Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Coyotes-Wolves-Cougars.blogspot.com

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dave Foreman is legendary in the Environmental arena as one of the pioneers of "REWILDING".....................Dave provides an insightful history lesson regarding how Ranching robbed the West of it's wildlife heritage...............In Dave's own words-----: "From 1866 to 1885 approximately 6,000,000 cattle were driven over the northern and western trails [from Texas] to Sedalia, Abilene, Dodge City, Wichita, Ellsworth, Denver, Tucson, and elsewhere".............. "This was the classic Wild West of Rawhide, Gunsmoke, and untold movies"........."In 1870, the total number of cattle in the Arizona Territory was only 5,000,,,,,,,,,by 1891 the population of cattle in the territory had grown to an estimated 1.5 million"..........…"In 1870, the cattle population in 17 western states was estimated to be 4-5 million head; by 1890, that had grown to 26.5 million"..............."The mind of the range livestock industry was best told by the unanimous declaration of a west Texas cattlemen's association in 1898"----"None of us know, or care to know, anything about grasses, native or otherwise, outside the fact that for the present there are lots of them, the best on record, and we are after getting the most out of them while they last.".............As the famous western American Artist Charles M. Russell said with alacrity at the turn of the 20th century ------"a pioneer is a man who comes to a virgin country, traps off all the fur, kills off all the wild meat, cuts down all the trees, grazes off all the grass, plows the roots up and strings ten million miles of wire"............. "A "pioneer" destroys things and calls it civilization"............... "I wish to God that this country was just like it was when I first saw it and that none of you folks were here at all"




Rewilding Institute News
 

Link to The Rewilding Institute


 
I call the twenty or thirty years after t
he Civil War the
"Killing Decades" as
 the American slaughter of wild things
reached its peak
 then.  Market hunting, mining, logging,
and railroading
all helped lay the groundwork for the coming
 of ranching.  Cattle and sheep were the
 last straw in the
 domestication of the
big open.  When whipped Johnny Rebs
of the Confederate
Army trudged home
to Texas in 1865, they found tens of
thousands of cattle gone
 loose.  A go-getting man with a fast
horse, a ready rope, and
 a willing gun could become a cattle
baron.  Hungry cities in
Europe and the eastern United States
 wanted beef.  Railroad
 lines nosing west and the coming of
refrigerated cars made
 shipping western cattle east workable. 
 The all-out slaughter
of the big buffalo herds and
the downfall and murder of the tribes
 made the Great Plains
 and the Mountain West safe for the
 cattleman and sheepman.
  Western historians LeRoy Hafen
and Carl Coke Rister
wrote, "During the wild seventies
 and eighties the free-range
industry was at its height.  From
1866 to 1885 approximately
6,000,000 cattle were driven over
 the northern and western
trails [from Texas] to Sedalia, Abilene,
 Dodge City, Wichita,
Ellsworth, Denver, Tucson, and
 elsewhere."  This was the
 classic Wild West of Rawhide,
Gunsmoke, and untold movies.
Early cattle drive into AZ territory, 1880s, across Santa Cruz River
Early cattle drive into AZ territory, 1880s, across Santa
 Cruz River
Herds were also driven to Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho
 from Texas and
 from the West Coast.  Denzel and Nancy Ferguson, in their
 hard look at the Western livestock industry, Sacred
Cows at the Public Trough, gave an almost unbelievable
 tally of the growth in livestock after the Civil War.
In 1850 the number of sheep in western states other than
California was only about 514,000 but the numbers soared
 to nearly 20 million by 1890.
In 1870, the total number of cattle in the Arizona Territory
 was only 5,000
.…by 1891 the population of cattle in the territory had grown
 to an estimated
 1.5 million.…In 1870, the cattle population in 17 western
 states was estimated
 to be 4-5 million head; by 1890, that had grown
to 26.5 million.
Although there were many small mom-and-pop ramshackle
 ranches throughout the West, the cattle industry then, as it is
 now, was lorded over by big outfits,
 often owned by outside money.  Hafen and Rister again:
In 1882 the Wyoming Stock-Raisers Association's By-Laws
and Reports
 estimated that English and Scottish investments in the West,
 and largely in Wyoming and Texas, amounted to …
$30,000,000.  And on March 27, 1884, Representative
N. W. Nutting of New York reported to Congress that
foreign interests controlled more than 20,000,000 acres
of Great Plains range lands
 and threatened to dominate the industry.
The Scottish American Mortgage Company had one ranch
 of 2,580,480 acres in northern New Mexico and one in
 southeastern Colorado of 2,240,000 acres.  Titled Europeans
like the Marquis de Mores, Baron von Richthofen, and the
Earl of Dunraven had sprawling ranches.  American
investments outdid the Europeans', though.  The
 XIT ranch in the Texas panhandle was over three
million acres in size and had a fence 781 miles long
hemming it in.  A Chicago syndicate owned it.
Notwithstanding ownership—European nobility,
American corporations,
rustlers turned cattle barons, or hardscrabble
toeholds of a man and his
wife and their herd of children—the range was
 badly overstocked and
 overgrazed.  Thunderstorms swept away the
topsoil in sheets, and
gullywashers turned slow, winding streams into
 straight-shot dry arroyos
 with forty-foot sheer banks.  Arizona rancher
H. C. Hooker recalled the
San Pedro River valley in 1870, before the
 onslaught of livestock, as
"having an abundance of timber with large
 beds of sacaton and grama
 grasses.  The river bed was shallow and
 grassy with its banks with
luxuriant growth of vegetation."  It was
 another world thirty years
later.  He wrote that "the river had cut 10
to 40 feet below its banks
with its trees and underbrush gone, with
the mesas grazed by thousands
 of horses and cattle."
Never mind.  These were bully times. 
Forget about stops or edges. 
 The mind of the range livestock industry
was best told by the unanimous declaration
of a west Texas cattlemen's association in 1898:
Resolved, that none of us know, or care to know,
 anything about grasses,
native or otherwise, outside the fact that
 for the present there are lots of
them, the best on record, and we are after
getting the most out of them
while they last.
The Texans' careless bravado was bewildering
 in light of what had
happened in the short years earlier.  The
overstocked grasslands north
and west had already crashed.  Drought and
 fire hit the Montana range
in the spring and summer of 1886.  Nonetheless,
 the range was filled up
with more cattle—more than a million by fall. 
 One after another god-awful blizzard spun the
northern grasslands into a killing field that winter
 of
1886-1887.  Bay State Land and Cattle Company
 alone lost 100,000
head.  Seventy percent of the cattle in eastern
Montana died.  The total
loss was in the neighborhood of $20 million
 (in 1887 dollars).  Two years
 later the same dreadfulness hit the Intermountain
 West.  Drought
followed by blizzards filled the years 1889-90
with heartbreak and
 wretchedness.  One big Nevada-Idaho cow-kingdom
had only 68 head
 left in 1890 after branding 38,000 calves in 1885. 
Drought then whacked
Arizona and New Mexico in 1891-1893 with 50-75
percent of all cattle
 dying.  "Witnesses stated that a person could
stand at one carcass and
 throw rocks to others nearby," wrote the Fergusons.
Glenwood at adobe house; symbol of ecologically ignorant resource dreams
© Dave Foreman
In those seven years, cattle heaven fell to hell.
  But before it did, the
 landscape of the West was made a lesser world
with a new hard
leanness.  The land had been scalped.  Millions
 of acres had lost
their topsoil, no stream was left healthy, and
 native vegetation
 was snuffed.  Just as in the sacking of Rome
 by the Ostrogoths,
 wealth had been turned into rubble by the
cattle and sheep looters.
 
The Frontier Century and the Killing Decades
 were best weighed by
 Charles M. Russell, one of America's
most-loved artists, who started
 out as a fifteen-year-old cowpuncher in
Montana in 1879.  One of his
paintings of the frontier sold for $2.3
 million a few years ago.  A
 great National Wildlife Refuge on
 the banks of the Missouri
 River in Montana is named after him. 
 After he became well-known
 as an artist, a booster bunch, the "Forward
 Looking Citizens" of
Great Falls, Montana, asked to give him an
award as a great pioneer.
  Charlie Russell stood before them and said:
 
In my book, a pioneer is a man who comes
to a virgin country,
traps off all the fur, kills off all the wild meat,
 cuts down all the
 trees, grazes off all the grass, plows the roots
 up and strings ten
million miles of wire.  A "pioneer" destroys
things and calls it
civilization.  I wish to God that this country
 was just like it was
when I first saw it and that none of you
 folks were here at all.
Dave Foreman
 
Please click here to read the original
 Campfire, including
 footnotes.
 
 
 
  •  

2 comments:

Mark LaRoux said...

Despite the damage they did to the environment, those cattle were 10 times healthier than the 'never runners' that are there today: nowadays they are hornless, overweight, underexercised and unnatural compared to just a hundred and fifty years ago. The problem is as much our demand as the rancher's product.

Rick Meril said...

your point is taken...............we keep breeding like roaches,,,,,,,,,the demand for food and all raw materials skyrockets