M. Scott Taylor
American Economic Review, Vol. 101, No. 7, December 2011, 1-36.
In the sixteenth century, North America contained 25 to 30 million buffalo; by the late nineteenth century fewer than 100 remained. While removing the buffalo east of the Mississippi took over 100 years, the remaining 10 to 15 million buffalo on the Great Plains were killed in a punctuated slaughter lasting little more than ten years. I employ theory, international trade statistics, and first-person accounts to argue the slaughter was initiated by a foreign-made innovation and fueled by a foreign demand for industrial leather. European demand and American policy failure are jointly responsible for the “Slaughter on the Plains”
Important related work:
Carlos, Ann M., and Frank D. Lewis. 1993. "Indians, the Beaver, and the Bay: The Economics of Depletion in the Lands of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1700-1763." The Journal of Economic History, 53(3): 465-94
Dodge, Richard I. 1877. The Plains of the Great West and Their Inhabitants. New York: Archer House, Inc.
Parks Canada has successfully relocated 16 bison from Elk Island National Park to the remote Panther Valley in Banff National Park. This video by Parks Canada shows how the process worked.
In the press
American buffalo wiped out to serve European market of the 1880s (2007)
Environment News Service
Blame Europeans for buffalo slaughter? (2007)
Blame globalization for buffalo disappearance? (2007)
Don't blame buffalo bill (2007)
Europe now blamed for decimation of American bison (2007)
European hide trade blamed for bison's end (2007)
Here's *something* you can't (quite) blame on America (2007)
International trade doomed the American wild buffalo: study (2007)
Agence France Presse
New suspected killer in old case (2007)
Study blames Europe for bison mass killings (2007)
Study blames Europeans for near-extinction of bison (2007)
They shoot bison, don't they? (2007)
Wie der Welthandel die Bisons ausrottete (2007)
World trade doomed wild buffalo - study (2007)