"Most of the game was slaughtered out of the country"
American Bison skull pile (c. 1870)
Public DomainAmerican Bison skull pile (c. 1870) - Credit: Burton Historical Society

The decimation of the wolf’s historical prey began with the commercial hunting and slaughter of the American Bison (or Buffalo) by European settlers, which drove the animal to near extinction during the 19th century. By the turn of the 20th century, human hunting had also severely reduced deer and elk numbers.

As a result, many wolves were left with no recourse but to attack domestic cattle; a situation which would in turn lead to those attempts to eliminate the Mexican Wolf from the wild.