Part 5 out of 11
Except in the few localities above-mentioned, I regard the big-game
situation in the United States and southern Canada as particularly
desperate. Unless there is an immediate and complete revolution in this
country from an era of slaughter to an era of preservation, as sure as
the sun rises on the morrow, outside of the hard and fast game
preserves, and places like Maine and the Adirondacks, this generation of
Americans and near-Americans will live to see our country _swept clean
of big game_!
Two years ago, I did not believe this; but I do now. It is impossible to
exaggerate the wide extent or the seriousness of this situation. In a
country where any and every individual can rise and bluster,
"I'm-just-as-good-as-_you_-are," and bellow for his "rights" as a
"tax-payer," there is no stopping the millions who kill whenever there
is an open season. And to many Americans, no right is dearer than the
right to kill the game which by even the commonest law of equity
belongs, not to the shooter exclusively, but partly to two thousand
other persons who don't shoot at all!
Unless we come to an "About, face!" in quick time, all our big game
outside the preserves is doomed to sure and quick extermination. This is
not an individual opinion, merely: it is a _fact_; and a hundred
thousand men know it to be such.
Last winter (1911-12), because the deer of Montana were driven by cold
and hunger out of the mountains and far down into the ranchmen's
valleys, eleven thousand of them were ruthlessly slaughtered. State
Game Warden Avare says that often heads of families took out as many
licenses as there were persons in the family, and the whole quota was
killed. Such people deserve to go deerless into the future; but we can
not allow them to rob innocent people.
* * * * *
OUR SPECIES OF BIG GAME
THE PRONG-HORNED ANTELOPE, unique and wonderful, will be one of _the
first species of North American big game to become totally extinct_. We
may see this come to pass within twenty years. They can not be bred in
protection, _save in very large fenced ranges_. They are delicate,
capricious, and easily upset. They die literally "at the drop of a hat."
They are quite subject to actinomycosis (lumpy-jaw), which in wild
animals is incurable.
Already all the states that possess wild antelope, except Nevada, have
passed laws giving that species long close seasons; which is highly
creditable to the states that have done their duty. Nevada must get in
line at the next session of her legislature!
In 1908, Dr. T.S. Palmer published in his annual report of "Progress in
Game Protection" the following in regard to the prong-horned antelope:
"Antelope are still found in diminished numbers in fourteen western
states. A considerable number were killed during the year in Montana,
where the species seems to have suffered more than elsewhere since the
season was opened in 1907.
"A striking illustration of the decrease of the antelope is afforded by
Colorado. In 1898 the State Warden estimated that there were 25,000 in
the state, whereas in 1908 the Game Commissioner places the number at
only 2,000. The total number of antelope now in the United States
probably does not exceed 17,000, distributed approximately as follows:
Colorado 2,000 Yellowstone Park 2,000
Idaho 200 Other States 2,000
Montana 4,000 -----
New Mexico 1,300 Saskatchewan 2,000
Oregon 1,500 -----
Wyoming 4,000 19,000
To-day (1912), Dr. Palmer says the total number of antelope is less than
it was in 1908, and in spite of protection the number is steadily
diminishing. This is indeed serious news. The existing bands, already
small, are steadily growing smaller. The antelope are killed lawlessly,
and the crimes of such slaughter are, in nearly every instance,
Previously, we have based strong hopes for the preservation of the
antelope species on the herd in the Yellowstone Park, but those animals
are vanishing fearfully fast. In 1906, Dr. Palmer reported that "About
fifteen hundred antelope came down to the feeding grounds near the
haystacks in the vicinity of Gardiner." In 1908 the Yellowstone Park
was credited with two thousand head. _To-day, the number alive, by
actual count, is only five hundred head_; and this after twenty-five
years of protection! Where have the others gone? This shows, alas! that
perpetual close seasons can not _always_ bring back the vanished
thousands of game!
[Illustration: PRONG-HORNED ANTELOPE]
Here is a reliable report (June 29, 1912) regarding the prong-horned
antelope in Lower California, from E.W. Nelson: "Antelope formerly
ranged over nearly the entire length of Lower California, but are now
gone from a large part of their ancient range, and their steadily
decreasing numbers indicate their early extinction throughout the
In captivity the antelope is exasperatingly delicate and short-lived. It
has about as much stamina as a pet monkey. As an exhibition animal in
zoological gardens and parks it is a failure; for it always looks faded,
spiritless and dead, like a stuffed animal ready to be thrown into the
discard. Zoologists can not save the prong-horn species save at long
range, in preserves so huge that the sensitive little beast will not
even suspect that it is confined.
Two serious attempts have been made to transplant and acclimatize the
antelope--in the Wichita National Bison Range, in Oklahoma, and in the
Montana Bison Range, at Ravalli. In 1911 the Boone and Crockett Club
provided a fund which defrayed the expenses of shipping from the
Yellowstone Park a small nucleus herd to each of those ranges. Eight
were sent to the Wichita Range, of which five arrived alive. Of the
seven sent to the Montana Range, four arrived alive and were duly set
free. While it seems a pity to take specimens from the Yellowstone Park
herd, the disagreeable fact is that there is no other source on which to
draw for breeding stock.
The Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, in Canada, still permit the
hunting and killing of antelope; which is wholly and entirely wrong.
THE BIG-HORN SHEEP.--Of North American big game, the big-horn of the
Rockies will be, after the antelope, the next species to become extinct
outside of protected areas. In the United States that event is fast
approaching. It is far nearer than even the big-game sportsmen realize.
There are to-day only two localities in the four states that still
_think_ they have killable sheep, in which it is worth while to go
sheep-hunting. One is in Montana, and the other is in Wyoming. In the
United States a really big, creditable ram may now be regarded as an
impossibility. There are now perhaps half a dozen guides who can find
killable sheep in our country, but the game is nearly always young rams,
under five years of age.
That Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington still continue to permit
sheep slaughter is outrageous. Their answer is that "The sportsmen won't
stand for stopping it altogether." I will add:--and the great mass of
people are too criminally indifferent to take a hand in the matter, and
_do their duty_ regardless of the men of blood.
The seed stock of big-horn sheep now alive in the United States
aggregates a pitifully small number. After twenty-five years of unbroken
protection in Colorado, Dillon Wallace estimates, after an investigation
on the ground, that the state possesses perhaps thirty-five hundred
head. He credits Montana and Wyoming with five hundred each--which I
think is far too liberal a number. I do not believe that either of those
states contains more than one hundred unprotected sheep, at the very
utmost limit. If there are more, where are they?
In the Yellowstone Park there are 210 head, safe and sound, and slowly
increasing. I can not understand why they have not increased more
rapidly than they have. In Glacier Park, now under permanent protection,
three guides on Lake McDonald, in 1910, estimated the number of sheep at
seven hundred. Idaho has in her rugged Bitter Root and Clearwater
Mountains and elsewhere, a remnant of possibly two hundred sheep, and
Washington has only what chemists call "a trace." It has recently been
discovered that California still contains a few sheep, and in
southwestern Nevada there are a few more.
In Utah, the big-horn species is probably quite extinct. In Arizona,
there are a few very small bands, very widely scattered. They are in the
Santa Catalina Mountains, the Grand Canyon country, the Gila Range, and
the Quitovaquita Mountains, near Sonoyta. But who can protect from
slaughter those Arizona sheep? Absolutely no one! They are too few and
too widely scattered for the game wardens to keep in touch with them.
The "prospectors" have them entirely at their mercy, and the world well
knows what prospectors' "mercy" to edible big game looks like on the
ground. It leads straight to the frying-pan, the coyotes and the
The Lower California peninsula contains about five hundred mountain
sheep, without the slightest protection save low, desert mountains, heat
and thirst. But that is no real protection whatever. Those sheep are too
fine to be butchered the way they have been, and now are being
butchered. In 1908 I strongly called the attention of the Mexican
Government to the situation; and the Departmento de Fomento secured the
issue of an executive order forbidding the hunting of any big game in
Lower California without the written authority of the government. I am
sure, however, that owing to the political and military upheaval it
never stopped the slaughter of sheep. In such easy mountains as those of
Lower California, it is a simple matter to exterminate quickly all the
mountain sheep that they possess. The time for President Madero and his
cabinet to inaugurate serious protective measures has fully arrived.
Both British Columbia and Alberta have even yet fine herds of big-horn,
and we can count three large game preserves in which they are protected.
They are Goat Mountain Park (East Kootenay district, between the Elk and
Bull Rivers); the Rocky Mountains Park, near Banff, and Waterton Lakes
Park, in the southwestern corner of Alberta.
In view of the number of men who desire to hunt them, the bag limit on
big-horn rams in British Columbia and Alberta still is too liberal, by
half. One ram per year for one man is _quite enough_; quite as much so
as one moose is the limit everywhere. To-day "a big, old ram" is
regarded by sportsmen as a much more desirable and creditable trophy
than a moose; because moose-killing is easy, and the bagging of an old
mountain ram in real mountains requires five times as much effort and
The splendid high and rugged mountains of British Columbia and Alberta
form an ideal home for the big-horn (and mountain goat), and it would be
an international calamity for that region to be denuded of its splendid
big game. With resolute intent and judicial treatment that region can
remain a rich and valuable hunting ground for five hundred years to
come. Under falsely "liberal" laws, it can be shot into a state of
complete desolation within ten years, or even less.
OTHER MOUNTAIN SHEEP.--In northern British Columbia, north of Iskoot
Lake, there lies a tremendous region, extending to the Arctic Ocean, and
comprehending the whole area between the Rocky Mountain continental
divide and the waters of the Pacific. Over the southern end of this
great wilderness ranges the black mountain sheep, and throughout the
remainder, with many sheepless intervals, is scattered the white
Owing to the immensity of this wilderness, the well-nigh total lack of
railroads and also of navigable waters, excepting the Yukon, it will not
be thoroughly "opened up" for a quarter of a century. The few resolute
and pneumonia-proof sportsmen who can wade into the country, pulling
boats through icy-cold mountain streams, are not going to devastate
those millions of mountains of their big game. The few head of game
which sportsmen can and will take out of the great northwestern
wilderness during the next twenty-five years will hardly be missed from
the grand total, even though a few easily-accessible localities are shot
out. It is the deadly resident trappers, hunters and prospectors who
must be feared! And again,--_who_ can control them? Can any wilderness
government on earth make it possible? Therefore, _in time, even the
great wilderness will be denuded of big game_. This is absolutely fixed
and certain; for within much less than another century, every square rod
of it will have been gone over by prospectors, lumbermen, trappers and
skin-hunters, and raked again and again with fine-toothed combs. A
railway line to Dawson, the Copper River and Cook Inlet is to-day merely
the next thing to expect, after Canada's present railway program has
been wrought out.
Yes, indeed! In time the wilderness will be opened up, and the big game
will _all_ be shot out, save from the protected areas.
THE MOUNTAIN GOAT.--Even yet, this species is not wholly extinct in the
United States. It survives in Glacier Park, Montana, and the number
estimated in that region by three guide friends is too astoundingly
large to mention.
This animal is much more easily killed than the big-horn. Its white coat
renders it fatally conspicuous at long range during the best hunting
season; it is almost devoid of fear, and it takes altogether too many
chances on man. Thanks to the rage for sheep horns, the average
sportsman's view-point regarding wild life ranks a goat head about six
contours below "old ram" heads, in desirability. Furthermore, most
guides regard the flesh of the goat as almost unfit for use as food, and
far inferior to that of the big-horn. These reasons, taken together,
render the goats much less persecuted by the sportsmen, ranchmen and
prospectors who enter the home of the two species. It was because of
this indifference toward goats that in 1905 Mr. John M. Phillips and his
party saw 243 goats in thirty days in Goat Mountain Park, and only
Unless the preferences of western sportsmen and gunners change very
considerably, the coast mountains of the great northwestern wilderness
will remain stocked with wild mountain goats until long after the last
big-horn has been shot to death. Fortunately, the skin of the mountain
goat has no commercial value. I think it was in 1887 that I purchased,
in Denver, 150 nicely tanned skins of our wild white goat _at fifty
cents each_! They were wanted for the first exhibit ever made to
illustrate the extermination of American large mammals, and they were
shown at the Louisville Exposition. It must have cost the price of those
skins to tan them; and I was pleased to know that some one lost money on
[Illustration MAP OF THE FORMER AND EXISTING RANGES OF THE AMERICAN ELK
From "Life History of Northern Animals," Copyright 1909 by E.T. Seton]
At present the mountain goat extends from north-western Montana to the
head of Cook Inlet, but it is not found in the interior or in the Yukon
valley. Whenever man decides that the species has lived long enough, he
can quickly and easily exterminate it. It is one of the most picturesque
and interesting wild animals on this continent, and there is not the
slightest excuse for shooting it, save as a specimen of natural history.
Like the antelope, it is so unique as a natural curiosity that it
deserves to be taken out of the ranks of animals that are regularly
pursued as game.
THE ELK.--The story of the progressive extermination of the American
elk, or wapiti, covers practically the same territory as the tragedy of
the American bison--one-third of the mainland of North America. The
former range of the elk covered absolutely the garden ground of our
continent, omitting the arid region. Its boundary extended from central
Massachusetts to northern Georgia, southern Illinois, northern Texas and
central New Mexico, central Arizona, the whole Rocky Mountain region up
to the Peace River, and Manitoba. It skipped the arid country west of
the Rockies, but it embraced practically the whole Pacific slope from
central California to the north end of Vancouver Island. Mr. Seton
roughly calculated the former range of _canadensis_ at two and a half
million square miles, and adds: "We are safe, therefore, in believing
that in those days there may have been ten million head."
The range of the elk covered a magnificent domain. The map prepared by
Mr. Ernest T. Seton, after twenty years of research, is the last word on
the subject. It appears on page 43, Vol. I, of his great work, "Life
Histories of Northern Animals," and I have the permission of author and
publisher to reproduce it here, as an object lesson in wild-animal
extermination. Mr. Seton recognizes (for convenience, only?) four forms
of American elk, two of which, _C. nannodes_ and _occidentalis_, still
exist on the Pacific Coast. The fourth, _Cervus merriami_, was
undoubtedly a valid species. It lived in Arizona and New Mexico, but
became totally extinct near the beginning of the present century.
In 1909 Mr. Seton published in the work referred to above a remarkably
close estimate of the number of elk then alive in North America.
Recently, a rough count--the first ever made--of the elk in and around
the Yellowstone Park, revealed the real number of that largest
contingent. By taking those results, and Mr. Seton's figures for elk
outside the United States, we obtain the following very close
approximation of the wild elk alive in North America in 1912:
LOCALITY NUMBER AUTHORITY
Yellowstone Park and vicinity 47,000 U.S. Biological Survey.
Idaho (permanently), 600
Washington 1,200 Game Warden Chris. Morgenroth.
New York, Adirondacks 400 State Conservation Commission.
Minnesota 50 E.T. Seton.
Vancouver Island 2,000 E.T. Seton.
British Columbia (S.-E.) 200 E.T. Seton.
Alberta 1,000 E.T. Seton.
Saskatchewan 500 E.T. Seton
In various Parks and Zoos 1,000 E.T. Seton.
Total, for all America. 54,850
In 1905, a herd of twenty of the so-called dwarf elk of the San Joaquin
Valley, California, were taken to the Sequoia National Park, and placed
in a fenced range that had been established for it on the Kaweah River.
The extermination of the wapiti began with the settlement of the
American colonies. Naturally, the largest animals were the ones most
eagerly sought by the meat-hungry pioneers, and the elk and bison were
the first game species to disappear. The colonists believed in the
survival of the fittest, and we are glad that they did. The one thing
that a hungry pioneer cannot withstand is--temptation--in a form that
embraces five hundred pounds of succulent flesh. And let it not be
supposed that in the eastern states there were only a few elk. The
Pennsylvania salt licks were crowded with them, and the early writers
describe them as existing in "immense bands" and "great numbers."
Of course it is impossible for wild animals of great size to exist in
countries that are covered with farms, villages and people. Under such
conditions the wild and the tame cannot harmonize. It is a fact,
however, that elk could exist and thrive in every national forest and
national park in our country, and also on uncountable hundreds of
thousands of rough, wild, timbered hills and mountains such as exist in
probably twenty-five different states. There is no reason, except man's
short-sighted greed and foolishness, why there are not to-day one
hundred thousand elk living in the Allegheny Mountains, furnishing each
year fifty thousand three-year-old males as free food for the people.
The trouble is,--the greedy habitants _could not_ be induced to kill
only the three-year-old-males, in the fall, and let the cows, calves and
breeding bulls alone! By sensible management the Rocky Mountains, the
Sierra Nevadas and the Coast Range would support enough wild elk to feed
a million people. But we Americans seem utterly incapable of maintaining
anywhere from decade to decade a large and really valuable supply of
wild game. Outside the Yellowstone Park and northwestern Wyoming, the
American elk exists only in small bands--mere remnants and samples of
the millions we could and should have.
_If_ they could be protected, and the surplus presently killed according
to some rational, working system, then _every national forest in the
United States should be stocked with elk_! In view of the awful cost of
beef (to-day 10-1/2 cents per pound in Chicago _on the hoof_!), it is
high time that we should consider the raising of game on the public
domain on such lines that it would form a valuable food supply without
diminishing the value of the forests.
Just now (1912) the American people are sorely puzzled by a remarkable
elk problem that each winter is presented for solution in the Jackson
Hole country, Wyoming. Driven southward by the deep snows of winter, the
elk thousands that in summer graze and grow fat in the Yellowstone Park
march down into Jackson Hole, to find in those valleys less snow and
more food. Now, it happens that the best and most of the former winter
grazing grounds of the elk are covered by fenced ranches! As a result,
the elk that strive to winter there, about fifteen thousand head, are
each winter threatened with starvation; and during three or four winters
of recent date, an aggregate of several thousand calves, weak yearlings
and weakened cows perished of hunger. The winters of 1908, 1909 and 1910
were progressively more and more severe; and 1911 saw about 2500 deaths,
In 1909-10, the State of Wyoming spent $7,000 for hay, and fed it to the
starving elk. In 1911, Wyoming spent $5,000 more, and appealed to
Congress for help. Thanks to the efforts of Senator Lodge and others,
Congress instantly responded with a splendid emergency appropriation of
$20,000, partly for the purpose of feeding the elk, and also to meet the
cost of transporting elsewhere as many of the elk as it might seem best
to move. The starving of the elk ceased with 1911.
_Outdoor Life_ magazine (Denver, Colo.) for August, 1912, contains an
excellent article by Dr. W.B. Shore, entitled, "Trapping and Shipping
Elk." I wish I could reprint it entire, for the solid information that
it contains. It gives a clear and comprehensive account of last spring's
operations by the Government and by the state of Montana in capturing
and shipping elk from the Yellowstone Park herd, for the double purpose
of diminishing the elk surplus in the Park and stocking vacant ranges
The operations were conducted on the same basis as the shipping of
cattle--the corral, the chute, the open car, and the car-load in bulk.
Dr. Shore states that the undertaking was really no more difficult than
the shipping of range cattle; but the presence of a considerable
proportion of young and tender calves, such as are never handled with
beef cattle, led to 8.8 per cent of deaths in transit. The deaths and
the percentage are nothing at which to be surprised, when it is
remembered, that the animals had just come through a hard winter, and
their natural vitality was at the lowest point of the year.
The following is a condensed summary of the results of the work:
Number of Hours on Killed or Died After
Destination Elk Road Died in Car Unloading
1 Car. Startup, Washington 60: calves, 94 11 7
1 " Hamilton, Montana 43: cows & 30 4 1
1 " Thompson Falls,
Montana 40 -- 2 O
1 " Stephensville,
Montana 36 -- 1 1
1 " Deer Lodge, Montana 40 24 2 O
1 " Hamilton, Montana 40 -- O O
1 " Mt. Vernon,
Washington 46 4 days; 7 O
--- -- -
305 27 9
The total deaths in transit and after, of 36 elk out of 305, amounted to
11.4 per cent.
All those shipped to Montana points were shipped by the state of
In order to provide adequate winter grazing grounds for the
Yellowstone-Wyoming elk, it seems imperative that the national
government should expend between $30,000 and $40,000 in buying back from
ranchmen certain areas in the Jackson valley, particularly a tract known
as "the swamp," and others on the surrounding foothills where the herds
annually go to graze in winter, A measure to render this possible was
presented to Congress in the winter of 1912, and without opposition an
appropriation of $45,000 was made.
The splendid photographs of the elk herds that recently have been made
by S.N. Leek, of Jackson Hole, clearly reveal the fact that the herds
now consist chiefly of cows, calves, yearlings and young bulls with
small antlers. In one photograph showing about twenty-five hundred elk,
there are not visible even half a dozen pairs of antlers that belong to
adult bulls. There should be a hundred! This condition means that the
best bulls, with the finest heads, are constantly being selected and
killed by sportsmen and others who want their heads; and the young,
immature bulls are left to do the breeding that alone will sustain the
[Illustration: HUNGRY ELK IN JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Part of a Herd of About 2,500 Head, being fed on hay, in the Winter of
1910-11 Note the Absence of Adult Bulls. Copyright, 1911, by S.N.
It is a well-known principle in stock-breeding that sires should be
fully adult, of maximum strength, and in the prime of life. No
stockbreeder in his senses ever thinks of breeding from a youthful,
immature sire. The result would be weak offspring not up to the
This inexorable law of inheritance and transmission is just as much a
law for the elk, moose and deer of North America as it is for domestic
cattle and horses. If the present conditions in the Wyoming elk herds
continue to prevail for several generations, as sure as time goes on we
shall see a marked deterioration in the size and antlers of the elk.
If the foundation principles of stock-breeding are correct, then it is
impossible to maintain any large-mammal species at its zenith of size,
strength and virility by continuous breeding of the young and immature
males. By some sportsmen it is believed that through long-continued
killing of the finest and largest males, the red deer of Europe have
been growing smaller; but on that point I am not prepared to offer
In regard to the in-breeding of the elk herds in large open parks and
preserves throughout North America, there are positively _no ill effects
to fear_. Wild animals that are _closely_ confined generation after
generation are bound to deteriorate physically; but with healthy wild
animals living in large open ranges, feeding and breeding naturally, the
in-breeding that occurs produces no deterioration.
In the twin certainties of over-population, and deterioration from
excessive killing of the good sires, we have to face two new problems of
very decided importance. Nothing short of very radical measures will
provide a remedy. For the immediate future, I can offer a solution.
While it seems almost impossible deliberately to kill females, I think
that the present is a very exceptional case, and one that compels us to
apply the painful remedy that I now propose.
1.--There are at present _too many_ breeding cows in the Yellowstone
2.--There are far too few good breeding bulls.
_Conclusion_:--For five years, entirely prohibit the killing of adult
male elk, and kill only females, and young males. This would gradually
diminish the number of calves born each year, by about 2,500, and by the
end of five years it would reduce the number, _and the annual birth_, of
females to a figure sufficiently limited that the herds could be
maintained on existing ranges.
_Corollary_.--At the end of five years, stop killing females, and kill
only _young_ males. This plan would permit a large number of bull elk to
mature; and then the largest and strongest animals would do the
breeding,--just as Nature always intends shall be done.
* * * * *
Of all the big-game regions of the earth, South America is the poorest.
Of hoofed game she possesses only a dozen species that are worth the
attention of sportsmen; and like all other animal life in that land of
little game, they are desperately hard to find. In South America you
must work your heart out in order to get either game or specimens that
will be worth showing.
At present, we need not worry about the marsh deer, the pampas deer, the
guemal, or the venado, nor the tapir, jaguar, ocelot and bears. All
these species are abundantly able to take care of themselves; and to
find and kill any one of them is a man's task. In Patagonia the natives
do wastefully slaughter the guanacos; and there are times also when
great numbers of guanacos come down in winter to certain mountain lakes,
presumably in search of food, and perish by hundreds through starvation.
(H. Hesketh Prichard.)
* * * * *
About ten years more will see the extinction of the mountain sheep of
Lower California,--in the wake of the recently exterminated Mexican
sheep of the Santa Maria Lakes region. In 1908, I solemnly warned the
government of President Diaz, and at that time the Mexican government
expressed much concern.
It is a great pity that just now political conditions are completely
estopping wild-life protection in Mexico; but it is true. If the code of
proposed laws that I drew up (by request) in 1908 and submitted to
Minister Molina were adopted, it would have a good effect on the fauna
In Mexico there is little hoofed game to kill,--deer of the white-tail
groups, seven or eight species; the desert mule deer; the brocket; the
prong-horned antelope, the mountain sheep and the peccary. The deer will
not so easily be exterminated, but the antelope and sheep will be
utterly destroyed. They will be the first to go; and I think they can
not by any possibility last longer than ten years. Is it not too bad
that Mexico should permit her finest species of hoofed and horned game
to be obliterated before she awakens to the desirability of
conservation! The Mexicans could protect their small stock of big game
if they would; but in Lower California they are leasing huge tracts of
land to cattle companies, and they permit the lessees to kill all the
wild game they please on their leased lands, even with the aid of dogs.
This is a vicious and fatal system, and contrary to all the laws of
* * * * *
PRESENT AND FUTURE OF NORTH AMERICAN BIG GAME
THE WHITE-TAILED DEER.--Five hundred years hence, when the greed and
rapacity of "civilized" man has completed the loot and ruin of the
continent of North America, the white-tailed deer will be the last
species of our big game to be exterminated. Its mental traits, its size,
its color and its habits all combine to render it the most persistent of
our large animals, and the best fitted to survive. It neither bawls nor
bugles to attract its enemies, it can not be called to a sportsman, like
the moose, and it sticks to its timber with rare and commendable
closeness. When it sees a strange living thing walking erect, it does
not stop to stare and catch soft-nosed bullets, but dashes away in quest
The worst shooting that I ever did or saw done at game was at running
white-tailed deer, in the Montana river bottoms.
For the reasons given, the white-tail exists and persists in a hundred
United States localities from which all other big game save the black
bear have been exterminated. For example, in our Adirondacks the moose
were exterminated years and years ago, but the beloved wilderness called
the "North Woods" still is populated by about 20,000 deer, and about
8,000 are killed annually. The deer of Maine are sufficiently numerous
that in 1909 a total of 15,879 were killed. With some assistance from
the thin sprinkling of moose and caribou, the deer of Maine annually
draw into that state, for permanent dedication, a huge sum of money,
variously estimated at from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000. In spite of heavy
slaughter, and vigorous attempts at extermination by over-shooting, the
deer of northern Michigan obstinately refuse to be wiped out.
There is, however, a large group of states in which this species has
been exterminated. The states comprising it are Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Iowa, and adjacent portions of seven other states.
As if to shame the people of Iowa, a curious deer episode is recorded.
In 1885, W.B. Cuppy, of Avoca, Iowa, purchased five deer, and placed
them in a paddock on his 600-acre farm. By 1900 they had increased to 32
head; and then one night some one kindly opened the gate of their
enclosure, and gave them the freedom of the city. Mr. Cuppy made no
effort to capture them, possibly because they decided to annex his farm
as their habitat. When a neighbor led them with a bait of corn to their
owner's door, he declined to impound them, on the ground that it was
By 1912, those deer had increased to 400, and the portion of this story
that no one will believe is this: they spread all through the suburbs
and hinterland farms of Avoca, and _the people not only failed to
assassinate all of them and eat them, but they actually killed only a
few, protected the rest, and made pets of many!_ Queer people, those men
and boys of Avoca. Nearly everywhere else in the world that I know, that
history would have been ended differently. Here in the East, 90 per cent
of our people are like the Avocans, but the other 10 per cent think only
of slaying and eating, sans mercy, sans decency, sans law. Now the State
of Iowa has taken hold, to capture some of those deer, and set them free
in other portions of the state.
Elsewhere I shall note the quick and thorough success with which the
white-tailed deer has been brought back in Vermont, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and southern New York.
No state having waste lands covered with brush or timber need be without
the ubiquitous white-tailed deer. Give them a semblance of a fair show,
and they will live and breed with surprising fecundity and persistence.
If you start a park herd with ten does, soon you will have more deer
than you will know how to dispose of, unless you market them under a
Bayne law, duly tagged by the state. In close confinement this species
fares rather poorly. In large preserves it does well, but during the
rutting season the bucks are to be dreaded; and those that develop
aggressive traits should be shot and marketed. This is the only way in
which the deer parks of England are kept safe for unarmed people.
Dr. T.S. Palmer has taken much pains to ascertain the number of deer
killed in the eastern United States. His records, as published in May,
1910, are as follows:
STATE 1908 1909 1910
Maine 15,000 15,879 15,000
New Hampshire (a) (a) (a)
Vermont 2,700 4,736 3,649
New York 6,000 9,000 9,000
New Jersey (a) 120
Pennsylvania 500 500 800
Michigan 9,076 6,641 13,347
Wisconsin 11,000 6,000 6,000
Minnesota 6,000 6,000 3,147
West Virginia 107 51 49
Maryland 16 13 6
Virginia 207 210 224
North Carolina (a) (a) (a)
South Carolina 1,000 (a) (a)
Georgia (a) 367 369
Florida 2,209 2,021 1,526
Alabama 152 148 132
Mississippi 411 458 500
Louisiana 5,500 5,470 5,000
------ ------ ------
Total 59,878 57,494 60,150
(a) No statistics available.
At this date deer hunting is not permitted at any time in Indiana,
Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas,--where there are no wild deer; nor
in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Tennessee or Kentucky. The long
close seasons in Massachusetts, Connecticut and southern New York have
caused a great migration of deer into those once-depopulated
regions,--in fact, right down to tide-water.
THE MULE DEER.--This will be the first member of the Deer Family to
become extinct in North America outside of the protected portions of its
haunts. Its fatal preference for open ground and its habit of pausing to
stare at the hunter have been, and to the end will be, its undoing.
Possibly there are now two of these deer in the United States and
British Columbia for every 98 that existed forty years ago, but no more.
It is a deer of the bad lands and foothills, and its curiosity is fatal.
The number of sportsmen who have hunted and killed this fine animal in
its own wild and picturesque bad-lands is indeed quite small. It has
been four-fifths exterminated by the resident hunter and ranchman, and
to-day is found in the Rocky Mountain region most sparingly. Ten years
ago it seemed right to hunt the so-called Rocky Mountain "black-tail" in
northwestern Montana, because so many deer were there it did not seem to
spell extermination. Now, conditions have changed. Since last winter's
great slaughter in northwestern Montana, of 11,000 hungry deer, the
species has been so reduced that it is no longer right to kill mule deer
anywhere in our country, and a universal close season for five years is
the duty of every state which contains that species.
THE REAL BLACK-TAILED DEER, of the Pacific coast, (_Odocoileus
columbianus_) is, to most sportsmen of the Rocky Mountains and the East
actually less known than the okapi! Not one out of every hundred of them
can recognize a mounted head of it at sight. It is a small,
delicately-formed, delicately-antlered understudy of the big mule deer,
and now painfully limited in its distribution. It is _the_ deer of
California and western Oregon, and it has been so ruthlessly slaughtered
that today it is going fast. As conditions stand to-day, and without a
radical change on the part of the people of the Pacific coast, this very
interesting species is bound to disappear. It will not be persistent,
like the white-tailed deer, but in the heavy forests, it will last much
longer than the mule deer.
My information regarding this deer is like the stock of specimens of it
in museum collections,--meager and unsatisfactory. We need to know in
detail how that species is faring to-day, and what its prospects are for
the immediate future. In 1900, I saw great piles of skins from it in the
fur houses of Seattle, and the sight gave me much concern.
THE CARIBOU, GENERALLY.--I think it is not very difficult to forecast
the future of the Genus _Rangifer_ in North America, from the logic of
the conditions of to-day. Thanks to the splendid mass of information
that has been accumulated regarding this group, we are able to draw
certain conclusions. I think that the caribou of the Canadian Barren
Grounds and northeastern Alaska will survive in great numbers for at
least another century; that the caribou herds of Newfoundland will last
nearly as long, and that in fifty years or less all the caribou of the
great northwestern wilderness will be swept away.
The reasons for these conclusions are by no means obscure, or
In the first place, the barren-ground caribou are to-day enormously
numerous,--undoubtedly running up into millions. It can not be possible
that they are being killed faster than they are breeding; and so they
must be increasing. Their food supply is unlimited. They are protected
by two redoubtable champions,--Jack Frost and the Mosquito. Their
country never will contain a great human population. The natives are so
few in number, and so lazy, that even though they should become supplied
with modern firearms, it is unlikely that they ever will make a serious
impression on the caribou millions. The only thing to fear for the
barren-ground caribou throngs is disease,--a factor that is beyond human
It is reasonably certain that the Barren Grounds never will be netted by
railways,--unless gold is discovered over a wide area. The fierce cold
and hunger, and the billions of mosquitoes of the Barren Grounds will
protect the caribou from the wholesale slaughter that "civilized" man
joyously would inflict--if he had the chance.
The caribou thousands of Newfoundland are fairly accessible to sportsmen
and pot-hunters, but at the same time the colonial government can
protect them from extermination if it will. Already much has been done
to check the reckless and wicked slaughter that once prevailed. A bag
limit of three bull caribou per annum has been fixed, which is enforced
as to non-residents and sportsmen, but in a way that is much too
"American" it is often ignored by residents in touch with the game. For
instance, the guide of a New York gentleman whom I know admitted to my
friend that each year he killed "about 25" caribou for himself and his
family of four other persons. He explained thus: "When the inspector
comes around, I show him two caribou hanging in my woodshed, but back in
the woods I have a little shack where I keep the others until I want
The real sportsmen of the world never will make the slightest
perceptible impression on the caribou of Newfoundland. For one thing,
the hunting is much too tame to be interesting. If the caribou of that
Island ever are exterminated, it will be strictly by the people of
Newfoundland, themselves. If the government will tighten its grip on the
herds, they need never be exterminated.
The caribou of New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario are few and widely
scattered. Unless carefully conserved, they are not likely to last long;
for their country is annually penetrated in every direction by armed
men, white and red. There is no means by which it can be proven, but
from the number of armed men in those regions I feel sure that the
typical woodland caribou species is being shot faster than it is
breeding. The sportsmen and naturalists of Canada and New Brunswick
would render good service by making a close and careful investigation of
The caribou of the northwestern wilderness are in a situation peculiarly
their own. They inhabit a region of naked mountains and _thin_ forests,
wherein they are conspicuous, easily stalked and easily killed. Nowhere
do they exist in large herds of thousands, or even of many hundreds.
They live in small bands of from ten to twenty head, and even those are
far apart. The region in which they live is certain to be thoroughly
opened up by railways, and exploited. Fifty years from now we will find
every portion of the now-wild Northwest fairly accessible by rail. The
building of the railways will be to the caribou--and to other big
game--the day of doom. In that wild, rough region, no power on
earth,--save that which might be able to deprive _all_ the inhabitants
and all visitors of firearms,--can possibly save the game outside of a
few preserves that are diligently patroled.
The big game of the northwest region, in which I include the interior of
Alaska, _will go_! It is only a question of time. Already the building
of the city of Fairbanks, and the exploitation of the mining districts
surrounding it, have led to such harassment and slaughter of the
migrating caribou that the great herd which formerly traversed the
Tanana country once a year has completely changed its migration route,
and now keeps much farther north. The "crossing" of the Yukon near Eagle
City has been abandoned. A hundred years hence, the northwestern
wilderness will be dotted with towns and criss-crossed with railways;
but the big game of it will be gone, except in the preserves that are
yet to be made. This will particularly involve the caribou, moose, and
mountain sheep of all species, which will be the first to go. The
mountain goat and the forest bears will hold out longer than their more
exposed neighbors of the treeless mountains.
THE MOOSE.--In the United States the moose is found in five
states,--Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. There are 550 in
the Yellowstone Park. In Maine and Minnesota only may moose be hunted
and killed. In the season of 1909, 184 moose were killed in Maine,--a
large number, considering the small moose population of that state. In
northern Minnesota, we now possess a great national moose preserve of
909,743 acres; and in 1908 Mr. Fullerton, after a personal inspection in
which he saw 189 moose in nine days, estimated the total moose
population of the present day at 10,000 head. This is a moose preserve
Outside of protected areas, the moose is the animal that is most easily
exterminated. Its trail is easily followed, and its habits are
thoroughly known, down to three decimal places. As a hunter's reward it
is Great. Strange to say, New Brunswick has found that the moose is an
animal that it is possible, and even easy, to protect. The death of a
moose is an event that is not easily concealed! Wherever it is
thoroughly understood that the moose law will be enforced, the would-be
poacher pauses to consider the net results to him of a jail sentence.
In New Brunswick we have seen two strange things happen, during our own
times. We have seen the moose migrate into, and permanently occupy, an
extensive area that previously was destitute of that species. At the
same time, we have seen a reasonable number of bull moose killed by
sportsmen without disturbing in the least the general equanimity of the
general moose population! And at this moment, the moose population of
New Brunswick is almost incredible. Every moose hunter who goes there
sees from 20 to 40 moose, and two of my friends last year saw, "in round
numbers, about 100!" Up to date the size of adult antlers seem to be
maintaining a high standard.
In summer, the photographing of moose in the rivers, lakes and ponds of
Maine and New Brunswick amounts to an industry. I am uneasy about the
constant picking off of the largest and best breeding bulls of the
Mirimachi country, lest it finally reduce the size and antlers of the
moose of that region; but only the future can tell us just how that
prospect stands to-day.
In Alaska, our ever thoughtful and forehanded Biological Survey of the
Department of Agriculture has by legal proclamation at one stroke
converted the whole of the Kenai Peninsula into a magnificent moose
preserve. This will save _Alces gigas_, the giant moose of Alaska, from
extermination; and New Brunswick and the Minnesota preserve will save
_Alces americanus_. But in the northwest, we can positively depend upon
it that eventually, wherever the moose may legally be hunted and killed
by any Tom, Dick or Harry who can afford a twenty-dollar rifle and a
license, the moose surely will disappear.
The moose laws of Alaska are strict--toward sportsmen, only! The miners,
"prospectors" and Indians may kill as many as they please, "for food
purposes." This opens the door to a great amount of unfair slaughter.
Any coffee-cooler can put a pan and pick into his hunting outfit, go out
after moose, and call himself a "prospector."
I grant that the _real_ prospector, who is looking for ores and minerals
with an intelligent eye, and knows what he is doing, should have special
privileges on game, to keep him from starving. The settled miner,
however, is in a different class. No miner should ask the privilege of
living on wild game, any more than should the farmer, the steamboat man,
the railway laborer, or the soldier in an army post. The Indian should
have no game advantages whatever over a white man. He does not own the
game of a region, any more than he owns its minerals or its water-power.
He should obey the general game laws, just the same as white men. In
Africa, as far as possible, the white population wisely prohibits the
natives from owning or using firearms, and a good idea it is, too. I am
glad there is one continent on which the "I'm-just-as-good-as-you-are"
nightmare does not curse the whole land.
THE MUSK-OX.--Now that the north pole has been safely discovered, and
the south pole has become the storm-center of polar exploration, the
harried musk-ox herds of the farthest north are having a rest. I think
that most American sportsmen have learned that as a sporting proposition
there is about as much fun and glory in harrying a musk-ox herd with
dogs, and picking off the members of it at "parade rest," as there is in
shooting range cattle in a round-up. The habits of the animal positively
eliminate the real essence of sport,--difficulty and danger. When a
musk-ox band is chased by dogs, or by wolves, the full-grown members of
it, bulls and cows alike, instantly form a close circle around the
calves, facing outward shoulder to shoulder, and stand at bay. Without
the aid of a gunner and a rifle, such a formation is invincible! Mr.
Paul Rainey's moving pictures tell a wonderful story of animal
intelligence, bravery and devotion to the parental instinct.
For some reason, the musk-ox herds do not seem to have perceptibly
increased since man first encountered them. The number alive to-day
appears to be no greater than it was fifty years ago; and this leads to
the conclusion that the present delicate balance could easily be
disturbed the wrong way. Fortunately, it seems reasonably certain that
the Indians of the Canadian Barren Grounds, the Eskimo of the far north,
and the stray explorers all live outside the haunts of the species, and
come in touch only with the edge of the musk-ox population as a whole.
This leads us to hope and believe that, through the difficulties
involved in reaching them, the main bodies of musk-ox of both species
are safe from extermination.
At the same time, the time has come for Canada, the United States and
Denmark to join in formulating a stiff law for the prevention of
wholesale slaughter of musk-ox for sport. It should be rendered
impossible for another sportsman to kill twenty-three head in one day,
as once occurred. Give the sportsman a bag of three bulls, and no more.
To this, no true sportsman will object, and the objections of game-hogs
only serve to confirm the justice of the thing they oppose.
THE GRIZZLY BEAR.--To many persons it may seem strange that anyone
should feel disposed to accord protection to such fierce predatory
animals as grizzly bears, lions and tigers. But the spirit of fair play
springs eternal in some human breasts. The sportsmen of the world do not
stick at using long-range, high-power repeating rifles on big game, but
they draw the line this side of traps, poisons and extermination. The
sportsmen of India once thought,--for about a year and a day,--that it
was permissible to kill troublesome and expensive tigers by poison. Mr.
G.P. Sanderson tried it, and when his strychnine operations promptly
developed three bloated and disgusting tiger carcasses, even his native
followers revolted at the principle. That was the alpha and omega of
Sanderson's poisoning activities.
I am quite sure that if the extermination of the tiger from the whole of
India were possible, and the to-be or not-to-be were put to a vote of
the sportsmen of India, the answer would be a thundering _"No!"_ Says
Major J. Stevenson-Hamilton in his "Animal Life in Africa:" "It is
impossible to contemplate the use against the lion of any other weapon
than the rifle."
The real sportsmen and naturalists of America are decidedly opposed to
the extermination of the grizzly bear. They feel that the wilds of North
America are wide enough for the accommodation of many grizzlies, without
crowding the proletariat. A Rocky Mountain without a grizzly upon it, or
at least a bear of some kind, is only half a mountain,--commonplace and
tame. Put one two-year-old grizzly cub upon it, and presto! every cubic
yard of its local atmosphere reeks with romantic uncertainty and
A few persons have done considerable talking and writing about the
damage to stock inflicted by bears, but I think there is little
justification for such charges. Certainly, there is not one-tenth enough
real damage done by bears to justify their extermination. At the present
time, we hear that the farmers (!) of Kadiak Island, Alaska, are being
seriously harassed and damaged by the big Kadiak bear,--an animal so
rare and shy that it is very difficult for a sportsman to kill one! I
think the charges against the bears,--if the Kadiak Islanders ever
really have made any,--need to be proven, by the production of real
In the United States, outside of our game preserves, I know of not one
locality in which grizzly bears are sufficiently numerous to justify a
sportsman in going out to hunt them. The California grizzly, once
represented by "Monarch" in Golden Gate Park, is almost, if not wholly,
extinct. In Montana, outside of Glacier Park it is useless to apply for
wild grizzlies. In the Bitter Root Mountains and Clearwater Mountains of
Idaho, there are grizzlies, but they hide so effectually under the
snow-bent willows on the "slides" that it is almost impossible to get a
shot. Northwestern Wyoming still contains a few grizzlies, but there are
so many square miles of mountains around each animal it is now almost
useless to go hunting for them. British Columbia, western Alberta and
the coast mountains at least as far as Skaguay, and Yukon Territory
generally, all contain grizzlies, and the sportsman who goes out for
sheep, caribou and moose is reasonably certain to see half a dozen bears
and kill at least one or two. In those countries, the grizzly species
will hold forth long after all killable grizzlies have vanished from the
I think that it is now time for California, Montana, Washington, Oregon,
Idaho and Wyoming to give grizzly bears protection of some sort.
Possibly the situation in those states calls for a five-year close
season. Even British Columbia should now place a bag limit on this
species. This has seemed clear to me ever since two of my friends killed
(in the spring of 1912) _six_ grizzlies in one week! But Provincial Game
Warden A. Bryan Williams says that at present it would be impossible to
impose a bag limit of one per year on the grizzlies of British Columbia;
and Mr. Williams is a sincere game-protector.
THE BROWN BEARS OF ALASKA.--These magnificent monsters present a
perplexing problem, which I am inclined to believe can be satisfactorily
solved by the Biological Survey only in short periods, say of three or
four years each. Naturally, the skin hunters of Alaska ardently desire
the skins of those bears, for the money they represent. That side of the
bear problem does not in the least appeal to the ninety odd millions of
people who live this side of Alaska. The skins of the Alaskan brown
bears have little value save as curiosities, nailed upon the wall, where
they can not be stepped upon and injured. The _hunting_ of those bears,
however, is a business for men; and it is partly for that reason they
should be preserved. A bear-hunt on the Alaska Peninsula, Admiralty or
Montagu Islands, is an event of a lifetime, and with a bag limit of
_one_ brown bear, the species would be quite safe from extermination.
[Illustration: THE WICHITA NATIONAL BISON HERD
Presented by the New York Zoological Society]
In Alaska there is some dissatisfaction over the protection accorded the
big brown bears; but those rules are right _as far as they go_! A
governor of Alaska once said to me: "The preservation of the game of
Alaska should be left to the _people_ of Alaska. It is their game; and
they will preserve it all right!"
The answer? _Not by a long shot_!
Only three things were wrong with the ex-governor's view:
1.--The game of Alaska does _not_ belong to the people who live in
Alaska--with the intent to get out to-morrow! It belongs to the
93,000,000 people of the Nation.
2.--The preservation of the Alaskan fauna on the public domain should
not be left unreservedly to the people of Alaska, because
3.--As sure as shooting, they will _not_ preserve it!
Congress is right in appropriating $15,000 for game protection in
Alaska. It is very necessary that the regulations for conserving the
wild life should be fixed by the Secretary of Agriculture, with the
advice of the Biological Survey.
THE BLACK BEAR is an interesting citizen. He harms nobody nor anything;
he affords good sport; he objects to being exterminated, and wherever in
North America he is threatened with extermination, he should at once be
given protection! A black bear _in the wilds_ is harmless. In captivity,
posed as a household "pet," he is decidedly dangerous, and had best be
given the middle of the road. In big forests he is a grand stayer, and
will not be exterminated from the fauna of the United States until
Washington is wrecked by anarchists.
THE AMERICAN BISON.--I regard the American bison species as now
reasonably secure against extermination. This is due to the fact that it
breeds persistently and successfully in captivity, and to the great
efforts that have been put forth by the United States Government, the
Canadian Government, the American Bison Society, the New York Zoological
Society, and several private individuals.
The species reached its lowest ebb in 1889, when there were only 256
head in captivity and 835 running wild. The increase has been as
1888--W.T. Hornaday's census 1,300
1902--S.P. Langley's census 1,394
1905--Frank Baker's census 1,697
1908--W.T. Hornaday's census 2,047
1910--W.P. Wharton's census (in North America) 2,108
1912--W.P. Wharton's census (in North America) 2,907
To-day, nearly one-half of the living bison are in very large
governmental parks, perpetually established and breeding rapidly, as
IN THE UNITED STATES.
Yellowstone Park fenced herd, founded by Congress 125
Montana National Bison Range, founded by The American Bison Society 69
Wichita Bison Range, founded by The New York Zoological Society 39
Wind Cave Bison Range, S. Dakota, founded by Am. Bison Society To be
Niobrara (Neb.) National Bison Range, now in process of creation To be
Buffalo Park, Wainwright, Alberta 1,052
Elk Island Park, Alberta 53
Rocky Mountains Park, Banff, Alberta 27
Total National and Provincial Preserves 1,365
Of wild bison there are only three groups: 49 head in the Yellowstone
National Park, about 75 Pablo "outlaws" around the Montana Bison Range,
and between 300 and 400 head in northern Athabasca, southwest of Fort
Resolution, existing in small and widely scattered bands.
The efforts of man to atone for the great bison slaughter by preserving
the species from extinction have been crowned with success. Two
governments and two thousand individuals have shared this task,--solely
for sentimental reasons. In these facts we find reason to hope and
believe that other efforts now being made to save other species from
annihilation will be equally successful.
* * * * *
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF AFRICAN GAME
Thanks to the diligence with which sportsmen and field naturalists have
recorded their observations in the haunts of big game, it is not at all
difficult to forecast the immediate future of the big game of the world.
We may safely assume that all lands well suited to agriculture, mining
and grazing will become populated by rifle-bearing men, with the usual
result to the wild mammals and birds. At the same time, the game of the
open mountains everywhere is thinly distributed and easily exterminated.
On the other hand, the unconquerable forest jungles of certain portions
of the tropics will hold their own, and shelter their four-footed
inhabitants for centuries to come.
On the open mountains of the world and on the grazing lands most big
game is now being killed much faster than it breeds. This is due to the
attacks of five times too many hunters, open seasons that are too long,
and bag limits that are far too liberal. As an example, consider Africa
Viewed in any way it may be taken, the bag limit in British East Africa
is appallingly high. Notice this astounding array of wild creatures that
_each hunter_ may kill under a license costing _only $250!_
2 Grevy Zebra
20 Common Zebra
2 Fringe-eared Oryx
4 Beisa Antelope
1 Sable Antelope
1 Roan Antelope
1 Greater Kudu
4 Lesser Kudu
20 Coke Hartebeest
2 Neumann Hartebeest
4 Jackson Hartebeest
6 Hunter's Antelope
4 Thomas Kob
12 Grant Gazelle
4 Waller's Gazelle
10 Harvey's Duiker
10 Isaac's Duiker
10 Blue Duiker
10 Kirk's Dik-dik
10 Guenther's Dik-dik
10 Hinde's Dik-dik
10 Cavendish Dik-dik
10 Abyssinian Oribi
10 Haggard's Oribi
10 Kenya Oribi
10 Ward's Reedbuck
10 Chanler's Reedbuck
10 Thompson Gazelle
10 Peters Gazelle
10 Soemmerring Gazelle
10 Haywood Bushbuck
The grand total is a possible 300 large hoofed and horned animals
representing _44 species_! Add to this all the lions, leopards,
cheetahs, cape hunting dogs and hyaenas that the hunter can kill, and
it will be enough to stock a zoological garden!
Quite a number of these species, like the sable antelope, kudu, Hunter's
antelope, bongo and sitatunga are already rare, and therefore they are
all the more eagerly sought.
Into the fine grass-lands of British East Africa, suitable for crops and
stock grazing, settlers are steadily going. Each one is armed, and at
once becomes a killer of big game. And all the time the visiting
sportsmen are increasing in number, going farther from the Uganda
Railway, and persistently seeking out the rarest and finest of the game.
The buffalo has recovered from the slaughter by rinderpest only in time
to meet the onset of oversea sportsmen.
Mr. Arthur Jordan has seen much of the big game of British East Africa,
and its killing. Him I asked to tell me how long, in his opinion, the
big game of that territory will last outside of the game preserves, as
it is now being killed. He said, "Oh, it will last a long time. I think
it will last fifteen years!"
_Fifteen years!_ And this for the richest big-game fauna of any one spot
in the whole world, which Nature has been _several million years in
developing and placing there_!
At present the marvelous herds of big game of British East Africa and
Uganda constitute the grandest zoological spectacle that the world ever
has seen in historic times. For such an area, the number of species is
incredible, and until they are seen, the thronging masses of individuals
are beyond conception. It is easy to say "a herd of 3,000 zebras;" but
no mere words can give an adequate impression of the actual army of
stripes and bars, and hoofs thundering in review over a grassy plain.
But the settlers say, "The zebras must go! They break through our best
wire fences, ruin our crops, despoil us of the fruits of long and
toilsome efforts, and much expenditure. We simply can not live in a
country inhabited by herds of wild zebras." And really, their contention
is well founded. When it is necessary to choose between wild animals and
peaceful agriculture for millions of men, the animals must give way.
In those portions of the great East African plateau region that are
suited to modern agriculture, stretching from Buluwayo to northern
Uganda, the wild herds are doomed to be crowded out by the farmer and
the fruit-grower. This is the inevitable result of civilization and
progress in wild lands. Marauding battalions of zebras, bellicose
rhinoceroses and murderous buffaloes do not fit in with ranches and
crops, and children going to school. Except in the great game preserves,
the swamps and the dense jungles it is certain that the big game of the
whole of eastern Africa is foredoomed to disappear,--the largest and
most valuable species first.
Five hundred years from now, when North America is worn out, and wasted
to a skeleton of what it now is, the great plateau region of East Africa
between Cape Town and Lake Rudolph will be a mighty empire, teeming
with white population. Giraffes and rhinoceroses now are trampling over
the sites of the cities and universities of the future. Then the herds
of grand game that now make Africa a sportsman's wonderland will exist
only in closed territory, in books, and in memory.
[Illustration: MAP SHOWING THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE LION
Incidentally, it is also an Index of the Disappearance of African Big
Game Generally. From an Article in the Review of Reviews, for August,
1912, by Cyrus C. Adams, and Based Largely upon the Exhaustive Studies
of Dr. C.M. Engel, of Copenhagen.]
From what has befallen in South Africa, we can easily and correctly
forecast the future of the big game of British East Africa and Uganda.
Less than fifty years ago, Cape Colony, Natal, Zululand, and every
country up to the Zambesi was teeming with herds of big wild animals,
just as the northern provinces now are. As late as 1890, when Rhodesia
was taken over by the Chartered Company, and the capital city of
Salisbury was staked out, an American boy in the Pioneer Corps, now
Honorable William Harvey Brown, of Salisbury, wrote thus of the Gwibi
Flats, near Salisbury:
"That evening I beheld on those flats a sight which probably will never
again be seen there to the end of the world. The variety deploying
before me was almost incredible! There, within the range of my vision
were groups of roan, sable and tsessebi antelopes, Burchell zebras, [now
totally extinct!] elands, reedbucks, steinbucks and ostriches. It was
like Africa in the days of Livingstone. As I sat on my horse, viewing
with amazement this wonderful panorama of wild life, I was startled by a
herd that came galloping around a small hill just behind me."--("_On the
South African Frontier_," p. 114.)
That was in 1890. And how is it to-day?
Salisbury is a modern city, endorsed by two lines of railway. The Gwibi
Flats are farms. There is some big game yet, in Rhodesia south of the
Zambesi, but to find it you must go at least a week's journey from the
capital, to the remote corners that have not yet been converted into
farms or mining settlements. North of the Zambesi, Rhodesia yet contains
plenty of big game. The Victoria Falls station is a popular starting
point for hunting expeditions headed northeast and northwest. In the
northwest the game is yet quite in a state of nature. Unfortunately the
Barotse natives of that region can procure from the Portuguese traders
all the firearms and ammunition that they can pay for, and by treaty
they retain their hunting rights. The final result will
be--extermination of the game.
Elsewhere throughout Rhodesia the natives are not permitted to have guns
and gunpowder,--a very wise regulation. In Alaska our Indians are
privileged to kill game all the year round, and they have modern
firearms with which to do it.
And how is it with the game of that day?
The true Burchell's zebra is now regarded as _extinct_! In Cape Colony
and Natal, that once teemed with big game in the old-fashioned African
way, they are _counting the individual wild animals that remain_! Also,
they are making game preserves, literally everywhere.
Now that the best remaining game districts of Africa are rapidly coming
under British control, it is a satisfaction to observe that the
governing bodies and executive officers are alive to the necessity of
preserving the big game from actual extinction. Excepting German East
Africa, from Uganda to Cape Colony the game preserves form an almost
continuous chain. It is quite impossible to enumerate all of them; but
the two in British East Africa are of enormous size, and are well
stocked with game. South Africa contains a great many smaller preserves
and a few specimen herds of big game, but that is about all. Except in a
few localities the hunting of big game in that region is done forever.
The Western Districts Game and Trout Protective Association of South
Africa recently, (1911), has made careful counts and estimates of the
number of individual game animals remaining in Cape Colony, with the
* * * * *
BIG GAME IN THE CAPE PROVINCE
From information kindly placed at the disposal of the Association by the
Government, it was found that the following varieties of big game are
still found in the Province. The numbers, however, are only approximate:
_Blesbok_: About 400 in Steynsburg, and 35 in Queen's Town divisions.
_Bontebok_: About 30 in Bredasdorp and 45 in Swellendam divisions.
_Buffalo_: About 340 in Uitenhage, 120 in Alexandria, and 75 in Bathurst
_Elephants_: About 130 in Alexandria, 160 in Uitenhage, 40 in Bathurst,
and 20 in Knysna divisions.
_Gemsbok_: About 2,450 in Namaqualand, 4,500 in Vryburg, 4,000 in
Gordonia, and 670 in the Kenhardt, Mafeking and Barkly West divisions.
_Koodoo_: About 10,000, found chiefly in the divisions of Albany, Barkly
West, Fort Beaufort, Hay, Herbert, Jansenville, Kuruman, Ladismith,
Mafeking, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn, Riversdale, Steytlerville, Uitenhage,
Victoria East and Vryburg.
_Oribi_: About 120, in the divisions of Albany and Alexandria.
_Rietbok_: About 170, in the Komgha division.
_Zebra_: About 560, most of which are to be found in the divisions of
Cradock, George and Oudtshoorn. A few are to be found in the divisions
of Uniondale and Uitenhage.
_Springbok_: Being migratory, it is difficult to estimate their number.
In some years they are compelled by drought to invade the Province in
large numbers. They are then seen as far south as Calvinia and
Fraserburg. Large numbers are, however, fenced in on private estates in
various parts of the Province.
_Klipspringers_: About 11,200, in the following divisions, viz.:
Namaqualand, 6,559; Kuruman, 2,100; Steytlerville, 1,530; Oudtshoorn,
275; Hay, 250; Ladismith, 220; Graaff-Reinet, 119; Kenhardt, 66; and
_Hartebeest_: About 9,700, principally in the divisions of Vryburg,
Gordonia, Kuruman, Mafeking, Kimberley, Hay and Beaufort West.
_Wildebeest_: About 3,450 in Vryburg, 80 each in Gordonia and Kuruman,
65 in Mafeking, 20 in Queen's Town, and a few in the Bredasdorp
_Eland_: About 12 in the Graaff-Reinet division, privately bred.
* * * * *
The above showing of the pitifully small numbers of the specimens that
constitute the remnant of the big-game of the Cape suggest just one
thing:--a universal close season throughout Cape Colony, and no hunting
whatever for ten years. And yet, what do we see?
The Report from which the above census was taken contains half a column
of solid matter, in small type, giving a list of the _open seasons_ all
over Cape Colony, during which killing may be done! So it seems that the
spirit of slaughter is the same in Africa that it is in
America,--_kill_, as long as there is _anything_ alive to kill!
This list is of startling interest, because it shows how closely the
small remnants of big game are now marked down in South Africa.
In view of the success with which Englishmen protect their game when
once they have made up their minds to do so, it is fair to expect that
the herds now under protection, as listed above, will save their
respective species from extinction. It is alarming, however, to note the
wide territory covered by the deadly "open seasons," and to wonder when
the bars really will be put up.
To-day, Mashonaland is a very-much-settled colony. The Cape to Cairo
railway and trains de luxe long ago attained the Palls of the Zambesi,
and now the Curator of the Salisbury Museum will have to search
diligently in far off Nyassaland, and beyond the Zambesi River, to find
enough specimens to fill his cases with representatives of the vanished
Rhodesian fauna. Once (1892) the white rhinoceros was found in northern
Rhodesia; but never again. In Salisbury, elands and zebras are nearly as
great a curiosity as they are in St. Louis.
But for the discovery of white rhinoceroses in the Lado district, on the
western bank of the Nile below Gondokoro, we would now be saying that
_Rhinoceros simus_ is within about ten specimens of total extinction.
From South Africa, as far up as Salisbury, in central Rhodesia, at least
99 per cent of the big game has disappeared before the white man's
rifle. Let him who doubts this scan the census of wild animals still
living in Cape Colony.
From all the other regions of Africa that are easily accessible to
gunners, the animal life is vigorously being shot out, and no man in his
senses will now say that the big game is breeding faster than it is
being killed. The reverse is painfully true. Mr. Carl Akeley, in his
quest for a really large male elephant for the American Museum found and
looked over _a thousand_ males without finding one that was really fine
and typical. All the photographs of elephant herds that were taken by
Kermit Roosevelt and Akeley show a striking absence of adult males and
of females with long tusks. There are only young males, and young
females with small, short tusks. The answer is--the white ivory hunters
have killed nearly all the elephants bearing good ivory.
The slaughter of big game is going on furiously in British East Africa
because the Uganda Railway opens up the entire territory to hunters.
Anyone, man or woman, who can raise $5,000 in cash can go there and make
a huge "bag" of big game. With a license costing only $250 he can kill
enough big game to sink a ship.
The bag limit in British East Africa is ruinously extravagant. If the
government desires the extermination of the game, such a bag limit
surely will promote that end. It is awful to think that for a petty sum
any man may buy the right to kill 300 _head_ of hoofed and horned
animals, of 44 species, not counting the carnivorous animals that also
may be killed. That bag limit should _immediately_ be reduced _75 per
As matters stand to-day in British East Africa, the big game of the
country, outside the three preserves, is absolutely certain to
disappear, in about one-fourth of the time that it took South Africa to
accomplish the same result. The reasons are obvious:--superior
accessibility, more deadly rifles, expert professional guides, and a
widespread craze for killing big game. With care and economy, British
East Africa should furnish good hunting for two centuries, but as
things are going on to-day, twenty years will see a tremendous change
for the worse, and a disappearance of game that will literally astonish
German East Africa and Uganda will not exterminate their quotas of big
game quite so soon. The absence of railways is a great factor in
game-existence. The Congo Free State contains game and sporting
possibilities--on the unexplored uplands _between the rivers_,--that are
as yet totally unknown to sportsmen at large. We are accustomed to
thinking of the whole basin of the Congo as a vast, gloomy and
There is to-day in Africa a vast reserve supply of grand game. It
inhabits regions that are either unknown, or most difficult to
penetrate. As a species in point, consider the okapi. Only the boldest
and most persistent explorers ever have set foot in its tangled and
miasmatic haunts. It may be twenty years before a living specimen can be
brought out. The gorilla and the chimpanzee are so well protected by the
density of their jungles that they never can be exterminated--until the
natives are permitted to have all the firearms that they desire! When
that day arrives, it is "good-night" to all the wild life that is large
enough to eat or to wear.
The quagga and the blaubok became _extinct_ before the world learned
that their existence was threatened! The giant eland, the sable
antelope, the greater kudu, the bontebok, blessbok, the mountain and
Burchell zebras, all the giraffes save that of Nigeria, the big
waterbucks, the nyala, the sitatunga, the bongo, and the gerenuk--all
will go in the same way, everywhere outside the game preserves. The
buffalo, zebra and rhinoceros are especially marked for destruction, as
annoyances to colonists. You who read of the killing of these species
to-day will read of their total disappearance to-morrow. So long as the
hunting of them is permitted, their ultimate disappearance is fixed and
certain. It is not the way of rifle-shooting English colonists to permit
herds of big game to run about merely to be looked at.
Naturally, the open plains of Africa, and the thin forests of the
plateau regions, will be the first to lose their big game. In the gloomy
fastnesses of the great equatorial forests, and other really dense
forests wherever found, the elephants, the Derby eland, the bongo, the
okapi, the buffaloes (of three species), the bush-pigs, the bushbucks
and the forest-loving antelopes generally will live, for possibly one
hundred years,--_or until the natives secure plenty of modern firearms
and ammunition_. Whenever and wherever savages become supplied with
rifles, then it is time to measure each big-game animal for its coffin.
The elephants of the great equatorial forest westward of the lake region
will survive long after the last eastern elephant has bitten the dust.
The pygmy elephant of the lower Congo region (_Elephas pumilio_) will be
the last African elephant species to disappear--because it inhabits
dense miasmatic jungles, its tusks are of the smallest size, and it has
the least commercial value.
* * * * *
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE GAME OF ASIA
After a successful survival of man's influence through two thousand
years, at last the big game of India has made a good start on the road
to vanishment. Up to 1870 it had held its own with a tenacity that was
astonishing. In 1877, I found the Ganges--Jumna dooab, the Animallai
Hills, the Wynaad Forest and Ceylon literally teeming with herds of
game. The Animallais in particular were a hunter's paradise. In each day
of hunting, large game of some kind was a certainty. The Nilgiri Hills
had been quite well shot out, but in view of the very small area and
open, golf-links character of the whole top of that wonderful sky
plateau, that was no cause for wonderment.
In those days no native shikaree owned and operated a gun,--or at the
most very, very few of them did. If a rogue elephant, a man-eating tiger
or a nasty leopard became a public nuisance, it was a case for a sahib
to come and doctor it with a .577 double-barreled express rifle, worth
$150 or more; and the sahibs had shooting galore.
I think that no such great wild-life sights as those of the plateau
regions of Africa ever were seen in southern Asia. Conditions there are
different, and usually the game is widely scattered. The sambar deer and
muntjac of the dense forests, the axis of the bamboo glades, the thameng
deer of the Burmese jungles, the sladang, or gaur, of the awful Malay
tangle, and the big cats and canines will last long and well. The
ibexes, markhors, tahr and all the wild sheep eventually will be shot
out by sportsmen who are "sheep crazy." The sheep and goats of Asia will
disappear soon after the plains animals of Africa, because no big game
that lives in the open can much longer endure the modern, inexpensive
long-range rifles of deadly accuracy and limitless repetition of fire.
Eventually, I fear that by some unlucky turn of Fortune's wheel all the
native hunters of Asia will obtain rifles; and when they do, we soon
will see the end of the big game.
Even to-day we find that the primitive conditions of 1877 have been
greatly changed. In the first place, about every native shikaree
(hunter) owns a rifle, at a cost of about $25; and many other natives
possess guns, and assume to hunt with them. The logical conclusion of
this is more hunting and less game. The development of the country has
reduced the cover for game. New roads and railways have made the game
districts easily accessible, and real sportsmen are now three or four
times as numerous as they were in 1877.
At Toonacadavoo, in the Animallai Hills where thirty-five years ago
there modestly nestled on the ridge beside the river only Forest Ranger
Theobold's bungalow, built of mud and covered with grass thatch and
bamboo rats, there is now a regular hill station lighted by electricity,
a modern sanatorium high up on the bluff, a _club_, golf links, and
other modern improvements. In my day there were exactly four guns on the
Animallais. Now there are probably one hundred; and it is easy to guess
how much big game remains on the Delectable Mountains in comparison with
the golden days of 1877. I should say that there is now only one game
animal for every twenty-five that were there in my day.
I am told that it is like that all over India. Beyond question, the
gun-sellers and gun-users have been busy there, as everywhere else. The
game of India is on the toboggan slide, and the old days of abundance
have gone forever.
The first fact that strikes us in the face is the impending fate of the
great Indian rhinoceros, an animal as wonderful as the Titanothere or
the Megatherium. It is like a gift handed down to us straight out of the
Pleistocene age, a million years back. The British paleontologists
to-day marvel at _Elephas ganesa_, and by great labor dig his bones out
of the Sewalik rocks, but what one of them all has yet made a move to
save _Rhinoceros indicus_ from the quick extermination that soon will be
his portion unless he is accorded perpetual and real protection from the
assaults of man?
Let the mammalogists of the world face this fact. The available cover of
the Indian rhinoceros is _alarmingly_ decreasing, throughout Assam and
Bengal where the behemoth of the jungle has a right to live. It is
believed that the few remaining rhinos are being shot much faster then
they are breeding; and what will be the effect of this upon an animal
that requires fourteen years to reach full maturity? To-day, the most
wonderful hoofed mammal of all Asia is booked for extermination, and
unless very radical measures for its preservation are at once carried
into effect, it is probable that twenty years more will see the last
Indian rhino go down to rise no more. One remedy would be a good, ample
rhinoceros preserve; and another, the most absolute and permanent
protection for the species, all along the line. Half-way measures will
not suffice. It is time to ring in a general alarm.
During the past eighteen years, only three specimens of that species
have come out of India for the zoological gardens and parks of the
world, and I think there are only five in captivity, all told.
We are told that in India now the natives are permitted to have about
all the firearms they can pay for. Naturally, in a country containing
over 300,000,000 people this is a deadly thing. Of course there are
shooting regulations, many of them; but their enforcement is so
imperfect that it is said that the natives are attacking the big game on
all sides, with deadly effect. I fear it is utterly impossible for the
Indian government to put enough wardens into the field to watch the
doings of the grand army of native poachers.
Fortunately, the Indian native,--unlike the western frontiersman,--does
not contend that _he owns_ the big game, or that "all men are born free
and equal." At the same time, he means to have his full share of it, to
eat, and to sell in various forms for cash. Even in India, the
sale-of-game dragon has reared its head, and is to-day in need of being
scotched with an iron hand.
When I received direct from a friend in the native state of Kashmir a
long printed circular setting forth the hunting laws and game-protective
measures of that very interesting principality, it gave me a shock. It
was disquieting to be thus assured that the big game of Kashmir has
disappeared to such an extent that strong protective measures are
necessary. It was as if the Chief Eskimo of Etah had issued a strong
proclamation for the saving of the musk-ox.
In Kashmir, the destruction of game has become so serious that a Game
Preservation Department has been created, with the official staff that
such an organization requires. The game laws are printed annually, and
any variations from them may be made only by the authority of the
Maharajah himself. Up to date, _eight_ game preserves have been created,
having a total area of about thee hundred square miles. In addition to
these, there are twelve small preserves, each having an area of from
twenty-five to fifty square miles. By their locations, these seem to
provide for all the species of big game that are found in Kashmir,--the
ibex, two forms of markhor, the tahr. Himalayan bighorn sheep, burrhel
In our country we have several states that are very large, very
diversified in surface, and still inhabited by large game. Has any one
of those states created a series of game preserves even half way
comparable with those of Kashmir? I think not. Montana has made a
beginning with two preserves,--Snow Creek and the Pryor Mountains,--but
beside the splendid series of Kashmir they are not worthy of serious
And then following closely in the wake of that document came a lengthy
article in the "Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London," by
E.C. Stebbing, in which a correspondent of the Indian _Field_ clearly
sets forth the fact that the big game of the Himalayas now is menaced by
a peril new to our consideration, but of a most deadly character. Hear
"In this inventory (of game destroyers in India), the Gurkha soldier
does not find a place, for he belongs to a class which he amply fills by
himself with his small but very important personality. He deserves
separate notice. From the banks of the Sarda on the frontier of Nepal,
to the banks of the Indus, the battalions of these gallant little men
are scattered in cantonments all along the outer spurs of the Himalayan
range. In seven or eight of these locations there are at least 14,000 of
these disciplined warriors, who, in the absence of opportunities for
spilling human blood legitimately, are given a free hand for
slaughtering wild animals, along five-hundred miles of the best hunting
grounds of Upper India."
Now, since those facts must be true as reported, do they not in
themselves constitute a severe arraignment of the Indian government? Why
should that state of game slaughter endure, when a single executive
order to the C.O. of each post would effectually stop it?
In the making of game preserves, or "sanctuaries" as they are called out
there, the Government of India has shown rare and commendable diligence.
The total number is too great for enumeration here. The native state of
Mysore has seven, and the Nilgiri Hills have sanctuaries aggregating
about 100,000 acres in area. In the Wynaad Forest, my old
hunting-grounds at Mudumallay have been closed to bison shooting,
because of the alarming decrease of bison (gaur) through shooting and
disease. The Kundah Forest Reserve has been made a partial game
preserve, but the door might as well have been left wide open as so
In eastern Bengal and Assam, several game preserves have been created.
On the whole, by the diligence and thoroughness with which sanctuaries,
as they are termed, have been created quite generally throughout India,
it is quite evident that the government and the sportsmen of India have
become thoroughly alarmed by the great decrease of the game, and the
danger of the extermination of species. In the past India has been the
finest and best-stocked hunting-ground of all Asia, quite beyond
compare, and the destruction of her once-splendid fauna of big game
would be a zoological calamity.
_Tibet_.--As yet, Tibet offers free hunting, without legal let or
hindrance, to every sportsman who can climb up to her lofty, wind-swept
and whizzing-cold plateau. The man who hunts the _Ovis poli_, superb
creature though it be, pays in full for his trophies. The ibex of the
south help out the compensatory damages, but even with that, the list of
species available in southern Tibet is painfully small. The Mitchell
takin can be reached from China, via Chungking, after a long, hard
journey, over Consul Mason Mitchell's trail; but the takin is about the
only large hoofed game available.
_The Altai Mountains_, of western China, contain the magnificent
Siberian argali, the grandfather of all sheep species, whose horns must
be seen to be believed. Through a quest for that species the Russian
military authorities played upon Mr. George L. Harrison and his comrade
a very grim and unsportsmanlike joke. At the frontier military post, on
the Russo-Chinese border, the two Americans were courteously halted,
hospitably entertained, and _prevented_ from going into the
argali-infested mountains that loomed up before them only a few miles
away! The Russian officers said:
"Sheep? Why, if you really want sheep, we will send out some of our
brave soldiers to shoot some for you; but there is no need for _you_ to
take the trouble to go after them!"
After Mr. Harrison and his comrade had spent $5,000, and traveled half
way around the world for those sheep, that is in brief the story of how
the cup of Tantalus was given them by the Russians, actually _at their
goal_! As spoil-sports, those Russian officers were the champions of the
Seven hundred miles southeastward of the Altai Mountains of western
China, guarded by the dangerous hostility of savage native tribes, there
exists and awaits the scientific explorer, according to report, an
undiscovered wild horse. The Bicolored Wild Horse is black and white,
and joy awaits the zoologist or sportsman who sees it first. Evidently
it will not soon be exterminated by modern rifles.
_The Impenetrable Forests_.--Although the mountains of central Asia will
in time be cleared of their big game,--when by hook and by crook the
natives secure plenty of modern firearms,--there are places in the Far
East that we know will contain big game forever and a day. Take the
Malay Peninsula, Borneo and Sumatra as examples.
Mr. C. William Beebe, who recently has visited the Far East, has
described how the state of Selangor, between Malacca and Penang, has
taken on many airs of improvement since 1878, and sections of Sarawak
Territory are being cut down and burned for the growing of rubber.
Despite this I am trying to think that those developments menace the
total volume of the wild life of those regions but little. I wonder if
those tangled, illimitable, ever-renewing jungles yet know that their
faces have been scratched. White men never will exterminate the big game
of the really dense jungles of the eastern tropics; but with enough
axes, snares, guns and cartridges _the natives_ may be able to
In Malayana there are some jungles so dense, so tangled with lianas and
so thorny with Livistonias and rattan that nothing larger than a cat can
make way through them. There are thousands of square miles so boggy, so
swampy, so dark, gloomy and mosquito-ridden that all men fear them and
avoid them, and in them rubber culture must be impossible. In those
silent places the gaur, the rhino, the Malay sambar, the clouded leopard
and the orang-utan surely are measurably safe from the game-bags and
market gunners of the shooting world. It is good to think that there is
an equatorial belt of jungle clear around the world, in Central and
South America as well as in the old World, in which there will be little
extermination in our day, except of birds for the feather market. But
the open plains, open mountains, and open forests of Asia and
Australasia are in different case. Eventually they will be "shot out."
China, all save Yunnan and western Mongolia, is now horribly barren of
wild life. Can it ever be brought back? We think it can not. The
millions of population are too many; and except in the great forest
tracts, the spread of modern firearms will make an end of the game.
Already the pheasants are being swept out of China for the London
market, and extinction is staring several species in the face. On the
whole, the pheasants of the Old World are being hit hard by the
rubber-planting craze. Mr. Beebe declares that owing to the inrush of
aggressive capital, the haunts of many species of pheasants are being
denuded of all their natural cover, and some mountain species that are
limited to small areas are practically certain to be exterminated at an
DESTRUCTION OF ANIMALS FOR FUR.--In the far North, only the interior of
Kamchatka seems to be safe from the iron heel of the skin-hunter. A
glance at the list of furs sold in London last year reveals one or two
things that are disquieting. The total catch of furs for the year 1911
is enormous,--considering the great scarcity of wild life on two
continents. Incidentally it must be remembered that every trapper
carries a gun, and in studying the fur list one needs no help in trying
to imagine the havoc wrought with firearms on the edible wild life of
the regions that contributed all that fur. I have been told by trappers
that as a class, trappers are great killers of game.
In order that the reader may know by means of definite figures the
extent to which the world is being raked and combed for fur-bearing
animals, we append below a statement copied from the _Fur News Magazine_
for November, 1912, of the sales of the largest London fur house during
the past two years.
With varying emotions we call attention to the wombat of Australia,
3,841; grebe, 51,261, and house cat, 92,407. Very nearly all the totals
of Lampson & Co. for each species are much lower for the sales of 1912
than for those of 1911. Is this fact significant of a steady decline?
* * * * *
FURS SOLD BY C.M. LAMPSON & Co., LONDON
_Totals for Totals for
1911, Skins 1912, Skins_
Raccoon 354,057 215,626
Musquash (Muskrat) 3,382,401 2,937,150
Musquash, Black 78,363 60,000
Skunk 1,310,185 979,612
Cat, Civet 329,180 229,155
Opossum, American 1,011,824 948,189
Mink 183,574 100,951
Marten 29,881 26,895
Fox, Red 58,900 40,300
Fox, Cross 1,294 1,569
Fox, Silver 761 590
Fox, Grey 43,909 32,471
Fox, Kit 30,278 35,222
Fox, White 16,709 13,341
Fox, Blue 3,137 1,778
Otter 17,399 13,899
Sea Otter 328 202
Cat, Wild, etc 38,870 29,740
Cat, House 92,407 65,641
Lynx 2,424 5,144
Fisher 1,918 656
Badger 16,338 15,325
Beaver 21,137 17,036
Bear 16,851 13,377
Wolf 65,893 74,535
Wolverine 1,530 1,172
Hair Seal, Dry 6,455 5,378
Grebe 51,261 19,571
Fur Seal, Dry 897 1,453
Sable, Russian 10,285 8,972
Kolinsky 138,921 120,933
Marten, Baum 1,853 1,481
Marten, Stone 7,504 6,331
Fitch 26,731 20,400
Ermine 328,840 248,295
Squirrel 976,395 707,710
Saca, etc. 40,982 13,599
Chinchilla, Real 6,282 11,457
Chinchilla, Bastard 7,533 8,145
Marten, Japanese 26,005 3,294
Sable, Japanese 1,429 52
Fox, Japanese 60,831 13,725
Badger, Japanese 183 2,949
Opossum, Australian 1,613,799 1,782,364
Wallaby, Australian 1,003,820 540,608
Kangaroo, Australian 21,648 16,193
Wombat, Australian 3,841 1,703
Fox, Red, Australian 60,435 40,724
* * * * *
THE DESTRUCTION OF BIRDS IN THE FAR EAST[G]
BY C. WILLIAM BEEBE
Curator of Birds, New York Zoological Park
[Footnote G: The observations which furnished this valuable chapter were
made by Mr. Beebe in 1911 while conducting an expedition in southern
Asia, Borneo and Java for the purpose of studying in life and nature all
the members of the Pheasant Family inhabiting that region. The results
of these studies and collections will shortly appear in a very complete
monograph of the Phasianidae.--W.T.H.]
In chapter XIII, treating of the "Extermination of Birds for Women's
Hats," Dr. Hornaday has dealt fully with the feather and plumage traffic
after it enters the brokers' hands, and has proved conclusively that the
plumes of egrets are gathered from the freshly killed birds. We may
trace the course of the plumes and feathers backward through the
tightly-packed bales and boxes in the holds of the vessels to the ports
of the savage lands whence they were shipped; then to the skilful, dark
hands of Mexican peon, Venezuelan Indian, African negro or Asiatic
Chinaman or Malay, who stripped the skin from the flesh; and finally to
the jungle or mountain side or terai where the bird gave up its life to
blowpipe, cross-bow, blunderbuss or carefully set snare.
In various trips to Mexico, Venezuela and other countries in the tropics
of the New World I have seen many such scenes, but not until I had
completed a seventeen months' expedition in search of pheasants, through
some twenty wild countries of Asia and the East Indies, did I realize
the havoc which is being wrought week by week everywhere on the globe.
While we were absent even these few months from the great centers of
civilization, tremendous advances had been made in air-ships and the
thousand and one other modern phases of human development, but evolution
in the world of Nature as we observed it was only destructive--a
world-wide katabolism--a retrogression often discernible from month to
month. We could scarcely repeat the trip and make the same observations
upon pheasants, so rapidly is this group of birds approaching
The causes of this destruction of wild life are many and diverse, and
resemble one another only in that they all emanate from mankind. To the
casual traveller the shooting and trapping of birds for millinery
purposes at first seems to hold an insignificant place among the causes.
But this is only because in many of the larger ports, the protective
laws are more or less operative and the occupation of the plume hunter
is carried on in secret ways. But it is as far-reaching and insidious
as any; and when we add to the actual number of birds slain, the
compound interest of eggs grown cold, of young birds perishing slowly
from hunger, of the thousands upon thousands of birds which fall wounded
or dead among the thick tropical jungle foliage and are lost, the total
is one of ghastly proportions.
Not to weaken my argument with too many general statements, let me take
at once some concrete cases. First, that of the Himalayan pheasants and
game-birds. In a recent interesting article by E.P. Stebbing[H] the
past, present and hoped-for future of game birds and animals in India is
reviewed. Unfortunately, however, most of the finest creatures in Asia
live beyond the border of the British sphere of influence, and though
within sight, are absolutely beyond reach of civilized law. The heart of
the Himalayas,--the haunts of some of the most beautiful birds in the
world, the tragopans, the blood and impeyan pheasants--lies within the
limits of Nepal, a little country which time and time again has bade
defiance to British attacks, and still maintains its independence. From
its northern border Mt. Everest looks down from its most exalted of all
earthly summits and sees valley after valley depleted of first one bird
and then another. I have seen and lived with Nepalese shepherds who have
nothing to do month after month but watch their flocks. In the lofty
solitudes time hangs heavy on their hands, and with true oriental
patience they weave loop after loop of yak-hair snares, and then set
them, not in dozens or scores, but in hundreds and thousands up and down
[Footnote H: "Game Sanctuaries and Game Protection in India,"
Proc. Zool. Soc., London, 1912. pp. 23-35.]
In one locality seven great valleys had been completely cleared of
pheasants, only a single pair of tragopans remaining; and from one of
these little brown men I took two hundred nooses which had been prepared
for these lone survivors. In these cases, the birds were either cooked
and eaten at once, or sold to some passing shepherd or lama for a few
annas. But in other parts of this unknown land systematic collecting of
skins goes on, for bale after bale of impeyan and red argus (tragopan)
pheasant skins goes down to the Calcutta wharves, where its infamous
contents, though known, are safe from seizure under the Nepal Raja's
seal! Thus it is that the London feather sales still list these among
the most splendid of all living birds. And shame upon shame, when we
read of 80 impeyan skins "dull," or "slightly defective," we know that
these are female birds. Then, if ever, we realize that the time of the
bird and the beast is passing, the acme of evolution for these wonderful
beings is reached, and at most we can preserve only a small fragment of
To the millinery hunter, what the egret is to America, and the bird of
paradise to New Guinea, the impeyan pheasant is to India--the most
coveted of all plumages. There is a great tendency to blame the native
hunter for the decrease of this and other pheasants, and from what I
have personally seen in many parts of the Himalayas there is no question
that the Garwhalese and Nepalese hill-men have wrought havoc among the
birds. But these men are by no means the sole cause. As long ago as 1879
we read that "The great demand for the brilliant skins of the moonal
that has existed for many years has led to their almost total
extermination in some parts of the hills, as the native shikaris shoot
and snare for the pot as well as for skins, and kill as many females as
males. On the other hand, though for nearly thirty years my friend Mr.
Wilson has yearly sent home from 1,000 to 1,500 skins of this species
and the tragopan, there are still in the woods whence they were obtained
as many as, if not more than, when he first entered them, simply because
he has rigidly preserved females and nests, and (as amongst English
pheasants) one cock suffices for several hens."
[Illustration: PHEASANT SNARES
Made of Yak Hair, Taken from a Shepherd in Nepal by Mr. Beebe]
Ignoring the uncertainty of the last statement, it is rather absurd to
think of a single man "preserving" females and nests in the Himalayas
from 1850 to 1880, when the British Government, despite most efficient
laws and worthy efforts is unable to protect the birds of these wild
regions to-day. The statement that after thirty to forty-five thousand
cock impeyans were shot or snared, as many or more than the original
quota remained, could only emanate from the mind of a professional
feather-hunter, and Hume should not be blamed for more than the mere
repetition of such figures. Let it be said to the credit of Wilson, the
slaughterer of something near forty-five thousand impeyans, that he was
a careful observer of the birds' habits, and has given us an excellent
account, somewhat coloured by natives, but on the whole, the best we
have had in the past. But it is not pleasant to read of his waiting
until "twenty or thirty have got up and alighted in the surrounding
trees, and have then walked up to the different trees and fired at those
I wished to procure without alarming the rest, only those very close to
the one fired at being disturbed at each report."
Hume's opinion that in 1879 there were scores of places where one might
secure from ten to eighteen birds in a day, is certainly not true
to-day. Indeed, as early as 1858 we read that "This splendid bird, once
so abundant on the Western Himalayas is now far from being so, in
consequence of the numbers killed by sportsmen on account of its beauty.
Whole tracts of mountain forest once frequented by the moonal are now
almost without a single specimen." The same author goes on naively to
tell the reader that "Among the most pleasant reminiscences of bygone
days is a period of eleven days, spent by the author and a friend on the
Choor Mountain near Simia, when among other trophies were numbered
sixty-eight moonal pheasants, etc."
[Illustration: SILVER PHEASANT SKINS SEIZED AT RANGOON, BRITISH BURMA
About 600 Skins out of Several Thousand Confiscated in the Custom House,
on their way to the London Feather Market. Photographed by Mr. Beebe]
For some unaccountable reason there is, or was for many years, a very
prevalent idea that the enormous number of skins which have poured into
the London market were from birds bred in the vicinity of Calcutta. When
we remember the intense heat of that low-lying city, and learn from the
records of the Calcutta Zoological Garden that impeyans and tragopans
are even shorter-lived than in Europe, the absurdity of the idea is
apparent. In spite of numberless inquiries throughout India, I failed to
learn of a single captive young bird ever hatched and reared even in the
high, cool, hill-stations. The commercial value of an impeyan skin has
varied from five dollars to twenty dollars, according to the number
received annually. In 1876 an estimate placed the monthly average of
impeyans received in London at from two to eight hundred.
In such a case as Nepal, direct protective laws are of no avail. All
humane arguments are useless, but if the markets at the other end _can
be closed_, the slaughter will cease instantly and automatically.
[Illustration: DEADFALL TRAPS IN BURMA
A Long Series set Across a Valley, by the Kachins of the Burma-Chinese
Border. A Wholesale Method of Wild-life Slaughter, Photographed by C.
William Beebe, 1910]
As a contrast to the millinery hunter of fifty years ago it is
refreshing to find that at last sincere efforts are being made in
British possessions to stop this traffic. I happened to be at Rangoon
when six large bales of pheasant skins were seized by the Custom
officials. A Chinaman had brought them from Yunnan via Bhamo, and was
preparing to ship them as ducks' feathers. Two of the bales were opened
for my inspection. The first contained about five hundred Lady Amherst
pheasant skins, falling to pieces and lacking heads and legs. The second
held over four hundred silver pheasants, in almost perfect condition.
The chief collector had put the absolutely prohibitive fine of 200
pounds on them, and was waiting for the expiration of the legal number
of days before burning the entire lot. They must have represented years