• Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

I was born in Ohio in 1931, where the most spectacular extinction episode imaginable had come to a horrid end only 17 years earlier in the Cincinnati Zoo. In 1800 there were 5 billion passenger pigeons in the United States, and in 1914 there were zero. Many pigeons died in planned slaughters.

How did that, and dozens of other holocausts, with final results being zeroes forever, occur in my Ohio birthplace?

A leading cause was the destruction of diverse habitats.  Invading human locusts or army ants, if you please, including my ancestors, ravaged the trees. Ohio in 1800 had 70 percent tree cover. In 1940, nine years after my birth, 10 percent tree cover. No trees, no wild community.

Who became extinct or missing in Ohio, never to return as members of a wild community? In addition to the passenger pigeon, buffalo, elk, wolf, black bear, cougar, and lynx?

above images sourced from

I have just visited the Wildlife Prairie State Park, just east of Peoria, IL, which seeks to present the story of species departed from Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

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