Endangered Species Handbook

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It's Too Late

Epitaphs for North America's Lost Species and Environments

     After the loss of the majority of large Pleistocene mammals, native peoples in North America became conservationists of the remaining wildlife and the continent's environment.  Many tribal religions deified animals and believed they embodied the spirits of their people.  They hunted and fished on a subsistence basis.  This resulted in relatively few animal extinctions over the tens of thousands of years that passed before settlement by Europeans in the 16th century.  The land that awaited new settlers was spectacular in its beauty and abundance of wildlife.  Over the next three centuries, however, an unprecedented level of slaughter and drastic environmental alteration destroyed many of these natural treasures.

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