Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Donald J. Berg


A combination of factors culminated in the near demise of the North American bison in the late 19th century. The establishment of permanent state and federal sanctuaries in the United States and Canada brought the bison back from the brink of extinction. Public and private nuclei herds in South Dakota played key roles in the redistribution and proliferation of the animal throughout its renaissance. Since the beginning of the renaissance (1900), the buffalo population underwent two distinct distributional and growth transitions; the first was the "secondary recovery" which occurred between 1943 and 1945, and the second was the tremendous increase in private production and exponential population growth between 1990 and 1995. The Poppers' "Buffalo Commons" idea has had little overall impact on buffalo distribution as of today. However, it created controversy which precipitated a number of alternative land-use proposals across the Great Plains. Distressed counties within South Dakota were delimited, and a proposal was set forth whereby land management cooperatives like the "Mal Pai borderlands group" be formed. Marginal grassland ecotones may be managed in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner by reintroducing native grasses, incorporating bison grazing and utilizing prescribed burning regimes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

American bison -- South Dakota -- Geographical distribution
American bison -- South Dakota -- History




South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright