American Prairie Partners with Tribal Nations to Restore Bison

American Prairie is pleased to announce 107 bison from its bison herds have found new homes with Tribal Nations in Montana, South Dakota, and Washington State. This represents one of the organization’s largest transfers of bison since returning bison to its lands in 2005.

Bison were shipped from American Prairie in late November after undergoing extensive disease-testing and brucellosis-free certification. In total, 54 bison have been relocated to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and nine bison to One Spirit in South Dakota. 23 bison were transferred to the Kalispel Tribe in Pend Oreille County, Washington. In Montana, 15 bison were relocated to the Blackfeet Nation and six were shipped to the Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy.

American Prairie partners regularly with and distributes bison annually to enhance the genetic health of tribal and conservation herds, which contributes to the overall health and resilience of bison across the country. Transferring bison also helps American Prairie maintain the size of their own bison population, which surpassed a new milestone this year and now stands at approximately 900 animals.

“Bison restoration is a story of collaboration,” said Pedro Calderon-Dominguez, Bison Operations Manager at American Prairie. “We are proud and fortunate to be engaged in so many active partnerships with tribes to bring bison home to their native lands.”

Since 2005, American Prairie has relocated more than 550 bison to various tribes and conservation herds across the United States. The nonprofit conservation organization regularly collaborates with the InterTribal Bison Council (ITBC), a collective of 80 tribes who facilitates the return of bison and management of bison across tribal lands in North America.

Troy Heinert, Executive Director of ITBC, says American Prairie’s contributions are important because they improve the genetic diversity and health of other herds.

“The return of buffalo is not just good for our land, it represents the revitalization of our people and culture,” says Heinert. “Our goal is to ensure tribes have access to the healthiest, and most genetically diverse buffalo and American Prairie is a good partner to have in that regard.”

Bison Receive Clean Bill of Health 

Prior to transferring any bison, American Prairie conducted a bison handling and moved 267 animals in mid-November. Those bison were tested for a wide range of diseases, including brucellosis, and received a clean bill of health with no evidence of clinical disease. Bison handlings are an important management tool that assess the overall health of the herd and help American Prairie collaborate with local county officials and livestock groups.