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American Bison

Today’s Endangered All-Star: The American Bison. Listed as “near threatened” on the IUCN’s Red List, the Center for Biological Diversity has nonetheless sued to list the bison on the Endangered Species List. Conservation threats include the shrinking of prairie ecosystems, the limited number of viable populations—most managed for commercial use—and the fact that the species is heavily dependent on conservation programs. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s American Bison Society is spearheading a program of continental-scale ecological restoration. A new book by Richard Manning, Rewilding the West: Restoration in a Prairie Landscape, explores the history of the Great Plains and highlights considerable progress made by the American Prairie Foundation, which is in the process of buying, leasing, and managing some 130,000 acres of land in northeastern Montana for bison recovery, aiming “to assemble a fully functioning ecosystem able to support a full complement of prairie-based wildlife.” The organization hopes that their “American Prairie Reserve” may one day rival Africa’s Serengeti.
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