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appearance in this our fourth zoological department, which Dr Richardson names the limestone tract, viz.
The black squirrel,
The four-banded pouched squirrel, Sciurus quadrivittatus.
The Canada porcupine,
We have thus gained seven new species; but as the entire number of quadrupeds ascertained to inhabit the limestone district amounts only to thirty-three, or one more than the preceding, it is evident that six of our former list must have dropt away. These six are the following-Ursus maritimus, a species of Scalops, a species of Meles (?), Canis lagopus, Arvicola Hudsonius, and Pteromys sabrinus. The most remarkable accession is that of the bison, or American buffalo, regarding the distribution of which we shall therefore say a few words.
The bison inhabits a great portion of the temperate parts of North America, and extends southwards probably as far as the 35th degree of N. lat. Its characteristic positions are the great prairies to the westward of the Mississippi, where they sometimes unite in prodigious troops, amounting in some instances to 10,000 individuals. They were observed in the Carolinas soon after the arrival of the earliest colonists, but they have been long since forced to retire before the pale-faced Euro'pean,' and concentrate their forces on the plains of the Missouri. They have not been seen for a long period in Pennsylvania, but they were observed in Kentucky about the year 1766. The altered and circumscribed localities of this animal afford a good example of the influence which the human race exerts over the natural boundaries of the brute creation. There seems to be no doubt that they formerly existed throughout the whole extent of the United States, with the exception perhaps of the territory to the east of Hudson's River and Lake Champlain, and of some narrow lines of coast along the Atlantic shores and the Gulf of Mexico. They were, however, seen near the Bay of St Bernard by Alvar Nunez during the earlier part of the 16th century, and that locality may be regarded as the most southerly to which the species can be traced on the eastern side of the
Harlan's Fauna Americana, p. 270.
Rocky Mountains. Like several other animals, they extend much farther north among the central than the eastern territories, for we find that a bison was killed by Captain Franklin's party on the Salt River, in the sixtieth parallel; whereas they cannot be traced in any of those tracts which lie to the north of Lakes Ontario, Erie, &c. and to the eastward of Lake Superior. But westward of Lake Winipeg they advance, according to Mr Keating,* as far as the 62d degree of N. lat.; and Dr Richardson states, on the testimony of the natives, that they have taken possession of the flat limestone district of Slave Point, on the north side of Great Slave Lake, and have even wandered to the vicinity of Great Martin Lake, in latitude 63° or 64°. The extension of the bison in a westerly direction, appears to have been formerly limited by the range of the Rocky Mountains; but it is said of late years to have discovered a passage across these mountains, near the sources of the Saskatchewan. Though not mentioned by Father Venegas among the quadrupeds of California, it is known to occur at present both in that country and in New Mexico. Its existence on the Columbia is also well ascertained. We shall conclude our geographical notice of the bison with the following incident, related by Dr Richardson, in illustration of its manners.
In the rutting season, the males fight against each other with great fury, and at that period it is very dangerous to approach them. The bison is, however, in general, a shy animal, and takes to flight instantly on winding an enemy, which the acuteness of its sense of smell enables it to do from a great distance. They are less wary when they are assembled together in numbers, and will then often blindly follow their leaders, regardless of, or trampling down, the hunters posted in their way. It is dangerous for the hunter to show himself after having wounded one, for it will pursue him; and although its gait may appear heavy and awkward, it will have no difficulty in overtaking the fleetest runner. While I resided at Carlton House, an accident of this kind occurred. Mr Finnan M'Donald, one of the Hudson's Bay Company's clerks, was descending the Saskatchewan in a boat, and one evening, having pitched his tent for the night, he went out in the dusk to look for game. It had become nearly dark when he fired at a bison-bull, which was galloping over a small eminence; and as he was hastening forward to see if his shot had taken effect, the wounded beast made a rush at him. He had the presence of mind to seize the animal by the long hair on its forehead, as it struck him on the side with its horn; and being a remarkably tall and powerful man, a struggle ensued, which continued until his wrist was severely sprained,
*Account of Major Long's Expedition to the Source of St Peter's River, vol. ii. chap. i.
and his arm was rendered powerless; he then fell, and after receiving two or three blows became senseless. Shortly afterwards he was found by his companions lying bathed in blood, being gored in several places; and the bison was couched beside him, apparently waiting to renew the attack had he shown any signs of life. Mr M Donald recovered from the immediate effects of the injuries he received, but died a few months afterwards.'*
We now resume our general sketch of the distribution of North American quadrupeds. Interposed between the limestone district before mentioned, and the base of the Rocky Mountains, an extensive tract occurs of what is called prairie land. The inequalities of its surface are so slight, on a general survey, that, while crossing it, the traveller has to direct his course either by the compass or the observation of the heavenly bodies. The soil is pretty fertile, though for the most part dry and sandy, and supports a thick sward of grass, which affords an abundant pasture to innumerable herds of bison. Widespread plains of a similar aspect, but greater extent, border the Arkansa and Missouri rivers. They are described as becoming gradually narrower to the northward, and occupy in the southern portion of the fur countries about 15 degrees of longitude, from Maneetobaw or Maneetowoopoo, and Winipegoos Lakes, to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. In some places they are partially intersected by low ridges of hills, and also by several streams, of which the banks are wooded; and towards the outskirts of the plains many detached masses of finely formed timber, and pieces of still water, are disposed in so pleasing and picturesque a manner, as to produce rather the appearance of a highly cultivated English park than of an American wilderness.
In the central parts of the plains, however,' says Dr Richardson, there is so little wood that the hunters are under the necessity of taking fuel with them on their journeys, or in dry weather of making their fires of the dung of the bison. To the northward of the Saskatchewan the country is more broken, and intersected by woody hills; and on the banks of the Peace River the plains are of comparatively small extent, and are detached from each other by woody tracts; they terminate altogether in the angle between the River of the Mountains and Great Slave Lake. The abundance of pasture renders these plains the favourite resort of various ruminating animals. They are frequented throughout their whole extent by buffalo and wapiti. The prong-horned antelope is common on the Assinaboyn or Red River, and south branch of the Saskatchewan, and extends its range in the summer to the north branch of the latter river. The black
tailed deer, the long-tailed deer, and the grizzly bear, are also inhabitants of the plains, but do not wander farther to the eastward.'
The following short list exhibits the mammiferous animals which are characteristic of this district :
The tawny marmot,
The wistonwish, or prairie marmot, Arctomys Ludovicianus.
Geomis (?) talpoides.
Many of the fur bearing species before mentioned, are also found along the wooded margins of the rivers which flow through these open plains; and the banks of the Red River are inhabited by the racoon (Procyon lotor), and may be regarded as its most northern boundary.
We now arrive at the base of the Rocky Mountains, a vast and continuous chain, which, stretching from Mexico in a northnorth-west direction, and nearly parallel with the shores of the Pacific Ocean, terminates about the 70th degree of north latitude, to the westward of the mouths of the Mackenzie River, and within sight of the Arctic Sea. These mountains, though inferior in height to the Andes of the southern continent (of which, on an extended survey, they may be regarded as the northern continuation), greatly exceed in elevation the other chains of North America. This, independent of any more special knowledge of the fact, becomes apparent from a consideration of the courses of the great rivers of the country, all of which derive their sources and primary streams from the Rocky Mountains, however different may be the direction in which their waters flow. Thus the Columbia, which runs southward, and falls into the Northern Pacific Ocean in the 46th pa
* Fauna Boreali-Americana, vol. i. p. xxix. of Introduction. + In addition to the above we may mention, that the Canada rat (Mus bursarius, of Shaw) has been recently ascertained to inhabit the banks of the Saskatchewan.
rallel, derives its primary streams from the western slopes of the same rocky chain, the eastern sides of which give rise to the waters of the Missouri, which, following a south-easterly and southern direction, terminate their long-continued course of 4500 miles in the Gulf of Mexico. The Saskatchewan, in both its great branches, likewise flows from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and uniting its streams a short way below Carlton House, it flows through Lake Winipeg, and then, assuming the name of Nelson River, it empties itself in the vicinity of Cape Tatnam, into Hudson's Bay. So also the Mackenzie, which in point of size may be regarded as the third river in North America, (being inferior to the Missouri and St Lawrence alone,) derives its two main branches, the Elk and Peace Rivers, from these mountains; and, erelong, flowing northwards, and in a north-westerly direction, it opens its numerous mouths into the Polar Sea, after a course of nearly 2000 miles. It has been noticed as a singular fact, that the Peace River actually rises on the west side of the Rocky Mountain ridge, within 300 yards of the source of the Tacootchessè, or Fraser's River, which flows into the Gulf of Georgia, on the western shore. It is evident, then, that the great chain of the Rocky Mountains forms one of the most prominent and commanding features in the physical geography of North America.
The following animals inhabit the Rocky Mountains, in addition to many of the species contained in the preceding lists:
The two species last named, are among the most remarkable and important of the North American quadrupeds. The Rocky Mountain goat inhabits the highest, and least accessible summits.
The precise limits of its territorial range have probably not yet been ascertained; but it appears to extend from the 40th to the 64th, or 65th degree of north latitude. It is rarely, if ever, observed at any considerable distance from the mountains, and is said to be less numerous on the eastern than the western sides. It was not met with by Mr Drummond on the