Update: Nov 13, 2014: After five years of quarantine at Ted Turner’s ranch, the healthy bison arrive at Fort Peck in Montana.
“My grandparents lived to see them go,” Pearl Yellow Hawk, an 86-year-old Dakota Sioux woman told the Missoulian. “In 1883, more than 300 Assiniboine starved to death at Wolf Point after the bison were all killed. My grandmother lived through that. I’m glad the buffalo are back here again.”
Oct 21, 2014: After much debate 145 Yellowstone bison looking for a new home at the end of November will be transferred to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.
The healthy bison captured from Yellowstone have been temporarily living at Ted Turner’s ranch in Montana for the past five years. They spent this time in quarantine to protect them from the disease brucellosis that infects some of Yellowstone’s bison and nearby cattle. The bison’s stay at the ranch is up next month so the Fish and Wildlife Commission held a meeting to discuss options for a new bison home.
Various agencies were vying for the bison, a unique “genetically pure” herd meaning they have no cattle genes. Several plans included splitting the bison up amongst numerous organizations including sending groups of 10 out to various U.S. zoos, including the Bronx zoo. Ultimately Montana decided to keep the bison local and chose the Fort Peck Reservation for its previous success housing 63 bison in 2012.
Yellowstone bison have been a constant management issue in Montana as they tend to leave the park in search of food in the lean winter months, aggravating many ranchers who fear their impact on their livestock. Of particular concern to ranchers is a disease caused Brucellosis, a bacterial infection. The state is currently working on a conservation plan for the bison to be finished in 2015.