From Billions to None

by Andrea Elizabeth

The other day I saw this very sad documentary on the extinction of the passenger pigeon in 1914.

“The passenger pigeon or wild pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is an extinct North American bird. Named after the French word passager for “passing by”, it was once the most abundant bird in North America, and possibly the world.[2][3] It accounted for more than a quarter of all birds in North America.[4] The species lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century, when hunting and habitat destruction led to its demise.[5] One flock in 1866 in southern Ontario was described as being 1 mi (1.5 km) wide and 300 mi (500 km) long, took 14 hours to pass, and held in excess of 3.5 billion birds. That number, if accurate, would likely represent a large fraction of the entire population at the time.[6][A][7]

Some estimate 3 to 5 billion passenger pigeons were in the United States when Europeans arrived in North America.[B] Others argue the species had not been common in the pre-Columbian period, but their numbers grew when devastation of theAmerican Indian population by European diseases led to reduced competition for food.[C]

The species went from being one of the most abundant birds in the world during the 19th century to extinction early in the 20th century.[1] At the time, passenger pigeons had one of the largest groups or flocks of any animal, second only to the Rocky Mountain locust.

Some reduction in numbers occurred from habitat loss when European settlement led to mass deforestation. Next, pigeon meat was commercialized as a cheap food forslaves and the poor in the 19th century, resulting in hunting on a massive and mechanized scale. A slow decline between about 1800 and 1870 was followed by a catastrophic decline between 1870 and 1890.[8] Martha, thought to be the world’s last passenger pigeon, died on September 1, 1914, at the Cincinnati Zoo.”

Excerpted from Wikipedia, see the rest of the article for more detailed information.

This picture of bison skulls taken in 1870 was also shown in the film:

Bison_skull_pile,_ca1870

 

My new theory is that after the slaughtering of huge numbers (800,000) of humans was legalized during the Civil War, destructive and bloodthirsty people turned to Natives, animals and trees.

 

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