American buffalo slaughter fueled by international trade

Jul 31, 2007

While the 19th century is surely one of the most inspirational periods in American history, it also bears witness to a less flattering record with regard to the environment: most significantly, the slaughter of the plains bison, or buffalo.

In a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, University of Calgary environmental economist M. Scott Taylor argues that the story of the buffalo slaughter on the Great Plains is not, at bottom, an American one.

Instead, Taylor argues that the slaughter of some 30 million bison over the course of a decade was initiatied by a tanning innovation created in Europe, and maintained by a robust European demand for buffalo hides for use as industrial leather.

Taylor used international trade records and first-person accounts of the hunt to show that that the widespread slaughter of bison between 1870 and 1880 was the result of a market for industrial leather that was virtually unregulated by the U.S. government as the country emerged from the Civil War.

Source: University of Calgary

Explore further: Lady, you're on the money

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Lady, you're on the money

9 hours ago

So far, women whose portraits appear on U.S. money have been a party of three. Excluding commemorative currency, only Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller appear on coins in general circulation, according ...

Another five things to know about meta-analysis

Jul 01, 2015

Last year I wrote a post of "5 Key Things to Know About Meta-Analysis". It was a great way to focus – but it was hard keeping to only 5. With meta-analyses booming, including many that are poorly done or ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.