Yellowstone park bison welcomed to new home on reservation in Montana
FORT BELKNAP, Mont. — Bison once helped sustain Native Americans on the plains of Montana. Now Indians on the Fort Belknap Reservation say it's time they returned the favor.
About 150 people gathered on Thursday to watch as 34 genetically pure bison from Yellowstone National Park were released on the reservation about 16 miles south of Fort Belknap, the Great Falls Tribune reported.
The bison rumbled out of cattle trucks to the cheers of onlookers and disappeared across the prairie land.
“I wouldn't miss this — gosh,” said Patty Quisno, a tribal council member.
The relocations are part of an attempt to establish new bison herds while curbing the periodic slaughter of the animals when they leave Yellowstone.
Bison “helped us, our ancestors, survive out here on the prairie,” said Mark Azure, who heads the tribe's bison program. “So to be able to take that next step and return the favor, so to speak, it feels good.”
Last year, the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department transplanted 70 bison from Yellowstone to the Fort Peck reservation in northeastern Montana, with the intent that half of the animals would be taken to Fort Belknap, about 180 miles west.
Some ranchers challenged the move, fearing the bison could spread disease and compete with cattle for grazing. But earlier this summer, the Montana Supreme Court ruled the transfers were legal.
The bison released Thursday tested negative for brucellosis and were released in a 1,000-acre pasture with an 8-foot fence. One cow was injured and was not released.
Tribal councilman Mike Fox said the tribe will manage a herd of about 150 bison and use them as seed stock for other tribes or agencies wanting to reintroduce bison on their land.
The tribe has a commercial herd of 500 bison that have cattle genes and are kept in a separate pasture.
Fox said bison disappeared from the Fort Belknap area around 1910.
“It's a homecoming for the animals,” said Fox.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Law enforcement, intelligence agencies want to ‘like’ you on social media
- Lone clinic in Miss. for abortions still stands
- Met Museum of Art president to retire
- Girl struck by plane on beach succumbs
- Move over, Mickey, here comes Crayola
- Appeals court upholds nation of origin labels for meat
- Cellphone users can soon declare freedom from wireless carriers
- $17B remedy for VA pitched
- Boy’s body discovered on Air Force cargo jet that was on mission in Africa
- Harshest sanctions yet target Russian finances, arms
- UCLA inundated by burst pipe