The Extermination of the American Bison eBook

William Temple Hornaday
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about The Extermination of the American Bison.
cow three years old, on one side, and on the other a male calf a year and a half old.  All the members of the group are disposed in natural attitudes.  The young cow is snuffing at a bunch of tall grass; the old bull and cow are turning their heads in the same direction apparently, as if alarmed by something approaching; the others, having slaked their thirst, appear to be moving contentedly away.  The four months’ old calf was captured alive and brought to this city.  It lived for some days in the Smithsonian grounds, but pined for its prairie home, and finally died.  It is around the great bull that the romance and main interest of the group centers.

* * * * *

It seemed as if Providence had ordained that this splendid animal, perfect in limb, noble in size, should be saved to serve as a monument to the greatness of his race, that once roamed the prairies in myriads.  Bullets found in his body showed that he had been chased and hunted before, but fate preserved him for the immortality of a Museum exhibit.  His vertical height at the shoulders is 5 feet 8 inches.  The thick hair adds enough to his height to make it full 6 feet.  The length of his head and body is 9 feet 2 inches, his girth 8 feet 4 inches and his weight is, or was, about 1,600 pounds.


This group, with its accessories, is, in point of size, about the biggest thing ever attempted by a taxidermist.  It was mounted by Mr. Hornaday, assisted by Messrs. J. Palmer and A. H. Forney.  It represents a new departure in mounting specimens for museums.  Generally such specimens have been mounted singly, upon a flat surface.  The American mammals, collected by Mr. Hornaday, will be mounted in a manner that will make each piece or group an object lesson, telling something of the history and the habits of the animal.  The first group produced as one of the results of the Montana hunt comprised three coyotes.  Two of them are struggling, and one might almost say snarling, over a bone.  They do not stand on a painted board, but on a little patch of soil.  Two other groups designed by Mr. Hornaday, and executed by Mr. William Palmer, are about to be placed in the Museum.  One of these represents a family of prairie-dogs.  They are disposed about a prairie-dog mound.  One sits on its haunches eating; others are running about.  Across the mouth of the burrow, just ready to disappear into it, is another one, startled for the moment by the sudden appearance of a little burrowing owl that has alighted on one side of the burrow.  The owl and the dog are good friends and live together in the same burrow, but there appears to be strained relations between the two for the moment.

Prepared by W. T. Hornaday.



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The Extermination of the American Bison from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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