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Wyoming tribe receives 10 bison from transfer program

Bison being transferred from Yellowstone National Park to Fort Peck as part of conservation transfer program
Chamois Andersen
Defenders of Wildlife
In February, 116 bison were transferred from Yellowstone National Park to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation on Montana. Those bison will eventually be transferred to tribal nations.

Earlier this month, more than one hundred Yellowstone National Park bison were transported to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana as part of a program that transfers bison to tribal nations. The Intertribal Buffalo Council will later distribute many of these animals to tribes across North America.

Defenders of Wildlife is one of the nonprofits that supports the program.

Senior Representative of Defenders of Wildlife’s Rockies and Plains program, Chamois Anderson, says the organization helped set up transportation, and over 3 days 116 animals were moved.

“These bison are not like cattle loading onto the semi-truck or onto the large trailers, but once we get them carefully loaded they typically calm down and fall asleep and then we call it ‘chasing light.’ We want to arrive at Fort Peck before the sun goes down so they can safely unload,” she said.

A release from the park said the bison that were sent to Fort Peck included 108 males, four females, and four calves.

According to another partner non-profit, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the week before these bison arrived, the Fort Peck Tribes and the Intertribal Buffalo Council transferred 65 bison to other tribes.

Earlier this year, the Eastern Shoshone tribe in Wyoming received a family group of 10 animals from the bison conservation transfer program. Eastern Shoshone tribal member Jason Baldes manages the tribe’s herd.

“The plans are to continue to grow the population and change land use so they have a place to exist and are protected under tribal law. This is a batch of animals that is very important because of their genetics, and lineage and descendancy,” he said.

Since the transfer program got started in 2019, Baldes says the Eastern Shoshone tribe has received a total of 15 Yellowstone bison. Baldes says the tribe’s herd size is now 98 animals with bison also coming from other sources besides Yellowstone.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.
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