Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2001


Published in Great Plains Research 11:1 (Spring 2001). Copyright © 2001 Center for Great Plains Studies.


Efforts to save remnant wild bison from extermination have resulted in the establishment of herds on private, public, and tribal lands. Ironically, their successful restoration has evolved into a profitable agricultural industry and a practical alternative to raising domestic cattle. Bison restoration actively managed by humans raises ecological, ethical, and evolutionary questions about whether we are compromising their native ability to function in a grasslands ecosystem. In this essay I examine current bison management practices, conflicting human values about land-use practices, and emerging land-use initiatives focusing on wild bison and ecosystem restoration in the northern Great Plains.