Recently, the first direct transfer of live and disease-free bison to the Fort Peck Tribes from Yellowstone National Park was completed.
Early 2018, Yellowstone officials found 52 bison missing from its quarantine facility. This set back the transfer of bison from Yellowstone to the Fort Peck Tribes in northeastern Montana by a year.
Tim Reed, the Yellowstone bison program coordinator, said 55 male bison that just transferred have to go through the third and last phase.
"One year of assurance testing and then they can be dispersed to other tribal herds, conservation herds, etc.," he said.
The tests make sure that the bison are brucellosis-free, a disease that can cause livestock to miscarry.
The quarantine program was identified as a possible management tool in 2001.
"It's really the only tool in the quiver to do something other than send Yellowstone bison directly to slaughter," said Reed. "It's the only option to move live bison out into other conservation herds and tribal herds."
The bison were captured in March 2018 and completed the first two phases of the program. Those phases involve making sure the bison are brucellosis-free.
Following the successful transfer of male bison, Reed said the females will be transferred next fall or summer.
Reed said the future of the program will focus on increasing partnerships other tribes and non-governmental organizations.