At the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition program at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West March 6, the Draper’s Senior and Founding Curator Dr. Charles R. Preston delves into the world of the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear, its relationships with people, and what the future may hold for this icon of Yellowstone wildlife. Preston’s talk is titled Braided Paths and Tangled Destinies: Grizzly Bears and People in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The Yellowstone grizzly bear has been in the news over the past few years as its status on the Endangered Species List is debated, but the animal first gained national attention at the end of the nineteenth century with Ernest Thompson Seton’s “Wahb” in Biography of a Grizzly, published in serial form in 1899.
Preston is currently working with Jeremy Johnston, historian and curator of the Center’s Buffalo Bill Museum, on an annotated edition of Thompson Seton’s Biography of a Grizzly for University of Oklahoma Press.
“Since Seton’s time, the human footprint has grown,” says Preston, “while the grizzly footprint has shrunk and then begun to grow again.” In 2007, the bear was removed from the Endangered Species List but soon relisted. “With the Yellowstone grizzly population recovered from its low of about 130 bears in 1975 to more than 600 today,” continues Preston, “it is on the verge of again being delisted.”
Preston discusses these issues at the free lecture at 12:15 p.m. March 6 in the Center’s Coe auditorium. The Draper Museum’s lunchtime expeditions lecture series is now in its fourteenth year.
Preston is a wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist who explores the role of apex predators in ecosystems, and the influence of climate, landscape characteristics, and human attitudes and activities on predators. He has authored and edited numerous books and articles on wildlife behavior and ecology, human dimensions of wildlife management, and the role of working scientists as public educators and interpreters.
Before joining the Center’s staff in 1998, Preston served as Chairman of the Department of Zoology at the Denver Museum of Natural History, and prior to that as Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas. He holds or has held adjunct faculty appointments in the Haub School for Environment and Natural Resources as well as the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming, Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Colorado, Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Denver, and Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas.
For more information on this lecture and the whole Lunchtime Expedition series, visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history. The April program takes place April 3, when Dr. Larry Todd discusses advances in Greater Yellowstone archaeology.
Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center of the West has been honored with numerous awards, including the prestigious 2012 National Tour Association’s Award for “favorite museum for groups,” the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and, most recently, one of the “Top 10 Must See Western Museums” by True West magazine.