Historic transfers of Yellowstone buffalo to tribes across U.S. happening this month
In August of 2020, the InterTribal Buffalo Council will transfer 40 Yellowstone buffalo to 16 Native American Tribes in nine states in partnership with the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes.
The transfers will help develop and sustain Tribally-managed buffalo herds while preserving the unique genetics and lineage of the largest and continuously free-roaming buffalo herd (also known as American or plains bison), according to an ITBC press release.
After years of study and maneuvering through red tape at the federal and state levels, the first transfer of quarantined Yellowstone bison to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Poplar, Montana is now in the books.
Fifty-five male quarantined Yellowstone bison completed Phases I & II of the brucellosis quarantine protocol at Yellowstone and will finish assurance testing (Phase III) at Fort Peck. (The protocol is explained later in this story.)
“The transfer of these bison is the culmination of years of work by the NPS, the Tribes, the State of Montana, and APHIS,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “Quarantine is a critical component in bison management and the NPS is committed to expand and sustain this program.”
“Yellowstone buffalo are important to Tribes because they are the genetically-pure descendants of the buffalo our ancestors lived with,” said Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure. “The return of the buffalo is a return of our culture. Fort Peck is committed to expanding quarantine and sharing these animals with other Tribes across the country.”