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As one of the world's largest and most social deer species, elk are of immense interest to wildlife enthusiasts. Their 500-800-pound tawny bodies, sweeping antlers, and fascinating behaviors draw millions to seek them in national parks and other public lands. So valued are elk for viewing, sport, and table fare, that over the past twenty-five years elk were transplanted from the West to five Eastern states and Ontario, Canada. These reintroductions helped restore a treasured animal that as recently as two centuries ago roamed from Atlantic to Pacific coasts and Alaska to Mexico.
Where Elk Roam provides an inside look at the field studies and conservation work of a federal wildlife scientist who for twenty-two years served as the National Elk Refuge's wildlife biologist, coordinating winter feeding of 8000 elk and tracking their births, deaths, and annual migrations throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It brings to life the joys and rewards of working with elk and other magnificent species – including wolves, bears, and mountain lions – and it entertains and educates while also moving readers toward active participation in conservation.
Bruce Smith is a wildlife biologist and science writer. He spent most of his 30-year federal career managing wildlife populations on the Wind River Indian Reservation and the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming. His research produced over 40 technical and popular papers and book chapters focused primarily on large mammal population dynamics, habitat ecology, diseases, migratory behavior, and predator-prey relationships.
After a combat tour with the US Marines in Vietnam, Bruce earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Montana. His Master's research concerned winter ecology of American mountain goats in Montana's Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. Half-way through his government career, he investigated population regulation of the Jackson elk herd in Wyoming for his doctorate degree from the University of Wyoming.
His first book, Imperfect Pasture (2004), records changes in the ecology of the National Elk Refuge during its 100-year history. Wildlife on the Wind (2010) is based on his four years working with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indian tribes. At their request, he catalogued the status of the reservation's diverse wildlife and helped foster a landmark recovery of elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope. His latest book, Where Elk Roam: Conservation and Biopolitics of Our National Elk Herd (2011), chronicles his 22 years studying and managing Jackson Hole's famous migratory elk herd.
And in 2014, look for Life on the Rocks: A Portrait of the American Mountain Goat. This will be a continental look at the natural history and conservation challenges of Bruce's favorite mammal. A large format book with dozens of color photographs accompanying the text, it will be published by University Press of Colorado.
After leaving the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2004, Bruce and his wife Diana moved to southwest Montana where he continues his conservation work and writing.