coder points to the story in the November 1923 Rocky Mountain Husbandman as most accurate.

……It began in 1873 at a Piegan camp on Montana’s Milk River where lived Sam “who had a sharp tongue, a swift temper and (a) son-in-law” who “cheated his wife’s irascible father in a horse swap,” arousing his ire. Life quickly became too hot around camp that winter for the young horse-trader because “every time the old man thought about him, he reached for something to throw; and his aim was good” Dixon Craig of the Edmonton Journal, who also did good bison research, called Sam a renegade. The young man left his parents-in-law and bride, and headed north into Saskatchewan where he became an honest hunter of what remained of the southern half of the once-great bison herd. One day he was lucky enough to capture some calves. A Canadian Press story datelined Wainwright, Alberta gave the number as two bulls and two heifers. Because he missed his young wife considerably, he decided perhaps her cantankerous dad might forgive him if he brought the calves as gift. He herded his peace offering into the U.S. where his father-in-law eagerly accepted it. Sam trailed his calves to this little farm on the Flathead Reserve where by 1884 the four had increased to 13. Old age and difficulty financing his wards caused him to sell.

……Charles Allard, his father Caucasian and his mother Oregon Indian, is often called a “French Canadian.” Allard and his Mexican-Blackfoot ranching partner Michel Pablo, decided to buy most of Sam’s herd. Gene Telpner described the transaction. Sam refused “a white man’s cheque” so the ranchers had to dig up $2,500 cash. As the trio counted out the money, into 25 piles, a mink ran by. “With the instinct of the hunter strong in their spirits, they immediately gave chase, forgetting temporarily all about the buffalo herd and the large sum of money left lying on the ground” A 1948 Canadian Cattleman issue indicates that after the sale Sam “immediately hit for town and after a few weeks of city life was found dead under Missoula Bridge.”

……By 1893 the Allard-Pablo herd on Pend d’Oreille reserve near St. Ignatius Mission had grown to 100. Meanwhile, Jones’ grandiose scheme faded when intense Texas heat and ticks killed most of his bison. He sold the remnant of 35 (one source says 26) to Allard and Pablo. After the former died in 1896, his half of the 300-head herd was divided among his heirs and many sold by them to U.S. zoos and game farms. Despite this, the herd, now owned by Charles Allard Jr. and brother Joseph, Pablo, and Andrew Stringer, totalled 250 in 1899. By 1906 it numbered almost 800 and was the main plains bison herd in North America, the only other of note being the herd in Banff National Park.
Four Canadians, two being Manitobans, played key roles in returning the Montana bison to Canada. Norman Luxton, son of noted journalist W. F. Luxton, (Toronto Globe, Winnipeg Free Press, Nor’Wester) was the progressive publisher of Banff’s Crag and Canyon Weekly. Alex Ayotte, a huge man weighing 240 pounds, had served with Canada’s immigration department in Montana for years and later moved to St. Jean, Manitoba. Hon. Frank Oliver, ex-journalist of Toronto Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press and founder of Alberta’s first newspaper, Edmonton Bulletin, was federal interior minister. Howard Douglas was still superintendent of Banff National Park.

……To Luxton, a close friend of Oliver’s, goes credit for convincing his politician friend the Allard-Pablo herd should be bought by Canada and re-established here. To Oliver goes credit for quick action in 1906 persuading Ottawa the idea had merit and then setting necessary wheels turning to advance what’s often been heralded as “the greatest animal comeback in the history of the world.”
Ayotte, with a bit of help from Eaton, negotiated the purchase of about 716 animals at $245 each, and then led three hazardous roundups and drives to Canada which took several years. He continued to supervise five annual roundups in Alberta.

……To Douglas fell the massive task of making the whole project work. Also, he helped disperse bison to Canadian zoos and other parks, like Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park where one of the largest plains bison herds in existence still attracts thousands of visitors annually.
An interesting sequel to the bison conservation project was research conducted from 1894 to 1914 by Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon, Ontario in crossing plains bison with domestic cattle. In 1915 his bison and cattalo were bought by Ottawa and taken to Wainwright, Alberta. The cattalo project was later transferred south to Manyberries where it continued until 1964.

……Today, buffalo ranching is becoming increasingly common across North America, a popular Manitoba one being Marvin McGregor’s just across the Little Saskatchewan River from the Ski Valley resort north of Minnedosa. Cattle-bison crossing programs are carried on by individual ranchers, the Beefalo breed being one result. In recent years buffalo have multiplied to the extent that even limited hunting seasons have become necessary to contain the rapidly-expanding herds. In fact, a most serious current problem facing Canadian officials is how to combat rampant disease and forage shortage plaguing the herd in Wood Buffalo National Park consisting of 3,500 plains and wood bison, without having to destroy the animals.

……Charlie Alloway, James McKay, Sam Bedson, Ephrem Brisebois, Howard Eaton, Donald Smith, Norman Luxton, Frank Oliver, Howard Douglas and Alex Ayotte left Canadians a most enviable conservation legacy. Let’s treasure it deeply and enhance it.