Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

American Big Game in Its Haunts by Various

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download American Big Game in Its Haunts pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the sheep toward the angle of these fences, where hunters lay in wait to
kill them, as elsewhere mentioned by Mr. Hofer. In fact, sheep in those
old times shared with all the other animals of the prairie that tameness
to which I have often adverted in writing on this subject, and which now
seems so remarkable.

The Bannocks and Sheep Eaters depended for their food very largely on
sheep. In fact, the Sheep Eaters are reported to have killed little
else, whence their name. Both these tribes hunted more or less in
disguise, and wore on the head and shoulders the skin and horns of a
mountain sheep's head, the skin often being drawn about the body, and
the position assumed a stooping one, so as to simulate the animal with a
considerable closeness. The legs, which were uncovered, were commonly
rubbed with white or gray clay, and certain precautions were used to
kill the human odor.

A Cheyenne Indian told me of an interesting happening witnessed by his
grandfather very many years ago. A war party had set out to take horses
from the Shoshone. One morning just at sunrise the fifteen or sixteen
men were traveling along on foot in single file through a deep canon of
the mountains, when one of them spied on a ledge far above them the head
and shoulders of a great mountain sheep which seemed to be looking over
the valley. He pointed it out to his fellows, and as they walked along
they watched it. Presently it drew back, and a little later appeared
again further along the ledges, and stood there on the verge. As the
Indians watched, they suddenly saw shoot out from another ledge above
the sheep a mountain lion, which alighted on the sheep's neck, and both
animals fell whirling over the cliff and struck the slide rock
below. The fall was a long one, and the Cheyennes, feeling sure that the
sheep had been killed, either by the fall or by the lion, rushed forward
to secure the meat. When they reached the spot the lion was hobbling off
with a broken leg, and one of them shot it with his arrow, and when they
made ready to skin the sheep, they saw to their astonishment that it was
not a sheep, but a man wearing the skin and horns of a sheep. He had
been hunting, and his bow and arrows were wrapped in the skin close to
his breast. The fall had killed him. From the fashion of his hair and
his moccasins they knew that he was a Bannock.

A reference to the hunting methods of the Sheep Eaters reminds one very
naturally of that pursued by the Blackfeet, when sheep were needed, for
their skins or for their flesh. These animals were abundant about the
many buttes which rise out of the prairie on the flanks of the Rocky
Mountains, in what is now Montana, and when disturbed retreated to the
heights for safety.

Hugh Monroe, a typical mountain man of the old time, who reached Fort
Edmonton in the year 1813, and died in 1893, after eighty years spent
upon the prairie in close association with the Indians, has often told
me of the Blackfoot method of securing sheep when their skins were
needed for women's dresses. On such an occasion a large number of the
men would ride out from the camp to the neighborhood of one of these
buttes, and on their approach the sheep, which had been feeding on the
prairie, slowly retreated to the heights above. The Indians then spread
out, encircling the butte by a wide ring of horsemen, and sending three
or four young men to climb its heights, awaited results. When the men
sent up on the butte had reached its summit, they pursued the sheep over
its limited area, and drove them down to the prairie below, where the
mounted men chased and killed them. In this way large numbers of sheep
were procured.

Of the hunting of the sheep by the Indians who inhabited the rough
mountains in and near what is now the Yellowstone National Park,
Mr. Hofer has said to me:

"It is supposed that when the Sheep Eater Indians inhabited the
mountains about the Park they kept the sheep down pretty close, but
after they went away the sheep increased in that particular range of
country, the whole Absaroka range; that is to say, the country from
Clark Fork of the Yellowstone down to the Wind River drainage.

"The greatest number of sheep in recent years was pretty well toward the
head of Gray Bull, Meeteetsee Creek and Stinking Water. In those old
times the Indians used to build rude fences on the sides of the
mountains, running down a hill, and these fences would draw together
toward the bottom, and where they came nearly together the Indians would
have a place to hide in. Fifteen years ago there was one such trap that
was still quite plainly visible. One fence follows down pretty near the
edge of a little ridge, draining steeply down from Crandle Creek divide
to Miller Creek. There was no pen at the bottom, and no cliff to run
them off, so that the Indians could not have killed them in that way,
but near where the fences came together there was a pile of dead limbs
and small rocks that looked to me as if it had been used by a person
lying in wait to shoot animals which were driven down this ridge; and it
was near enough to the place that they must pass to shoot them with
arrows. These Indians had arrows, and hunted with them; and up on top of
the ridges you will find old stumps that have been hacked down with
stone hatchets. Some of the tree trunks have been removed, but others
have been left there. I think that some Indians would go around the
sheep and start them off, and gradually drive them to the pass where the
hunter lay. I remember following along this ridge, and then on another
ridge that went on toward the Clark Fork ridge to quite a high little
peak, and on top of this peak was quite a large bed for a man to lie
in. He could watch there until the sheep should pass through, and then
he could come out and drive them on."


The settling up of much of their former range, with pursuit by
skin-hunters, head-hunters, and meat-hunters, has had much to do with
the reduction in numbers of the mountain sheep, but more important than
these have been the ravages by diseases brought in to their range by the
domestic sheep, and then spread by the wild species among their wild
associates. For many years it has been known that the wild sheep of
certain portions of the Rocky Mountain region are afflicted with scab, a
disease which in recent years seems to have attacked the elk as
well. Testimony is abundant that wild sheep are killed by scab as
domestic sheep are. On a few occasions I have seen animals that appeared
to have died from this cause, but Mr. Hofer, to be quoted later, has had
a much broader experience.

More sweeping and even more fatal has been the introduction among the
wild sheep of an anthrax, of which, however, very little is known.

Aside from man, the most important enemies of the sheep in nature are
the mountain lion and eagles of two species. These last I believe to be
so destructive to newly born sheep and goats that I think it a duty to
kill them whenever possible.

Dr. Edward L. Munson, at that time Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army, but
whose services in more recent years have won him so much credit, and
such well deserved promotion, wrote me in 1897 the following interesting
paragraphs with relation to disease among sheep. He said:

"The Bear Paw Mountains were full of mountain sheep a dozen years
ago. One was roped last summer, and this is the only representative
which has been seen or heard of there in ten years. The introduction of
tame sheep early in the '80's was followed by a most destructive
anthrax, which not only destroyed immense numbers of tame sheep, but
also exterminated the wild ones, which appeared to be especially
susceptible to this disease. In going through these mountains one often
finds the skeletons of a number huddled together, and the above is the
explanation given by some of the older settlers. The mountains are
small, and the wild sheep could not climb up out of the infected
zone. Immediate contact is, of course, not necessary in the propagation
of anthrax, and the bacilli and spores left on soil grazed over by an
infected band would readily infect another animal feeding over such a
country even a long time afterward.

"I have also heard that the introduction of dog distemper played havoc
with wolves, coyotes, and Indian dogs, when it first came into the
country. This is the case with regard to any disease introduced into a
virgin human population, in which there is no immunity due to the
prevalence of such a disease for hundreds of years previously."

Mr. Elwood Hofer, discussing this subject in conversation, says:

"There are not a great many sheep in the Park now, anywhere; they have
died off from sickness--the scab. This is a fact known to everyone
living in the neighborhood of the Park. I have killed only one that had
the disease badly, but I used to see them every day, and pay no
attention to them. I did not hunt for them, for I did not want them in
that condition. I remember that once a man came out to Gardiner who did
not know that the sheep were sick. He saw some when he was hunting, and
rushed up in great excitement and killed three of them. They seemed to
be weak and were pretty nearly dead with scab before he saw them.
Sometimes they become so weak from this disease that they lie down and

"I first noticed sheep with the scab around the canyon by the
Yellowstone. I never saw any troubled with this disease around
Meeteetsee or Stinking Water. I have been there in winter, and hunted
them as late as November, and Col. Pickett used to kill some still
later. I never heard him speak of the scab."

In spring and early summer, when the young sheep are small, the eagles
are constantly on the watch for them, and unquestionably capture many
lambs. I have been told by my friend, Mr. J.B. Monroe, who has several
times captured lambs alive, that when they heard the rope whistling as
he threw it toward them, they would run directly toward him, seeming to
fear some enemy from above. He believes that they took the sound of the
rope flying through the air for the sound of the eagle's wings.

While, of course, the mountain lions cannot overtake the sheep in fair
chase, they lie in wait for them among the rocks, killing many, because
the sheep range on ground suitable for the lions to stalk them on; that
is to say, among the rocks on steep mountain sides, or at the edges of

A conversation had with Mr. Hofer a year or two since is so interesting
that I offer no apology for giving the gist of it here. It has to do
with the enemies of the sheep, especially the mountain lion, and with
some of the sheep's ways. In substance, Mr. Hofer said:

"One day about the first of January I was in my cabin looking through
the window, and up through the Cinnabar Basin, over the snow-covered
mountains. As I was looking, I saw a dark patch disappear in the snow
and then rise out of it again. The snow was deep and fluffy. The animal
that I was watching would disappear in the snow with a plunge, and then
would come up with a jump. It made several wonderful flights. It was so
far off I could not tell what it was, and when I looked at it through
the glasses I saw that it was a big ram breaking a trail. I was watching
him closely and at first did not notice that others were with him. Soon,
however, I discovered that there were four or five other sheep following

"The big ram came down from the side of the mountain, and, to pass over
to the other mountain, he had to cross the valley. There were a number
of knolls or ridges in this valley, where the snow was not so deep as in
the hollows. The ram broke a trail to a knoll, and stopped and looked
back, and pretty soon I saw the rest of the sheep coming along. They
followed his trail and passed him while he was standing there looking
back, always looking up at the mountain. While he stood on this knoll
where the snow was not deep--for it had blown off--and the other sheep
had passed him, one of them took the lead to the next knoll, breaking
the trail, but here the snow was not so deep as that the ram had come
through. No sooner had the sheep got to this knoll than the old ram
started. He took the trail the others had made, and joined them at the
next knoll, and then plunging in, went on ahead and broke a fresh trail
to the next rise of ground. The ram did most of the trail-breaking, but
sometimes one of the others went ahead; there was always one in the
rear, on guard, as it were, until they had crossed the valley to a steep
ridge on the next mountain. As they went, they stopped every little
while and stood for some time looking back.

"Knowing the habits of the animal, I felt sure that something had driven
them off the mountain. They looked back as if to see whether anything
was following, or perhaps to look again at what had frightened them. I
thought it was a mountain lion. Soon afterward I took my snowshoes and
went up that way and found the track of a mountain lion. From the size
of the track it seemed as if the animal must have been enormous. On
soft snow, though, tracks spread and look big, and besides that, these
cats commonly spread out their toes. There was no mistake about its
being a mountain lion, for I could see where the tail had struck the
soft snow and made holes in it.

"Mountain lions were around there a good deal, and E. De Long, who had a
cabin a little further up in the valley, told me that three times in his
experience of hunting up there he had come on a place where a mountain
lion had just killed a sheep. In each case he found the sheep in nearly
the same place, and in each case the sheep was freshly killed, and he
dressed it and took it home.

"This seemed to be a favorite place for the lions to kill sheep. They
are great hands to kill sheep in about the same place. Far up on the
Boulder--way up near the head--Col. Pickett and I found nineteen or
twenty skulls of sheep by one rock. There was a wonderful lot of
them. They had been killed at various times, and in a place where they
never could have been killed by snowslides. It was under a very high
rock, fifteen feet perpendicular on one side, and in the valley a game
trail passed close under this side. On the other side the rock was not
so high, but sloped off to the side of the hill. A lion could easily lie
there without being seen, but could himself see both ways. The game
trail was so close that he could jump right down on to it. The number of
skulls that we saw here was so remarkable that Col. Pickett and I
counted them; there were more than eighteen.

"The skulls were most of them old--killed a good while before. None of
them had the shells of the horns. They were old skulls, and the oldest
were almost in fragments, very much weathered. It was the accumulation
of a number of years, probably ten or fifteen. To my mind it showed
clearly that this was a favorite place for lions to lie for mountain
sheep. I have known of something similar to that in Cinnabar Basin,
where I have seen a number of skulls scattered along the gulch. There
was a heavy trail there which led up to a valley where there is a pass
by which we used to wind down to the Yellowstone and Tom Miner Creek and
Trapper Creek.

"Lions are quite bad along the Yellowstone here, and sometimes in a hard
winter they seem to be driven out of the mountains, and a considerable
number have been killed on Gardiner River and Reese Creek.

"If mountain lions are after the sheep, the sheep leave the mountain
they are on and go to another; they will not stay there, and will not
return until something drives them back."


Mr. Hofer said:

"In old times it was sometimes possible to get a 'stand' on sheep, and,
in my opinion, sheep often, even to-day, are the least suspicious of all
the mountain animals. A mountain sheep always seems to fear the thing
that he sees under him. If a man goes above him he does not seem to know
what to do. I could never understand why, when one is above him, he
stands and looks. I have sometimes been riding around in the mountains,
and have come on sheep right below me. I have often thrown stones at
them, and sometimes it was quite a while before I could get them to
start. Finally, however, they would run off. They acted as if they were

"On the other hand, when I carried the mail down in San Juan county,
Colorado, in the winter of 1875-'76, going across from Animas Forks by
way of the Grizzly Pass to Tellurium Fork, I was the only person in that
section of the country all through the winter, and yet, although the
sheep saw only me, and saw me every day, they always acted
wild. Sometimes a ram would see me and stand and look for a long time,
and then presently all along the mountain side I would see sheep running
as if they were alarmed. On the other hand, if I met any of them on top
of the mountain, they scarcely ever ran, they just stood and looked at

"Once, when on a hunting trip, I had my horses all picketed in sight,
just above the basin where we were camped. The boy that had the care of
the horses had been up to change the picketed animals, and when he came
in he said: 'There's a sheep up there close by the horses. He saw me and
was not afraid.' We went out of the tent and presently I could see the
sheep, a small one about four years old. We went up toward it, and I saw
the sheep moving about. It went out to a little flat place on the slide
rock, where the slide rock had pushed out a little further, making a
little low butte, or flat-topped table; it was loose rock, with
snow. Here the sheep lay down.

"I went around to station my man where he could get a rest for his
rifle, and when I had done this, I went around above to make the sheep
get up to drive him out, so that the man could shoot him. After I got
well up the gulch, above him, the sheep could see me plainly, and I
could see his eyes. I hesitated about making him get up, thinking
perhaps it was somebody's tame sheep, but we were the first ones up
there that spring, and of course it was not a tame sheep. If we had not
been out of meat I would not have disturbed the animal. I walked toward
it to make it get up, but it would not, and still lay there. When I was
within thirty feet of it I took up a stone and threw it, and called at
him. The sheep stood up and looked at me. I said, 'Go on, now,' and he
started in the direction I wished him to take. When he came in sight,
the man fired two or three shots at him, but did not hurt him, and the
sheep again lay down in sight of camp. Afterward I fired at him about
300 yards up the side of the mountain, but I did not touch him. However,
he was disturbed by the shooting, and moved away.

"It is often difficult to find a reason for the way sheep act. It is
possible that this young ram, which was in the Sunlight Mining District,
had seen many miners, and that they had not disturbed him, and that so
he had lost his fear of man. He was not at all afraid of horses, perhaps
because he was accustomed to seeing miners' horses; or he may have taken
them for elk. I do not see why our wind did not alarm him. At all
events, for some reason, this one showed no fear.

"Along the Gardiner River, inside the northern boundary of the
Yellowstone Park, there are always a number of sheep in winter, and they
become very tame, having learned by experience that people passing to
and fro will not injure them. Men driving up the road from Mammoth Hot
Springs to Gardiner, constantly see these sheep, which manifest the
utmost indifference to those who are passing them. Sometimes they stand
close enough to the road for a driver to reach them with his whip. One
winter the surgeon at the post, driving along, came upon a sheep
standing in the road, and as it did not move, he had to stop his team
for it. He did not dare to drive his horse close up to it. Finally the
ram jumped out to one side of the road, and the surgeon drove on. He
said he could have touched it with his whip."

One winter when Mr. Hofer made an extended snowshoe trip through the
Park, he passed very close to sheep. It appeared to him that they fear
man less along the wagon roads than when he is out on the benches and in
the mountains. They seem to care little for man, but if a mountain lion
appears in the neighborhood, the sheep are no longer seen. Just where
they go is uncertain, but it is believed that they cross the Yellowstone
River by swimming.

In winter, and especially late in the winter, sheep frequent southern
and southwestern exposures, and spend much of their time there. I have
seen places on the St. Marys Lake, in northern Montana, where there were
cartloads of droppings, apparently the accumulation of many years, and
have seen the same thing in the cliffs along the Yellowstone River. On
the rocks here there were many beds among the cliffs and ledges. Often
such beds are behind a rock, not a high one, but one that the sheep
could look over. In places such as this the animals are very difficult
to detect.

Although the wild sheep was formerly, to a considerable extent, an
inhabitant of the western edge of the prairies of the high dry plains,
it is so no longer. The settling of the country has made this
impossible, but long before its permanent occupancy the frequent passage
through it by hunters had resulted in the destruction of the sheep or
had driven it more or less permanently to those heights where, in times
of danger, it had always sought refuge.

To the east of the principal range of the wild sheep in America to-day
there are still a few of its old haunts not in the mountains which are
so arid or so rough, or where the water is so bad that as yet they have
not to any great extent been invaded by the white man. Again to the
south and southwest, in portions of Arizona, Old Mexico, and Lower
California, there rise out of frightful deserts buttes and mountain
ranges inhabited by different forms of sheep. In that country water is
extremely scarce, and the few water holes that exist are visited by the
sheep only at long intervals. There are many men who believe that the
sheep do not drink at all, but it is chiefly at these water holes that
the sheep of the desert are killed.

At the present day the chief haunts of the mountain sheep are the fresh
Alpine meadows lying close to timber line, and fenced in by tall peaks;
or the rounded grassy slopes which extend from timber line up to the
region of perpetual snows. Sitting on the point of some tall mountain
the observer may look down on the green meadows, interspersed perhaps
with little clumps of low willows which grow along the tiny watercourses
whose sources are the snow banks far up the mountain side, and if
patient in his watch and faithful in his search, he may detect with his
glasses at first one or two, and gradually more and more, until at
length perhaps ten, fifteen or thirty sheep may be counted, scattered
over a considerable area of country. Or, if he climbs higher yet, and
overlooks the rounded shoulders which stretch up from the passes toward
the highest pinnacles of all--he will very likely see far below him,
lying on the hill and commanding a view miles in extent in every
direction, a group of nine, ten or a dozen sheep peacefully resting in
the midday sun. Those that he sees will be almost all of them ewes and
young animals. Perhaps there may be a young ram or two whose horns have
already begun to curve backward, but for the most part they are females
and young.

The question that the hunter is always asking himself is where are the
big rams? Now and then, to be sure, more by accident than by any wisdom
of his own, he stumbles on some monster of the rocks, but of the sheep
that he sees in his wanderings, not one in a hundred has a head so large
as to make him consider it a trophy worth possessing. It is commonly
declared that in summer the big rams are "back along the range," by
which it is meant that they are close to the summits of the tallest
peaks. It is probable that this is true, and that they gather by twos
and threes on these tall peaks, and, not moving about very much, escape

During the spring, summer, and early fall the females and their young
keep together in small bands in the mountains, well up, close under what
is called the "rim rock," or the "reefs," where the grass is sweet and
tender, the going good, and where a refuge is within easy reach. While
hunting in such places in September and October, when the first snows
are falling, one is likely to find the trail of a band of sheep close up
beneath the rock. If the mountain is one long inhabited by sheep, they
have made a well-worn trail on the hillside, and the little band, while
traveling along this in a general way, scatters out on both sides
feeding on the grass heads that project above the snow, and often with
their noses pushing the light snow away to get at the grass beneath. I
have never seen them do this, nor have I seen them paw to get at the
grass, but the marks in the snow where they have fed showed clearly that
the snow was pushed aside by the muzzle.

Like most other animals, wild and tame, sheep are very local in their
habits, and one little band will occupy the same basin in the mountains
all summer long, going to water by the same trail, feeding in the same
meadows and along the same hillsides, occupying the same beds stamped
out in the rough slide rock, or on the great rock masses which have
fallen down from the cliff above. Even if frightened from their chosen
home by the passage of a party of travelers, they will go no further
than to the tops of the rocks, and as soon as the cause of alarm is
removed will return once more to the valley.

I saw a striking instance of this some years ago, when, with a
Geological Survey party, I visited a little basin on the head of one of
the forks of Stinking Water in Wyoming, where a few families of sheep
had their home.

Our appearance alarmed the sheep, which ran a little way up the face of
the cliff, and then, stopping occasionally to look, clambered along more
deliberately. When we reached the head of the basin we found that there
was no way down on the other side, and that we must go back as we had
come. The afternoon was well advanced and the pack train started back
and camped only a mile or two down the valley, while I stopped among
some great rocks to watch the movements of the sheep. Though at first
not easy to see, the animals' presence was evident by their calling, and
at length several were detected almost at the top of the cliff, but
already making their way back into the valley.

I was much interested in watching a ewe, which was coming down a steep
slope of slide rock. There was apparently no trail, or if there was
one, she did not use it, but picked her way down to the head of the
slope of slide rock, stood there for a few moments, and then, after
bleating once or twice, sprang well out into the air and alighted on the
slide rock, it seemed to me, twenty-five feet below where she had
been. A little cloud of dust arose and she appeared to be buried to her
knees in the slide rock. I could not see how it was possible for her to
have made this jump without breaking her slender legs, yet she repeated
it again and again, until she had come down about to my level and had
passed out of sight. Nor was this ewe the only one that was coming
down. From a number of points on the precipice round about I could hear
rocks rolling and sheep calling, and before very long eight or ten ewes
and four or five lambs had come together in the little basin, and
presently marched almost straight up to where I lay hid. There was meat
in the camp, and so no reason for shooting at these innocents. Later
when I returned to camp, one of the packers informed me that for an hour
or two before a yearling ram had been feeding in the meadow with the
pack animals, close to the camp.

The sheep now commonly shows himself to be the keenest and wariest of
North American big game. Yet we may readily credit the stories told us
by older men of his former simplicity and innocence, since even to-day
we sometimes see these characteristics displayed. I remember riding up a
narrow valley walled in on both sides by vertical cliffs and at its head
by a rock wall which was partly broken down, and through which we hoped
to find a way into the next valley to the northward. As we rode along,
a mile or more from the cliff at the valley's head, I saw one or two
sheep passing over it, and a few minutes later was electrified by
hearing my companion say: "Oh, look at the sheep! Look at the sheep!
Look at the sheep!" And there, charging down the valley directly toward
us, came a bunch of thirty or forty sheep in a close body, running as if
something very terrifying were close behind them, and paying not the
slightest attention to the two horsemen before them. I rolled off my
horse and loaded my gun. The sheep came within twenty-five or thirty
steps and a little to one side, and passed us like the wind, but they
left behind one of their number, which kept us in fresh meat for several
days thereafter.

The first shot I fired at this band gave me a surprise. I drew my sight
fine on the point of the breast of the leading animal and pulled the
trigger, but instead of the explosion which should have followed I heard
the hammer fall on the firing-pin. There was a slow hissing sound, a
little puff at the muzzle of the rifle, and I distinctly heard the
leaden ball fall to the ground just in front of me. In a moment I had
reloaded and had killed the sheep before it had passed far beyond me;
but for a few seconds I could not comprehend what had happened. Then it
came back to me that a few days before I had made from half a dozen
cartridges a weight to attach to a fish line for the purpose of sounding
the depth of a lake. Evidently a lubricating wad had been imperfect,
and dampness had reached the powder.

Like others of our ungulates, wild sheep are great frequenters of
"licks"--places where the soil has been more or less impregnated with
saline solutions. These licks are visited frequently--perhaps
daily--during the summer months by sheep of all ages, and such points
are favorite watching places for men who need meat, and wish to secure
it as easily as possible. At a certain lick in northern Montana, shots
at sheep may be had almost any day by the man who is willing to watch
for them. In the summer of 1903 a bunch of nine especially good rams
visited a certain lick each day. The guide of a New York man who was
hunting there in June--of course in violation of the law--took him to
the lick. The first day nine rams came, and the New Yorker, after firing
many shots, frightened them all away. Perhaps he hit some of them, for
the next day only seven returned, of which three were killed. In British
Columbia I have seen twenty-five or thirty sheep working at a lick, from
which the earth had been eaten away, so that great hollows and ravines
were cut out in many directions from the central spring.

Examination of such licks in cold--freezing--weather, seems to show that
the sheep do not then visit them. I have seen mule deer and sheep
nibbling the soil in company, and have seen white goats visit a lick
frequented also by sheep.

Of Dall's sheep, Mr. Stone declares that it is rapidly growing scarcer,
and this statement is based not only on his own observation, but on
reports made to him by the Indians. Mr. Stone describes it as possessing
wonderful agility, endurance, and vitality, and gives many examples of
their ability to get about among most difficult rocks when wounded. He
adds: "From my experience with these animals, I believe they seek quite
as rugged a country in which to make their homes as does the Rocky
Mountain goat. They brave higher latitudes and live in regions in every
way more barren and forbidding." He reports the females with their lambs
as generally keeping to the high table lands far back in the
mountains. Among the specimens which he recently collected, broken jaw
bones reunited were so frequent among the females killed as to excite
comment. Notwithstanding Mr. Stone's gloomy view of the future of this
species, we may hope that the enforcement of the game laws in Alaska
will long preserve this beautiful animal.

Our knowledge of the habits of the Lower California sheep inhabiting the
San Pedro Martir Mountains has been slight. Mr. Gould's admirable
account of a hunting trip for them--"To the Gulf of Cortez," published
in a preceding volume of the Club's book--will be remembered, and the
curious fact stated by his Indian guide that the sheep break holes in
the hard, prickly rinds of the venaga cactus with their horns, and then
eat out the inside.

Recently, however, a series of thirteen specimens collected by Edmund
Heller were received by Dr. D.G. Elliot, and described, as already
stated, and he gives from Mr. Heller's note-book the following notes on
their habits:

"Common about the cliffs, coming down occasionally to the water holes in
the valley. Most of the sheep observed were either solitary or in small
bands of three to a dozen. Only one adult ram was seen, all the others,
about thirty, being either ewes or lambs. The largest bunch seen
consisted of eleven, mostly ewes and a few young rams." The sheep, as a
rule, inhabit the middle line of cliffs where they are safe from attack
above and can watch the valley below for danger. Here about the middle
line of cliffs they were observed, and the greater number of tracks and
dust wallows, where they spend much of their time, were seen. A few were
seen on the level stretches of the mesas, and a considerable number of
tracks, but these were made by those traveling from one line of cliffs
to another.

"They are constantly on guard, and very little of their time is given to
browsing. Their usual method is to feed about some high cliffs or rocks,
taking an occasional mouthful of brush, and then suddenly throwing up
the head and gazing and listening for a long time before again taking
food. They are not alarmed by scent, like deer or antelope, the
direction of the wind apparently making no difference in hunting them. A
small bunch of six were observed for a considerable time feeding. Their
method seemed to be much the same as individuals, except that when
danger was suspected by any member, he would give a few quick leaps, and
all the flock would scamper to some high rock and face about in various
directions, no two looking the same way. These maneuvers were often
performed, perhaps once every fifteen minutes.

"Their chief enemy is the mountain lion, which hunts them on the cliffs,
apparently never about watering places. Lion tracks were not rare about
the sheep runs. They are extremely wary about coming down for water, and
take every precaution. Before leaving the cliffs to cross the valley to
water they usually select some high ridge and descend along this, gazing
constantly at the spring, usually halting ten or more minutes on every
prominent rocky point. When within a hundred yards or less of the water,
a long careful search is made, and a great deal of ear-work performed,
the head being turned first to one side and then to the other. When they
do at last satisfy themselves, they make a bolt and drink quickly,
stopping occasionally to listen and look for danger.

"If, however, they should be surprised at the water they do not flee at
once, but gaze for some time at the intruder, and then go a short way
and take another look, and so on until at last they break into a steady
run for the cliffs. At least thirty sheep were observed at the water,
and none came before 9:30 A.M. or later than 2:30 P.M., most coming down
between 12:00 M. and 1:00 P.M. This habit has probably been established
to avoid lions, which are seldom about during the hottest part of the
day. A few ewes were seen with two lambs, but the greater number had
only one. Most of the young appeared about two months old. Their usual
gait was a short gallop, seldom a walk or trot."

The great curving horns of the wild sheep have always exercised more or
less influence on people's imagination, and have given rise to various
fables. These horns are large in proportion to the animal, and so
peculiar that it has seemed necessary to account for them on the theory
that they had some marvelous purpose. The familiar tale that the horns
of the males were used as cushions on which the animal alighted when
leaping down from great heights is old. A more modern hypothesis which
promises to be much shorter lived is that advanced a year or two ago by
Mr. Geo. Wherry, of Cambridge, England, who suggested that "The form of
the horn and position of the ear enables the wild sheep to determine the
direction of sound when there is a mist or fog, the horn acting like an
admiralty megaphone when used as an ear trumpet, or like the topophone
(double ear trumpet, the bells of which turn opposite ways) used for a
fog-bound ship on British-American vessels to determine the direction of
sound signals."

It is, of course, well understood, and, on the publication of
Mr. Wherry's hypothesis, was at once suggested, that there are many
species of wild sheep, and that the spiral of the horn of each species
is a different one. Moreover, within each species there are of course
different ages, and the spiral may differ with age and also at the same
age to some extent with the individual. In some cases, the ear perhaps
lies at the apex of a cone formed by the horn, but in others it does not
lie there. Moreover this hypothesis, like the other and older one, in
which the horns were said to act as the jumping cushion, takes no
account of the females and young, which in mists, fogs, and at other
times, need protection quite as much as the adult males. The old males
with large and perfect horns have to a large extent fulfilled the
function of their lives--reproduction--and their place is shortly to be
taken by younger animals growing up. Moreover they have reached the full
measure of strength and agility, and through years of experience have
come to a full knowledge of the many dangers to which their race is
exposed. It would seem extraordinary that nature should have cared so
well for them, and should have left the more defenseless females and
young unprotected from the dangers likely to come to them from enemies
which may make sounds in a fog.

The old males with large and perfect horns have come to their full
fighting powers, and do fight fiercely at certain seasons of the
year. And it is believed by many people that the great development of
horns among the mountain sheep is merely a secondary sexual character
analogous to the antlers of the deer or the spurs of the cock.

Most people who have hunted sheep much will believe that this species
depends for its safety chiefly on its nose and its eyes. And if the
observations of hunters in general could be gathered and collated, they
would probably agree that the female sheep are rather quicker to notice
danger than the males, though both are quick enough.


It is gratifying to note that the rapid disappearance of the mountain
sheep has made some impression on legislators in certain States where it
is native. Some of these have laws absolutely forbidding the killing of
mountain sheep; and while in certain places in all of such States and
Territories this law is perhaps lightly regarded, and not generally
observed, still, on the whole, its effect must be good, and we may hope
that gradually it will find general observance. The mountain sheep is so
superb an animal that it should be a matter of pride with every State
which has a stock of sheep within its borders to preserve that stock
most scrupulously. It is said that in Colorado, where sheep have long
been protected, they are noticeably increasing, and growing tamer. I
have been told of one stock and mining camp, near Silver Plume, where
there is a bunch of sheep absolutely protected by public sentiment, in
which the miners, and in fact the whole community, take great pride and

It is fitting that on the statute books the mountain sheep should have
better protection than most species of our large game, since there is no
other species now existing in any numbers which is more exposed to
danger of extinction. Destroyed on its old ranges, it is found now only
in the roughest mountains, the bad lands, and the desert, and it is
sufficiently desirable as a trophy to be ardently pursued wherever

Several States have been wise enough absolutely to protect sheep; these
are North Dakota, California, Arizona, Montana, Colorado (until 1907),
Utah, New Mexico (until March 1, 1905), and Texas (until July,
1908). Three other States, South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho, permit one
mountain sheep to be killed by the hunter during the open season of each
year. Oregon, which has a long season, from July 15 to November 1, puts
no limit on the number to be killed, while in Nevada there appears to be
no protection for the species.

If these protective laws were enforced, sheep would increase, and once
more become delightful objects of the landscape, as they have in
portions of Colorado and in the National Park, where, as already stated,
they are so tame during certain seasons of the year that they will
hardly get out of the way. On the other hand, in many localities covered
by excellent laws, there are no means of enforcing them. Montana, which
perhaps has as many sheep as any State in the Union, does not, and
perhaps cannot, enforce her law, the sheep living in sections distant
from the localities where game wardens are found, and so difficult to
watch. In some cases where forest rangers are appointed game wardens,
they are without funds for the transportation of themselves and
prisoners over the one hundred or two hundred miles between the place of
arrest and the nearest Justice of the Peace, and cannot themselves be
expected to pay these expenses. In the summer of 1903 sheep were killed
in violation of law in the mountains of Montana, and also in the bad
lands of the Missouri River.

On the other hand, in Colorado there are many places where the law
protecting the sheep is absolutely observed. Public opinion supports the
law, and those disposed to violate it dare not do so for fear of the
law. Near Silver Plume, already mentioned, a drive to see the wild sheep
come down to water is one of the regular sights offered to visitors, and
while there may be localities where sheep are killed in violation of the
law in Colorado, it is certain that there are many where the law is

There are still a few places where sheep may be found to-day, living
somewhat as they used to live before the white men came into the western
country. Such places are the extremely rough bad lands of the Missouri
River, between the Little Rocky Mountains and the mouth of Milk River,
where, on account of the absence of water on the upper prairie and the
small areas of the bottoms of the Missouri River, there are as yet few
settlements. The bad lands are high and rough, scarcely to be traversed
except by a man on foot, and in their fastnesses the sheep--protected
formally by State law, but actually by the rugged country--are still
holding their own. They come down to the river at night to water, and
returning spend the day feeding on the uplands of the prairie, and
resting in beds pawed out of the dry earth of the washed bad lands, just
as their ancestors did.

In old times this country abounded in buffalo, elk, deer of two species,
sheep, and antelope, and if set aside as a State park by Montana, it
would offer an admirable game refuge, and one still stocked with all its
old-time animals, except the elk and the buffalo.

* * * * *


The present range of the different forms of mountain sheep extends from
Alaska and from the Pacific Ocean east to the Rocky Mountains--with a
tongue extending down the Missouri River as far as the Little
Missouri--south to Sonora and Lower California. The various forms from
north to south appear to be Dall's sheep, the saddleback sheep, Stone's
sheep, the common bighorn, with the Missouri River variety, existing to
the east, in the bad lands, and with Nelson's, the Mexican and the Lower
California sheep running southward into Mexico.

Among the experienced hunters of both forms of Dall's sheep are
Messrs. Dali DeWeese, of Colorado, and A.J. Stone, Collector of Arctic
Mammals for the American Museum of Natural History. Mr. Stone gives two
distinct ranges for this sheep, (1) the Alaska Mountains and Kenai
Peninsula, and (2) the entire stretch of the Rocky Mountains north of
latitude 60 degrees to near the Arctic coast just at the McKenzie,
reaching thence west to the headwaters of the Noatak and Kowak rivers
that flow into Kotzebue Sound.

Stone's sheep, which was described by Dr. Allen in 1897, came from the
head of the Stickine River, and two years after its description Dr. J.A.
Allen quotes Mr. A.J. Stone, the collector, as saying: "I traced the
_Ovis stonei_, or black sheep, throughout the mountainous country
of the headwaters of the Stickine, and south to the headwaters of the
Nass, but could find no reliable information of their occurrence further
south in this longitude. They are found throughout the Cassiar
Mountains, which extend north to 61 degrees north latitude and west to
134 degrees west longitude. How much further west they may be found I
have been unable to determine. Nor could I ascertain whether their range
extends from the Cassiar Mountains into the Rocky Mountains to the north
of Francis and Liard River. But the best information obtained led me to
believe that it does not. They are found in the Rocky Mountains to the
south as far as the headwaters of the Nelson and Peace rivers in
latitude 56 degrees, but I proved conclusively that in the main range of
the Rocky Mountains very few of them are found north of the Liard
River. Where this river sweeps south through the Rocky Mountains to
Hell's Gate, a few of these animals are founds as far north as Beaver
River, a tributary of the Liard. None, however, are found north of this,
and I am thoroughly convinced that this is the only place where these
animals may be found north of the Liard River.

"I find that in the Cassiar Mountains and in the Rocky Mountains they
everywhere range above timber line, as they do in the mountains of
Stickine, the Cheonees, and the Etsezas.

"Directly to the north of the Beaver River, and north of the Liard River
below the confluence of the Beaver, we first meet with _Ovis

A Stony Indian once told me that in his country--the main range of the
Rocky Mountains--there were two sorts of sheep, one small, dark in
color, and with slender horns, which are seldom broken, and another sort
larger and pale in color, with heavy, thick horns that are often broken
at the point. He went on to say that these small black sheep are all
found north of Bow River, Alberta, and that on the south side of Bow
River the big sheep only occur. The country referred to all lies on the
eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. The hunting ground of the Stonies
runs as far north as Peace River, and it is hardly to be doubted that
they know Stone's sheep. The Brewster Bros., of Banff, Alberta, inform
me that Stone's sheep is found on the head of Peace River.

A dozen or fifteen years ago one of the greatest sheep ranges that was
at all accessible was in the mountains at the head of the Ashnola River,
in British Columbia, and on the head of the Methow, which rises in the
same mountains and flows south into Washington. This is a country very
rough and without roads, only to be traversed with a pack train.

Mr. Lew Wilmot writes me that there are still quite a number of sheep
ranging from Mt. Chapacca, up through the Ashnola, and on the
headwaters of the Methow. Indeed, it is thought by some that sheep are
more numerous there now than they were a few years ago. In Dyche's
"Campfires of a Naturalist" a record is given of sheep in the Palmer
Lake region, at the east base of the Cascade range in Washington.

The Rev. John McDougall, of Morley, Alberta, wrote me in 1899, in answer
to inquiries as to the mountain sheep inhabiting the country ranged over
by the Stony Indians, "that it is the opinion of these Indians that the
sheep which frequent the mountains from Montana northward as far as our
Indians hunt, are all of one kind, but that in localities they differ in
size, and somewhat in color.

"They say that from the 49th parallel to the headwaters of the
Saskatchewan River, sheep are larger than those in the Selkirks and
coast ranges; and also that as they go north of the Saskatchewan the
sheep become smaller. As to color, they say that the more southerly and
western sheep are the lighter; and that as you pass north the sheep are
darker in color. These Stonies report mountain sheep as still to be
found in all of the mountain country they roam in. Their hunting ground
is about 400 miles long by 150 broad, and is principally confined to the
Rocky Mountain range."

In an effort to establish something of the range of the mountain sheep,
during the very last years of the nineteenth century, I communicated
with a large number of gentlemen who were either resident in, or
travelers through, portions of the West now or formerly occupied by the
mountain sheep, and the results of these inquiries I give below:

Prof. L.V. Pirsson, of Yale University, who has spent a number of years
in studying the geology of various portions of the northern Rocky
Mountains, wrote me with considerable fullness in 1896 concerning the
game situation in some of the front ranges of the Rockies, where sheep
were formerly very abundant. In the Crazy Mountains he says he saw no
sheep, and that while it was possible they might be there, they must
certainly be rare. In 1880 there were many sheep there. In the Castle
Mountains none were seen, nor reported, nor any traces seen. The same is
true of the Little Belt, Highwood, and Judith Mountains. He understood
that sheep were still present in the bad lands; immediately about the
mountains and east of them the country was too well settled for any game
to live. Earlier, however, in the summer of 1890, passing through the
Snowy Mountains, which lie north of the National Park, sheep were seen
on two occasions; a band of ten ewes and lambs on Sheep Mountain, and a
band of seven rams on the head of the stream known as the Buffalo Fork
of the Lamar River. In 1893 an old ram was killed on Black Butte, at the
extreme eastern end of the Judith Mountains, near Cone Butte, and it is
quite possible that this animal had strayed out of the bad lands on the
lower Musselshell, or on the Missouri. Even at that time there were said
to be no sheep on the Little Rockies, Bearpaws, or Sweetgrass Hills.

All the ranges spoken of were formerly great sheep ranges, and on all of
them, many years ago, I saw sheep in considerable numbers.

There are a very few sheep in the Wolf Mountains of Montana.

There are still mountain sheep among the rough bad lands on both sides
of the Missouri River, between the mouth of the Musselshell and the
mouth of Big Dry. It is hard to estimate the number of these sheep, but
there must be many hundreds of them, and perhaps thousands. As recently
as August, 1900, Mr. S.C. Leady, a ranchman in this region, advised me
that he counted in one bunch, coming to water, forty-nine sheep.

Mr. Leady further advised me that in his country, owing to the sparse
settlement, the game laws are not at all regarded, and sheep are hunted
at all times of the year. The settlers themselves advocate the
protection of the game, but there is really no one to enforce the
laws. Recent advices from this country show that the conditions there
are now somewhat improved.

It is probable that in suitable localities in the Missouri River bad
lands sheep are still found in some numbers all the way from the mouth
of the Little Missouri to the mouth of the Judith River.

Mr. O.C. Graetz, now, or recently, of Kipp, Montana, advised me, through
my friend, J.B. Monroe, that in 1894, in the Big Horn Mountains, Wyo.,
on the head of the Little Horn River, in the rough and rolling country
he saw a band of eleven sheep. The same man tells me that also in 1894,
in Sweetwater county, in Wyoming, near the Sweetwater River, south of
South Pass, on a mountain known as Oregon Butte, he twice saw two
sheep. The country was rolling and high, with scattering timber, but not
much of it. In this country, and at that time, the sheep were not much

Mr. Elwood Hofer, one of the best known guides of the West, whose home
is in Gardiner, Park county, Mont., has very kindly furnished me with
information about the sheep on the borders of the Yellowstone National
Park. Writing in May, 1898, he says: "At this time sheep are not
numerous anywhere in this country, compared with what they were before
the railroad (Northern Pacific Railroad) was built in 1881. In summer
they are found in small bands all through the mountains, in and about
the National Park. I found them all along the divide, and out on the
spurs, between the Yellowstone and Stinking Water rivers, and on down
between the Yellowstone and Snake rivers, on one side, and the south
fork of Stinking Water River and the Wind River on the east. I found
sheep at the extreme headwaters of the Yellowstone, and of the Wind
River, and the Buffalo Fork of Snake River. There are sheep in the
Tetons, Gallatin-Madison range, and even on Mount Holmes. I have seen
them around Electric Peak, and so on north, along the west side of the
Yellowstone as far as the Bozeman Pass; but not lately, for I have not
been in those mountains for a number of years. All along the range from
the north side of the Park to within sight of Livingston there are a few

"On the Stinking Water, where I used to see bands of fifteen to twenty
sheep, now we only see from three to five. Of late years I have seen
very few large rams, and those only in the Park. Last summer
Mr. Archibald Rogers saw a large ram at the headwaters of Eagle Creek,
very close to the Park. In winter there are usually a few large rams in
the Gardiner Canyon. I hear that there are a few sheep out toward
Bozeman, on Mt. Blackmore, and the mountains near there.

"I believe that some of the reasons for the scarcity of mountain sheep
in this country are these: First, the settlement of the plains country
close to the mountains, prevents their going to their winter ranges, and
so starves them; secondly, the same cause keeps them in the mountains,
where the mountain lions can get at them; and thirdly, the scab has
killed a good many. I do not think that the rifle has had much to do
with destroying the sheep."

Sheep were formerly exceedingly abundant in all the bad lands along the
Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, and in the rough, broken country from
Powder River west to the Big Horn. The Little Missouri country was a
good sheep range, and also the broken country about Fort Laramie. In the
Black Hills of Dakota they were formerly abundant, and also along the
North Platte River, near the canons of the Platte, in the Caspar
Mountain, and in all the rough country down nearly to the forks of the

The easternmost locality which I have for the bighorn is the Birdwood
Creek in Nebraska. This lies just north of O'Fallon Station on the Union
Pacific Railroad and flows nearly due south into the North Platte
River. It is in the northwestern corner of Lincoln county, Nebraska,
just west of the meridian of 101 degrees. Here, in 1877, the late Major
Frank North, well known to all men familiar with the West between the
years 1860 and 1880, saw, but did not kill, a male mountain sheep. The
animal was only 100 yards from him, was plainly seen and certainly
recognized. Major North had no gun, and thought of killing the sheep
with his revolver, but his brother, Luther H. North, who was armed with
a rifle, was not far from him, and Major North dropped down out of sight
and motioned his brother to come to him, so that he might kill it. By
the time Luther had come up, the sheep had walked over a ridge and was
not seen again, but there is no doubt as to its identification. It had
probably come from Court House Rock in Scott's Bluff county, Nebraska,
where there were still a few sheep as recently as twenty-five years ago.

These animals were also more or less abundant along the Little Missouri
River as late as the late '80's, and perhaps still later. This had
always been a favorite range for them, and in 1874 they were noticed and
reported on by Government expeditions which passed through the country,
and the hunters and trappers who about that time plied their trade along
that river found them abundant. Mr. Roosevelt has written much of
hunting them on that stream.

The low bluffs of the Yellowstone River--in the days when that was a
hostile Indian country, and only the hunter who was particularly
reckless and daring ventured into it--were a favorite feeding ground for
sheep. They were reported very numerous by the first expeditions that
went up the river, and a few have been killed there within five or six
years, although the valley is given over to farming and the upper
prairie is covered with cattle. This used to be one of the greatest
sheep ranges in all the West; the wide flats of the river bottom, the
higher table lands above, and the worn bad lands between, furnishing
ideal sheep ground. The last killed there, so far as I know, were a ram
and two ewes, which were taken about forty miles below Rosebud Station,
on the river, in 1897 or 1898.

Of Wyoming, Mr. Wm. Wells writes: "I have only been up here in
northwestern Wyoming for a year, but from what I have seen, sheep are
holding their own fairly well, and may be increasing in places. In 1897,
Mr. H.D. Shelden, of Detroit, Mich., and myself were hunting sheep just
west of the headwaters of Hobacks River. There was a sort of knife-edge
ridge running about fifteen miles north and south, the summit of which
was about 2,000 feet above a bench or table-land. The ridge was well
watered, and in some places the timber ran nearly up to the top of the
ridge. On this ridge there were about 100 sheep, divided into three
bands. Each band seemed to make its home in a cup-like hollow on the
east side of the ridge, about 500 feet below the crest, but the members
of the different bands seemed to visit back and forth, as the numbers
were not always the same.

"We could take our horses up into either one of the three hollows, and
some of the sheep were so tame that we have several times been within
fifty yards in plain sight, and had the sheep pay very little attention
to us. In one instance two ewes and lambs went on ahead of us at a walk
for several hundred yards, often stopping to look back; and in another a
sheep, after looking at us, two horses and two dogs, across a canyon 200
yards wide, pawed a bed in the slide rock and lay down. In another case
I drove about thirty head of ewes and lambs to within thirty-five yards
of Mr. Shelden, and when he rose up in plain sight, they stood and
looked at him. When he saw that there was no ram there, he yelled at
them, upon which they ran off about 400 yards, and then stood and looked
at us.

"I do not think that these sheep had been hunted, until this time, for
several years. As nearly as I could tell, they ranged winter and summer
on nearly the same ground. At the top of the range, facing the east,
were overhanging ledges of rock, and under these the dung was two feet
or more deep.

"Either during the winter or early spring the sheep had been down in the
timber on the east side of the ridge, as I found the remains of several,
in the winter coat, that had been killed by cougars."

Mr. D.C. Nowlin, of Jackson, Wyo., was good enough to write me in 1898,
concerning the sheep in the general neighborhood of Jackson's Hole; that
is to say, in the ranges immediately south of the National Park, a
section not far from that just described. He says: "In certain ranges
near here sheep are comparatively plentiful, and are killed every
hunting season.

"Occasionally a scabby ram is killed. I killed one here which showed
very plainly the ravages of scab, especially around the ears, and on the
neck and shoulders. Evidently the disease is identical with that so
common among domestic sheep, and I have heard more than one creditable
account of mountain sheep mingling temporarily with domestic flocks and
thus contracting the scab. I am confident that the same parasite which
is found upon scabby domestic sheep is responsible for the disease which
affects the bighorn. It is not difficult to account for the transmission
of the disease, as western sheep-men roam with their flocks at will,
from the peach belt to timber line, regardless alike of the legal or
inherent rights of man or beast. Partly through isolation, and partly
through moral suasion by our people, no domestic sheep have invaded
Jackson's Hole."

Mr. Ira Dodge, of Cora, Wyo., in response to inquiries as to the sheep
in his section of the country, says: "Mountain sheep are, like most
other game, where you find them; but their feeding grounds are mainly
high table-lands, at the foot of, or near, high rocky peaks or
ranges. These table-lands occur at or near timber line, varying one or
two thousand feet either way. In this latitude timber line occurs at
about 11,500 feet. In all the ranges in this locality, namely, the Wind
River, Gros Ventre, and Uintah, water is found in abundance, and, as a
rule, there is plenty of timber. I think I have more often found sheep
in the timber, or below timber line, than at higher altitudes, although
sometimes I have located the finest rams far above the last scrubby

"The largest bunch of sheep that I have seen was in the fall of 1893. I
estimated the band at 75 to 100. In that bunch there were no rams, and
they remained in sight for quite a long time; so that I had a good
opportunity to estimate them.

"I do not profess to know where the majority of these sheep winter, but,
undoubtedly, a great number winter on the table-lands before mentioned,
where a rich growth of grass furnishes an abundance of feed. At this
altitude the wind blows so hard and continuously, and the snow is so
light and dry, that there would be no time during the whole winter when
the snow would lie on the ground long enough to starve sheep to death.
Several small bunches of sheep winter on the Big Gros Ventre
River. These, I think, are the same sheep that are found in summer time
on the Gros Ventre range. I have occasionally killed sheep that were
scabby, but I have no positive knowledge that this disease has killed
any number of sheep. In the fall of 1894 I discovered eleven large ram
skulls in one place, and since that time found four more near by. My
first impression was that the eleven were killed by a snowslide, as they
were at the foot of one of those places where snowslides occur, but
finding the other four within a mile, and in a place where a snowslide
could not have killed them, it rather dispelled my first theory. As
mountain sheep can travel over snow drifts nearly as well as a caribou,
I do not believe that they were stranded in a snowstorm and perished,
and no hunter would have killed so great a number and left such
magnificent heads. The scab theory is about the only solution left. The
sheep are not hunted very much here, and I believe their greatest enemy
is the mountain lion.

"There is one isolated bunch of mountain sheep on the Colorado Desert,
situated in Fremont and Sweetwater counties, Wyo., which seems to be
holding its own against many range riders, meat and specimen hunters, as
well as coyotes. They are very light in color, much more so than their
cousins found higher up in the mountains, and locally they are called
ibex, or white goats. The country they live in is very similar to the
bad lands of Dakota, and I dare say that their long life on the plains
has created in them a distinct sub-species of the bighorn."

The Colorado Desert is situated in Wyoming, between the Green River on
the west, and the Red Desert on the east. The sheep are seen mostly on
the breaks on Green River. They are sometimes chased by cowboys, but I
have never known of one being caught in that way.

I am told that in some bad lands in the Red Desert, locally known as
Dobe Town, there is a herd of wild sheep, which are occasionally pursued
by range riders. Rarely one is roped.

Mr. Fred E. White, of Jackson, Wyo., advised me in 1898 of the existence
of sheep in the mountains which drain into Gros Ventre Fork, the heads
of Green River and Buffalo Fork of Snake River. Mr. White was with the
Webb party, some years ago, when they secured a number of sheep. The
same correspondent calls attention to the very large number of sheep
which in 1888, and for a few years thereafter, ranged in the high
mountains between the waters of the Yellowstone and the Stinking
Water. This is one of the countries from which sheep have been pretty
nearly exterminated by hunters and prospectors.

Within the past twenty or thirty years mountain sheep have become very
scarce in all of their old haunts in Wyoming and northern Colorado. This
does not seem to be particularly due to hunting, but the sheep seem to
be either moving away or dying out. Mr. W.H. Reed, in 1898, wrote me
from Laramie, Wyo., saying: "At present there are perhaps thirty head on
Sheep Mountain, twenty-two miles west of Laramie, Wyo.; on the west side
of Laramie Peak there are perhaps twenty head; on the east side of the
Peak twelve to fifteen head, and near the Platte Canon, at the head of
Medicine Bow River, there are fifteen. In 1894 I saw at the head of the
Green River, Hobacks River, and Gros Ventre River, between two and three
hundred mountain sheep. There are sheep scattered all through the Wind
River, and a very few in the Big Horn Mountains; but all are in small
bunches, and these widely separated. Some of the old localities where
they were very abundant in the early '70's, but now are never seen, are
Whalen Canon, Raw Hide Buttes, Hartville Mountains, thirty miles
northwest of Ft. Laramie, Elk Mountains, and the adjacent hills fifteen
miles east of Fort Steele, near old Fort Halleck. They seem to have
disappeared also from the bad lands along Green River, south of the
Union Pacific Railroad, from the Freezeout Hills, Platte Canyon, at the
mouth of Sweetwater River, from Brown's Canyon, forty miles northwest of
Rawlins, from the Seminole and Ferris Mountains, and from many other
places in the middle and northeastern part of Wyoming."

In Colorado, the mountains surrounding North Park and west to the Utah
line, had many mountain sheep twenty-five years ago, but to-day old
hunters tell me that there are only two places where one is sure to find
sheep. These are Hahn's Peak and the Rabbit Ears, two peaks at the south
end of North Park.

There were sheep in and about the Black Hills of Dakota as late as 1890,
for Mr. W.S. Phillips has kindly informed me that about June of that
year he saw three sheep on Mt. Inyan Kara. These were the only ones
actually seen during the summer, but they were frequently heard of from
cattle-men, and Mr. Phillips considers it beyond dispute that at that
time they ranged from Sundance, Inyan Kara and Bear Lodge Mountains--all
on the western and southwestern slope of the Black Hills, on and near
the Wyoming-Dakota line--on the east, westerly at least to Pumpkin
Buttes and Big Powder River, and in the edge of the bad lands of Wyoming
as far north as the Little Missouri Buttes, and south to the south fork
of the Cheyenne River, and the big bend of the north fork of the Platte,
and the head of Green River. This range is based on reports of reliable
range riders, who saw them in passing through the country. It is an
ideal sheep country--rough, varying from sage brush desert, out of which
rises an occasional pine ridge butte, to bad lands, and the mountains of
the Black Hills. There are patches of grassy, fairly good pasture
land. The country is well watered, and there are many springs hidden
under the hills which run but a short distance after they come out of
the ground and then sink. Timber occurs in patches and more or less open
groves on the pine ridges that run sometimes for several miles in a
continuous hill, at a height of from one to three or four hundred feet
above the plain. The region is a cattle country.

In 1893 and '97 fresh heads and hides were seen at Pocotello, Idaho, and
at one or two other points west of there in the lava country along Snake
River and the Oregon short line. The sheep were probably killed in the
spurs and broken ranges that run out on the west flank of the main chain
of the Rockies toward the Blue Mountains of Oregon.

Mr. William Wells, of Wells, Wyo., has very kindly given me the
following notes as to Colorado, where he formerly resided. He says:
"During 1890, '91, '92, there were a good many mountain sheep on the
headwaters of Roan Creek, a tributary of Grand River, in Colorado. Roan
Creek heads on the south side of the Roan or Book Plateau, and flows
south into Grand River. The elevation of Grand River at this point is
about 5,000 feet, and the elevation of the Book Plateau is about 8,500
feet. The side of the plateau toward Grand River consists of cliffs from
2,000 to 3,000 feet high, and as the branches of Roan Creek head on top
of the plateau they form very deep box canyons as they cut their way to
the river. It is on these cliffs and in these canyons that the sheep were
found. I understand that there are some there yet, but I have not been
in that section since 1892. On all the cliffs are benches or terraces--a
cliff of 300 to 1,000 feet at the top, then a bench, then another cliff,
and so on to the bottom. The benches are well grassed, and there is more
or less timber, quaking asp, spruce and juniper in the side
canyons. There are plenty of springs along the cliffs, and as they face
the south, the winter range is good. The top of the plateau is an open
park country, and at that time was, and is yet, for that matter, full of
deer and bear, but I never saw any sheep on top, though they sometimes
come out on the upper edge of the cliffs.

"There were, and I suppose are still, small bands of sheep on Dome and
Shingle Peaks, on the headwaters of White River, in northwestern

"There was also a band of sheep on the Williams River Mountains which
lie between Bear River and the Williams Fork of Bear River, in
northwestern Colorado, but these sheep were killed off about 1894 or
'95. The Williams River Mountains are a low range of grass-covered
hills, well watered, with broken country and cliffs on the south side,
toward the Williams Fork.

"It is also reported that there is a band of sheep in Grand River Canyon,
just above Glenwood Springs, Colo., and sheep are reported to be on the
increase in the Gunnison country, and other parts of southwestern
Colorado, as that State protects sheep."

Mr. W.J. Dixon, of Cimarron, Kan., wrote me in May, 1898, as follows:
"In 1874 or '75 I killed sheep at the head of the north fork of the
Purgatoire, or Rio de las Animas, on the divide between the Spanish
Peaks and main range of the Rocky Mountains, southwest by west from the
South Peak. I was there also in November, 1892, and saw three or four
head at a distance, but did not go after them. They must be on the
increase there."

In 1899 there was a bunch of sheep in east central Utah, about thirty
miles north of the station of Green River, on the Rio Grande Western
Railroad, and on the west side of the Green River. These were on the
ranch of ex-member of Congress, Hon. Clarence E. Allen, and were
carefully protected by the owners of the property. The ranch hands are
instructed not to kill or molest them in any manner, and to do nothing
that will alarm them. They come down occasionally to the lower ground,
attracted by the lucerne, as are also the deer, which sometimes prove
quite a nuisance by getting into the growing crops. The sheep spend most
of their time in the cliffs not far away. When first seen, about 1894,
there were but five sheep in the bunch, while in 1899 twenty were
counted. This information was very kindly sent to me by
Mr. C.H. Blanchard, at one time of Silver City, but more recently of
Salt Lake City, in Utah.

Mr. W.H. Holabird, formerly of Eddy, New Mexico, but more recently of
Los Angeles, Cal., tells me that during the fall of 1896 a number of
splendid heads were brought into Eddy, N.M. He is told that mountain
sheep are quite numerous in the rugged ridge of the Guadeloupe
Mountains, bands of from five to twelve being frequently seen. As to
California, he reports: "We have a good many mountain sheep on the
isolated mountain spurs putting out from the main ranges into the
desert. I frequently hear of bands of two to ten, but our laws protect
them at all seasons."

My friend, Mr. Herbert Brown, of Yuma, Ariz., so well known as an
enthusiastic and painstaking observer of natural history matters, has
kindly written me something as to the mountain sheep in that
Territory. He says: "Under the game law of Arizona the killing of
mountain sheep is absolutely prohibited, but that does not prevent their
being killed. It does, however, prevent their being killed for the
market, and it was killing for the market that threatened their
extermination. So far as I have ever been able to learn, these sheep
range, or did range, on all the mountains to the north, west, and south
of Tucson, within a hundred miles or so. I know of them in the
Superstition Mountains, about a hundred miles to the north; in the
Quijotoas Mountains, a like distance to the southwest, and in the
mountains intermediate; I have no positive proof of their existence in
the Santa Ritas, but about twenty-three years ago I saw a pair of old
and weather-beaten horns that had been picked up in that range near Agua
Caliente, that is about ten or twelve miles southwest of
Mt. Wrightson. I never saw any sheep in the range, nor do I know of any
one more fortunate than myself in that respect. In days gone by the
Santa Catalinas, the Rincon, and the Tucson Mountains were the most
prolific hunting grounds for the market men. So far as I can remember,
the first brought to the market here were subsequent to the coming of
the railroad in 1880. They were killed in the Tucson Mountains by the
'Logan boys,' well known hunters at that time. Later the Logans made a
strike in the mines and disappeared. For several years no sheep were
seen, but finally Mexicans began killing them in the Santa Catalinas,
and occasionally six or eight would be hung up in the market at the same
time. Later the Papago Indians in the southwest began killing them for
the market. These people, as did also the Mexicans, killed big and
little, and the animals, never abundant, were threatened with
extermination. Those killed by the Logans came from the Tucson
Mountains; those killed by the Mexicans from the Santa Catalinas, and
those killed by the Indians probably from the Baboquivari or Comobabi
ranges. I questioned the hunters repeatedly, but they never gave me a
satisfactory answer.

"Although I never saw the sheep, I have repeatedly seen evidence of them
in both the ranges named. Inasmuch as I have not seen one in several
years past, I feel very confident that there are not many to see. Last
year I learned of a large ram being killed in the Superstition Mountains
which was alone when killed. About three years ago the head of a big ram
was brought to this city. It is said to have weighed seventy pounds. I
did not see it, nor did I learn where it came from.

"The Superstition and the Santa Catalinas are the very essence of
ruggedness, but notwithstanding this I am constrained to believe that
the days of big game are nearly numbered in Arizona. The reasons for
this are readily apparent. The mountain ranges are more or less
mineralized. To this there is hardly an exception. There is no place so
wild and forbidding that the prospector will not enter it. If 'pay rock'
or 'pay dirt' is struck, then good-by solitude and big game. A second
cause is to be found in the cattle industry, which, as a rule, is very
profitable. One of the most successful cattle growers in the country
once told me that cattle in Arizona would breed up to 95 per cent.
These breeders during the dry season leave the mesas and climb to the
top of the very highest mountains, and, of course, the more cattle the
less game. A year ago I was in the Harshaw Mountains, and was told by a
young man named Sorrell that a bunch of wild cattle occupied a certain
peak, and that on a certain occasion he had seen a big mountain sheep
with the cattle.

"So far as I know, I never saw or heard of a case of scab among wild

Later, but still in 1898, Mr. Brown wrote me that, according to
Mr. J. D. Thompson, mountain sheep are common in all the mountains
bordering the Gulf Coast in Sonora, and also in Lower California.
Mr. Thompson is operating mines in the Sierra Pinto, Sonora, 180 miles
southeast of Yuma. This range is about six miles long and 800 feet
high. The mule deer and sheep are killed according to necessity. Indians
do the killing. A mule deer is worth two dollars, Mexican money, and a
sheep but little more, although the former are much more abundant than
the latter. The last sheep taken to camp was traded off for a pair of

"It is reasonably certain that with sheep in southern Arizona and
southern Sonora, every mountain range between the two must be tenanted
by this species.

"During the August feast days the Papago Indians living about Quitovac
generally have a Montezuma celebration, in which live deer are employed.
For this purpose several are caught. Subsequently they are killed and
eaten. They are taken by relays of men or horses, sometimes both."

In northern Arizona sheep are still common. Dr. C. Hart Merriam in his
report on the San Francisco Mountain--"North American Fauna"
III.--recorded the San Francisco herd, of which he saw eight or nine
together. He also recorded their presence at the Grand Canyon, where they
are still fairly common, though very wary.

Mr. A.W. Anthony, of California, wrote me in 1898 concerning sheep in
southern California, and I am glad to quote his letter almost in
full. He says: "In San Diego county, Cal., there are a few sheep along
the western edge of the Colorado Desert. So far as I know, these are all
in the first ranges above the desert, and do not extend above the pinon
belt. These barren hills are dry, broken and steep, with very little
water, and except for the stock men, who have herds grazing on the
western edge of the desert, they are very seldom disturbed. Along the
line of the old Carriso Creek stage road from Yuma to Los Angeles,
between Warner Pass and the mouth of Carriso Creek--where it reaches the
desert--are several water holes where sheep have, up to 1897, at least,
regularly watered during the dry season.

"I have known of several being killed by stock men there during the past
few years, by watching for them about the water. As a rule, the country
is too dry, open and rough to make still-hunting successful. At the same
time I think they would have been killed off long since except for
reinforcements received from across the line in Lower California.

"Up to 1894 a few sheep were found as far up the range as Mt. Baldy, Los
Angeles county, and they may still occur there, but I cannot be sure.
One or two of the larger ranges west of the Colorado River, in the
desert, were, two years ago, and probably are still, blessed with a few
sheep. I have known of two or three parties that went after them, but
they would not tell where they went; not far north of the Southern
Pacific Railroad, I think.

"In Lower California sheep are still common in many places, but are
largely confined to the east side of the peninsula, mostly being found
in the low hills between the gulf and the main divide. A few reach the
top of San Pedro Martir--12,000 feet--but I learn from the Indians they
never were common in the higher ranges. The pinon belt and below seem to
be their habitat, and in very dry, barren ranges. I have known a few to
reach the Pacific, between 28 deg. n. lat. and 30 deg. n. lat.; but
they never seem at home on the western side of the peninsula.

"Owing to their habitat, few whites care to bother them--it costs too
much in cash, and more in bodily discomfort; but the natives kill them
at all seasons; not enough, however, to threaten extermination unless
they receive help from the north.

"I have no knowledge of any scab, or other disease, affecting the sheep,
either in southern or Lower California."

For northern California, records of sheep are few. Dr. Merriam, Chief of
the Biological Survey, tells me that sheep formerly occurred on the
Siskiyou range, on the boundary between California and Oregon, and that
some years ago he saw an old ram that had been killed on these
mountains. On Mt. Shasta they were very common until recently. In the
High Sierra, south of the latitude of Mono Lake, a few still occur, but
there are extremely rare.

In Oregon records are few. Dr. Merriam informs me that he has seen them
on Steen Mountain, in the southeastern part of the State, where they
were common a few years ago. Mr. Vernon Bailey, of the Biological
Survey, has seen them also in the Wallowa Mountains. The Biological
Survey also has records of their occurrence in the Blue Mountains, where
they used to be found both on Strawberry Butte and on what are called
the Greenhorn Mountains. The last positive record from that region is in
1895. In 1897 Mr. Vernon Bailey reported sheep from Silver and Abert
Lakes in the desert region east of the Cascade. They were formerly
numerous in the rocky regions about Silver Lake, and a few still
inhabited the ridges northeast of Abert Lake.

In Nevada Mr. Bailey found sheep in the Toyabe range.

Mr. Bailey found sheep in the Seven Devils Mountains, and he and
Dr. Merriam found them in the Salmon River, Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth
Mountains, all in Idaho. Mr. Bailey also found them in Texas in the
Guadaloupe Mountains and in most of the ranges thence south to the
boundary line in western Texas.

* * * * *

From what has already been said it will be seen that in inaccessible
places all over the western country, from the Arctic Ocean south to
Mexico, and at one or two points in the great plains, there still remain
stocks of mountain sheep. Once the most unsuspicious and gentle of all
our large game animals, they have become very shy, wary, and well able
to take care of themselves. In the Yellowstone Park, on the other hand,
they have reverted to their old time tameness, and no longer regard man
with fear. There, as is told on other pages of this volume, they are
more tame than the equally protected antelope, mule deer or elk.

Should the Grand Canyon of the Colorado be set aside as a national park,
as it may be hoped it will be, the sheep found there will no doubt
increase, and become, as they now are in the Yellowstone Park, a most
interesting natural feature of the landscape. And in like manner, when
game refuges shall be established in the various forest reservations all
over the western country, this superb species will increase and do
well. Alert, quick-witted, strong, fleet and active, it is one of the
most beautiful and most imposing of North American animals. Equally at
home on the frozen snowbanks of the mountain top, or in the parched
deserts of the south, dwelling alike among the rocks, in the timber, or
on the prairie, the mountain sheep shows himself adaptable to all
conditions, and should surely have the best protection that we can give

I shall never forget a scene witnessed many years ago, long before
railroads penetrated the Northwest. I was floating down the Missouri
River in a mackinaw boat, the sun just topping the high bad land bluffs
to the east, when a splendid ram stepped out, upon a point far above the
water, and stood there outlined against the sky. Motionless, with head
thrown back, and in an attitude of attention, he calmly inspected the
vessel floating along below him; so beautiful an object amid his wild
surroundings, and with his background of brilliant sky, that no hand was
stretched out for the rifle, but the boat floated quietly on past him,
and out of sight.

_George Bird Grinnell_.

[Illustration: _Merycodus osborni_ MATTHEW.
From the Middle Miocene of Colorado. Discovered and described by
Dr. W. D. Matthew. Mounted by Mr. Adam Hermann. Height at withers, 19
inches. Length of antlers, 9 inches.]

Preservation of the Wild Animals of North America[8]

[Footnote 8: Address before the Boone and Crockett Club, Washington,
January 23, 1904.]

The National and Congressional movement for the preservation of the
Sequoia in California represents a growth of intelligent sentiment. It
is the same kind of sentiment which must he aroused, and aroused in
time, to bring about Government legislation if we are to preserve our
native animals. That which principally appeals to us in the Sequoia is
its antiquity as a race, and the fact that California is its last

As a special and perhaps somewhat novel argument for preservation, I
wish to remind you of the great antiquity of our game animals, and the
enormous period of time which it has taken nature to produce them. We
must have legislation, and we must have it in time. I recall the story
of the judge and jury who arrived in town and inquired about the
security of the prisoner, who was known to be a desperate character;
they were assured by the crowd that the prisoner was perfectly secure
because he was safely hanging to a neighboring tree. If our preservative
measures are not prompt, there will be no animals to legislate for.


The sentiment which promises to save the Sequoia is due to the spread of
knowledge regarding this wonderful tree, largely through the efforts of
the Division of Forestry. In the official chronology of the United
States Geological Survey--which is no more nor less reliable than that
of other geological surveys, because all are alike mere approximations
to the truth--the Sequoia was a well developed race 10,000,000 of years
ago. It became one of a large family, including fourteen genera. The
master genus--the _Sequoia_--alone includes thirty extinct
species. It was distributed in past times through Canada, Alaska,
Greenland, British Columbia, across Siberia, and down into southern
Europe. The Ice Age, and perhaps competition with other trees more
successful in seeding down, are responsible for the fact that there are
now only two living species--the "red wood," or _Sequoia
sempervirens_, and the giant, or _Sequoia gigantea_. The last
refuge of the _gigantea_ is in ten isolated groves, in some of
which the tree is reproducing itself, while in others it has ceased to

In the year 1900 forty mills and logging companies were engaged in
destroying these trees.

All of us regard the destruction of the Parthenon by the Turks as a
great calamity; yet it would be possible, thanks to the laborious
studies which have chiefly emanated from Germany, for modern architects
to completely restore the Parthenon in its former grandeur; but it is
far beyond the power of all the naturalists of the world to restore one
of these Sequoias, which were large trees, over 100 feet in height,
spreading their leaves to the sun, before the Parthenon was even
conceived by the architects and sculptors of Greece.


In 1900 five hundred of the very large trees still remained, the highest
reaching from 320 to 325 feet. Their height, however, appeals to us less
than their extraordinary age, estimated by Hutchins at 3,600, or by John
Muir, who probably loves them more than any man living, at from 4,000 to
5,000 years. According to the actual count of Muir of 4,000 rings, by a
method which he has described to me, one of these trees was 1,000 years
old when Homer wrote the Iliad; 1,500 years of age when Aristotle was
foreshadowing his evolution theory and writing his history of animals;
2,000 years of age when Christ walked upon the earth; nearly 4,000 years
of age when the "Origin of Species" was written. Thus the life of one of
these trees spanned the whole period before the birth of Aristotle (384
B.C.) and after the death of Darwin (A.D. 1882), the two greatest
natural philosophers who have lived.

These trees are the noblest living things upon earth. I can imagine that
the American people are approaching a stage of general intelligence and
enlightened love of nature in which they will look back upon the
destruction of the Sequoia as a blot on the national escutcheon.


The veneration of age sentiment which should, and I believe actually
does, appeal to the American people when clearly presented to them even
more strongly than the commercial sentiment, is roused in equal strength
by an intelligent appreciation of the race longevity of the larger
animals which our ancestors found here in profusion, and of which but a
comparatively small number still survive. To the unthinking man a bison,
a wapiti, a deer, a pronghorn antelope, is a matter of hide and meat; to
the real nature lover, the true sportsman, the scientific student, each
of these types is a subject of intense admiration. From the mechanical
standpoint they represent an architecture more elaborate than that of
Westminster Abbey, and a history beside which human history is as of


These animals were not made in a day, nor in a thousand years, nor in a
million years. As said the first Greek philosopher, Empedocles, who 560
B.C. adumbrated the "survival of the fittest" theory of Darwin, they are
the result of ceaseless trials of nature. While the Sequoia was first
emerging from the Carboniferous, or Coal Period, the reptile-like
ancestors of these mammals, covered with scales and of egg-laying
habits, were crawling about and giving not the most remote prophecy of
their potential transformation through 10,000,000 of years into the
superb fauna of the northern hemisphere.

The descendants of these reptiles were transformed into mammals. If we
had had the opportunity of studying the early mammals of the Rocky
Mountain region with a full appreciation of the possibilities of
evolution, we should have perceived that they were essentially of the
same stock and ancestral to our modern types. There were little camels
scarcely more than twelve inches high, little taller than cotton-tail
rabbits and smaller than the jackass rabbits; horses 15 inches high,
scarcely larger than, and very similar in build to, the little English
coursing hound known as the whippet; it is not improbable that we shall
find the miniature deer; there certainly existed ancestral wolves and
foxes of similarly small proportions. You have all read your Darwin
carefully enough to know that neither camels, horses, nor deer would
have evolved as they did except for the stimulus given to their limb and
speed development by the contemporaneous evolution of their enemies in
the dog family.


A million and a half years later these same animals had attained a very
considerable size; the western country had become transformed by the
elevation of the plateaux into dry, grass-bearing uplands, where both
horses and deer of peculiarly American types were grazing. We have
recently secured some fresh light on the evolution of the American
deer. Besides the _Palaeryx_, which may be related to the true
American deer _Odocoileus_, we have found the complete skeleton of
a small animal named _Merycodus_, nineteen inches high, possessed
of a complete set of delicate antlers with the characteristic burr at
the base indicating the annual shedding of the horn, and a general
structure of skeleton which suggests our so-called pronghorn antelope,
_Antilocapra_, rather than our true American deer, _Odocoileus_.
This was in all probability a distinctively American type.
Its remains have been found in eastern Colorado in the geological
age known as Middle Miocene, which is estimated (_sub rosa_, like
all our other geological estimates), at about a million and a half years
of age. Our first thought as we study this small, strikingly graceful
animal, is wonder that such a high degree of specialization and
perfection was reached at so early a period; our second thought is the
reverence for age sentiment.


The conditions of environment were different from what they were before
or what they are now. These animals flourished during the period in
which western America must have closely resembled the eastern and
central portions of Africa at the present time.

This inference is drawn from the fact that the predominant fauna of
America in the Middle and Upper Miocene Age and in the Pliocene was
closely analogous to the still extant fauna of Africa. It is true we had
no real antelopes in this country, in fact none of the bovines, and no
giraffes; but there was a camel which my colleague Matthew has surnamed
the "giraffe camel," extraordinarily similar to the giraffe. There were
no hippopotami, no hyraces. All these peculiarly African animals, of
African origin, I believe, found their way into Europe at least as far
as the Sivalik Hills of India, but never across the Bering Sea
Isthmus. The only truly African animal which reached America, and which
flourished here in an extraordinary manner, was the elephant, or rather
the mastodon, if we speak of the elephant in its Miocene stage of
evolution. However, the resemblance between America and Africa is
abundantly demonstrated by the presence of great herds of horses, of
rhinoceroses, both long and short limbed, of camels in great variety,
including the giraffe-like type which was capable of browsing on the
higher branches of trees, of small elephants, and of deer, which in
adaptation to somewhat arid conditions imitated the antelopes in general


The Glacial Period eliminated half of this fauna, whereas the equatorial
latitude of the fauna in Africa saved that fauna from the attack of the
Glacial Period, which was so fatally destructive to the animals in the
more northerly latitudes of America. The glaciers or at least the very
low temperature of the period eliminated especially all the African
aspects of our fauna. This destructive agency was almost as baneful and
effective as the mythical Noah's flood. When it passed off, there
survived comparatively few indigenous North American animals, but the
country was repopulated from the entire northern hemisphere, so that the
magnificent wild animals which our ancestors found here were partly
North American and partly Eurasiatic in origin.


Our animal fortune seemed to us so enormous that it never could be
spent. Like a young rake coming into a very large inheritance, we
attacked this noble fauna with characteristic American improvidence, and
with a rapidity compared with which the Glacial advance was eternally
slow; the East went first, and in fifty years we have brought about an
elimination in the West which promises to be even more radical than that
effected by the ice. We are now beginning to see the end of the North
American fauna; and if we do not move promptly, it will become a matter
of history and of museums. The bison is on the danger line; if it
survives the fatal effects of its natural sluggishness when abundantly
fed, it still runs the more insidious but equally great danger of
inbreeding, like the wild ox of Europe. The chances for the wapiti and
elk and the western mule and black-tail deer are brighter, provided that
we move promptly for their protection. The pronghorn is a wonderfully
clever and adaptive animal, crawling under barb-wire fences, and thus
avoiding one of the greatest enemies of Western life. Last summer I was
surprised beyond measure to see the large herds of twenty to forty
pronghorn antelopes still surviving on the Laramie plains, fenced in on
all sides by the wires of the great Four-Bar Ranch, part of which I
believe are stretched illegally.


I need not dwell on the astonishingly rapid diminution of our larger
animals in the last few years; it would be like "carrying coals to
Newcastle" to detail personal observations before this Club, which is
full of men of far greater experience and knowledge than myself. On the
White River Plateau Forest Reserve, which is destined to be the
Adirondacks of Colorado, with which many of you are familiar, the deer
disappeared in a period of four years. Comparatively few are left.

The most thoroughly devastated country I know of is the Uintah Mountain
Forest Reserve, which borders between southwestern Wyoming and northern
Utah. I first went through this country in 1877. It was then a wild
natural region; even a comparatively few years ago it was bright with
game, and a perfect flower garden. It has felt the full force of the
sheep curse. I think any one of you who may visit this country now will
agree that this is not too strong a term, and I want to speak of the
sheep question from three standpoints: First, as of a great and
legitimate industry in itself; second, from the economic standpoint;
third, from the standpoint of wild animals.


The formerly beautiful Uintah Mountain range presents a terrible example
of the effects of prolonged sheep herding. The under foliage is entirely
gone. The sheep annually eat off the grass tops and prevent seeding
down; they trample out of life what they do not eat; along the principal
valley routes even the sage brush is destroyed. Reforesting by the
upgrowth of young trees is still going on to a limited extent, but is in
danger. The water supply of the entire Bridger farming country, which is
dependent upon the Uintah Mountains as a natural reservoir, is rapidly
diminishing; the water comes in tremendous floods in the spring, and
begins to run short in the summer, when it is most needed. The
consequent effects upon both fish and wild animals are well known to
you. No other animal will feed after the sheep. It is no exaggeration to
say, therefore, that the sheep in this region are the enemies of every
living thing.


Even the owner cannot much longer enjoy his range, because he is
operating against _the balance of nature_. The last stage of
destruction which these innocent animals bring about has not yet been
reached, but it is approaching; it is the stage in which there is _no
food left for the sheep themselves_. I do not know how many pounds
of food a sheep consumes in course of a year--it cannot be much less
than a ton--but say it is only half a ton, how many acres of dry western
mountain land are capable of producing half a ton a year when not
seeding down? As long as the consumption exceeds the production of the
soil, it is only a question of time when even the sheep will no longer
find subsistence.


While going through these mountains last summer and reflecting upon the
prodigious changes which the sheep have brought about in a few years, it
occurred to me that we must look to Oriental countries in order to see
the final results of sheep and goat grazing in semi-arid climates. I
have proposed as an historical thesis a subject which at first appears
somewhat humorous, namely, "The Influence of Sheep and Goats in
History." I am convinced that the country lying between Arabia and
Mesopotamia, which was formerly densely populated, full of beautiful
cities, and heavily wooded, has been transformed less by the action of
political causes than by the unrestricted browsing of sheep and
goats. This browsing destroyed first the undergrowth, then the forests,
the natural reservoirs of the country, then the grasses which held
together the soil, and finally resulted in the removal of the soil
itself. The country is now denuded of soil, the rocks are practically
bare; it supports only a few lions, hyaes, gazelles, and Bedouins. Even
if the trade routes and mines, on which Brooks Adams in his "New Empire"
dwells so strongly as factors of all civilization, were completely
restored, the population could not be restored nor the civilization,
because there is nothing in this country for people to live upon. The
same is true of North Africa, which, according to Gibbon, was once the
granary of the Roman Empire. In Greece to-day the goats are now
destroying the last vestiges of the forests.

I venture the prediction that the sheep industry on naturally semi-arid
lands is doomed; that the future feeding of both sheep and cattle will
be on irrigated lands, and that the forests will be carefully guarded by
State and Nature as natural reservoirs.


By contrast to the sheep question, which is a purely economic or
utilitarian one, and will settle itself, if we do not settle it by
legislation based on scientific observation, the preservation of the
Sequoia and of our large wild animals is one of pure sentiment, of
appreciation of the ideal side of life; we can live and make money
without either. We cannot even use the argument which has been so
forcibly used in the case of the birds, that the cutting down of these
trees or killing of these animals will upset the balance of nature.

I believe in every part of the country--East, West, North, and South--we
Americans have reached a stage of civilization where if the matter were
at issue the majority vote would unquestionably be, _let us preserve
our wild animals._

We are generally considered a commercial people, and so we are; but we
are more than this, we are a people of ideas, and we value them. As
stated in the preamble of the Sequoia bill introduced on Dec. 8, 1903,
we must legislate for the benefit and enjoyment of the people, and I may
add for the greatest happiness of the largest number, not only of the
present but of future generations.

So far as my observation goes, preservation can only be absolutely
insured by national legislation.


The English, a naturally law-abiding people, seem to have a special
faculty for enforcing laws. By co-operation with the Belgian Government
they have taken effective and remarkably successful measures for the
protection of African game. As for Germany, in 1896 Mr. Gosselin, of
the British Embassy in Berlin, reported as follows for German East Africa:

That the question of preserving big game in German East Africa has been
under the consideration of the local authorities for some time past, and
a regulation has been notified at Dar-es-Salaam which it is hoped will
do something toward checking the wanton destruction of elephants and
other indigenous animals. Under this regulation every hunter must take
out an animal license, for which the fee varies from 5 to 500 rupees,
the former being the ordinary fee for natives, the latter for elephant
and rhinoceros hunting, and for the members of sporting expeditions into
the interior. Licenses are not needed for the purpose of obtaining food,
nor for shooting game damaging cultivated land, nor for shooting apes,
beasts of prey, wild boars, reptiles, and all birds except ostriches and
cranes. Whatever the circumstances, the shooting is prohibited of all
young game--calves, foals, young elephants, either tuskless or having
tusks under three kilos, all female game if recognizable--except, of
course, those in the above category of unprotected animals. Further, in
the Moschi district of Kilima-Njaro, no one, whether possessing a
license or not, is allowed without the special permission of the
Governor to shoot antelopes, giraffes, buffaloes, ostriches, and cranes.
Further, special permission must be obtained to hunt these with nets, by
kindling fires, or by big drives. Those who are not natives have also
to pay l00 rupees for the first elephant killed, and 250 for each
additional one, and 50 rupees for the first rhinoceros and 150 for each
succeeding one. Special game preserves are also to be established, and
Major von Wissmann, in a circular to the local officers, explains that
no shooting whatever will be allowed in these without special permission
from the Government. The reserves will be of interest to science as a
means of preserving from extirpation the rarer species, and the Governor
calls for suggestions as to the best places for them. They are to extend
in each direction at least ten hours' journey on foot. He further asks
for suggestions as to hippopotamus reserves, where injury would not be
done to plantations. Two districts are already notified as game
sanctuaries. Major von Wissmann further suggests that the station
authorities should endeavor to domesticate zebras (especially when
crossed with muscat and other asses and horses), ostriches, and hyaena
dogs crossed with European breeds. Mr. Gosselin remarks that the best
means of preventing the extermination of elephants would be to fix by
international agreement among all the Powers on the East African coast a
close time for elephants, and to render illegal the exportation or sale
of tusks under a certain age.

In December, 1900, Viscount Cranborne in the House of Commons reported
as follows:

* * * That regulations for the preservation of wild animals have been
in force for some time in the several African Protectorates administered
by the Foreign Office as well as in the Sudan. The obligations imposed
by the recent London Convention upon the signatory Powers will not
become operative until after the exchange of ratifications, which has
not yet taken place. In anticipation, however, steps have been taken to
revise the existing regulations in the British Protectorates so as to
bring them into strict harmony with the terms of the convention. The
game reserves now existing in the several Protectorates are: In (a)
British Central Africa, the elephant marsh reserve and the Shirwa
reserve; in (b) the East Africa Protectorate, the Kenia District; in (c)
Uganda, the Sugota game reserve in the northeast of the Protectorate; in
(d) Somaliland, a large district defined by an elaborate boundary line
described in the regulations. The regulations have the force of law in
the Protectorates, and offenders are dealt with in the Protectorate
Courts. It is in contemplation to charge special officers of the
Administrations with the duty of watching over the proper observance of
the regulations. Under the East African game regulations only the
officers permanently stationed at or near the Kenia reserve may be
specially authorized to kill game in the reserve.

Other effective measures have been taken in the Soudan
district. Capt. Stanley Flower, Director of the Gizeh Zoological
Gardens, made a very full report, which is quoted in _Nature_ for
July 25, 1901, p. 318.


The preservation of even a few of our wild animals is a very large
proposition; it is an undertaking the difficulty of which grows in
magnitude as one comes to study it in detail and gets on the ground. The
rapidly increasing legislation in the Western States is an indication of
rapidly growing sentiment. A still more encouraging sign is the strong
sympathy with the enforcement of the laws which we find around the
National Park in Wyoming and Montana especially. State laws should be
encouraged, but I am convinced that while effective in the East, they
will not be effective in the West _in time_, because of the
scattered population, the greater areas of country involved, the greater
difficulty of watching and controlling the killing, and the actual need
of game for food by settlers.

When we study the operation of our State laws on the ground we find that
for various reasons they are not fully effective. A steady and in some
cases rapid diminution of animals is going on so far as I have observed
in Colorado and Wyoming; either the wardens strictly enforce the laws
with strangers and wink at the breaking of them by residents, or they
draw their salaries and do not enforce the laws at all.[9]

[Footnote 9: Addendum.--There is no question as to the good intention of
State legislation. The chief difficulty in the enforcement of the law is
that officers appointed locally, and partly from political reasons,
shrink from applying the penalties of the law to their own friends and
neighbors, especially where the animals are apparently abundant and are
sought for food. The honest enforcement of the law renders the officer
unpopular, even if it does not expose him to personal danger. He is
regarded as interfering with long established rights and customs. The
above applies to conscientious officers. Many local game wardens, as in
the Colorado White River Plateau, for example, give absolutely no
attention to their duties, and are not even on the ground at the opening
of the season. In the Plateau in August, 1901, the laws were being
openly and flagrantly violated, not only by visitors, but by
residents. At the same time the National forest laws were being most
strictly and intelligently enforced. There is no question whatever that
the people of various States can be brought to understand that National
aid or co-operation in the protection of certain wild areas is as
advantageous to a locality as National irrigation and National forest
protection. It is to be sought as a boon and not as an infringement.]


The enemies of our wild animals are numerous and constantly
increasing. (1) There is first the general advance of what we call
civilization, the fencing up of country which principally cuts off the
winter feeding grounds. This was especially seen in the country south of
the National Park last winter. (2) The destruction of natural browsing
areas by cattle and sheep, and by fire. (3) The destruction of game by
sportsmen plays a comparatively small part in the total process of
elimination, yet in some cases it is very reckless, and especially bad
in its example. When I first rode into the best shooting country of
Colorado in 1901, there was a veritable cannonading going on, which
reminded me of the accounts of the battle of El Caney. The destruction
effected by one party in three days was tremendous. In riding over the
ground--for I was not myself shooting--I was constantly coming across
the carcasses of deer. (4) The summer and winter killing for food; this
is the principal and in a sense the most natural and legitimate cause,
although it is largely illegal. In this same area, which was more or
less characteristic and typical of the other areas, even of the
conditions surrounding the national reserve in the Big Horn region, the
destruction was, and is, going on principally during the winter when the
deer are seeking the winter ranges and when they are actually shot and
carted away in large numbers for food both for the ranchmen and for
neighboring towns. Making all allowances for exaggeration, I believe it
to be absolutely true that these deer were being killed by the
wagonload! The same is true of the pronghorn antelope in the Laramie
Plains district. The most forceful argument against this form of
destruction is that it is extremely short-lived and benefits
comparatively few people. This argument is now enforced by law and by
public sentiment in Maine and New York, where the wild animals, both
deer and moose, are actually increasing in number.

Granted, therefore, that we have both National and State sentiment, and
that National legislation by co-operation with the States, if properly
understood, would receive popular support, the carrying out of this
legislation and making it fully effective will be a difficult matter.

It can be done, and, in my judgment, by two measures. The first is
entirely familiar to you: certain or all of the forest reserves must be
made animal preserves; the forest rangers must be made game wardens, or
special wardens must be appointed. This is not so difficult, because
the necessary machinery is already at hand, and only requires adaptation
to this new purpose. It can probably be carried through by patience and
good judgment. Second, the matter of the preservation of the winter
supply of food and protection of animals while enjoying this supply is
the most difficult part of the whole problem, because it involves the
acquisition of land which has already been taken up by settlers and
which is not covered by the present forest reserve machinery, and which
I fear in many instances will require new legislation.

Animals can change their habits during the summer, and have already done
so; the wapiti, buffalo, and even the pronghorn have totally changed
their normal ranges to avoid their new enemy; but in winter they are
forced by the heavy snows and by hunger right down into the enemy's

Thus we not only have the problem of making game preserves out of our
forest reserves, but we have the additional problem of enlarging the
area of forest reserves so as to provide for winter feeding. If this is
not done all the protection which is afforded during the summer will be
wholly futile. This condition does not prevail in the East, in Maine and
in the Adirondacks, where the winter and summer ranges are practically
similar. It is, therefore a new condition and a new problem.

Greater difficulties have been overcome, however, and I have no doubt
that the members of this Club will be among the leaders in the
movement. The whole country now applauds the development and
preservation of the Yellowstone Park, which we owe largely to the
initiative of Phillips, Grinnell, and Rogers. Grant and La Farge were
pioneers in the New York Zoological Park movement. We know the work of
Merriam and Wadsworth, and we always know the sympathies of our honored
founder, member, and guest of this evening, Theodore Roosevelt.

What the Club can do is to spread information and thoroughly enlighten
the people, who always act rightly when they understand.

It must not be put on the minutes of the history of America, a country
which boasts of its popular education, that the _Sequoia_, a race
10,000,000 years old, sought its last refuge in the United States, with
individual trees older than the entire history and civilization of
Greece, that an appeal to the American people was unavailing, that the
finest grove was cut up for lumber, fencing, shingles, and boxes! It
must not be recorded that races of animals representing stocks 3,000,000
years of age, mostly developed on the American continent, were
eliminated in the course of fifty years for hides and for food in a
country abounding in sheep and cattle.

The total national investment in animal preservation will be less than
the cost of a single battleship. The end result will be that a hundred
years hence our descendants will be enjoying and blessing us for the
trees and animals, while, in the other case, there will be no vestige of
the battleship, because it will be entirely out of date in the warfare
of the future.

_Henry Fairfield Osborn_.

Distribution of the Moose

Republished by permission from the Seventh Annual Report of the Forest,
Fish and Game Commission of the State of New York.

The Scandinavian elk, which is closely related to the American moose,
was known to classical antiquity as a strange and ungainly beast of the
far north; especially as an inhabitant of the great Teutoborgian Forest,
which spread across Germany from the Rhine to the Danube. The half
mythical character which has always clung to this animal is well
illustrated in the following quotation from Pliny's Natural History,
Book 8, chapter 16:

"There is also the achlis, which is produced in the island of
Scandinavia. It has never been seen in this city, although we have had
descriptions of it from many persons; it is not unlike the elk, but has
no joints in the hind leg. Hence it never lies down, but reclines
against a tree while it sleeps; it can only be taken by previously
cutting into the tree, and thus laying a trap for it, as, otherwise, it
would escape through its swiftness. Its upper lip is so extremely large,
for which reason it is obliged to go backwards when grazing; otherwise
by moving onwards, the lip would get doubled up." Pliny's achlis and
elk were the same animal.

The strange stiffness of joint and general ungainliness of the elk,
however, were matters of such general observation as to apparently have
become embodied in the German name _eland_, sufferer. Curiously
enough this name _eland_ was taken by the Dutch to South Africa,
and there applied to the largest and handsomest of the bovine antelopes,
_Oreas canna_.

In mediaeval times there are many references in hunting tales to the elk,
notably in the passage in the Nibelungen Lied describing Siegfried's
great hunt on the upper Rhine, in which he killed an elk. Among the
animals slain by the hero is the "schelk," described as a powerful and

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest