Defining Moments - National Game Preserve
The decision to expand the role of the park with the establishment of the nearby Wind Cave National Game Preserve in 1912
One of the symbols of the American west, the bison, was near extinction as the twentieth century began. At the insistence of the National Bison Society, a search was begun to find suitable habitat where bison could be reintroduced to help preserve the species. In 1912, Congress set aside land adjacent to Wind Cave to form the Wind Cave National Game Preserve. The establishment of this preserve, an area incorporated into the park in 1935, signaled a change of philosophy. This decision significantly expanded the park's mission from solely protecting a cave to also protecting surface resources, and it allowed the park to serve as a sanctuary for the reintroduction of elk and pronghorn.