Restoring an Icon

The story has been told again and again: During the late 1800s, hunters all but wiped out one of the continent’s most iconic animals, the American bison. By the beginning of the 20th century, a species of huge ecological and cultural value had vanished from the prairie, surviving only in small, captive herds and a remnant population in Yellowstone National Park.

In the late 1800s, two Montana ranchers spent more than 20 years assembling one of the largest herds of purebred bison on the continent. In 1907, after the U.S. government declined to buy the herd, they made a deal with the Canadian government and shipped most of these bison northward to Elk Island National Park.

Now, the descendants of these bison are returning to their ancestral home in northern Montana. The American Prairie Foundation is working on restoring a vast amount of prairie to its natural state. This film follows the process of moving these bison and the challenges encountered along the way.

These animals also belong in the public lands and parks of far-West Texas, to which they are native.

Restoring an Icon from Ocean Media Institute on Vimeo.

Posted by Chris Gill

Ranching, wildlife management, finance, oil & gas, real estate development and management.

  1. Why isn’t the American Prairie Foundation helping to preserve & save the buffalo in Yellowstone? These are constantly being hazed out of the park, then rounded up & slaughtered as they are deemed a threat to the Montana ranchers nearby (due to brucellosis)?

    There are too many ranchers on lands where the buffalo are native who seem to be threatened if the native “cow” is near their herds.How is the Foundation going to work with these ranchers to get them to accept the reintroduction of the buffalo into the natural ecosystem?

    Reply

    1. I have never understood why surplus bison cannot be sold or gifted to landowners willing to buy or adopt them. Rules should be changed to allow this.

      We need a ‘work-around’ not a confrontation between conservationists and ranchers. Instead of vilifying ranchers, let’s address their legitimate health concerns because, when their herds are infected, they are destroyed. An effective bison brucellosis vaccination and treatment protocol is badly needed. It would remove the basic objection to bison and pave the way for widespread bison reintroductions. This justifies a major spending effort in my opinion. So let’s find a way to get serious about finding funding for this.

      Here is a good summary of this topic, titled “Brucellosis and Yellowstone Bison“: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/cattle/downloads/cattle-bison.pdf

      Thanks for writing.

      Reply

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