Where Elk Roam

Conservation and Biopolitics of Our National Elk Herd

Globe Pequot/Lyons Press
ISBN: 978-0-7627-7074-8
Softcover: 272 pages
October 2011


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The book is for anyone interested in:

  • The biology and conservation of elk

  • Elk hunting

  • Predator-prey relationships

  • The work of wildlife biologists in sustaining wildlife

  • How economic and political considerations can over-ride science in the formulation of resource policy


Where Elk Roam is the first book published for a general audience about the elk of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, since Olaus Murie’s Elk of North America 60 years ago.   This first person account mixes personal stories and field experiences of the National Elk Refuge biologist (1982-2004) with the details of this iconic elk herd’s ecology, and the role that socio-economics plays in its management and conservation.  The narrative centers on the winter feeding program, designed to sustain more elk than the winter range can support, and the consequences to habitat, biodiversity, and the health of the elk from crowding thousands of animals on feedgrounds each winter.


The author worked for 22 years at the National Elk Refuge, coordinating winter feeding of 8,000 elk and tracking their births, deaths, and annual migrations throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  The book brings to life the joys and rewards of working with elk and other magnificent species—including bears, mountain lions, and wolves—and it entertains and educates while also moving readers toward active participation in conservation.


Where Elk Roam was honored in 2012 with a Montana Book Award 


What others are saying about Where Elk Roam:

Bruce Smith, who spent 22 years as the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s biologist at the National Elk Refuge, tells its story with the bark off. His job required consummate skills as a biologist, scientist, social scientist, synthesizer, and politician. Now in retirement he tells it like it is and was. He uses a fascinating style of dealing with all those factors through a first person accounting and interpretation of events as they took place. And, he ponders the future of supplemental feeding of wintering elk as a management technique as nobody else could – or even dares. —Jack Ward Thomas, University of Montana Professor Emeritus and Chief of the US Forest Service

What one gets in Where Elk Roam is one of those rare gems of insight on wildlife biology most of us struggle a career for, but Smith has bound it all up nicely between two covers in a very readable and forthright way.
Douglas Smith, author of Decade of the Wolf