The First “Experiment”: 1878–1923

Frederic H. Wagner

in Yellowstone's Destabilized Ecosystem

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780195148213
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199790449 | DOI:
 The First “Experiment”: 1878–1923

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The natural-regulation hypothesis' denial that the northern herd rose to 20,000-35,000 between the 1880s and early 1900s is refuted by three lines of evidence: (1) a “reliable estimate” in 1914 of the northern herd at 27,800; (2) annual hunting kills outside the park boundary conservatively at 3,500 each year between 1918-1920, implying a herd of 70,000 if they were 5% of the herd, 35,000 if they were 10% of the herd (measured hunting removals averaged 3.7% in the 1920s, 6.9% in the 1930s); and (3) the herd rose to a census-corrected estimate of 21,660-25,920 in the 1980s and 90s, implying that it could have risen to these levels in the early 1900s with more favorable forage conditions.

Keywords: northern herd; natural-regulation hypothesis; animal hunting; measured hunting

Chapter.  3626 words. 

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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