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The park provided Wahb a peaceful refuge, a place where he was safe from his most dangerous foe, man.Seton wrote, “In the limits of this great Wonderland…no violence was to be offered to any bird or beast, no ax was to be carried into its primitive forests, and the streams were to flow on forever unpolluted by mill or mine…this was the West before the white man came.” Wahb and other species of wildlife discovered that Yellowstone provided a sanctuary.Animals that strayed too far up this gulch seemed to be poisoned by the pungent fumes from the geothermal fissures in the gulch.As more and more animals were asphyxiated, grizzly bears, looking for an easy meal, also entered the gulch and succumbed to the poisoned air.One of the bear carcasses, a large silvertip grizzly, “was carefully examined for bullet holes or other marks of injury,” wrote Weed, “but [the grizzly] showed no traces of violence, the only indication being a few drops of blood under the nose.” After examining the carcasses and exploring the upper reaches of the gulch, Weed theorized, “It was apparent that these animals, as well as the squirrels and insects, had not met their death by violence, but had been asphyxiated by the irrespirable gas given off in the gulch.” Wahb’s territory covered the northwest part of Wyoming. King, and documented his trip in an article for Appelton’s Popular Science Monthly.He ranged as far as Cache Creek, south of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley to the Greybull River Valley southwest of Cody, Wyoming. Jagger and King climbed “through this trough, a frightfully weird and dismal place, utterly without life, and occupied by only a tiny streamlet and an appalling odor.” As the men worked their way up the gulch, they noticed “some brown furry masses lying scattered about the floor of the ravine….They no longer shun the face of man; they neither fear nor attack him; and they are even more tolerant of one another in this land of refuge.” Despite Seton’s description of the park as a place where man and beast observed a neutral stance, Burt and I cautiously watched for any sign of Wahb’s living counterparts as we hiked up the trail along Cache Creek (a tributary of the Lamar River ) towards Death Gulch.
Ernest Thompson-Seton detailed the exciting life of the fictional Wahb in his book , and in 1900, the three articles appeared together in print as a small book.Seton closed the story with Wahb’s death from poisonous fumes released from the geothermal area known as Death Gulch.At the time Seton wrote his account of Wahb, scientists still puzzled over this strange and macabre feature.Seton’s story follows the exploits of Wahb from his birth in the upper Greybull River Valley of Wyoming to his death in Yellowstone National Park.Although Seton’s tale of Wahb is characterized as fiction, Seton based many of Wahb’s experiences on true grizzly bear stories.
“They soon learned the boundaries of this unfenced Park,” Seton explained.