Fifty more Yellowstone National Park bison were transferred to the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes on Friday.
The animals had been under quarantine by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, located just north of the park in the Gardiner Basin.
This fifth transfer since April 2019 brings the total number of bison moved from the park to the reservation to 154. The relocations are meant to divert disease-free Yellowstone bison from slaughter to tribal-led restoration efforts.
“We are grateful to our tribal partners for their collaboration as we help return these bison to tribal lands on the prairie," said Chamois Andersen, senior Rockies and Plains representative for Defenders of Wildlife, which partnered with the tribe. "As a keystone species, bison are critical to the health of the ecosystem as well as to other species that inhabit grasslands. Thanks to these efforts, more than 16 tribes have started cultural herds with animals from Yellowstone, descendants of the wild bison that once roamed the prairie in the millions.”
Another 64 females and 25 male bison remain under quarantine in Yellowstone's facilities at Stephens Creek. Later this month, corrals at the same location will be used to gather bison that will be shipped to slaughter. The meat is given to participating tribes.
The quarantine and slaughter programs, along with hunting outside the park, are used to reduce bison populations. The different means of culling were established by partners involved in the Interagency Bison Management Plan.