Massive bison herds used to be a staple of the Great Plains. That is until we almost hunted them out of existence.
Now, with a new designation as the United States’ national mammal, bison ranchers argue that to conserve the species we have to eat them.
It’s an idea called “market-based conservation,” and it contends that humans are no good at saving species out of the goodness of our hearts, or motivated by some driving force of environmental justice. Instead, we create demand for an animal and then work hard to keep its population robust so we can gawk at it through binoculars, take pictures of it, or in the case of the American bison, eat it.