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  The horse was an even bigger ally to the increasing number of european settlers spreading out across the continent. They killed millions of bison for their meat and hides. By the mid-s the horse and the cowboy had come to symbolise the wild west. And of course, with the cowboys came cattle. As the bison quickly vanished from the landscape, cattle filled their place. Meanwhile increasing numbers of the tame horses escaped into the wild. These feral horses became known by the spanish name: Mustang. They put extra pressure on the dwindling bison numbers by competing for their grazing sites and drinking holes. Mustangs formed social groups led by a dominant stallion, echoing their prehistoric relatives that lived here during the ice age. Bred to carry the weight of a rider, mustangs are larger than those early wild horses but they still display the same kind of behaviour. By the early s the wild horse was well and truly back in north Game. But how did other wildlife on the continent survive alongside growing human populations? Some wild creatures did the reverse of mustangs by becoming tame and choosing to live close to people. The purple martin became an unofficial mascot for native inhabitants in the eastern half of the continent. Here people erected special nesting sites to encourage the birds to stay. Where purple martins had once laid their eggs in hollow trees, in time they came to rely almost totally on people to provide nests for them. These artificial nests were made from dried out squashes known as gourds. The shape made them perfect nesting sites for these birds. But what triggered this special relationship in the first place? It’s possible the insect-eating martins helped to control pests living around native Gamen camps. Whatever the original reason, the traditional tie between people and purple martins survives to this day. But now in keeping with the modern world, hollow gourds have often been replaced by high-rise apartment blocks. This special relationship between purple martins and people is one of the few in north Game to cross cultural boundaries between native groups and european settlers.


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