Keila Szpaller

(Daily Montanan) American Prairie announced Thursday that 107 bison from its bison herds have found new homes with tribal nations in Montana, South Dakota and Washington.

“This represents one of the conservation organization’s largest transfers of bison since returning this keystone species to its lands in 2005,” American Prairie said.

American Prairie said the shipments took place in November after the bison were tested for disease and received a brucellosis-free certification. It outlined the relocations as follows:

  • Montana: 15 bison were relocated to the Blackfeet Nation and six were shipped to Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy.
  • South Dakota: 54 bison went to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and nine to One Spirit.
  • Washington: 23 bison were transferred to the Kalispel Tribe.

The Blackfeet Nation and Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy could not be reached Thursday by phone. However, American Prairie noted it regularly works with Indigenous nations and distributes bison to enhance the health and resilience of bison across the country, and the transfers help American Prairie maintain the size of its own population.

“The organization surpassed a new milestone this year, and the herd now stands at approximately 900 animals,” American Prairie said.

In a statement, Troy Heinert with the InterTribal Bison Council said American Prairie’s contributions help improve the genetic diversity and health of other herds. ITBC is a collective of 80 tribes that facilitate the return of bison and their management across tribal lands.

“The return of buffalo is not just good for our land, it represents the revitalization of our people and culture,” said Heinert, CEO, in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure tribes have access to the healthiest, and most genetically diverse, buffalo and American Prairie is a good partner to have in that regard.”

American Prairie has relocated more than 550 bison since 2005 to various tribes and conservation herds across the country.

“Bison restoration is a story of collaboration,” said Pedro Calderon-Dominguez, bison operations manager at American Prairie, in a statement. “We are proud and fortunate to be engaged in so many active partnerships with tribes to bring bison home to their native lands.”