History and Status of Wild Ungulate Populations on the Northern Yellowstone Range
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CitationMosley, J. C., & Mundinger, J. G. (2018). History and Status of Wild Ungulate Populations on the Northern Yellowstone Range. Rangelands, 40(6), 189-201.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
AbstractNative bison and elk co-dominate the assemblage of wild ungulates on the Northern Range, one of the largest and most diverse assemblages of wild ungulates in the western hemisphere. The elk population on the Northern Range in 2018 is 30% larger than the natural, primeval population. The Northern Range bison population in 2018 is 10 times (1,000%) larger than the natural, primeval population. It is unlikely that bison and elk populations inside Yellowstone National Park will be reduced by increased predation by wolves, grizzly bears, or mountain lions because the populations of these carnivores are unlikely to increase - they are controlled currently by intraspecific competition for territory. National Park Service policy requires human intervention (i.e., active management) when unnaturally high numbers of native animals and their negative impacts are caused by humans. The unnaturally high numbers of bison and elk on the Northern Range today resulted from modern-day management decisions based on a misguided paradigm that did not acknowledge the ecological importance of hunting by Native Americans. We suggest that National Park Service personnel work collaboratively with federal, tribal, state, and private partners to develop an adaptive management strategy to purposely restore Northern Range bison and elk populations to their natural, primeval sizes.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Society for Range Management. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).