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American BisonA Natural History$
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Dale Lott, Jan van Wagtendonk, and Kevin Shaffer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233386

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233386.001.0001

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Bison Numbers before the Great Slaughter

Bison Numbers before the Great Slaughter

(p.167) Chapter 21 Bison Numbers before the Great Slaughter
American Bison

Dale F. Lott

University of California Press

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

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