Killing the American Buffalo in the 1800s
January 17, 2013
Estimates are that as many as 100 million bison roamed North America in large herds before Native Americans began hunting them. Within 100 years however, the bison had almost disappeared from western ranges.
The near extinction of bison from North America was significant for several reasons. Primarily, the removal of the main source of meat for Native Americans meant that they would be more easily persuaded to move to reservations, allowing for increased settlement in the West. The railroads also wanted to see the bison herds thinned to decrease the danger they posed to locomotives in the region, allowing for more efficient and less dangerous use of the rails for transportation. Professional hunters were happy to oblige both the government and the railroads because bison hides were valuable at the time in making commercial items such as robes and rugs.