Scientists love to tell stories about science, especially stories that neatly illustrate well-established principles. The Kaibab became just such a story, and its retellings continue. In addition to accounts by scientists, the story of the Kaibab deer appears in popular nature writing, hunting lore, and environmental history. The complexities of events on the Kaibab between 1920 and 1945 have made it possible for chroniclers to derive a variety of lessons from two basic narratives. The first narrative is the textbook case, which makes predators essential participants in ecological communities. The second comes from popular and environmental histories that suggest human intervention in the balance of nature generally wreaks unintended havoc.

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What both narratives do with this complex story is to draw out the facts that best match their preferred lesson. I hope that this book provides a third narrative, which not only explains the existence and purpose of previous accounts but also contains a new lesson about the meaning of such a complex case in the history of science.*

Small scale livestock operations have long been a part of the history of the Kaibab National Forest, as evidenced by this corral at the Ryan site, in the northwestern corner of the forest. Photo by the author.
The Snake-Kanab road runs through Snake Gulch toward the Kanab Creek in the northwestern section of the forest. The vegetation on the slopes is typical intermediate range. Photo by the author.
Inspecting heavily browsed forage on the west side of the plateau. Photo: Kaibab National Forest.
* Examples of textbook accounts include: Ford, Andrew. Modeling the Environment: An Introduction to System Dynamics Models of Environmental Systems. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1999; Davis, D. E., and F. B. Golley. Principles in Mammalogy. New York: Reinhold, 1963; and Allee, W. C. Alfred E. Emerson, Orlando Park, Thomas Park, and Karl P. Schmidt. Principles of Animal Ecology. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1949. Popular and environmental histories include: Worster,Donald. Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas. 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University, 1995; Chase, Alston. Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America's First National Park. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1986; and Matthiessen, Peter. Wildlife in America. New York: Viking, 1959. The Kaibab example is used to highlight the importance of predation in countless online course materials and wildlife protection discussions. Simply type "kaibab deer" into any search engine.

Last updated: October 10, 2001; Created: 20 April 2001.