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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/99

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THE SURVIVAL OF INSTINCTS.

the sick one on the ground bellowing, and being gored by her associates. An acute observer, also residing on Long Island, near this city, Mr. J. D. Hicks, writes as follows: "In answer to thy inquiries, J. H. and S. R. inform me that the fact has been noticed in their own experience that the well ones of a herd do sometimes seek to gore and destroy a sick or maimed one. A cry of distress, instead of exciting sympathy, seems to invite attack, and the first movement by one is a signal for attack by others. Thee may rest perfectly assured of this. I have myself more than once witnessed it."

The gentlemen whose initials are given are large owners of cattle, and have for nearly half a century been familiar with their habits, and with the habits of those brought in droves from distant parts of the country. Of the habits of entirely wild cattle we know but little. The wild herds of the pampas have descended from tame stock, and it is not easy to show by instances the habits of the original wild stock in this particular. A breed of cattle formerly common in Southern Scotland, noted for their untamed and savage disposition, is spoken of by Cuvier, under the name of white urus, and he says: "When one of this breed happens to be wounded, or is enfeebled by age or sickness, the others set upon it and gore it to death."

With swine a similar habit has been observed. We are informed that it is sometimes necessary to separate disabled ones, for safety, from the general herd. The drovers already referred to state that, in the driving and transportation of swine, those which become sick and faint are often objects of attack. Drooping of the ears, and other evidences of exhaustion, seem to excite the propensity, and may occur while being driven, or in pens in course of transportation. In cars, where they are probably much excited, weak and fallen ones are often torn to pieces, and sometimes devoured.

On one occasion, after a sick pig was thus disposed of, a dead dog was thrown among the excited animals, but no notice was taken of it. We will mention, in this connection, that we have not learned of any instance of an animal, strong and vigorous, being thus attacked, nor where a sick or feeble one was defended by its associates when such an attack was made; and it is certain that with hogs, as with cattle, the more untamed they are, the more violent and savage is their disposition, and the more frequent the peculiar habit we have under consideration.

Audubon observes that, with the wild-turkey, the old males, on their marches, frequently destroy, by picking the head, those which are immature, but it does not appear that full-grown and vigorous birds are attacked. The old, sick, and disabled, are continually left to their fate by moving herds of the American bison, and are fed upon by wolves. That they are expelled by violence is probable, but, so far as we know, there is no positive proof of the fact. It is known that wolves, if wounded, are attacked and killed by their comrades;