Wildlife on the Wind

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A Field Biologist’s Journey and an Indian Reservation’s Renewal

Utah State University Press
ISBN 978-0-87421-791-9
Hardcover: 227 pages, $29.95
e-book: $24.00
November 2010

Wildlife on the Wind is the first book published about wildlife restoration on an American Indian reservation.  The book details the common fate shared by Native peoples and large mammal herds that sustained them as Euro-American expansion irredeemably changed the American West.

The story focuses on two of these Indian nations, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho and how their cultures and lifestyles forever were changed by the loss of their nomadic hunting economy.  In 1978, the tribal councils petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help them recover their wildlife heritage. Wildlife on the Wind recounts how the first wildlife biologist to work on the Wind River Indian Reservation helped the Shoshone and Arapaho people change the course of conservation.

In addition to a story of hope, perseverance, and restoration of charismatic wildlife, it’s also a biologist’s personal journey to understanding the true purpose of his work.

Wildlife on the Wind is for anyone interested in:

  • Plains Indians and their cultural connection to animals

  • Field adventures of a biologist in spectacular wildlands

  • Natural history of large mammals

  • An inspiring and heartwarming conservation success story


The urgent task of restoring nature must of necessity be carried out by dedicated people who give themselves over to knowing and loving particular places. Bruce Smith is one of those people, and his account vividly illustrates both the hard work of healing and the success that can come when that work pays off.
—Peter Friederici, author of Nature’s Restoration

Combining history, biology, and memoir, Smith evokes the challenges of one of conservation’s least sung professions–the wildlife biologist. In the process, he also recounts an exciting story of how Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation restored its wildlife.
—Ted Kerasote, author of Heart of Home: People, Wildlife, and Place

Wildlife on the Wind is a book that does all of us a great service.  Through humor, personal story, and sheer fortitude and observation, Bruce Smith reveals how the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Nations arrived with their wildlife and where they – and inevitably all other Americans – are today.  Readers of this marvelous volume will revel in nature, and learn more about the intricacies of wildlife and its conservation.  For anyone interested in this little known area in the shadows of the Tetons and Yellowstone or who cares about wildlife, native Americans, and our co-joined future in the American West, this is a thrilling read.
— Joel Berger, Craighead Chair of Wildlife Conservation, University of Montana, and Senior Scientist, The Wildlife Conservation Society