The New York Times highlights the 32nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, where UPK author, Dan Flores, discusses his latest book, “American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains.” The Times proclaims, “Flores’ latest book examines the similarity between the wildlife that still exists in the African grasslands and the American bison, antelope, wolves, and grizzly bears that roamed the great expanse from the Missouri River to the Rockies when American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark entered the wilderness in the early 1800s.
In a work that is at once a lyrical evocation of that lost splendor and a detailed natural history of these charismatic species of the historic Great Plains, veteran naturalist and outdoorsman Flores draws a vivid portrait of each of these animals in their glory—and tells the harrowing story of what happened to them at the hands of market hunters and ranchers and ultimately a federal killing program in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Great Plains with its wildlife intact dazzled Americans and Europeans alike, prompting numerous literary tributes. American Serengeti takes its place alongside these celebratory works, showing us the grazers and predators of the plains against the vast opalescent distances, the blue mountains shimmering on the horizon, the great rippling tracts of yellowed grasslands. Far from the empty “flyover country” of recent times, this landscape is alive with a complex ecology at least 20,000 years old—a continental patrimony whose wonders may not be entirely lost, as recent efforts hold out hope of partial restoration of these historic species.