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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/798

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

wallows are due to the instinct whereby the huge brute, with a quickness which would not be expected of it, can roll itself in loam until it has donned a garment impervious to flies, and which in falling away carries off loose hair. When only dry, dusty soil is available, the buffalo will roll in that, greatly to the prejudice of its insect parasites. Wallows thus formed, numerous enough to testify to the comparatively recent existence of vast herds, can be most easily seen about the time of sunrise or sunset, when the almost horizontal solar beams throw them into shadow. In years gone by it was not uncommon to find in the hot springs of the Yellowstone Park, and of Banff, in the Canadian National Park, the remains of a buffalo strayed from a herd to find death in a scalding basin. The reckless extirpation of the buffalo has been fraught with very serious consequences to Indian tribes north and south of the international boundary. One of their hardships, which has been the frequent source of complaint and rebellion, has been the deprivation of buffalo-meat which in large areas was the Indian's principal food. Scarcely less serious has been the like deprivation entailed upon pioneer settlers, whose sites have in many cases been indicated to them by the buffalo-trails. In their migrations between north and south, and in their search for herbage least covered with snow, the buffalo has ever marked out the best and most feasible path.

While, as in other departments of her great natural wealth, America has been prodigal and spendthrift, there have been several noteworthy attempts not only to stay the threatened extermination of the buffalo, but to multiply its numbers and improve the race by crossing it with domestic cattle. It is curious how far back experiments in this direction date. Peter Kalm, in his "Travels in North America," says that buffaloes were domesticated in Quebec in 1750, and that in Carolina they had been crossed with domestic cattle. So docile indeed was a buffalo bull mentioned in Schoolcraft's "History of the Indians of the United States," that he had been yoked to the plow. Robert Wickliffe, of Lexington, Ky., in 1843, wrote Audubon and Bachman that he had secured quarter, half, and three-quarter crosses between the buffalo and domestic cattle. The progeny were tame, worked in yoke, exceeded the ox in strength, and retained the wallowing habit. All the half-bred heifers were fertile, but the half-bred bulls were not. Colonel George C. Thompson, of Shawnee Springs, Ky., concurrently with Mr. Wickliffe's experiment, domesticated a buffalo bull and three buffalo cows; they were thoroughly docile, hardy, and long-lived. Mr. I. W. Cunningham, of Howard County, Neb., in 1878, recorded that both domestication and crossing had been successful in the county mentioned—just as in Mr. Wickliffe's case. However, with the horse as a competitor as a