Are We Loving Yellowstone to Death?

As rural development pushes deeper into wild animals’ habitats, the park’s precious ecosystem is facing new threats.

Just a few miles south of Bozeman, Montana, in the rolling foothills of the Gallatin Range, spacious dream homes pepper the landscape. Forty years ago, wapiti, the Shawnee name for elk, poured out of the mountains in December and spent winters grazing in farmers’ alfalfa fields.

Today an ever expanding human footprint weighs on these hills, as it does on many corners of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where public and private lands intersect. The Greater Yellowstone’s 22.6 million acres include both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, plus national forests, wildlife refuges, and surrounding chunks of 21st-century America: highways, towns, parking lots, malls, and suburbs.

Dennis Glick, founder of conservation group Future West, assesses the scene.

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