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28 bison transferred from Yellowstone to Fort Peck Tribes

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Bison leaving Stephens Creek, headed to Fort Peck as part of the Bison Conservation Transfer Program. NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Partners celebrate another positive step for bison conservation

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. – This week, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck Indian Reservation transferred 28 Yellowstone bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Poplar, Montana, under the Bison Conservation Transfer Program. The bison completed phases one and two of the brucellosis quarantine protocol at Yellowstone National Park and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service facilities and will finish phase three assurance testing at Fort Peck.

The National Park Service, APHIS, State of Montana and Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes started the Bison Conservation Transfer Program to identify brucellosis-free bison and transfer them to new areas as an alternative to sending them to slaughter. The program has led to the largest transfer of live Yellowstone bison among Native American Tribes in history. Since 2019, 182 bison have gone to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Of those, 82 animals were transferred to the InterTribal Buffalo Council who distributed them to 18 tribes in 10 states.

The bison transferred this week were captured at Stephens Creek in the northwest corner of Yellowstone in March 2020. Twenty males completed quarantine in the park and a small family group of eight (one male, four females, three calves) completed quarantine in the nearby APHIS-leased facility at Corwin Springs. Currently, 67 animals are still in the Bison Conservation Transfer Program and the park and APHIS intend to enter 80-120 new animals into the program this winter.

This transfer is the result of many partners working together: Yellowstone National Park, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, APHIS, Montana Department of Livestock, the State of Montana, InterTribal Buffalo Council, Yellowstone Forever, Defenders of Wildlife and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

To expand the program, Yellowstone has partnered with Yellowstone Forever and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to increase the capacity of the facility within the park from holding 80 animals to 200 animals. Improvements will be completed this winter. These improvements and continued coordination with APHIS will result in transferring about 100 animals a year to Tribal Nations as an alternative to slaughter.

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