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Crossing Park Boundaries: Challenges to Bison Conservation at Yellowstone National Park

Authors: Randall Wilson*, Gettysburg College
Topics: Natural Resources, Animal Geographies, United States
Keywords: national parks, Yellowstone, bison, wildlife conservation,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Historical migrations of plains bison have always transgressed the 19th century political jurisdictions imposed by the westward colonial expansion of American society, including the establishment of the nation’s first national park at Yellowstone. But efforts to conserve and re-establish Yellowstone’s native bison populations triggered the construction of new social and political barriers by opponents, while at the same time producing new opportunities and incentives for transboundary cross-fertilization in ecological and cultural terms among advocates, including environmental scientists and indigenous peoples. This paper critically examines the history of bison conservation in Yellowstone National Park as a study in boundary crossings and conflicts across spatial, historical and multi-faceted conceptual dimensions. Findings underscore the profound ways in which the different geographical spaces bison occupy are demarcated by diverse social, cultural, political and ecological boundaries that range in scale from transnational landscapes to the microbial.

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