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The ecological future of the North American bison: Conceiving long-term, large-scale conservation of a species

January 1, 2008

Many wide-ranging mammal species have experienced significant declines over the last 200 years; restoring these species will require long-term, large-scale recovery efforts. We highlight 5 attributes of a recent range-wide vision-setting exercise for ecological recovery of the North American bison (Bison bison) that are broadly applicable to other species and restoration targets. The result of the exercise, the “Vermejo Statement” on bison restoration, is explicitly (1) large scale, (2) long term, (3) inclusive, (4) fulfilling of different values, and (5) ambitious. It reads, in part, “Over the next century, the ecological recovery of the North American bison will occur when multiple large herds move freely across extensive landscapes within all major habitats of their historic range, interacting in ecologically significant ways with the fullest possible set of other native species, and inspiring, sustaining and connecting human cultures.” We refined the vision into a scorecard that illustrates how individual bison herds can contribute to the vision. We also developed a set of maps and analyzed the current and potential future distributions of bison on the basis of expert assessment. Although more than 500,000 bison exist in North America today, we estimated they occupy <1% of their historical range and in no place express the full range of ecological and social values of previous times. By formulating an inclusive, affirmative, and specific vision through consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, we hope to provide a foundation for conservation of bison, and other wide-ranging species, over the next 100 years.

Publication Year 2008
Title The ecological future of the North American bison: Conceiving long-term, large-scale conservation of a species
DOI 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00899.x
Authors E.W. Sanderson, Kent Redford, Bill Weber, K. Aune, Dick Baldes, J. Berger, Dave Carter, C. Curtin, James N. Derr, S.J. Dobrott, Eva Fearn, Craig Fleener, Steven C. Forrest, Craig Gerlach, C. Cormack Gates, J.E. Gross, P. Gogan, Shaun M. Grassel, Jodi A. Hilty, Marv Jensen, Kyran Kunkel, Duane Lammers, R. List, Karen Minkowski, Tom Olson, Chris Pague, Paul B. Robertson, Bob Stephenson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Biology
Index ID 70160348
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center