Where the buffalo roam: boundaries and the politics of scale in the Yellowstone Region

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Environmental Studies | Geography | Nature and Society Relations | Social and Behavioral Sciences


For more than twenty years, the state of Montana has pursued a controversial policy of lethal control to manage winter migrations of bison from Yellowstone National Park. In the late 1990s, as the state and a number of federal agencies attempted to cooperatively outline a more palatable scenario for bison management, local environmental groups became active participants in the debate. This paper examines the strategies pursued by these organizations in the course of their attempt to construct a new, ecosystem-level territorial space and jurisdictional scale for bison, and places their struggle within the context of existing work in geography on the politics of scale. Ultimately, the failure of their efforts illustrates some of the important constraints faced by social groups that attempt to create new territorial regimes and new scales of resistance in the interstices of existing political structures.