Re-Bisoning the West: Restoring an American Icon to the Landscape

Torrey House. Sept. 2019. 200p. maps. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781937226985. $18.95. NAT HIST
What is the American West without bison? For environmental journalist Repanshek, the question goes against not merely hundreds but thousands of years of history and culture, starting with the deeply spiritual bonds between bison and Native Americans. The sudden de-bisoning of the West—a tragic shift precipitated by the 19th-century arrival of white settlers, and with them new and unsustainable markets for bison as products or sport—was followed by various efforts at conservation and preservation, led by Charles “Buffalo” Jones, Theodore Roosevelt, William Temple Hornaday, and Charles Goodnight, among others. Repanshek breezes through these events and characters in the first half of his book to leave room in the second half for more modern chronicles of bison recovery and restoration. Legal battles, genetic analyses, ecological influences, and government jurisdiction all play a role in the future outlook of species. Despite this, for Repanshek, there is plenty of reason to hope.
VERDICT A fast-paced and readable look at the recent history and immediate future of bison in the American landscape. Recommended for those interested in conservation efforts, especially in the American West.

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