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You might be surprised to find one of the world’s foremost experts on mountain gorilla conservation supporting the reintroduction of bison at a conference in Banff National Park in Alberta where they had been extirpated for more than a century.

But Bill Weber, a social scientist and lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) who, along with his wife, ecologist Amy Vedder, is well known for his pioneering work in the Congo Basin, is no stranger to conservation in the American West. As the former head of the North America division of the Wildlife Conservation Society and co-chair of the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative (Y2Y), he is well versed in western conservation challenges, from connectivity to carnivores. The Banff conference was unusual, he says, because it not only focused on bison, but also on Canada’s First Nations and Native Americans, for whom bison are an essential part of their culture.