It’s been four months since 61 genetically pure Yellowstone bison made their historic return to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in eastern Montana. (See this blog post to remember how they got there.) Since then, 21 calves have been born at Fort Peck—the first Yellowstone bison to be born on the Great Plains since their ancestors roamed free nearly 150 years ago.
Now, those 82 bison are about to get even more room to roam. On Saturday, all of them will be released from their temporary surveillance corral into a 2,100-acre pasture. Then in fall, the bison will be given access to another 5,120-acre pasture, which will provide a total of more than 7,000 acres of their native habitat! While they still won’t be “free-roaming,” technically speaking (“wide-ranging” may be a more accurate term), these animals now have room to grow. Future expansion of the bison area is also very likely.
It’s been a long road for the bison and the tribes at Fort Peck, so the release on Saturday is really an incredible milestone. Watch part 2 of “The Return of the Bison” from High Plains Films to relive that day in March when the bison finally arrived after waiting so many years. (If you missed our post earlier in the week, click here to watch part 1 first. )
Stay tuned for a report from the field next week as the bison move on to greener pastures.