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Consequences of modern hunting. Example #002: American bison

The American bison was saved by hunters

American bison

American bison

It was solely due to the tireless efforts of dedicated recreational hunters that the American bison was saved from going extinct….

By Jens Ulrik Høgh

In just a few decades the endless herds of American bison was reduced to almost nothing by relentless commercial hunting. Between 1840 and 1870, the population went from an estimated 40 million animals to 5-6 million. At the turn of the century there were less than 300 left in total.

The only reason that there were any left at all was that small herds had been secured on private lands at the end of the 1880’s. In the spring of 1886 the well-known bison hunter Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones became worried about the future of the American bison disappearing at an alarming rate. He set out to catch enough animals alive to start a herd of his own.

It was a very close call. “Buffalo” Jones managed to catch 8 calves in a matter of days or maybe even hours before it was to late in that particular location. In a letter to the American Bison Society dated 1912 he recalls the dramatic events of the rescue mission:

I will tell the story of how the great American bison was saved. I roped 8 calves and saved them, although the wolves and coyotes were there by hundreds. As soon as I caught one, I tied my hat to it, as I knew the brutes never touched anything tainted with the fresh scent of man. The next, my coat, then my vest, then my boots, and last, my socks, thus protecting 7. The 8th I picked up in my arms and rode back to the 7th as it was surrounded by wolves and coyotes. When I arrived where it was bound down, I saw the vicious brutes snapping at the sixth one, so reached down and drew up the seventh one and galloped back to the sixth to protect it. I let the two calves down, one with legs tied and the lasso around the eight calf’s neck, the other end of the rope around my horses’ neck. The strain was so great, I fainted, but revived when my boys came up and gave me some whiskey we had for snake bites.

“Buffalo” Jones’ efforts inspired others and the species was saved for the time being. The total population did however continue to decline due to lack of public interest and in the beginning of the twentieth century the buffalo was almost history.

Salvation came in form of enthusiastic hunters and conservationists like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinell, “Buffalo” Jones and William T. Hornaday. In 1887 Roosevelt and a number of other “sportsmen” (recreational hunters) founded the Boone & Crockett Club strongly inspired by the fate of the American bison. The members of the club worked hard to put an end to over-exploitation and to save the natural resources for future generations to use in a sustainable manner – these men are widely acknowledged as the fathers of modern American nature conservation.

In relation to the bison George Bird Grinell wrote several articles in favor of saving the buffalo and President Roosevelt hired his friend “Buffalo” Jones as the first game warden of the new Yellowstone National Park where he started to rebuild a buffalo herd in 1902. With the strong support of the president, William T. Hornaday formed the American Bison Society in 1905 with the single purpose of saving the animal from extinction. The Society stocked the new national parks with small breeding herds of buffalo – the first reintroductions of wild animals in American history.

It worked! Today there is more than 500,000 buffalo roaming the North American continent. More than 90% of these animals exist on private land where recreational hunting makes the animals a valuable resource for the landowners. If it had not been for a few passionate hunters these magnificent animals would have been history more than a century ago. This is a fact.

 

Consequences of modern hunting. Example #001: Alpine ibex

Hunters saved the Alpine ibex from extinction

If it hadn’t been for the conservation efforts of a trophy hunting king of Sardinia the Alpine ibex would have gone extinct more than 150 years ago….

By Jens Ulrik Høgh

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By the beginning of the 19th century the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) had become almost extinct after centuries of illegal hunting. Body parts from from this powerful creature were believed to have magical properties in traditional European medicine. The demand was great, the prices were high and poachers stopped at nothing to kill every single animal they could. Around 1850 the very last remaining Alpine ibexes survived in a relatively small area surrounding Gran Paradiso mountain in north-western Italy. There were less than 60 animals left. The area belonged to the king of Sardinia Victor Emmanuel II who loved the challenge of the ibex hunt.

All other protection measures had failed miserably in 1856 when the king proclaimed that Gran Paradiso was henceforth royal hunting grounds under his protection. He organized a small army of former poachers who were all skilled hunters and mountaineers. Their job was to protect the ibex from further poaching. Luxurious hunting lodges and a system of paths were established to facilitate the hunt. Local peasants were paid to take care of the grounds and arrange the royal hunts. The survival of the ibex had suddenly become a matter of great interest to the poor local population of the area.

The conservation efforts turned out to be a great success. By the the year 1900 the ibex population reached 2,000 animals. Today there is more than 45,000 ibexes in the Alps distributed between more than 100 reintroduced local populations. Every singe Alpine Ibex in the world derives from the small population that Victor Emmanuel II saved in Gran Paradiso. He was motivated entirely by his hunting passion. Recreational hunting saved the Alpine Ibex from extinction. This is a fact.

Gorilla Animal Rights Activists

What’s wrong with “animal rights activists” ?

A few days ago a Gorilla in Cincinnati Zoo had to be shot to protect a 4-year old child who fell into the enclosure with the gorillas. A very unfortunate event indeed. But the social media reactions are moronic. Tens of thousands of people have signed petitions in protest of the killing of the gorilla that attacked the child…. WHAT THE