Factors that Have Pushed the Bison toward Near Extinction

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Destruction of the Bison Essay
“The Destruction of the Bison” is an Environmental History novel comprised of a variety of evidence as to why the Bison became extinct. Andrew C. Isenburgs thesis states, “A host of economic, cultural, and ecological factors pushed the bison toward their near extinction. That diverse assembly of factors first emerged in the middle of the eighteenth century from ongoing encounters among Indians, Euro-Americans and the Great Plains environment”(Isenburg, 1). There are three main themes and topics that are focused on in the duration of this novel, all-relating back to the thesis. The major themes and topics that are explored are, the impact of environmental instability, man vs. nature, and the negative aspects of cultural integration.

First, Isenburg focuses in on the impact of environmental instability. The Great Plains were a place where indeed the Bison and forage (short-grasses) could thrive. However, the instability of the environment was at times a problem. The plains were dry and faced serious droughts frequently, which could lead to devastating consequences. Drought also wiped out vegetation, “During extended dry periods, between 70 and 90 percent of plains vegetation dies, causing a significant decline in range carrying capacity”(Isenburg, 27). There were often fires, caused usually by lightning, that would wipe out herds of bison, as well as forage for the bison to feed on. The winters were also harsh, many bison died in blizzards or by falling through the ice. Other animals preyed on the bison, especially those who were young, the bison also had to beat out competition for grazing, which was not always possible. Next, man vs. nature, was a crucial theme focused on in the book and was one of the greatest contributing factors to the near extinction of the bison. At first men began hunting bison for their general survival, and at this time they would also consume vegetables, berries and other goods. As time went on however,...
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