Long recognized as a setting of great natural beauty, in 1872 Ulysses Grant set aside Yellowstone as the first formal nature preserve in the world. More than 2 million acres, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. John Muir was pleased when he visited in 1885, noting that under the care of the Department of the Interior, Yellowstone was protected from "the blind, ruthless destruction that is going on in adjoining regions."
But Yellowstone was not preserved. On the contrary, it was altered beyond repair in a matter of years. By 1934, the park service acknowledged that "white-tailed deer, cougar, lynx, wolf, and possibly wolverine and fisher are gone from the Yellowstone."
What they didn't say was that the park service was solely responsible for the disappearances. Park rangers had been shooting animals for decades, even though that was illegal under the Lacey Act of 1894. But they thought they knew better. They thought their environmental concerns trumped any mere law.
As the story unfolds, it becomes impossible to overlook the cold truth that when it comes to managing 2.2 million acres of wilderness, nobody since the Indians has had the faintest idea how to do it.
This was a presentation given by Michael Crichton and is summarized in his book "State of Fear." For some reason it has been taken down from his official website since his death, but I found a copy.