Bison Restoration – The National Wildlife Federation

At least 30 million bison used to roam throughout Montana’s Great Plains and America’s western prairie habitat. However, decades of overexploitation, habitat loss, decline in genetic diversity, and human conflict has stripped nearly all free-ranging bison from their natural grassland habitat.

Today there are only three truly free-ranging bison herds in the United States: Yellowstone Park (approximately 3,500 bison), and the Henry’s Mountains and Book Cliffs herds in southern Utah (about 500 bison).

The National Wildlife Federation is working to return wild, free-ranging bison to their native homes in and around the Charles M. Russell (CMR) National Wildlife Refuge and to tribal lands including Fort Peck and Fort Belknap.

Our campaign work includes:

  • Convening meetings with local ranchers and opinion leaders to make bison restoration work for local communities and to examine what economic incentives make restoration more acceptable
  • Conducting an outreach effort around both the state and the country to raise the visibility of the campaign
  • Conducting an outreach effort to engage tribal members in Montana’s bison planning process by reaching them where they live, socialize, and celebrate their culture. There has been huge impact all across Montana’s Indian Country, clearly demonstrated in this editorial from our outreach contractor agent, Marsha Small
  • Protecting habitat so wildlife have a place to roam safely without running into livestock conflict through our Adopt a Wildlife Acre program, our wildlife-livestock conflict resolution programs, and our ongoing tribal lands work

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