Wildlife Management Institute

WMI Outdoor News Bulletin Conference Workshop to Focus on Restoring Bison to the Northern Plains
Conference Workshop to Focus on Restoring Bison to the Northern Plains PDF Print E-mail

image of bison, Credit: Gabri Micha, FlickrA workshop, “Bringing Bison Back: America’s Last Big Game Challenge,” is scheduled for 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Monday, March 12, at the 77th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  It will examine the political, cultural and ecological steps necessary for bison to be restored, managed and valued as a wildlife resource on northeastern Montana’s Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) and other multi-jurisdictional landscapes.

The Great Plains of Montana once sustained bison herds that numbered in the millions. Like so many other wildlife species, the bison population was decimated by market hunting and habitat loss during the latter half of the 19th century. Through historic conservation efforts—led primarily by sportsmen clubs and conservationists, including William Hornaday, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell—many of the game species suffering from overexploitation recovered to a sustainable degree were and been restored to native habitat. The American bison, however, was not one of those species.

Federal lands in and around CMR contain some of the most unique and valuable native habitat in the state, and present one of the most compelling landscapes for bison restoration in the United States.

The CMR area, which includes the Missouri River and the Missouri River Breaks, supports valuable, native, short-grass habitat for a variety of prairie wildlife species, including pronghorn a, elk, deer, sage grouse, swift fox and bighorn sheep. The landscape could easily sustain a significant bison population and expand the already diverse hunting opportunities present in the CMR. Restoring bison to Montana’s Northern Great Plains is a unique partnership opportunity for state, federal and tribal wildlife agencies to restore a wild bison herd to native grassland.

The workshop, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, will feature expert presentations and a panel discussion addressing the challenges, cooperative opportunities and solutions for wild bison conservation in the 21st century.

For more information, contact workshop organizers Tom France or Kit Fischer.  (mcd)