NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Buffalo Hunt: International Trade and the Virtual Extinction of the North American Bison

M. Scott Taylor

NBER Working Paper No. 12969
Issued in March 2007
NBER Program(s):   ITI   DAE   EEE

In the 16th century, North America contained 25-30 million buffalo; by the late 19th century less than 100 remained. While removing the buffalo east of the Mississippi took settlers over 100 years, the remaining 10 to 15 million buffalo on the Great Plains were killed in a punctuated slaughter in a little more than 10 years. I employ theory, data from international trade statistics, and first person accounts to argue that the slaughter on the plains was initiated by a foreign-made innovation and fueled by a foreign demand for industrial leather. Ironically, the ultimate cause of this sad chapter in American environmental history was of European, and not American, origin.

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Published: M. Scott Taylor, 2011. "Buffalo Hunt: International Trade and the Virtual Extinction of the North American Bison," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3162-95, December.

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