02:00 PM

Yellowstone bison may find new tribal homes

Relocation plan could help Montana tribes restore conservation herds


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HELENA, Mont. (09/15/2011) -

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) released today a draft plan for relocating about 150 long-quarantined, disease-free Yellowstone bison. If approved, the genetically-important bison would be moved later this year from quarantine facilities near the park to four interim sites in Montana: two state wildlife management areas and two Native American reservations. The moves are an interim step pending the development of a statewide bison conservation strategy.

The following is a statement from Jonathan Proctor, Rocky Mountain representative for Defenders of Wildlife:

“It’s great to see that Montana intends to work with the tribes of Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Reservations to bring some of America’s most genetically important bison back to tribal lands where they once thrived. Bison belong there.”

“Restoring herds of Yellowstone bison to tribal lands and other natural areas is a critical step in overall bison conservation. These tribes are willing and ready to accommodate these bison, providing a unique conservation model for future efforts to conserve this iconic species. Wild bison should be an integral part of America’s future, not just a relic of our past.”


The EA contemplates sending up to 40 bison to the Fort Peck Reservation and up to 40 bison to the Fort Belknap Reservation, as well as additional bison to two state land areas. The Assiniboine and Sioux tribes at Fort Peck, with support from Defenders, prepared a 5,000-acre reserve for the Yellowstone bison. The Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes at Fort Belknap have plans for a 22,000 acre-reserve for Yellowstone bison, and will prepare this area once the state approves the plan. Comments on the EA are due by 5 p.m. on Oct. 14. FWP intends these moves as an interim step while they complete a thorough statewide bison conservation strategy that may identify additional areas for permanent restoration of wild bison. That plan is expected to be completed no later than the end of 2015.


Read Montana FWP’s press release and new background information on bison

Click here to download the draft Environmental Assessment

Learn more about Defenders’ efforts to restore bison across the West


Jonathan Proctor, 406-549-4103
John Motsinger, 202-772-0288