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

Image Display <em>Procyon lotor</em>
Procyon lotor

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