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To Save the Wild Bison: Life on the Edge in Yellowstone Hardcover – September 6, 2005


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To Save the Wild Bison: Life on the Edge in Yellowstone + Restoring a Presence: American Indians and Yellowstone National Park + Roadside Geology of Yellowstone Country (Roadside Geology Series)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wild bison, better known as buffalo, are closely associated with this country's natural heritage, yet little attention is paid to the fact that most are no longer truly wild. In this lucid account of the controversy over how to maintain the bison in Yellowstone National Park, Franke (Yellowstone in the Afterglow: Lessons from the Fires) shows that keeping the animals in natural conditions is almost impossible. Park officials must balance competing interests—Indian tribes for whom the bison are an important religious symbol; environmentalists who oppose any control of the bison's movements; property owners who suffer when the animals roam outside the park; ranchers who fear the bison will transmit disease to cattle. Many management policies have been tried: the bison's movements are monitored; diseased animals are culled; wanderers found outside the park's boundaries are slaughtered. All these activities threaten the wild bison in Yellowstone—not with extinction, but with loss of their wildness. The author considers each option in depth, finding that so far there are no satisfactory solutions. She does, however, present plenty of food for thought as she explores the ramifications of humankind's desire and ability to control natural processes. 26 b&w illus., 4 maps. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

The only truly wild bison left in the U.S. are in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone's bison descend from fewer than 100 animals, the last free-roaming bison in the country, and are untainted by crossbreeding with cattle. From the early 1900s to the 1960s, the bison were managed by culling the herds, but from then on the idea of natural control has taken hold and bison numbers have grown. At some point early in the last century, bison were infected with the cattle disease brucellosis, which causes spontaneous abortion. The stage was now set for the conflict--Yellowstone's growing bison herd, members of which sometimes leave the park in winter to find food, versus Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho's cattle industries, which don't want possibly infected bison to come into contact with their cattle. Franke, a nine-year employee of Yellowstone, writes an in-depth history of the bison controversy, covering both the ecological and political aspects and all sides of the question. Nancy Bent
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806136839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806136837
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,458,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In the 1990s, many people were horrified by TV pictures of hunters and Montana state officials shooting bison as they wandered out of Yellowstone National Park. Acting on behalf of its ranching industry, which fears that bison - - but, interestingly, not elk - - will transmit brucellosis to their cattle. Over a thousand bison have been killed this way in the last decade or so.

If you want to know how we ended up in this position, this is the book for you. Franke provides a history of Yellowstone's bison, park management of those bison, and the policies of other federal and state agencies that have led to the annual bison slaughter. She covers the topic well, and takes a critical stance toward all the players involved.

Though Franke makes her own views clear, there is enough information her for you to disagree with her - - the mark of a good book, to my mind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Constantelos on November 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
You can get lost in the swim of this book sometimes; it is dense with facts. You might find yourself skipping paragraphs here and there, but if you persist you will find yourself much the better for reading it. I feel like I've just completed a college course in the history and issues of wild bison management.

The book starts out tracing a history of the species and humans, going in detail through the 19th century and moving into the national parks era. Along the way, bison behavior is touched upon, and various figures and their opinions about how bison should be living in Yellowstone are detailed. Franke inserts wry comments here and there about illogical statements made by interested parties, but generally takes a thoroughly objective tone in her reporting. Although we might suspect where her sympathies lie, all are held to close, critical scrutiny.

As we approach the present day, she discusses specific issues, such as the interminable battle between wildlife managers and cattlemen over brucellosis, snowmobiles and roads in Yellowstone, relations between bison and their predators (including humans), and the desires of Native Americans. The author pauses to wonder about brucellosis as an invasive species and what implications this has for management, she asks what "wild" is and what it could mean for the bison, she considers risk management and trade-offs. This kind of pondering crops up at unexpected points in the book, and is always interesting.

The relentless tracking of the numbers of bison wandering out of the park, how many were slaughtered for meat, how many killed in futile attempts to eliminate brucellosis (elks get a somewhat suspect pass in this, by the way), etc., etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jd103 on January 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I started working seasonally in Yellowstone last year and have been reading a lot of related books to learn more about the park and park issues. This is my favorite of the Yellowstone books I have read so far. Although it is focused on bison, it glances at many other topics because of how bison are or were affected--park history, groomed winter roads and snowmobiles, Indians, tourists and predators.

The major topic is certainly brucellosis because of the major effect it has on the lives of Yellowstone bison. It's actually not the disease but the reactions of the various special interest groups involved which leads to the deaths of many bison. Since this book is over five years old and this is a constantly changing issue, it would be great to see an updated paperback edition published.

The author has worked as an associate editor on the park periodical Yellowstone Science, but is quite willing to criticize park policies along with those of other governmental and private groups. Her strong opinions are wittily delivered and help make this a very enjoyable book.
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By ejuly on September 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book reads more like a textbook; not reading material to be lightly scanned as fiction. The content is interesting and worthwhile. The book arrived on time and in very good condition. Thanks.
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