Chapter

Bison Numbers before the Great Slaughter

Dale F. Lott

in American Bison

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233386
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930742 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233386.003.0021
Bison Numbers before the Great Slaughter

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The difficulty of estimating the bison population of primitive America shrinks in comparison to trying to estimate the numbers in North America just after the Civil War — just before the start of the commercial hide hunt often called “the Great Slaughter.” Many forces — horseback hunting, robe trading, habitat degradation — bore down on bison in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Even the weather turned against them. One may assume with reasonable certainty that the bison population west of the Mississippi River at the close of the Civil War numbered in the millions, probably in the tens of millions.

Keywords: primitive America; bison population; commercial hide hunt; horseback hunting; robe trading; habitat degradation; Civil War

Chapter.  846 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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