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Market hunters were commercial hunters, who exploited animals as a natural resource, for both money and economic development. They were primarily made up of white or sometimes the Metis or other mixed-race (one parent of white or black lineage and the other parent, often the mother, of American Indian/Native American lineage) hunters who organized themselves into factory type groups of people to systematically depopulate an area of any valuable wildlife over a short period of time. Some of the animals which were hunted included bison, deer, many different birds, waterfowl/ducks, geese, pigeons, various seals and walrus, various fish, river mussels and clams. They were divided up into the actual hunters, the skinners, the butchers all the way down to the marketers of the fur, feathers, shells, blubber, meat, etc. to easterners and also Europeans, except for the buffalo meat that the white market hunters left on the dead animal to spoil on the plains, after only taking primarily the fur and skin (for robes and very strong and tough leather) also the tongue, which is a delicacy in eastern restaurants.
Market hunters were responsible for the devastation of the many wildlife populations in a given area. However as a result of commercial market hunting and severe wildlife depopulation, laws were slowly passed to greatly limit the total number of animals and birds taken at one time. Eventually hunting seasons were also set up to further conserve the wildlife and allow a certain amount of recovery and re-population to occur.