One Park Does Not a Recovered Species Make

Instead of making amends for the historic mistreatment of these sociable, benevolent souls, twenty-first-century Montanans are still laying waste to them.

Exposing the Big Game

Ignorance must be such sweet bliss for anyone who visits Yellowstone National Park and thinks the wildlife they see there represents fully recovered populations of some of North America’s most endangered species. Sorry to say, one park does not a recovered species make. For all its size, spectacularity and relative biodiversity, Yellowstone is little more than an island in an anthropogenic wasteland to much of its megafauna.

If ranchers and hunters had their way, wolves and grizzlies would be restricted to the confines of the park. Ranchers already have such a death-grip on Montana’s wildlife that bison are essentially marooned and forced to stay within park borders, battling snow drifts no matter how harsh the winter, despite an instinctual urge to migrate out of the high country during heavy snow winters.

Though Yellowstone is synonymous with the shaggy bovines, bison would prefer to spend their winters much further downriver, on…

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