Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/20

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
xii
Introduction

and the ever increasing slaughter could not help but lessen their once vast numbers.

The Passenger Pigeon laid only one egg in its nest, rarely two, and although it bred three or four times a year it could not replenish the numbers slaughtered by the professional netters. Undoubtedly millions of the birds perished at various periods along the Great Lakes country, becoming confused in foggy weather and dropping from exhaustion into the water, while snow and sleet storms at times caused great mortality among the young birds, and even among the old ones, which often arrived in the North before winter had passed.

The history of the buffalo is repeated in that of the wild pigeon, the extermination of which was inspired by the same motive: the greed of man and the pursuit of the almighty dollar. We lock the barn door after the horse is stolen. Our white pine forests and timber lands in general have been wantonly destroyed with not thought for the future. The American people are wasteful. They are just beginning to learn the need of economy in the use of that which Nature has flung at their feet. When one recalls the destruction of that noble animal, the buffalo, frequently for nothing else than so-called sport, or the removal of a robe; when one thinks of the burning of forest trees which took centuries to grow, merely to clear a piece of land to raise crops, it is not to be wondered at that the wild pigeon, insignificant, and not even classed as a game bird, so soon became extinct.