Harper's Weekly Magazine
22 February 1872


The wanton killing of game in this country is condemned by every genuine sportsman, not one of whom will fail to indorse the sentiments contained in the following timely letter, written from Hays City by General Hazen to Mr. Henry Bergh, giving some idea of the foolish destruction of this valuable source of food:

"Head-quarters, Fort Hays, Kansas, January 20, 1872.

"H. Bergh, Esq.:

"Dear Sir,--Hoping to interest you, and through you the people of the country and Congress, I would respectfully state that the extraordinary introduction of railroads into and across the wilds of our country has made the vast herds of wild buffalo of the plains accessible to all classes of people, and each year vast numbers are slaughtered for so-called sport, and a greater number by hunters for their hides, which net about one dollar each. I have seen numbers of men this winter who have during the past season killed 1000 each for the paltry sum of one dollar apiece, the carcasses being left to rot on the plains. The buffalo is a noble and harmless animal, timid, and as easily taken as a cow, and very valuable as food for man. It lives upon a short grass which grows luxuriantly upon the high arid plains of this middle region, that is from dryness unfit for agriculture. The theory that the buffalo should be killed to deprive the Indians of food is a fallacy, as these people are becoming harmless under a rule of justice. In view of these facts, I would most respectfully and earnestly request that you use such proper influences as may be at your disposal to bring this subject before Congress, with the intention of having such steps taken as will prevent this wicked and wanton waste both of the lives of God's creatures and the valuable food they furnish. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

"W. B. Hazen, Colonel Sixth Infantry,
"Brevet Major-General United States Army."

The buffalo formerly ranged to the Atlantic sea-board in Virginia and the Carolinas, and as far east as the Hudson River and Lake Champlain. It is comparatively few years since the prairies of Illinois were feeding-ground for thousands of buffalo. Year by year they are pressed back into that strip of land known, until very recently, by every school-boy, as "The Great American Desert," where they are slaughtered at the rate of several hundred thousand per annum. Of this vast number but a comparatively small percentage is killed for food or fur. Travelers shoot into the herds from coaches and railway cars, without expecting to secure the game, which they seldom do more than wound. Hunters will in a single run bring down several, and a few pounds of meat is all that is taken from any animal. Indeed, it would seem that strenuous efforts are made to exterminate the bison within the shortest convenient time. This is all very well for the wolves, coyotes, and ravens, but it is neither wise nor sportsman-like. It should be here remarked that army officers generally deprecate this work, and seem to realize that Uncle Sam will presently be called upon to furnish funds from the government purse to supply beef to Indians who are now well fed with buffalo beef, which they are careful never to waste. Our illustration on page 164 gives an excellent idea of a scene on the buffalo range, where hunters have destroyed thousands of pounds of meat and left it to fatten the wolves.