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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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 BentCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved