The way William Cody got his nickname Buffalo Bill, was due to his role in railroad construction. He was hired to kill buffalo to provide food for railroad workers. He killed 4,280 buffalo in 17 months. At least they were being eaten; the US Army massacred buffalo on the frontier as a tactic to destroy the Native American population.
In the context of ranching, cowboys have degraded the environment through their herds. Over-grazing by cattle has and still does lead to environmental degradation, and in western states this is a contentious issue between ranchers and environmentalists. While intense cattle ranching can increase erosion, desertification, and loss of habitat, some ranchers argue that it is a matter of property rights and that what they do on their land is their own business.
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