As the populations of the United States pushed West in the early 1800′s, a lucrative trade for the fur, skin, and meat of the American Bison began in the great plains. Bison slaughter was further encouraged by the US government as a means of starving out or removing Native American populations that relied on the bison for food. Hunting of bison became so prevalent that travelers on trains in the Midwest would shoot bison during long-haul train trips.
Once numbering in the hundreds of millions in North America, the population of the American Bison decreased to less than 1000 by 1890, resulting in the near-extinction of American bison. Thanks in large part to conservation efforts undertaken by Theodore Roosevelt and by the US government, there are now over 500,000 bison in America.