Our First Grizzly,
by General Custer & Dr Servheen
On this day in history - part 1:
“I have reached the highest rung on the hunters ladder of fame. I have killed my grizzly after a most exciting hunt & combat,” Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer boasted to his wife, Libbie Custer, after members of his “Headquarters” staff assisted in the slaying of a grizzly bear on the afternoon of August 7, 1874 during the incendiary 1874 Black Hills Expedition. It was, celebrated the
St. Paul Daily Pioneer, “the first grizzly bear ever shot by a white man in the Black Hills,” although it would have been more accurate to report “shot by white men.”
William H. Illingworth’s photograph immortalized the kill as “Our First Grizzly,” and he credited Custer and Chief Engineer William Ludlow as the great white hunters, whereas Custer’s brother-in-law, Lieutenant James Calhoun, added Custer’s orderly, Private John Noonan, and the Arikara scout,
Bloody Knife, to the list.
Our First Grizzly Newspaper:
130-years later the General is finally
informed on the issue!
A couple of miles south of present-day Nahant, South Dakota on the North Fork of Rapid Creek, Custer allegedly hit the grizzly in the thigh with his Remington sporting rifle from 75-yards. “On receiving the first shot he cocked himself up on his hind legs, and showing his huge teeth, he grinned in defiance; but like all who fight Custer, he was compelled to surrender,” gushed the Bismarck Tribune. Custer shot the grizzly again, and the bear’s “courteous invitations were only answered by cold lead,” confirmed the Pioneer, as the grizzly was peppered with bullets, three of them puncturing its body.
Not all who fought Custer were “compelled to surrender,” as he was to discover at the Little Bighorn two summers later when the Cheyenne and Lakota rewarded him for furrowing the Thieves Road into the Black Hills and avenged “Our First Grizzly.” Judging from the “Our First GOAL Newspaper” photograph, now even the General appears to have seen the light.
Delisting the Yellowstone grizzly will ensure that the criteria intended under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for recovery will never be met. As written, the Act requires a listed species to be returned to all major tracts of its original range before it can be considered recovered.
The grizzly presently hangs by a thread on between two to four percent of its historic range pre-European contact, which, not even somebody as prone to creative interpretation as Custer was, should be able to sell as “recovered.”
That would be you, Dr. Servheen.
The quarters of Custer's contemporary at Fort Laramie, not to be confused with the office of Wyoming Game and Fish Director, Scott Talbott.
'Our First Grizzly - not even someone as prone to reinterpretation as Custer should be able to sell grizzlies as 'recovered'.
That would be you, Dr Servheen.'