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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Locality Information Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

Mammals of the plains and forests provided the men with food, clothing, and even construction materials. Estimates have each man eating a whopping 9 - 10 lbs. of meat per day. That means the entire crew ate around 300 lbs. daily (1805 - 1806). Cooking this quantity of meat was challenging, especially using a portable kitchen. On warm days the meat did not preserve long without refrigeration, and some meat was lost to the carnivores and scavengers lurking around camp. Nearly every day hunters were sent out to replenish the meat. The supply came from hunting bison, whitetail and blacktail deer, elk, pronghorn, bear, and beaver. Even one little prairie dog became a menu item. Only a landscape teeming with large game could possibly provide such quantities, and that is exactly what Lewis and Clark encountered. They wrote the river ". . . passes thro' butifull extensive vallee, rich & fertile and at this time covered with Buffalow, Elk & antelopes, which may be Seen also in any other direction in this quarter" (Clark, April 22, 1805).
Like the Serengeti of Africa, large game was found roaming by millions, and consequently supporting large numbers of Indians. Even smaller animals were abundant, such as the black-tailed prairie dog found living in large colonies all across the plains. Throughout their journals we are treated to a view of America west of the Mississippi River. The land they saw was inhabited by mammals in superabundance, and when we read their journals we can almost hear bison grunting and elk whistling, and feel the ground shake.

Species Common Name
Taxidea taxus American Badger
Bison bison American Bison, American Buffalo
Castor canadensis Beaver
Ovis canadensis Bighorn Sheep
Cynomys ludovicianus Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Lynx rufus Bobcat
Ursus arctos Brown Bear
Neotoma cinerea Bushy-tailed Wood Rat
Spermophilus columbianus Columbian Ground Squirrel
Canis latrans Coyote
Sylvilagus audubonii Desert Cottontail
Tamiasciurus douglasii Douglas's Squirrel
Neotoma floridana Eastern Wood Rat
Cervus elaphus Elk
Mustela erminea Ermine
Martes pennanti Fisher
Canis lupus Gray Wolf
Phoca vitulina Harbor Seal
Mustela frenata Long-tailed Weasel
Alces alces Moose
Aplodontia rufa Mountain Beaver
Oreamnos americanus Mountain Goat
Odocoileus hemionus Mule Deer, Black-tailed Deer
Erethizon dorsatum North American Porcupine
Thomomys talpoides Northern Pocket Gopher
Blarina brevicauda Northern Short-tailed Shrew
Antilocapra americana Pronghorn
Puma concolor Puma, Cougar, Panther, Mountain Lion, Catamount (archaic)
Procyon lotor Raccoon
Vulpes vulpes Red Fox
Tamiasciurus hudsonicus Red Squirrel
Enhydra lutris Sea Otter
Mephitis mephitis Striped Skunk
Vulpes velox Swift Fox or Kit Fox
Spermophilus tridecemlineatus Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
Tamias townsendii Townsend's Chipmunk
Scapanus townsendii Townsend's Mole
Sciurus griseus Western Gray Squirrel
Odocoileus virginianus White-tailed Deer
Lepus townsendii White-tailed Jack Rabbit
Marmota flaviventris Yellow-bellied Marmot

Image Display <EM>Neotoma floridana</EM>
Neotoma floridana

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