Wildlife Management - An Evolving Idea

Prairie landscape with bison in the foreground
Prairie Scene with Bison

NPS Photo

The view seen at Wind Cave National Park has not always been a serene prairie with bison peacefully grazing on the rolling hills. Wind Cave National Park is a work in progress. It is a project that began in 1903 with the establishment of the national park and continues to this day.
Painting illustrating men shooting bison from a train
Hunting Bison from a Train

NPS Photo Archive

Pre-Western Expansion

The journey began as an attempt to restore pieces of the North American prairie to what it had been. To early people, the prairie was an endless sea of grass teeming with wildlife.

Darkness on the Prairie

The last half of the 19th century saw catastrophic reductions in both the wildlife and the prairie. By 1900, bison were nearly extinct and the numbers of pronghorn antelope and elk were seriously declining. It was out of these dark days that the beginnings of wildlife management was born.

Side-by-side image of hunters at the end of the 19th Century (left) and bison heads on display (right)
Hunters at the End of the 19th Century (left)    Bison Heads (right)

NPS Photo Archives


Last updated: December 11, 2018

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Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


(605) 745-4600

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