How ranchers and the bison they manage might save each other from extinction.
The evidence available to determine the history of bison ecology in the SLV is scant.
Aldo Leopold, considered by many the father of wildlife conservation and the wilderness system in America, once wrote of watching a wolf die when he was young.
The Nature Conservancy’s Chris Pague sat down with us at Bison Works 2018 to discuss the history of the Medano-Zapata herd, bison ecology, and the prospects for a future of wild bison.
What does it take to conserve a species whose original range once stretched uninterrupted across an entire continent?
Over the course of the summer of 2017, I tried to grapple with understanding the meaning of the ranching heritage of the West, and, given the history of irresponsible and destructive ranching practices on western rangelands, the unique ways that ambitious biodiversity conservation is able to coexist with for-profit livestock production at a large scale at Zapata.”
Duke Phillips could have been a “normal” rancher. Raised in northern Mexico in a second-generation ranching family, he came of age in a world where cowboys shot coyotes to protect their calves, ranches were grazed in their entirety year-round, and cattlemen were just that–men who raised cattle. The rancher-conservationist had yet to emerge. While the tide has been changing in recent years, with more and more farmers and ranchers embracing their role as land stewards, perhaps Phillips’ most radical act has been not just to join this growing group of agricultural conservationists, but, since the very beginning, to throw the doors open and invite others to observe and participate in the project for sustainable ranching.
Wrangler Frankie Zwick reflects on a season at Zapata capped off by a week with bison.
In order to maximize their efficiency and ensure the well-being of the herd, Duke and his crew have developed modern methods for the roundup.