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Restoring Native Species to the Northern Great Plains

Two hundred years ago, bison, pronghorn and black-footed ferrets thrived across the Northern Great Plains. While mapping and exploring the region, Lewis and Clark were awestruck, noting the "immence [sic] herds of Buffaloe [sic] deer Elk and Antelopes which we saw in every direction feeding on the hills and plains." Many mammal species we now think of as forest-dwelling once roamed the grasslands as well, including grizzly bears, cougars, wolves and even beaver. While this diversity of wildlife is not lost from the plains, it is far less abundant than it once was. Our guest, wildlife biologist Patrick Lendrum, is helping to restore them to their native habitat as science lead for WWF’s Northern Great Plains Program. Based in Bozeman, Patrick heads a WWF team of conservationists supporting sustainable ranching practices and black-footed ferret and bison restoration. Patrick will highlight several plains species and share examples where wildlife is returning to the region either on its own or with human intervention. He will also share research findings from a long-term cougar study that took place in and around Grand Teton National Park. Observing wildlife interactions among cougars and other animals in mountain ecosystems can provide insight to what grasslands relationships might have looked like, and may again someday.


Originally presented January 25, 2021
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