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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... buffaloes.


NUNLEY: Nineteen-ninety-six marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Frederick Cody. Cody was born in Iowa, rode for the Pony Express, worked as an Army scout and, for a brief period, hunted buffalo for the Kansas Pacific Railroad. That's where he earned his nickname Buffalo Bill. After establishing a successful Wild West show, Cody stopped shooting buffalo and started working to save them from extinction. It's estimated that during their heyday anywhere from 30 to 75 million American buffalo roamed the plains, but by the turn of the century there were only about 700 left. That slaughter was largely an effort by the US Government to destroy one of the key resources of Native Americans. In 1894 Congress banned hunting of buffalo in Yellowstone National Park. Today the Yellowstone herd numbers more than 4,000 animals, and nationwide the population has rebounded to about 200,000. But few of these buffalo roam free, and they may never again darken the whole plain as the explorers Lewis and Clark witnessed in South Dakota in 1806. Many of today's buffalo are being raised for their low cholesterol and high protein meat, which is popular among some health-conscious consumers. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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