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-  American bison bouncing back  (© Conor Barry/Aurora Photos)

Before the 1800s, an estimated 60 million bison grazed the North American plains from Canada to northern Mexico. But by 1893, bison were nearly gone from the US landscape after government-sponsored hunting led to the near extinction of the species. Meanwhile, Antelope Island in Utah’s Great Salt Lake was privately owned. The island’s owner decided to bring 12 bison to the island in hopes of repopulating the area and opening it up to hunting. But the project failed, and without wolves on the island, the bison had no natural predators, so the herd thrived. (Incidentally, the antelope brought to the island did not survive a similar effort.) Today, the herd roams here, protected as one of the attractions at Antelope Island State Park.