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"Eastern Forest Bison (Buffalo)??" Topic

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Seventhcav10 Aug 2005 5:48 p.m. PST

I was at a National Park a few weeks ago. The Park Ranger stated that there is not a great deal of evidence to support the claim that an Eastern Bison ever existed. he stated that they have not found the bones to support the claim and that there are no fur trade records of the animal. I know if you read biographies about Boone and other people of the time, they mention the buffalo. He stated that Boone's papers were enhanced to attract people into moving West.

I was just curious what some of the rest of you thought.

zippyfusenet10 Aug 2005 8:42 p.m. PST

Ted Franklin Belue wrote a book, _The Long Hunt/Death of the Buffalo East of the Mississippi_, c.1996, Stackpole Books, ISBN 0-8117-0968-X. Belue convinces me that there were buffalo in eastern North America in the old days. I thought there were lots of buffalo bones in old bone piles at the licks and wallows. I haven't heard of a seperate Eastern Forest species; I thought these were the same critters as out west, just living on eastern terrain. Maybe the eastern bison preferred the small prairies and meadows that did exist in the east to the deep forests.

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2005 9:08 p.m. PST

Plenty of places named after Buffalo in Virginia, including Buffalo Creek, Cow Pasture River, Calf Pasture River (all named after buffalo according to legend). There is also a Buffalo Mountain which actually looks like the siloette of a buffalo. Too many accounts with names dating from colonial times. I am sure their population was much lower than western herds.


waco32710 Aug 2005 10:04 p.m. PST

thats ridiculous, the buffalo was here from coast to coast before they were killed off! that ranger has not read any 18th century history of america!!

Supercilius Maximus11 Aug 2005 4:36 a.m. PST


Bear in mind with place names that "buffalo" was a European word long before it was an American one. The word "buff" as in "buff coat" (of English Civil War fame) is one such use; I think it is also an alternative description for a type of Mozarella cheese.

Patrick Lund11 Aug 2005 6:46 a.m. PST

I've read that the eastern bison tended to be somewhat smaller than their western or plains cousins. Actually there is a state park located down in lower Middle Tennessee that was a savanah when Crockett and others traveled west. The area is now heavily forested with pines… the result of the die out of the bison.


coryfromMissoula11 Aug 2005 7:46 a.m. PST

I believe the debate is not as to whether there were bison in the east, but as to whether they constituted a seperate species or even subspecies.

The size difference, much noted at the time, could have been a result of habitat rather than genetics.

rmaker11 Aug 2005 9:28 a.m. PST

corycote is correct. The supposed Eastern Woodland Bison species is a favorite stick with which the extreme ecofreaks like to beat Euro-American culture, but there is no scientific evidence for its existence. Unlike Bison occidentalis (the big one with the long horns), which went extinct well before Columbus, or even Ericsson.

Doctor Skull12 Aug 2005 4:23 p.m. PST

"The supposed Eastern Woodland Bison species is a favorite stick with which the extreme ecofreaks like to beat Euro-American culture"

Does an environmentalist really need to invent a species of Bison in order to make a point about extinction? Isn't the Plains Buffalo enough of an example to make that point?

Norscaman15 Aug 2005 9:45 p.m. PST

rmaker you are somewhat ill-informed. There was indeed an Eastern dwelling bison and they have excellent evidence of if at the Smithsonian. I do not recall the exact species name, but I believe that it was called something like bison pennsylvanicus or pennsylvaniacus. You get the idea, Pennsylvania. They were not large herd bison like the Western bison, but rather lived in small groups. As to whether or not they are a different species, it all depends on whether you think that the Alaskan brown bear and Grizzly are the same species. They can interbreed, produce reproducing off-spring, but are morphologically different.

That said, colonization and human activity has put thousands or more species to extinction. Environmentalists do not have to point to fake species to prove the point. You may not care, but it is hardly worth arguing that clearing the vast forests of the Eastern U.S. caused mass extinctions. It would be like contesting evolution; that is, only refutable as a matter of blind faith, not reason.

As a discussion relating to the Age of reason, this should not be considered current affairs board stuff!

Norscaman15 Aug 2005 9:49 p.m. PST

In fact, I even found a U.S. Government web page identifying the species. Unless you consider the USDA to be a "crazy environmentalist" group! ;->


zippyfusenet16 Aug 2005 7:27 a.m. PST

Um, Norscaman. The link you provide shows that the current taxonomic status of 'Bison americanus pennsylvanicus' is 'invalid – junior synonym'. The Valid Name is given as 'Bison bison bison'.

Norscaman16 Aug 2005 2:57 p.m. PST

True. That said, I think that it is still open to discussion as to whether or not they are different. It is true, however, that a population was driven to extinction in the East which is all that I was trying to say.

This is also similar to the the Kodiak and Grizzly debate. They are morphologically quite different (vastly bigger size and different coat in the Kodiak), yet still considered the same species because of the outlined reasons. In fact, I think that even the European brown bear is considered the same species. Still, a species can be driven to extinction in an area and that is still negative even if it exists elsewhere.

zippyfusenet16 Aug 2005 5:10 p.m. PST

Norscaman: Still, a species can be driven to extinction in an area and that is still negative even if it exists elsewhere.

Okay, no argument. I'd like to point out, though, that eastern North America is still ecologically diverse, and seems to be getting more so lately. The city (and I mean city) where I live is crawling with deer, they follow the brush along the interstate highways all the way downtown until the river stops them. Some folks say we should re-introduce wolves. In some parts of the country, the bears and cougars are coming back, not to mention the 'gators. They take the occasional unlucky hiker, and I'm reminded why we wiped out the large predators in the first place…

There's a Panther in Michigan, don't that make your Halloween?/There's a Panther in Michigan, although he is seldom seen,/And he's following the water, and the ways of the Indian,/And he's crossing the border to Indiana.

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