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Theodore Roosevelt & Bison Restoration on the Great Plains


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About the Author

After a thirty-one-year career with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, Keith Aune served as director of bison programs and a conservation fellow for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bozeman, Montana. Following an award-winning career, Glenn Plumb recently retired as chief wildlife biologist of the National Park Service. Glenn currently serves as the chair of the American Bison Specialist Group for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Aune and Plumb provide a concise yet descriptive history of the American bison and the dedicated conservationists, with President Theodore Roosevelt as the central figure, determined to save it from extinction. The book details the almost unfathomable decline of North America's most iconic mammal, a species that once numbered over 30 million animals but was driven to the brink of extinction within 40 years. To give readers a sense of the enormity of this loss, the authors note that during the height of the bison slaughter the equivalent of two animals were killed every minute of every day for 40 years! Pat Thomas Wildlife Conservation Society at Bronx Zoo
"This book is simply pure and unadulterated pleasure. For anyone interested in how conservation truly works, or how a vision dovetails with reality, Bison Restoration reveals the necessity of a committed yet composite array of players requisite for success. In this case, that victory, one that is still unfolding, spans parts of three centuries. Authors Aune and Plumb have done us all a great service. They've removed obstacles - garnering perspectives from industry and indigenous Americans such as Leroy Little Bear, to biodiversity specialists like Kent Redford, and from ardent female conservationists to historians. In a world bereft with so many modern problems, Bison Restoration shows us there can be hope far beyond that of America's newly proclaimed national mammal."

Joel Berger - author; Bison (1994) and Extreme Conservation (2018)
"This book is a major contribution to the historical accounts of bison. As leaders of the modern American Bison Society, the authors draw upon the letters, records and photographs of the founders of the society to tell the conservation story and its historical context. The book also tells of the adoption of the bison as our national mammal. Current restoration efforts and prospects for the future carry the account from the 19th into the 21st century. Several brief essays by other authors provide insight into Native American culture, the conservation philosophy of Theodore Roosevelt, and the Templeton bison genome derived from a Yellowstone National Park bison bull. The role of women in the conservation story is also high-lighted. This small volume ties the eras of the plain's bison cultures, that of Theodore Roosevelt and William Hornaday, and current restoration efforts together. It is a must read for all interested in our national mammal. The book also brought memories to me of my childhood weekends roaming on the Roosevelt Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota and hearing the living stories from old-timers in the area." Harold Picton Montana State University Department of Ecology
"The world is lucky that bison still exist in North America, though today's numbers represent a mere fraction of the number that once thundered across the Great Plains. Keith Aune and Glenn Plumb, who themselves are key leaders in advancing conservation of bison, chronicle the recent history of bison and their relationships with different people. Through the power of story, they remind us of the significance of bison. They tell of the terrible devastation of the great herds and almost extinction. They trace the emergence of a conservation ethic in the early 1900s to efforts to restore bison, and they frame the challenges and opportunities to further conservation of bison in the 21stCentury. The wealth of knowledge and stories of the two authors as well as the stories from and about many others add a wonderfully personal dimension. We are fortunate to have a carefully researched and accessible book that allows us to fully understand the American bison through time. All who care about North America conservation and bison, from biologists and managers to politicians and the public, should read this outstanding piece." Dr. Jodi Hilty. Conservation Scientist and Executive Director of Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative.

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