| Jul 18, 2023
Adopt a Wildlife Acre - Blackfeet Restore Bison!
Chief Mountain (Ninnaastakoo) cr: Craig McCollum
Grazing disputes between livestock and wildlife on public lands have been ongoing for several decades. Under NWF's Wildlife Conflict Resolution program, currently celebrating our 20th year, the Federation works with federal land managers to negotiate with livestock producers to retire grazing allotments on public lands that experience chronic conflict. Our approach recognizes the economic value of livestock grazing permits and fairly compensates producers for retiring their leases.
In 2022, we adapted our unique conservation strategy in partnership with several NGOs and Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife to achieve a grazing agreement (non-use) on the 1.5 million acre Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana. The agreement will benefit wildlife including grizzlies, wolves and now bison. The six tribal grazing leases cover some 24,000 acres that border Glacier National Park in an area called Ninnaastakoo (Chief Mountain). Ninnaastakoo is of special cultural significance to the Blackfeet and preserving and protecting this region has been a priority of the tribe for years. This area is one of the most ecologically diverse ecosystems in the Rockies and is critical for wildlife that move in and out of Glacier National Park.
We were thrilled to see in late June, the Blackfeet Nation release dozens of bison onto tribal lands near Chief Mountain. This marks the first time free-roaming bison have been reintroduced in Montana in recent history--marking a significant conservation and cultural achievement for the Blackfeet Nation.
Currently, fewer than 400,000 bison remain in the United States, a mere fraction of the tens of millions that once roamed the western plains. And of those bison, only a fraction are considered wild as most bison have been confined to pens and pasture, raised as livestock. Of additional significance is the bison restored to the Blackeet Reservation share the same genes as those original extirpated from their homelands over a century ago. The released animals were descendents from bison trapped in 1873 (Pablo-Allard Herd) and sold to the Canadian Government and released in Elk Island National Park in Alberta.
Of all the large megafauna restored in the American West, the bison is the only species that has seen This long-awaited release is a big step in securing bison's place on the Great Plains.
Bison were recently reintroduced to Blackfeet land