I'm in Yellowstone National Park reporting on bison issues for NPR and for my forthcoming podcast, Threshold.
So...what are "bison issues?"
In a nutshell: after being restored from near-extinction, Yellowstone bison have now recovered to the extent that they need to migrate out of the park to find food in the winter. Because many (but not all) local landowners do not want bison on their property, eating their grass and potentially spreading disease to their cattle, many of the animals are killed when they leave the park. There are many who say these conflicts can be mitigated -- they believe bison and cattle can co-exist. But the will to make that happen seems to be lacking. Park officials say between 600 and 900 bison may be killed when they leave Yellowstone National Park this year. Bison advocates says this is way too many killed. Bison opponents say it's not nearly enough.
I'm here to explore this issue from all sides. I'm talking to ranchers, bison advocates, two of the preeminent bison biologists in the world (Rick Wallen and Dustin Ranglack), park visitors, Native Americans from various tribes -- everyone who will talk to me.
I already knew I was passionate about telling this story, but now I really can't wait to start crafting everything I've been learning and absorbing into what I hope will be a substantive, fair, scientifically sound and emotionally empathetic series, to be released as season one of Threshold next fall.
In the meantime, here are some photos from the week.
P.S. This kind of investigative journalism takes a lot of time. If you'd like to support this work, here's how you can help.