Blog Summary

Part 2—30 years with the ITBC – Dilemma of the Yellowstone Park Bison

From the time he learned of it, Robert “Robbie” Magnan director of the Fort Peck Fish and Wildlife Department in northeastern Montana was troubled by the annual buffalo slaughter of excess buffalo in Yellowstone Park.

It was not enough that the bison meat was distributed to Indian tribes in neat frozen packages.

Magnan and other founding members of the InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) cherished the Yellowstone Park genetics that had flowed from free-roaming bison for more than a hundred years. They wanted those genetics in their own tribal herds.

Not quite the same as “always having lived wild” in Yellowstone Park. They knew that only a reported 23 buffalo survived poaching in the Park—back in the 1890s—and the wild Yellowstone pastures had been replenished by relatively tame buffalo from half a dozen sources, both US and Canadian. So not many were actually “pure.”

Still, the Yellowstone buffalo are special and many Native people deeply desire those genetics in their tribal buffalo herds.

InterTribal Buffalo Council Restores Herds—and More, Part 1

Over and over delegates testify: As we bring the buffalo back to health, we also bring our own people back to health. And that’s what it’s all about.

In February 1991, a meeting in the Black Hills of South Dakota, hosted by the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, brought Native people from all four directions, as is traditional, to talk about a topic that concerned them all.

How can Indian tribes with experience raising buffalo help other tribes restore buffalo to their lands? Why is this important to us?

15 Facts About Our National Mammal: The American Bison

The American Bison was named the national mammal of the United States on May 9, 2016. This majestic animal joins the ranks of the Bald Eagle as the official symbol of our country—and much like the eagle, it’s one of the greatest conservation success stories of all time.
In prehistoric times, millions of bison roamed North America—from the forests of Alaska and the grasslands of Mexico to Nevada’s Great Basin and the eastern Appalachian Mountains. But by the late 1800s, there were only a few hundred bison left in the United States after European settlers pushed west, reducing the animal’s habitat and hunting the bison to near extinction. Had it not been for a few private individuals working with tribes, states and the Interior Department, the bison would be extinct today.

Harvey Wallbanger, racing buffalo

Wallbanger, a formidable sprinting buffalo seen on racetracks of the 1980’s and ‘90s across America, Canada and Mexico, here ridden to a win by his owner and trainer Collin ‘TC’ Thorstenson.[/caption]

Harvey was an orphan buffalo who thought he was a horse, according to his owner, trainer and jockey Collin ‘TC’ Thorstenson and many fascinated spectators who watched him race.

Thorstenson said he was raised on a Sioux Indian reservation in the hills of North Dakota, was always fond of animals and trained small pets as a youngster.

He drove coal trucks in Wyoming and became a jockey and trainer.

Harvey’s story began in 1980 when his mother was shot by a poacher.

Low-Stress Buffalo Handling

We’ve reported stories to you in this space about the early days of hard-riding buffalo wranglers running half-wild buffalo. Some amusing. Some tragic.

Often, they rounded-up and stampeded buffalo into makeshift corrals and loaded them into boxcars in some of the roughest ways possible, even dragging them at the end of several ropes.

At the time, it seemed to men who were used to working cattle like the only way to get the job done was to run the buffalo hard, and stay ahead of them.

Part II. American Serengeti—Let’s take Another Look

In our BLOG of June 23, 2020, we published “American Serengeti—What is going on in Montana?,” which discusses the enormous wildlife project that is shaking the foundations of community development and progress in Phillips County, Montana, and Malta, its county seat, and nearby communities.
The American Prairie Reserve—APR, or simply the Prairie Reserve–on the upper Missouri River is a plan to develop a huge grazing unit—the largest nature reserve in the continental United States.

Part III. Viewing Sites 9 and 10—Fort Yates and Jamestown

If you’re a traveler coming into the Hettinger-Lemmon area from the east or west, you will likely plan to complete your tour by visiting Sites 9 and 10 either before or after the main section of your tour.

Otherwise, separate trips might take you through Fort Yates and Jamestown—which are somewhat to the northeast.

Tribal herds can be viewed at Ft. Yates, and other reservations. The “largest buffalo,” and a National Buffalo Museum that includes a full-body mount of the famed White Cloud reside in Jamestown.

Tour 10 Buffalo Sites in the Northern Plains, Part I–The Last Great Hunts

At the center of the Northern Plains is a rugged section of Badlands, buttes and fertile grasslands, where buffalo, cattle and sheep graze, and deer and antelope still roam.

We’d love to have you join us on the 10-site tour we’ve put together of the last great hunts and other historic and contemporary buffalo events, each clearly marked by a yellow sign.

These sites include three of the last great buffalo hunts, including the valley of the last stand—the final harvest of the last 1,200 wild buffalo by Sitting Bull and his band on October 12 and 13, 1883.

At the center of these events are previously untold stories and authentic, unspoiled places to envision where they took place.

This region, bordered by the North Dakota towns of Hettinger, Reeder and Scranton, and the South Dakota towns of Lemmon, Bison and Buffalo, is where Native people conducted the last traditional hunts of the majestic wild buffalo that once roamed here in huge herds on what was then the Great Sioux Reservation.

Legacy of White Buffalo—Big Medicine

The most famous white buffalo that ever lived was probably Big Medicine, born in 1933 on the National Bison Range in Western Montana.

Soon after birth he was dubbed “Big Medicine” by the local Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai people of the Flathead Valley. He lived there all of his 26 years.

White buffalo are sacred to many Native American tribes and they believed he brought good news and supernatural powers. The Blackfeet tribe farther east also considered him the property of the sun as well as “good medicine.”

The Sad Demise of Sir Donald

In 1907 Canada purchased the Pablo Buffalo Herd from the western plains of Montana. Banff received 77 of these animals, and a new paddock of 300 acres was built north of the railroad to hold the increasing herd.

Sir Donald was a handsome bull. It was said he represented well the ideal that Native hunters preferred—a bull with well-built forequarters and large head.

Pablo’s Great Buffalo Shipments to Canada

In 1907 the Michel Pablo herd from western Montana began arriving in Canada. At their end of the railroad, Canadians cheered the buffalo’s arrival.

They knew they had scored a coup in getting “the finest buffalo herd in America,” as William Hornaday, president of the new American Bison Society, called Michal Pablo’s half-wild herd from Montana.

Pablo’s Great Buffalo Roundup and Grand Shipment – Part 1. Pablo’s Grand Buffalo Roundup

When Michel Pablo sold all of his buffalo to the Canadian government, it took 6 years to get them rounded up and loaded. He expected the job to take one summer.

They were wild, and did not take kindly to being chased to the railway station in Ravalli, Montana—or getting loaded into railway cars. Especially the renegade bulls.

Pablo’s buffalo—he thought there were somewhere between 300 and 700 head—were grazing in the Bitterroot Mountain Range and the Lolo National Forest along the Flathead River.

The Buffalo Hunt: The History and Culture of the Spirit Lake Dakota

For the Plains Indian nothing is more exciting and exhilarating than hunting buffalo or more enjoyable than feasting on their flesh.1

To the Plains Indian the buffalo was the source of life; this bovine scientifically called a Bison (Bison bison) provided everything required to exist in a plains environment. Every part of the buffalo was utilized including their excrement which was used for fuel.

The Dakota term for a buffalo hunt is Wanasapi which appears to be contraction of a descriptive name. During the period named Dog Days, before the coming of the horse, when dogs were used as burden carriers, the hunt was more individualized.

Part 2. Return of Wild Buffalo to Banff National Park

By January 2019, the buffalo at Banff had been free-roaming for 5 months, after being released from their small enclosed pasture in the remote Panther Valley. They are being tracked and monitored by the Banff bison scientists with the help of GPS collar data, remote cameras and field observations.

Part 1: Returning Wild Buffalo to Banff National Park

For over a century, Parks Canada has been leading the charge to restore wild bison in Canada.

One of its first ventures was the display buffalo herd placed in a small 300-acre paddock near Banff in 1885.

Canada’s oldest national park—Banff National Park—is near the mountain resort of Banff and Lake Louise.

The scenery is spectacular, with rugged mountains rising on every side. The tree line is at about 2,134 m (7,000 ft), and above this is mostly rocks and ice.

Unlike other western mountain towns that focused on mining or agriculture, Banff was built as a tourist destination from the beginning. Planners for the Canadian Pacific Railroad built across Canada in 1885, discovered hot springs there and pronounced it tourist-worthy. The original Chalet Lake Louise was built on the lake shore in 1890.

Part II: Saving the Buffalo from Extinction

Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones started out as a commercial hide hunter on southern buffalo ranges.

His life adventures took him from his home in Kansas to the frozen Canadian North and the steaming jungles of Africa.

He prospered and suffered as a farmer, buffalo hunter, town developer and rancher. An expert roper, he captured calves in Texas and New Mexico. And, as a friend of President Teddy Roosevelt through the new American Bison Association, he was appointed as the first Superintendent of Yellowstone Park, in charge of restoring that depleted buffalo herd.

His greatest contribution was—not only capturing and raising a profitable buffalo herd—but finding ways to buy and sell buffalo and ship them across North America to help start new herds.

As a child, Jones caught and tamed small animals. He made his first money by capturing and selling a squirrel. That “transaction” Jones said “fixed upon me the ruling passion that has adhered so closely through my life.”

Jones said that he conceived his buffalo rescue plan in 1872.

He said he had killed “thousands of buffalo” in his hunting days and he regretted it.

“I am positive it was the wickedness committed in killing so many that impelled me to take measures for perpetuating the race which I had helped almost destroy.”

Filled with remorse, he set aside his big buffalo rifle, gathered some of the last wild buffalo calves and committed himself to helping the buffalo survive and thrive throughout North America.

He bought buffalo from as far north as Winnipeg in Canada and sold buffalo across the North American continent to help get parks and private owners started.

According to Ken Zontek, in Buffalo Nation: American Indian Efforts to Restore the Bison, during the last days of the wild buffalo, Buffalo Jones and his assistants went four times out to the buffalo ranges from his ranch near Garden City, Kansas, down into the Texas Panhandle, and captured 60 buffalo of all ages. Not all, however survived, or made the trip home.

Part I – Saving the Buffalo from Extinction

Clearly, the buffalo were headed for extinction. No one seemed to care.

The “bottleneck”—as it’s been called—drew even closer each year after the last great buffalo hunt on the Great Sioux Reservation in 1883.

The low point came in the 1890’s, or perhaps later, around the turn of the century. That was when the “safe and protected” Yellowstone Park herd, estimated at 200, was suddenly decimated by poachers seeking trophy heads.

Fewer than 25 buffalo, well hidden in remote and rugged canyons, survived that slaughter in Yellowstone Park.

The species was nearly choked off completely at that time. Even the few hundred remaining seemed destined to dwindle.

William Hornaday voiced his despair over the buffalos’ nearly-inevitable extinction in his 1889 book, “The Extermination of the American Bison.” He wrote:

“The wild buffalo is practically gone forever, and in a few more years, when the whitened bones of the last bleaching skeleton shall have been picked up and shipped East for commercial uses, nothing will remain of him save his old, well-worn trails along the water-courses, a few museum specimens, and regret for his fate.”

Hormaday despaired that ‘when the whitened bones of the last bleaching skeleton were picked up and shipped East’ the only memory of buffalo would be trails to water, regret for his fate, and a few specimens in museums. Photo National Park Service.

Stories Summary

The Buffalo and the Field Mouse

Once upon a time, when the Field Mouse was out gathering wild beans for the winter, his neighbor, the Buffalo, came down to graze in the meadow.

The little Mouse did not like this. He knew that the buffalo would mow down all the long grass with his prickly tongue, and there would be no place in which to hide.

He decided to offer battle like a man.
“Ho, Friend Buffalo, I challenge you to a fight!” he yelled in a small, squeaky voice.
The Buffalo paid no attention, thinking it a joke.

The Mouse angrily repeated his challenge.
The buffalo went on quietly grazing while the little Mouse laughed with contemp.

The Buffalo at last looked at him and said, “You had better keep still, little one, or I shall come over there and step on you, and there will be nothing left!”
“Ha! You can’t do that! “replied the Mouse.
“If you speak to me again, I will come and put an end to you!” said the Buffalo, getting angry.
“I dare you! “said the Mouse.
The buffalo ran at him, trampling the grass and tearing up the earth with his front hoofs.
He looked for the Mouse, but he could not see him anywhere.

The Friendship of Brother Crow and Brother Buffalo

The Shawnee needed buffalo for food and skins. But every time the Shawnee went out to hunt buffalo, Crow would warn them and they would escape.

Crow was pure white in the beginning. He was brother to the buffalo.

One day the Shawnee hunting party gathered around the campfire to prepare for a hunt.

Cawanemua said, “We must do something about Crow. I will dress as a buffalo and when Brother Crow comes to warn the buffalo of our hunt, I will grab him.”

The next day, Cawanemua pulled a buffalo skin over himself and joined the buffalo herd grazing near-by.

Sure enough, Crow flew in warning the buffalo as the Shawnee hunters approached.
Crow was crying, “Caw, Caw, hunters afar!”

Cawanemua jumped up, grabbed Crow by the legs and carried him back to camp.
That night, around the fire as the hunters discussed the fate of Crow

Panseau , the smallest brave listened and watched Crow.

How Humpback’s Buffalo Broke Free to Run on the Plains

In the first days a mean and powerful being named Humpback owned all the buffalo.

He kept them locked in a corral in the mountains north of San Juan, where he lived with his young son.

The buffalo were crowded into the corral, without much to eat, and most of their food was covered with dust. They longed for the green grass and sagebrush they saw on the mountainside.

Not one buffalo would Humpback release for the people on earth to eat. And he refused to share any meat with hungry people or animals who lived near him.
Coyote and his family lived in a village not far from the mountains.

One summer game was very scarce. Coyote and other hunters traveled many miles in all four directions and found nothing to eat.

Everyone in the village grew thin with hunger. Coyote’s children cried because their bellies were empty.
Coyote decided something had to be done to help the buffalo escape from Humpback’s corral. He called the people to a Council.

Race with the Buffalo

Traditional storytellers believe that old stories are best told in the native language and to listeners who understand their culture.
They say an amusing story is “not as funny” in English. Much of the spirit, humor and excitement gets lost in translation.
Often the venerable grandmother with a twinkle in her eye entertained with hilarious tales about coyote tricksters and other mischief.
The following story may have been told just for fun with its twists, turns and surprises, for a giggling circle of attentive children
Many years ago all the animals lived in peace. No one ate anyone else. All the animals were the same color, because they had not yet painted their faces.
Buffalo was the largest of the animals and he was getting hungry.

He wanted to be the chief of all the animals. He wanted to draw strength from all the other animals by eating their flesh. Buffalo wanted to become the grandest of all the animals.
He said he deserved this as the largest and strongest of all.

Kiowa Farewell to the Buffalo

The buffalo provided everything the Kiowas ever needed.

Their tipis were made of buffalo hides, stitched together with sinew. So were their clothes and tough moccasins.

They ate dried buffalo meat and pemmican all through the year. Containers in which they kept food and provisions were made of hide, bladders and stomachs.

Even more important, the buffalo sustained the Kiowa culture, their spirituality and religion.

When possible, a white buffalo calf must be sacrificed in the sun dance.

The priests and medicine men used parts of the buffalo to make their prayers when they healed people or when they sang to the powers above.

Buffalo were the lifeblood of the Kiowas.

Buffalo Survival in Winter

Buffalo are known for their great natural vigor, surviving the worst blizzards of the north.

A freak blizzard in October 2013 killed tens of thousands of cattle in western South Dakota, as well as sheep and horses, when four feet of heavy wet snow with powerful winds drove them over banks, into creeks and waterholes and piled up against fences in deep snowdrifts.

Some ranchers lost fifty to seventy-five percent of their livestock and faced financial ruin.

Following that deadly storm, the National Bison Association checked with local buffalo breeders; none reported buffalo loss.

In another deadly storm the winter of 1997-1998, with heavy financial losses to livestock, the toll was apparently only one buffalo death. He was run off an icy bridge by an eighteen-wheeler.

Those who raise buffalo testify to their hardy endurance in cold weather.

The animals have dense hair growth, so dense—coarse guard hairs with soft wool underneath—that every square inch has ten times as many hairs growing as does an inch of cow hide, reports Dale F. Lott, University of California Wildlife, Fish and Conservation biologist.

Hornaday’s taxidermy project of six buffalo

Returning to Washington, after their great success in buffalo hunting, William Hornaday and his assistants set to work.

Hornaday’s vision developed before he even left Montana. This would be a grouping of bulls, cows and calves. He took time to collect some native soil, a few plants and sagebrush.

He selected six prime specimens—his masterpiece stub-horn bull, cows, calves, a young bull.

After a full year they unveiled their masterpiece. There, in a huge glass case, visitors to the Smithsonian Museum viewed an enchanting scene–six buffalo in an authentic Montana setting.

The Washington Star described the exhibit on March 10, 1888:

Hornaday’s Buffalo Hunt for the Smithsonian

By 1883 the vast herds of buffalo had entirely vanished. Only a small pocket survived here and there in remote areas—and even these, as soon as any hunter learned of them, did not last long.

Clearly the buffalo would soon be extinct as a species.

Alarmed, William Hornaday, as the Chief Taxidermist at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC—America’s greatest museum—took stock of his museum’s buffalo inventory.

Wild European bison will roam free in England

Wild bison will return to the United Kingdom for the first time in thousands of years, with the release of a small herd near Canterbury in East Kent planned for spring 2022, according to the Guardian, July 10, 2020.

The Steppe Bison went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Now the UK is bringing back their nearest relative—the European Bison or Wisent (Bison bonasus), also known as the zubr—in the hope of restoring the area’s ancient woodlands.

The $1.4 million Wilder Blean project, to reintroduce the animals, will help secure the future of an endangered species. They will also naturally regenerate a former pine wood plantation by killing off trees. This is expected to create a healthy mix of woodland, scrub and glades, boost insect, bird and plant life.

Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have dropped an average of 69% since 1970. Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, despite the best efforts of conservationists.

Photographer nearly trampled to death

One of the men attracted to Michel Pablo’s grand roundup of his near-wild buffalo was Norman A. Forsyth, a young photographer who began selling stereo cards and viewers door-to-door while attending college at Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska.
After college he moved west, still selling for Underwood and Underwood, an early producer and distributor of stereographic views. Attracted by the scenic beauty of Yellowstone Park, Forsyth worked as a tour guide and stage driver in Yellowstone five summers, taking scenic stereographic views along the way, and then set up a photography studio in Butte where he sold them.
Fascinated by what he read of Michel Pablo’s great roundup of near-wild bison he took his cameras to Ronan, MT. There he made friends with Charlie Russell, a cowboy painter also attracted to the dramatic buffalo action they saw every day.
Forsyth shot stereographic views and Russell painted and sketched numerous scenes over the first three summers during which the Pablo buffalo roundup shipped most of the animals to Canada.
One day Forsyth scrambled down into some trees to get the perfect shot as the cowboy wranglers brought in a herd of buffalo across the river toward the corrals.

Bud Cotton and his Buffalo Roundup Gang

E.J. (‘Bud’) Cotton was the Buffalo Park Warden at Wainwright, Alberta from 1912 through 1940. An old-fashioned buffalo handler who rode hard and worked his crew hard, he preferred to change their lathered-up horses at noon if at all possible.

Cotton hired a hard-riding Buffalo Roundup Gang—as he called them for “fall” roundup, which they tackled in stride during the coldest days of winter.

Long before the advent of low-stress handling practices were being advocated for buffalo, the buffalo herds were literally wild animals, and they came stampeding between the drift fences toward the open gate at a dead run.

Cotton said his corral fences looked strong enough to hold an elephant “but just stick around until we run a bunch of buffalo into them, then watch the splinters fly!”

When worked, the thousands of buffalo they corralled and manhandled bore some scars—but so did the riders, he wrote. Even years later the men “still bear scars and sore bones as mementos of those same good old days.”

Buffalo Heifer attacked by Grizzly

In another unusual rescue, a Blackfoot Indian reported seeing a buffalo bull charge a grizzly bear that had attacked a heifer.

The grizzly was lying in wait, hidden by a trail near a creek when a small bunch of buffalo trailed down to drink. Led by a young buffalo heifer, they came down the bank in single file.

As the heifer passed under the clay shelf where the grizzly hid, he reached down with both paws and caught her around the neck, then leaped on her back. She struggled to escape.

Noble Fathers we saw in Actiond

Buffalo bulls are born with a strong sense of responsibility.

The “noble fathers,” as they’ve been called in earlier times, for protecting mothers and calves from the ravages of wolves. In blizzards and fierce storms, it was said, they form a triangle facing into the wind and shield cows and calves from wintery blasts.

I saw those “noble fathers” in action once myself.

We were riding horseback in the North Unit of Teddy Roosevelt Park with some friends.

Great Indian Buffalo Horses

According to all accounts, the Indian horses were better trained for the job than those of white hunters, reported William Hornaday. He credited this to the fact that shooting with bow and arrows required free use of both hands.

This was only possible when the horse took the right course of its own free will and as guided by knee pressure alone, held close to the buffalo during a charge.

“Indeed,” he wrote, “in running buffalo with only the bow and arrow, nothing but the willing cooperation of the horse could have possibly made this mode of hunting successful.

Enormous Buffalo Herds of the 1800s

During the fall rut—or breeding season—huge wild herds of buffalo came together on the plains.
Descriptions often had it that the hills were “black with buffalo as far as the eye could see.”

Explorers and travelers often tried to describe and estimate how many buffalo they could see from a single vantage point.

On viewing a large herd of cattle one day, a Canadian named John McDougall was amazed to learn there were 23,000 head in the herd before him. He said that cattle herd in one small valley was far smaller than the immense buffalo herds he’d seen spread out over a dozen hills and flats in the plains.

Buffalo Mothers help Care for Newborn

Buffalo take care of each other, says Mike Faith, who was Standing Rock’s Buffalo Manager for some 20 years. He’s now Tribal Chairman.

Faith says buffalo watch each other for warning signs of danger or stress.

When it comes time for a cow to give birth she finds a secluded place such as a ravine with trees. There she has time for herself, to be alone when the calf is born.

When alone, she is able to bond with her newborn, nourish it, and defend that calf until its strong enough to join the herd.

READ MORE

Amazing Buffalo Hunting Feats

Stories of amazing exploits by Native hunters were told and retold around evening campfires.

Living among the Northern Cheyenne for a time, George Grinnell recorded more than one time when a hunter shot one arrow entirely through the bodies of two buffalo.

And if an arrow did not sink deep enough, the hunter often jerked it out of the running buffalo and fired it again.

READ MORE

Buffalo Chips keep Fires Burning

The last wild buffalo had disappeared, along with their meat and hides. Their whitened bones had been picked up, hauled to the nearest railroad and sold for fertilizer.

But after all that, there was still one last gift of the buffalo sprinkled across the western plains—dried buffalo chips.

Native Americans had always burned buffalo chips where trees were scarce. These large, chips or “buffalo pies,” when dried burned quickly to start a fire. They produced hot fires to warm the tepee or to roast a meal.

READ MORE

The Brave Hunter and his Buffalo Family

Traditionally Native grandparents taught children that, “The buffalo are our brothers.”

In turn, children learned to respect the buffalo, and remember to thank them for their many gifts.

Stories were often told to strengthen the bond between buffalo and humans.

READ MORE

News Article Summary

More Bison Join Island Herd

Bison have played a significant role in the cultural heritage of Catalina Island for nearly 100 years and will be roaming there freely far into the future.

Catalina Island Conservancy worked with the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation herd to bring two pregnant female bison to Catalina Island.

The new additions arrived in early December and will supplement the genetic diversity of the current bison herd on Catalina Island with the valuable genetics of heritage bison.

The herd—managed by Colorado State University, the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Larimer County—was established with nine adult females and one male calf in November 2015.

It has now grown to over 100 bison, which has made it possible to share bison with tribal and conservation herds across the country.

The bison have valuable genetics from the Yellowstone National Park herd and, thanks to science implemented at CSU by Assistant Professor Jennifer Barfield and her team, the animals are also disease-free.

“We are proud to continue our mission of collaborating with conservationists through this new partnership with Catalina Island Conservancy,” said Barfield, a reproductive physiologist.

“We look forward to watching our animals find a new home with the herd on Catalina Island, where they can contribute to the growth of a truly unique and iconic herd.”

Bison have freely roamed Catalina Island since 1924.

Fourteen bison were brought to the island for the filming of an adaptation of a Zane Grey novel, believed to be “The Vanishing American

Wood Bison Reintroduced In Southwest Alaska See Another Year Of Loss, But With A Silver Lining

An experimental wood bison herd introduced to the western Interior region five years ago experienced a decline this year due to harsh winter weather, but scientists say there’s still some good news.

According to a population survey conducted in June, there are 94 bison, including nine calves, in the population, which lives largely along the lower Yukon River. The population has declined by 19 animals since last year’s survey.

NBA reminds us “Save the Date!”

Please visit the National Bison Association at https://bisoncentral.com/calendar/ for details and more up-to-date events. If you have a bison event coming up that’s not listed, please send the details to jim@bisoncentral.com and the NBA will post the event on its website at no charge.

GTSS, NBA Winter Conference Rescheduled to Rapid City

Meeting in special session in October, the National Bison Association Board of Directors approved committee recommendations to reschedule both the Gold Trophy Show & Sale, and the association’s Winter Conference until February 19 – 20, 2021.

Both events to be held in conjunction with the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association’s annual meeting and sale in Rapid City, SD.

NBA 2021 Winter Conference—Cancelled

NOTICE: NBA 2021 Winter Conference Will Not Take Place in Denver in January – Please stay tuned while we determine the best option for our membership.
“Gold trophy, and our annual meeting are important events, not only for the NBA, but for the bison business,” said Donnis Baggett, president of the National Bison Association.
“The board is working to develop plans in which we can meet these needs safely, while providing an opportunity for members to connect this winter.”

Thousands on Hand for Annual Buffalo Roundup Sep 24-26

CUSTER, S.D. – Over 20,512 visitors attended the 55th Annual Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park on Friday morning, Sept. 25, 2020, watching as 60 horseback riders wrangled the herd of 1,400 bison into the corrals for their annual health check.

“It was another perfect Buffalo Roundup weekend in Custer State Park,” said park superintendent Matt Snyder.

New Center of Excellence to Advance Bison Research, Knowledge

RAPID CITY, SD (Sept. 8, 2020) – The future of America’s national mammal continued to brighten this week as officials from South Dakota State University (SDSU), the National Bison Association and the National Buffalo Foundation formally launched the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies, to be headquartered at SDSU’s West River Research and Extension facility in Rapid City.

Bison Events in October and November 2020

Brownotter Buffalo Ranch Annual Production Sale—Selling 400+. Bison Ranch located near Bullhead SD – SE of McIntosh SD. Selling by online method of bidding—bidding closes Monday, November 16, 2020. Selling entire 2020 calf crop. These quality calves will be weighed and sold in lots to suit buyers. Contact Ron & Carol Brownotter for inspection prior to the auction at 605-848-2623. This top performing herd runs on an abundance of native grass, truly in the heart of Buffalo country! www.bradeenauction.com

Bison Show and Sale Jan 20-23, 2021

Save the Dates
– 1/20 – 1/23/2021 – National Bison Winter Conference—Denver, CO
– 3/2021 – NBA Gold Trophy Show and Sale—Denver.
The National Bison Association announces that the National Bison Winter Conference
will take place in Denver, Colorado, Jan. 20 to 23, 2021, and at the same time, NBA’s
Gold Trophy Show and Sale (GTSS) will be held.
The conference is hosted at the Denver Renaissance Hotel, Stapleton, which is now
taking reservations. Please save the date and “plan to join us for this exciting, fun and
informative conference.”
The Gold Trophy (GTSS) is considered the premier bison auction in the US. For nearly
40 years, bison producers have brought their best bison stock to Denver’s National
Western Stock Show to show and sell their animals.
“The mission of the Gold Trophy Show and Sale is to create an environment where
producers can compete to establish the value of their bison in the current marketplace,”
according to the NBA news release.

Buffalo from Grand Canyon travel to Quapaw Tribe

Grand Canyon, AZ, Sept. 18, 2019 – National Park Service staff closed the doors on livestock trailers yesterday, securing 31 bison inside to transfer them to the InterTribal Buffalo Council who will take them on the journey to their new herd with the Quapaw tribe in Oklahoma.

The transfer of the bison concluded the Grand Canyon National Park’s pilot program for corralling and relocating bison from the North Rim.

“It’s an historic moment. These are the first bison ever captured and permanently removed from Grand Canyon,” said Grand Canyon National Park Bison Project Manager Miranda Terwilliger.

Yellowstone bison promote plant growth through summer

Biologists from the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Universities of Wyoming and Montana published their findings of a 10-year study about bison migration and grazing in Yellowstone National Park in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The findings show that wild bison shape vegetation cycles and stimulate growth throughout the summer. Scientists discovered, with the help of NASA satellites, that areas grazed intensely by larger groups of bison greened-up earlier, more intensely, and for longer durations each year.
The study also suggests that bison migrate differently than other species because of how they graze. Frequently they returned to the same areas of the park, which kept plants in a growth cycle, providing the most nutritious food for migrating animals. Evidence over the last decade supports that.

Interior Commits to 10-Year Buffalo Plan

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced the Bison Conservation Initiative (BCI), a new cooperative program that will coordinate conservation strategies and approaches for the wild American Bison over the next 10 years.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) and its partners have been successful in restoring the populations of the American Bison and supporting healthy herds, such as assisting with establishing tribal herds on Indian Reservations.

With unprecedented interest and cooperation among partners—including states, tribes, nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—bison conservation is well equipped to move beyond analytical assessments and toward coordinated conservation action.
Two projects to take place this year are introducing new genetics of wild bison from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, and establishing a new tribal herd on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. The first includes an on-going genetics study by the National Parks Service to measure the extent of their integration into a long-existing herd.

Satellites track Bison at Wind Cave

Collars placed on ten bison at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota are making it easier for researchers, and eventually even the public, to follow them as they roam throughout the park.

The bison recently were fitted with tracking collars as part of Wind Cave National Park’s recent bison capture and processing operation.

“Bison research using these types of collars has never been done here before, and we’re excited about the information we’ll learn,” said Wind Cave Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “We’d like to thank the Black Hills Parks and Forests Association for funding the collars through their Adopt a Bison program.”

Visitor Hurt by Bison at Yellowstone

On the afternoon of May 20, 2020, a female visitor was knocked to the ground and injured by a bison in the Old Faithful Upper Geyser Basin after approaching the animal too closely (inside 25 yards).
It was the first bison injury this year, and happened just two days after Yellowstone National Park reopened in a phased way after the Coronavirus pandemic began.

Park emergency medical providers responded to the incident immediately. The woman was assessed and refused transport to a medical facility. The incident remains under investigation, park officials said in a news release.
The National Park Service personnel remind Park visitors that wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, they advise giving it space.

White Buffalo—Breeding Rights and pre-booking for White Buffalo Calves

Midwest Buffalo Company and New Beginnings Ranch are pre-selling breeding rights to our White Buffalo Bull “OUTLAW.” We are also taking deposits, in order received and in advance, of Outlaw’s white buffalo calves. If you want a great chance at a white buffalo baby, a spiritual awakening for many and financial booster for your operation for sure, make your reservation now.
To book your buffalo cow for our breeding option with Outlaw—contact us for details.

Water Buffalo in “Bison Clothing”: a Risk You Don’t Need

North American bison producers and marketers have worked diligently during the past two decades to build a strong relationship with their customers based upon the great taste and nutritional benefits of the meat, along with sustainable practices utilized in raising the animals. During the past few years, water buffalo products have entered the U.S. marketplace and been marketed simply as “buffalo.” See our fact sheet on Water Buffalo’s very misleading labeling.

ND Ag Commissioner Conveys Bison Industy CARES Act Request to USDA

National and North Dakota bison leaders today hailed the work of North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring for weighing in with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue with specific policy recommendations to assist commercial and tribal bison producers impacted by the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The bison industry will likely experience the lingering effects of the current market situation for another two years. The drop in the carcass price for bison has declined rapidly since the pandemic and producers and plants are struggling,” the Commissioner wrote in a letter sent to Secretary Perdue earlier today

Bison market crashes down on producers

Only a couple of months ago, the price of a bison carcass was close to $5 a pound in Western Canada.
Now, prices on the rail have dropped to $3.50 per lb.
But that number isn’t precise because the packing plants are processing very few animals.
“There’s no liquidity right now,” said Dean Andres, who raises bison near Windthorst, in eastern Saskatchewan. “Any Canadian (bison) producers that are reliant on a Canadian plant or somebody to buy their calves, that market has, I don’t want to say ‘collapsed,’ but that’s probably the most accurate word.”

Range Manager for Cattle to Bison Conversion

The Wolakota Buffalo Range — located in south central South Dakota and established by the economic development arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe — is seeking a Range Manager for immediate hire. Candidates with bison handling experience should send a resume, along with a brief explanation of why this opportunity interests them to wolakota@sicangucorp.com. This project is an opportunity to get in at the ground level of an ambitious and innovative initiative to convert 28,000 acres from cattle land to a buffalo range in order to benefit the land and people of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. This position will require relocation, with residence at on-site, provided housing strongly preferred.

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Francie Berg


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