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Wildlife on the Wind details the common fate shared by large mammal herds and Native peoples as Euro-American expansion swept the American West. As both were exploited and removed from much of the land, Indian tribes were sequestered on reservations where impoverished herds of deer, elk, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep and no bison remained. The story focuses on two of these Indian nations, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho and how their cultures and lifestyles forever were changed by the loss of their nomadic hunting economy. In 1978, the tribal councils petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help them recover their wildlife heritage. Wildlife on the Wind recounts how the first wildlife biologist to work on the Wind River Indian Reservation helped the Shoshone and Arapaho people change the course of conservation. In addition to a story of hope, perseverance, and restoration of charismatic wildlife, it's also a biologist's personal journey to understanding the true purpose of his work. This landmark conservation achievement is the first on an American Indian reservation to be published for a general audience.
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.
"The urgent task of restoring nature must of necessity be carried out by dedicated people who give themselves over to knowing and loving particular places. Bruce Smith is one of those people, and his account vividly illustrates both the hard work of healing and the success that can come when that work pays off."
– Peter Friederici, author of Nature's Restoration
"Combining history, biology, and memoir, Smith evokes the challenges of one of conservation's least sung professions – the wildlife biologist. In the process, he also recounts an exciting story of how Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation restored its wildlife."
– Ted Kerasote, author of Heart of Home: People, Wildlife, and Place