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Bison breakthrough!

October 14, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Do you want to help make wildlife history?

Here’s your chance to help bring back wild American bison to the Great Plains.

The shameful story is all too familiar. Two centuries ago, millions of bison thundered across much of the west. But after decades of massacre, they were nearly gone. By 1890, fewer than 25 bison remained in the wild, all in a small corner of Yellowstone National Park.

Support Defenders’ historic bison recovery initiative and other urgent efforts to rescue imperiled animals.

We can – we must – bring bison back to the Great Plains.

Defenders has an ambitious and aggressive 10-year comeback plan – to restore and expand wild bison to eight locations by the year 2022:

  • One population of 5,000 in Yellowstone;
  • Two additional populations of at least 1,000; and
  • Five additional populations of at least 400.

With your past help, we have taken some critical steps to launch our comeback plan.

Working with our tribal conservation partners, we’ve helped establish two small herds of wild Yellowstone bison at both Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Indian reservations in Northeast Montana – the heart of historic bison country. The two Indian reservations now have a combined 50,000 acres of prime grassland habitat dedicated to wild bison, a dramatic increase from only a couple years ago.

These two successes are important steps in Defenders’ plan to restore our nation’s wild bison – but it’s only the beginning.

In the coming months, Defenders will be helping to: 

  • Provide the core Yellowstone herd with more room to roam. Defenders is working with others to convince Montana officials to approve a plan that would allow Yellowstone’s 4,000 wild bison to roam freely on more than 400,000 acres of land adjacent to the park. This land would provide critically important winter grazing lands that could allow the population to expand.
  • Expand dedicated bison habitat at Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Indian Reservations. More land will allow the two newly established wild herds to grow beyond 1,000 each – the minimum size scientist say is necessary to maintain a strong herd. 
  • Establish additional new populations in prime bison habitat. We’ve identified several Indian Reservations who have expressed interest in hosting wild bison; such as the Oglala Lakota Tribe of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana is another exciting potential because the habitat is prime for the bison’s return.

With your help, we can right one of our nation’s greatest wildlife wrongs – but it won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy. Please donate today to support our urgent efforts to bring back the wild bison.

Opposition to bison recovery is fierce. Opponents have introduced bill after bill in the Montana legislature that could effectively halt recovery efforts in their tracks. So far, we’ve managed to defeat these efforts, but the toughest fights may still lie ahead.

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