Lillianne, just as a matter of minor correction the bison were not hunted, they were under the process of extermination. It was a political move to force the surrender of the American Indian since the animal was the chief food and material source for them out on the plains. It is the same as the attitude taken toward the environment in Vietnam with agent orange.
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Comment by Boakye Abednego — March 10, 2013 @ 12:08 am
Tyler, I think the picture of the Bison extermination is much larger than the extermination of a food source for the American original inhabitants. Most of the history books that I have read on the issue cite a number of causes, with human greed being a primary driver. There are in fact a number of instances where the American Indians took part themselves in the great hunts. For them it was a matter of pride and a source of income. It is true that one of the side effects was that it removed a vital food source for them, but I would hesitate to say that the extermination was a political move. It is a much more complex piece of history than just a single explanation. I suspect that to a large extent that greed was the major contributor to the near extinction of the bison heard and that when some people realized that it was having an impact on the American Indians decided that this side effect would help them make money also.
Man has frequently exploited natural resources to the point of near extinction. At the same time as the Bison extermination, commercial whaling operations in the Pacific were decimating the whale population as well as the seal, sea lion and even the penguin population. The 19th century is filled with examples of exploitation of natural resources without consideration of the consequences. I am not sure that we have learned our lesson even yet. While whale hunting is largely a thing of the past (except for the Japanese), I still see the exploitation of deep sea commercial fishing that appears to be wiping out whole populations in our southern oceans. We still have a lot to learn about managing our environment.
Comment by Maurice Ashton — March 13, 2013 @ 2:23 pm
Maurice, you have pointed out one of the problems of generalizations yet I do believe much of what was done was deliberate.
On the other side of the coin is some of the very dumb decisions that man has made such as introducing foreign species into a country in an effort to control problems with agricultural pests. That usually ends up being a plague itself that has to be controlled as well. Then there is the problem of man trying to control nature such as groynes that jut out from a beach that tend to rob beaches of sand further down the beach which increases erosion. Dams also have contributed to greater erosion down stream and sometimes inhibit the movement of fish and other animals.
Then of course there is the chemical based control methods such as insecticides and herbicides some of which are very toxic to larger animal life (including humans). Several years ago when I was in the trucking business I had to deliver a shipment of Fargo (a herbicide used by wheat farmers to control wild oats). While at the warehouse I snooped around and found a barrel of herbicide that directed applicators to wear full preventive suits with artificial breathing apparatus and directed them to keep all animals out of the area for three days after application. While herbicides such as Fargo is not nearly as dangerous when considering that over a 10000+ square mile area of north central Montana something close to 5 million pounds of the stuff is applied yearly. There is little doubt in my mind why that area has a significantly higher incidence of cancer than the average in the US.
And I won't even bother going into genetic engineering whose effects we know so little about. In short you are right, greed is the primary motivating factor and I believe it is man's worst enemy and eventually will destroy him to a large degree, even before the Second Advent that puts the wicked in the grave until the second resurrection.
Comment by Tyler Cluthe — March 14, 2013 @ 8:53 am