Why grazing bison could be good for the planet – BBC News

American Prairie APR

American bison were hunted almost to extinction by European settlers. Now making a comeback, they could help reverse damage to prairies from decades of poor management.

It takes mettle to live on Montana’s shortgrass prairie. It’s dry, windy and a long way from anywhere. In summer, temperatures can top 100F (38C). In winter, the mercury plunges to -50F (-45C). In some spots, it is more than an hour’s drive on gravel roads to buy a loaf of bread. When you get back, grasshoppers start cannibalising their brethren impaled on your car grille.

Hila Shamon, a research ecologist with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington DC, has spent five years tracking the ecology of the remote grasslands.

She partners with American Prairie, a conservation organisation with parcels of land on either side of the million acre Charles M Russell National Wildlife Refuge, to study how bison are changing the ecosystem.


By Christopher J Preston

Why We Should Bring Back the Buffalo

This new chapter in our nation’s complicated and sometimes tortured history is poised to move beyond the restoration of a shaggy but majestic animal. If given a chance, the buffalo can lead us toward a long delayed reconciliation with the first people who inhabited the bounteous land we all now call home — and into a future every American can be proud of.

Mr. Duncan is the writer of the recent Ken Burns documentary “The American Buffalo.”

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