WCS at 120: Then and Now, Conservation Action Takes a Movement

Emilio Cogliani

In 1907 the American Bison Society arranged for 15 bison donated by the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) to be shipped by railway from the Bronx Zoo to the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve in Oklahoma to begin the work of restoring the Western Plains’ depleted bison population – reduced in the preceding half-century from well over 20 million to a mere 23 animals in the wild.

2015-05-01-1430502822-36805-WCS_JBurrell_bisonandGrandTetonsmall.jpg
In the late 19th century, bison numbers in the American West plummeted from well over 20 million to a mere 23 animals in the wild. Photo by Jeff Burrell ©WCS.

The shipment was an extraordinary achievement – the start of what would become the first successful organized conservation effort to save a species from extinction. In the ensuing decades the wild bison population would rebound to close to 25,000, with another quarter million maintained as managed herds in every state in the…

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