It’s been almost a year since the Eastern Shoshone Tribe released its first ten bison onto 300 acres of the Wind River Reservation. Next week, the tribe will release ten more. This time, though, the animals will come from the National Bison Range in Montana. The last batch came from a herd in Iowa.
Jason Baldes with the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Buffalo Restoration Program said the goal is to build a genetically pure herd by getting animals from different places.
“By bringing in a population from another area with similar genetics in that they’re pure, we’re able to increase the genetic heterogeneity of our own population here on the Wind River Reservation,” said Baldes. “That’ll be important so that we have different gene pools we can draw from that makes our herd healthier.”
Baldes said the herd’s first bison calf was born last year, moving the herd in small steps toward the goal of one thousand animals managed on the reservation as wild game.
Baldes said, going forward, the tribe plans to study the benefits bison bring to the reservation’s ecosystem.
“We’re really curious to see what the ecological changes are going to be over time because we know that buffalo, or bison, increase biodiversity as well as many other species such as amphibians and birds and arthropods, bugs. And so we want to see what these changes are over time.”
The tribe is working in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Foundation. A ceremony will be held for the release on October 21 and artist Arturo Garcia will document the event with a painting.